Exams!

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for such a late post! I have been busy with exams and just finished traveling through parts of Europe for the past two weeks. For this post, I wanted to briefly talk about what exams are like in Germany and my travels over the past two weeks.

Exams are very different in Germany because some classes are actually oral exams instead of written exams. Luckily, I did not have an oral exam! Another thing that I have mentioned previously is that the exams are very important because these are usually the only grades for a course. So for those of you that are interested in studying in Europe, keep this in mind.

Another major difference is that Germans don’t wait until the last minute to study like most of us do! Many of the Germans study throughout the semester because their professors usually do not tell them what part of the course is going to be on the exam. The professors want their students to understand all parts of the course, and therefore, they do not tell the students ahead of time what part will be on the test. If you are thinking about studying in Germany, don’t let the thought of their exam system scare you! As long as you are willing to study a little each week, you will be fine!

As mentioned in my previous posts, one of the biggest reasons I decided to study in Europe was the easiness and cheapness of travel between countries. I spent the past two weeks traveling to Iceland and the Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia)! The Baltic countries were easy to  travel between as there are several budget airlines and bus routes between the countries with fares as low as $30 for flights and $10 for buses! These countries were absolutely stunning, and it was amazing to see the old architecture of these countries with some buildings being almost 1000 years old! Iceland was an incredible country to visit, and it felt like I was in another world. I encourage those of you interested in studying in Europe to budget and save a lot of your money the year before you go abroad! This will allow you the chance to travel and see lot of countries and experience new cultures while you are abroad. Here are a few pictures from my trip to Iceland! Take care, and next month I will talk about the start of my second semester in Germany!

Traveling In Europe Cheaply

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all had a good holiday break! As mentioned in my last post, I want to use this post to talk about something a little more personal and less academic. For those of you interested in studying abroad in Europe, I am sure that you are wanting to use that time in Europe to travel between cities, right? Well today, I am going to briefly talk to you about my experience traveling through Europe, and how you can travel even on a college student budget.

While many of you were probably at home with your family for Christmas, I spent 12 days visiting 6 cities in 5 different countries. Now you are probably thinking, how is that even possible or “I bet that cost 1000s of dollars”. Actually, I spent around $550 total for my whole trip including transportation, food, accomodation, and miscellanious expenses. The key to traveling in Europe is to look at all possible public transportation options. Unlike the States, Europe has a very good bus and train network. Train tickets can be as cheap as $20 between countries if you book months in advance.

However, for this trip I chose to use buses, and there are several different companies in Europe (Eurolines, Flixbus, Slovak Lines, etc.) I chose to use Flixbus which operates throughout all of Europe with fares as low as $1. I recommend Flixbus if you can handle sitting in bus seats for several hours. The buses are comfortable and include Wifi! The best part is that Flixbus is currently offering 5 bus tickets for $100, and these tickets can be used for any city in Europe that Flixbus goes to. So I was able to travel to 5 countries for around $100 by Bus!

Hostels are well known in Europe, which are basically cheap “hotels” for college students and budget travelers. I recommened using Hostelworld to find good hostels in your destinations. Hostel beds can be as cheap as $3 in some cities per night, and the average in most cities is ten dollars per night. Lastly, many cities in Eastern Europe are extremely cheap destinations to visit where you can spend less than $30 a day to have a “luxury” experience in that city. I hope this post gave you a few ideas and answered a few of your questions regarding traveling in Europe. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact me! Take care! Here’s a photo of me at the famous Parliament in Budapest.

img_4059

Life in Germany

Wow, it’s hard to believe I have been here for almost three months now! The time has flown by! In today’s blog post, I want to talk about the difference in the German university system versus CofC’s. I have been in classes for almost two months now, and there is one big difference between classes in Germany and in the US: the time actually spent in class. I spend around 10 hours a week in the university here compared to the 25-30 hours a week back home. For those of you reading, you may  be thinking “Wow that’s great!” and “It sounds easy!” However, this means that the majority of your work is done outside of the classroom, and you are expected to read the material and be prepared for each class. The professors in Germany do not care if you have read the material before class. It is up to you to do well in  the class. Lastly, another major difference is the amount of grades for each class. Each of my classes has only one grade compared to the US where we have several grades throughout the semester.

Now I want to talk about the pros of having class only once a week-it allows you to travel more! If you are wanting to travel while studying abroad, then I would recommend studying in Germany. Having classes only once per week and Germany’s close proximity to many countries makes it a great study abroad destination! In the last month I have been able to travel to Berlin, Weinheim, and Paris without missing any class! Traveling throughout Europe is very easy, and I will talk a little bit more about how to travel cheaply throughout Europe in my next post in December!

 

First Month in Germany

Greetings from Germany! My name is Brandon Phillips, and I am currently a junior at CofC double majoring in Business and German. I am spending the next 10 months in Ludwigshafen.

I have been in Germany for almost 6 weeks now, and I have already learned a lot in the short time here from speaking the language better to understanding their vast public transportation network. Germany has a great public transportation network that I think the United States could look at and model themselves after. Their public transportation is cheap and efficient and allows you to see all of Germany at a reasonable price.

My first two weeks in Germany were spent at the University of Mannheim taking a German language refresher course, which has proven to be very helpful so far. The last week in September is when all of the exchange students at my university arrived for our orientation week. The orientation week was a great opportunity for me to meet new people and make friends from all over the world as well as learn about different cultures. I was shocked to see these students that could speak 3 or more languages, and I can barely speak two. It is amazing to see the differing education systems from around the world. These students started learning these languages in Kindergarten and continued to learn each year of their schooling. I think this is something that the US should definitely consider changing in our education system. Okay, now enough of the formal stuff! Let’s talk about some of the neat places I have visited since arriving in Germany.

I have been to several small cities so far, but the nicest city was Heidelberg. Our university organized an excursion for exchange students to Heidelberg to visit the castle from the 1300s! This was a really neat excursion that allowed us to see some of the older history of Germany, but it also allowed us to get to know one another in the exchange student group. Okay, that is all I have for now! I will post again next month where I will talk about my visit to Berlin and the first month of classes at my university! Auf Wiedersehen!