Good Experience with Frustrations January 15, 2018

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/31/2017 to 12/23/2017 with

Jacobs University: Bremen - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I definitely learned a lot about how people live in different countries (e.g. food, culture, habits, healthcare systems etc.). I also got to see a lot: I especially liked seeing the art, architecture, and landscapes of different countries. I also gained a lot of experience with planning when I organized travel plans. I also got a lot more experience interacting with patients and got a better idea of what specialties I might like during my rounds as a part of the clinical practicum.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Courses at Jacobs are not comparable to courses at Wellesley. Where Wellesley focuses on really knowing and being able to apply material, Jacobs requires a superficial knowledge of a bunch of not necessarily very useful facts. Professors were not amazing. Professors at Jacobs that I did reach out to for questions replied very promptly, but if you are looking for resources/accommodations for any learning disabilities you are going to have a lot of difficulty at Jacobs.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Orientation was rather organized, but many people were left unaware of the resource on campus. The largest issue I had with the administration was their disorganization and inability to communicate with us in a timely manner. They took a long time to or never answered our emails, once gave us an itinerary for a weekend field trip the night before we were leaving, and sometimes had no idea when those part of the clinical practicum were supposed to leave for the clinic.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I think the rooms are high quality and are nice, however, some people had seriously incompatible roommates that made their stay miserable. Some sort of survey to assess roommate compatibility would have been preferred. In addition, I would have appreciated being warned early on about the strictness of the housing check-out process to avoid fines.

* Food:

I could always find something to eat in the serveries, so that was not a problems for me. The meal plan is much different from Wellesley. You get allotted a certain amount of money on your ID card to spend on dishes of your choice. The money, though limited, allowed me to eat full meals especially because I traveled a lot so the money accumulated. My main complaint on behalf of other students, was that the serveries were not food restriction friendly. The meals were poorly labeled, and some so-called vegetarian meals did not appear to be vegetarian. There was also very limited options for those with food restrictions.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The school was located in a somewhat isolated residential area, and due to the very international nature of the school and classes taught in English, we did not have a lot of exposure to the local culture unless we made an effort to bond with our host families.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

n/a I didn't really need healthcare during my stay, but I had people I could ask if I needed help accessing healthcare

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe in Bremen or in Hamburg or on the Jacobs university campus.

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

I did not consider studying abroad until I heard about this program, and this program allowed me to travel, experience other cultures, and develop a greater sense of the world while also allowing me to keep up with my studies (e.g. major requirements/pre-med).

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)

Living on a student's budget was easy once we got to Jacobs, but for the summer language program, it was extremely difficult to eat cheap due to our lack of a fridge and having to buy every single lunch and dinner.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~100 euros in august/week, ~10 if just staying at Jacobs, a bit more if traveling
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy things to share between Wellesley students (e.g. cleaning supplies), try to eat at grocery stores if possible, or places with large portions (can be multiple meals), but do spend money to try different foods--it is part of the culture of wherever you travel

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

The German Courses at Jacobs were very inefficient. The only time I used German was during the clinical practicum and it was difficult, because I had only limited practice with German.

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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? n/a
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Practice with each other, native German speakers, host families, while going shopping. It will make your experience in the clinical practicum much better (although it is not entirely horrible if you have limited German).

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Opportunities to travel and field trips
  • Clinical Practicum
  • Traveling/In School with Wellesley Classmates
* What could be improved?
  • Communication with Jacobs administration
  • Accommodations for physical/learning disabilities
  • Maybe quality of courses (especially language/culture courses)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I was prepared for the lack of resources (that we have at Wellesley) at Jacobs, and the strictness of certain procedures (such as housing check out). I also wish I was aware of the fact that courses at Jacobs are not run in the same way at Wellesley so I would not have gone in expecting too much.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!