Studying Abroad in Germany has definitely been the highlight of my college experience. I went to Germany in the fall of 2011 during my junior year. I was there with 15 other SCSU students and we all became great friends. Upon arrival in Germany we were all very excited to experience the German culture. We wasted no time getting to know the locals. The memories I made while in Germany will last a life time!
The town of Ingolstadt is located in Bavaria, about an hour north of Munich by train. Ingolstadt is a perfect sized town of about 130,000 with plenty of entertainment. There are numerous restaurants, clubs, and bars located in the city center. It is also common to see some of the Germans strolling around the city center in their traditional lederhosen and dirndls. Ingolstadt has two professional sports teams, one hockey team and a soccer team. Tickets are fairly cheap and it’s great entertainment. The world headquarters for Audi is located in Ingolstadt and most of the residents also drive one. Taking a tour of the Audi factory is a must see.
Getting around Ingolstadt is very easy. There are two train stations and a bus service that goes all around the city. Almost everyone speaks English in Ingolstadt and ordering food in restaurants is easy. I had no previous experience in German before I went and never had any problems communicating with people. They do appreciate it when you try to speak German and they will help you out as well.
I attended school at Hochschule Ingolstadt, Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences. I took four business classes and one German language class and only had class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. German classes are very different from classes in the US. Each class you take meets once a week for about two hours. There are no tests, papers, homework, or quizzes throughout the semester. Your grade is based off of one final exam and one final paper or presentation due during finals. This sounded scary at first, but the professors tell you everything that is on the test and give you study guides to practice. Your classes are taught in English with students from Germany and all around the world. The professors and students are very friendly and enjoy getting to know you. The University sponsors a night every week outside of school for all of the International Students to get together and have fun outside of the class room. I was able to make friends from France, Russia, Poland, and Mexico (Just to name a few).
All of the students live right in the city center of Ingolstadt, so it is very easy to get together. One of the many fun things we did was play pickup games of soccer together; the Americans were by far the worst out of everyone that played. We also got together several nights a week to socialize. Meeting and building relationships with people from around the world was one of the most rewarding and fun things I did. I realized that they like to do the same things we do in America. I would have never thought I would have friends from all of these places.
The traveling opportunities in Germany are endless. The train system in Europe is very easy to use and trains run to many locations at multiple times throughout the day. I had a Europass which I purchased before I got there and was able to enjoy unlimited train travel in almost every European country. Germany itself has lots of great things to do. During my time there I was able to go to Berlin, Hamburg, Nurnberg, Munich, and other smaller cities in Bavaria. Each city itself has something different to offer. Most of these trips can be done in a day. The Hochschule also sponsors several day trips to nearby cities for all of the international students and some German students, which is included in your program fee. Outside of Germany I was able to go to six different countries including France, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. One of the most memorable trips was to Lachtal, Austria. I went to Austria with three Americans and four French friends I had meet while in Ingolstadt. The trip was sponsored by ERASMUS, which is the European student exchange program, so almost every European country was represented. We were able to go skiing and snowboarding in the Alps and meet
Another amazing trip I went on was to Interlaken, Switzerland. Interlaken is kind of like the extreme sports capital of Europe. They have mountain climbing, sky diving, white water rafting, and my personal favorite canyoning. Canyoning is basically whitewater rafting without a raft. You go to the top of the mountain and jump off of cliffs into pools along the river to the bottom of the mountain.
Being able to spend four months of my life in a foreign country was awesome. I was able to meet so many people from around the world and get a different perspective on things. I would recommend studying abroad to everyone. It truly was a life changing experience.