My new world perspective makes me feel smaller, but makes me think stronger. Past Review

By (Writing/Communications, Maryville College) - abroad from 09/03/2012 to 02/02/2012 with

ISEP Exchange: Dortmund - Exchange Program at Technische Universit├Ąt Dortmund

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned different customs and foods from all over the world from people whom I now consider friends. I learned how to manage public transportation. I gained patience when people were late or I missed a train. I gained a new world perspective through conversations from many nationalities. I learned that I am able to live on my own; independence is a wonderful things to learn.

Review Photos

ISEP: Dortmund - Technische Universitat Dortmund Photo ISEP: Dortmund - Technische Universitat Dortmund Photo ISEP: Dortmund - Technische Universitat Dortmund Photo ISEP: Dortmund - Technische Universitat Dortmund Photo ISEP: Dortmund - Technische Universitat Dortmund Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It was not intensive to the extent I was stressed, but it was just enough to keep me busy and encourage intellectual growth.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They obviously do a lot of work, and I only found one major problem with it. When a student studies abroad, they should be encouraged to meet student's from the host country; however, they provide activities for all of the Americans instead of activities with Germans. Meet with them and tell them events to go to or things they can do to meet students from the host country instead of encouraging them to stick with people from their own country. I will hang out with Americans for the rest of my life, but I will never learn how to say slang in a million different languages if I do that. Encourage exploration!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I think the room and kitchen are well furbished and spacious; however, I did not have great roommates. That of course is not at the fault of administration, but it is under the category of "living arrangements." Perhaps if we had monthly checks on how clean the rooms were, it would encourage the roommates to start doing their fair share of the cleaning once in a while.

* Food:

Well if I wasn't cooking for myself, a friend was, so naturally I would rate my cooking as top notch! In all seriousness, I do love German food. The times I did actually spend a little more money on some restaurant typical German food, I always loved it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I'm submersed into the football culture (which is a hefty chunk of the overall culture) and I have a handful of German friends. When I was with them, I tried speaking German and learning about the culture and the language, but I was not completely successful. I still struggle understanding people, but I think I have improved since I arrived. I also experienced seven different Weihnachtsmarkts and spent time with a German family during Christmas holidays, so I'm pretty knowledgeable on German Christmas now!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was sick twice while I was in Germany, and both times the doctors were very kind, easily accessible, and sympathetic. It was actually easier here than it is at home. I did have Germans take me to their doctors, which made it a lot easier than looking for one myself. It was also cheap! I did not need any vaccines for this program.

* Safety:

For a larger city, Dormund is quite safe in comparison. Of course it's dangerous to walk the streets in a dress at 4 am with drunkards roaming about, but that's dangerous anywhere. It truly is a safe city, I got lost a few times but never felt nervous about my own safety.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I payed for a full meal budget at my home institution and received about $200/month for food. Luckily German food is cheap and I enjoy cooking. I struggled and am currently in debt because of it. If they're including the "cafeteria" on campus, that needs to be reevaluated too, because it was only open for lunch and still cost money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably around 50 Euros for food. I didn't buy much else.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? LEARN TO COOK If you want to travel, check out skyscanner.com and couchsurfing.com for cheap trips. You can go on skyscanner and find the cheapest prices for flights anywhere and couchsurfing is an awesome website that you should just check out anyway.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Since the program immerses you into groups of other exchange students, everyone speaks English. The best way to use the language, is to make friends with people from the host country.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? five courses, two years
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Make friends with people from your host country. Even if you don't, ask your friends to speak the language with you. Watch television there. Find a funny cartoon you like a read it daily. I watch a tv show and write down the words I don't know and look them up later; it's a fun way to learn new words and see how they're used in context. When you travel, don't listen to your iPod; instead, listen to the people around you and try to determine what they're saying. Try to learn some new words every day. When you hear a new word, try to use it immediately; it sticks in your brain better that way. Carry around a pocket dictionary, a piece of paper, and a pencil.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Learning about other cultures
  • Seeing other parts of the world
  • Experiencing one of my favorite cultures first-hand
* What could be improved?
  • Preparation
  • Integration
  • Money for food
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? 1. How to use German public transportation. 2. That the language would not just automatically come to me by being in the country, and I needed to study it every day. 3. Plan trips every weekend EARLY. Those will also not automatically happen just because you're closer. Waiting until the last two months is too late. 4. Bring some recipes from home.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Visions of India

Course Department:
Instructor: Susanne Schmid
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The only good reading was the Jungle Books, but the rest of them were painful to read. Not because they were intellectually challenging, but because they challenged my patience. They were dry and badly written. Not that we talked about them in class, though, because a student presentation occupied every class period. I did not learn anything in this class. It needs to be trimmed down to one aspect instead of ALL of India.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Response to the Holocaust in American Jewish and German Jewish Literature

Course Department:
Instructor: Rebekah Slodounik
Instruction Language: English and German
Comments: Page wise, there was a lot of reading, but it never felt like that because all the selected readings were fantastic. Frau Slodounik was thoroughly prepared which encouraged thought-provoking class discussions every week. She always thanked someone before and after they participated in the discussion which encouraged everyone to speak their minds. This was my favorite class and teacher. She went above and beyond to not only teach me in this class, but also helped me with my German. An interesting subject with a fantastic teacher.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Selected Writings of Mark Twain

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Stephanie M. Blalock
Instruction Language: English
Comments: There was a decent amount of readings, but it was obvious that she researched thoroughly because she picked the most beneficial readings for this class. She was extremely prepared and organized how all the readings would tie together. She never stated what the text was about or how it intertwined, but asked questions in a way that caused us to figure it out for ourselves. Dr. Blalock is a fantastic teacher who obviously works hard, shows success, and loves what she does.
Credit Transfer Issues: