My Passport says USA, My Heart Says Germany! Past Review

By (Biochemistry and German, Illinois State University) for

Paderborn University: Paderborn - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying in Paderborn was eye-opening for me. I had never lived away from home before. I learned a lot about myself and what it takes for me to succeed in both the academic and social arenas. My worldview was pretty narrow before I left, and my time in Paderborn broadened it so much. I now feel that I fit there much better than I fit here, and I am definitely planning to return. I added German as a second major because of my experiences in PB, and I am now looking for ways to integrate my language skills with my biochemistry training to work for a German biochemistry lab in the future.

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.

I loved the university system in Germany. You are sitting in class fewer hours than at an American university, and you are expected to do a lot of reading and thinking yourself. All of my classes were very interesting, and it was especially nice to have almost all of them taught by a native speaker.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Frau Brebeck handles exchange students, and she is the nicest lady ever. She will do whatever she can to help you with anything you need, and she is always available to talk.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Paderborn is the safest city I have ever been in. I lived in an apartment for the first 3 months, and then moved into a dorm for the start of the semester in April. Both places were reasonable with rent and were nice-sized. I lived with 2 German girls in the apartment and with 2 German girls and another American in the dorm. The apartment was closer to the city center, but the dorm was closer to class. But really, in Paderborn, nothing is too far away.

* Food:

The Mensa has a vegetarian option every day, as well as other options. They have typical German food as well as food from around the world. You get a discount with your student ID card, so it is pretty cheap to eat there.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Not exactly organized by my program, but the student organization called Eurobiz organized lots of trips around Germany for international students, and also parties and cultural evenings that were great.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Paderborn is the safest city I have ever been in. I felt completely at ease walking back to my apartment from the university at one in the morning.

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


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent between 20 and 30 Euros a week on groceries, and about 15 euros a week if I ate in the Mensa for lunch every day. I didn't go out much, but my "fun" money was about 15 Euros a week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Expect to spend some money when you first get there for things like sheets, towels, and other house-hold stuff if it isn't provided. It depends on where you are staying.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I had the equivalent of 2 years of college German language and one semester of German composition
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Most people you come across at the university level will speak some English, but if you want to better your German skills, don't start the conversation in English -start in German and switch to English for clarification if either of you need it. The 3-month intensive German program was wonderful! Definitely take it, and take it seriously.

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
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Intensive Language course
  • The chance to explore German language and culture for myself, with helpful advice, but no hovering.
* What could be improved?
  • Choosing classes was a bit hairy.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you want to experience everyday German life, this program is great for that. Paderborn is a city that is not too big, and not too small. There are great opportunities to expand yourself. Look for them, and go for it. Go up and talk to people you don't know in your classes or at Eurobiz parties. Try everything once. Listen. Make sure you study, since your home university would kinda like good grades with the great experiences.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Dialekt und Regionalsprachen im deutschen Sprachraum

Course Department: L.067.31165 in Fakultät für Kulturwissenschaften
Instructor: Cornelia Nemeth
Instruction Language: German
Comments: This class was my favorite one the whole semester. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in dialects. The professor was very knowledgeable, and it was very interesting.
Credit Transfer Issues: I didn't have any problems with transferring credit back, but I recommend getting a list of things that will be taught in the classes you sign up for, and then emailing them to your adviser as soon as possible so you find out about problems early on, instead of finding out at the end of the semester that it won't transfer back.