I am so happy this program exists for premed/biochem students! February 09, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/26/2018 to 12/21/2018 with

Jacobs University: Bremen - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It helped put things into perspective for me and gave me total independence in a way I've never had before. It helped me a lot with my own identity, especially since I am of German heritage. I am much more confident with traveling and planning things out, and I learned a lot about how countries outside of the US operate. I also learned a lot about how people perceive the US and Americans.

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.

The level of academic rigor at Jacobs definitely isn't the same as it is at Wellesley. However, you'll find that you need to take a greater number of classes (I ended up taking 5 or 6), so you do get a wider range of academic studies in areas you might not have known much about before. For example, all of the Wellesley students this year took an art history course, which exposed us to European art and analysis for the first time. The biochemistry course is taught by a Wellesley professor, so there definitely is a level of weekly commitment to doing Wellesley-caliber problem sets and studying for exams. That being said, I felt that the workload was well-balanced between Wellesley biochemistry and Jacobs courses and free time to explore and travel. There is a well-established relationship between Wellesley and Jacobs, so we generally had good access to resources, sometimes more so than the Jacobs students and other exchange students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, the program was well-run and it was very clear that they cared a lot about the Wellesley students and about providing us with the best possible experience. There were times when it was sometimes difficult to get in touch with the exchange program admin, which was frustrating especially if it was about a pressing matter.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing at the university was great, the dorms rooms were very clean and new. Each room had a shared entryway and bathroom with two singles. The buildings were pretty new and completely functional, which was a change of pace from Wellesley dorms.

* Food:

Like any university, the dining hall food was ok. It would be difficult to maintain any kind of specialty diet (e.g. vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) because there just aren't many main options for food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Jacobs University is an international school, so classes are taught in english and students are expected to be able to communicate primarily in it. That being said, there isn't a ton of cultural integration into Germany culture on campus, except that the student body is very diverse. When venturing off-campus, however, integration into German life was much more apparent in terms of language, transportation, and cultural norms/expectations. I really liked the general respect that German people have for others and for the law, which resulted in a very well-organized and well-managed culture and society.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

In general, German healthcare coverage is great in that it costs 95 euros a month for students and gives us access to a full range of services. So theoretically, it should be awesome. However, the university doesn't have any form of health services or an infirmary for students, so access to care becomes very limited. In the case of emergencies, your primary option is to call an ambulance, which is accessible to everyone because it is fully covered by insurance. However, if you get sick or need a prescription medication, you'd have to walk to a doctor's office during the designated walk-in hours, which are very limited and become hard to plan around given the long wait. Offices close early in the evening (between 4 and 6), so if anything happens after those hours, your options are to call an ambulance or wait until the next day to try to get yourself to a doctor's office. Pretty much every got sick at some point during the program, and I think people had varying experiences with accessing the proper care.

* Safety:

I honestly felt very safe in Germany most of the time, especially on campus and in Bremen, which is a smaller city. The only time I was ever a little unsure was when I was out at night in Hamburg while I was there for the August language program, but even then, I felt safer there than I have in most other cities I've been to in the US. Public transportation is clean and reliable, and police are generally very trusted by the population.

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

I'd heard some mixed reviews about this program in the past, so I was unsure about how it would go for me. This program enabled me to go abroad, which is something I knew I wanted to do in college. Its location and courses worked out really well, and I was lucky enough to go with a wonderful group of Wellesley and other exchange students :))) It was a much needed break from the stress of my Wellesley classes, and I was able to learn in a different way and spend time traveling and taking better care of my mental health. It was the best experience of my life and I'm lucky that I had this opportunity.

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)

When we were in Hamburg for the month of August, we were worried that since we'd be paying to live on our own, things would easily get very expensive. However, costs were totally manageable for groceries and we walked pretty much everywhere so we didn't spend much on transportation. In Bremen, you could get away with spending very little if you spent a lot of time on campus and didn't travel much. Getting off campus for meals or drinks was pretty doable, and budget travel was also possible.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Between food, shopping, toiletries, travel to other countries, and transportation, I spent an average of $125 a week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan travel in advance, especially for things you know you want to do! Transportation and lodging is much cheaper if you plan ahead and do a little research. See what you can do for free in each place that you visit, and go for cheaper food options (groceries, sandwiches from bakeries, food carts). Also be willing to spend a little more time on modes of transport (buses are pretty cheap to other cities in Europe, although they take much longer).

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

Jacobs is an international school, so english was spoken on campus pretty much all the time (except in German class). In Hamburg, we were using German much more, both in the intensive language course and in the city, so I felt like I learned it much faster there. We were also able to use our German in the clinical practicum when we were speaking to patients.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
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? None
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? Take whatever German you can while you're here - a class at Wellesley, DuoLingo online, summer course, etc. If you can't fit that in, then I highly recommend taking the intensive German course in Hamburg in August if you want any usable language skills while you're there.

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
  • Apartment
* 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?
  • Host country
  • Healthcare/Public health focus
  • The people
* What could be improved?
  • Administration communication
  • Access to healthcare on host campus
  • Host city
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is totally what you make of it, and you have to be open to new experiences. Don't expect things to be catered to you and your interests. Keep an open mind and have some goals for your time abroad. Also, make an effort to become friends with some of the local/other international students because it's easy to get stuck in the Wellesley bubble, even abroad.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Clinical Practicum

Course Department:
Instructor: Dr. Sibille Tröster
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was absolutely fantastic. Created especially for the Wellesley pre-med students, this course gave us hands-on learning about medical theory and practices, as well as one-of-a-kind experiences in the clinic and hospital. Dr. Tröster really does a wonderful job at teaching and explaining information and skills (we got to take blood pressure, listen to lung sounds, take ultrasounds, draw blood, and much more!), while maintaining high expectations for the Wellesley students. The course consisted of 4 or 5 morning seminars to learn content and practical skills, and then 5 days in the dialysis clinic. In the clinic, we spent time with high-risk dialysis patients and shadowed in different departments of medicine. We got to ask questions and interact with the medical staff, as well as observe surgical procedures. I would absolutely recommend taking this if you have the opportunity!!!
Credit Transfer Issues: