Academics Abroad: What to expect (Germany)

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

Its not a surprise that attending college or university in another country can be an unexpected change of academics and routine. This is something that intimidated me before I started classes here in Germany. There are significant differences in academics between Seneca and HNU which I had to adapt to. An exchange is a great experience however, passing all of your courses with great marks is something that requires extra concentration and awareness while abroad. You will have to deal with distractions, culture shock, slight changes in curriculum and a small language barrier. These barriers aside, it is not difficult to balance school and some travel while abroad with the right preparation and organization. This blog post will describe my experience with academics here in Germany and how I managed to adapt to the changes.

Enrollment for courses is something which was completely different from Seneca. In instead of an online enrollment portal, students manually select their classes on a sheet of paper, writing down the course code and the order of importance of the class compared to your other choices. It is important to take extra care during this process; for someone like me who did my exchange on my last semester, it was vital that every course I needed to graduate, I was enrolled in HNU. It is usually not recommended to go on exchange during your last semester but it is possible. This manual entry will not inform you on what courses you need to take; you must simply know by heart which classes you should be enrolling in that semester. Your student advisor in your international office can be a big help. Make sure any formality or decision making you do, that your international advisor is aware.

The first week of classes begins like any other institution, a brief overview of the class learning objectives and an introduction to the course topic. You will get to make a lot of friends who are also internationals in all of your classes. Weekly classes consist of about 3-4 hour long lectures. These classes can be a challenge to concentrate as the professor will cover theory for the entire class. If sitting still is not your strong point I suggest bringing in some snack or juice to keep you a little busy!

The grading process is usually marked on two tasks: A class project and/or a final exam. This means that there is a lot of free time during the semester as there are no weekly assignments. This gives you an opportunity to travel around a bit on weekends. At the beginning of the semester your professors will make it clear what holidays and long weekends you have free from lectures; they understand that a lot of their students intend to travel on these dates.

Traveling is fun and should be taken advantage of if you are already in the European continent where travel from country to country is relatively cheap. However, come exam time you are expected to know all of the course curriculum and be graded on your 5 months of lectures in one exam. This can be a stressful thought as I am used to an exam being weighed about 30-35% instead of 60 or 100%. Take notes throughout the semester and be sure to give yourself enough time to study and overview the course prior to the exam. Studying in groups was extremely helpful and benefited everyone as we learned and taught each other from our own notes.

Another change which I find I should mention is that exams and courses require completely separate enrollment. If you are enrolled in a course, this does not necessarily mean that you are enrolled in the exam. For every course other than a multidisciplinary (Gen-Ed) you are expected to enroll in the corresponding exam. Once again, consulting with your international advisor ensures that you went about the registration process the right way and confirms your actions. I think the main difference is that since the registration process is manual; it leaves opportunity for mistakes like wrong course codes, or missing enrollment of a particular exam.

I think the most valuable lesson I learned this semester is organization and information. It never hurts to send an email, or ask questions if it means you are taking the right steps in order to graduate or earn your credits. Sometimes you will feel extremely uncertain on how to do something, asking your classmates or student advisors before signing off on any important decisions will reassure you of any choices made.

I hope this helps anyone interested or taking part in an exchange. Perhaps the structure and changes may vary between countries and schools but its these types of changes which require special attention.

Safe Travels,

Catherine Camara

Working and Adventuring in South Korea

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Author: Ki Ho An
Program: Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology
Study Abroad Location: Seoul, South Korea

It has been almost three months since I’ve arrived in South Korea for my co-op placement. One interesting experience that I had at work was that, the organization that I work for was moving to another office. In Korea, moving the entire office to another place and continuing to work like nothing happened takes less than a day, and I was amazed of how different the working conditions were compared to Canada. Another cultural experience was that, everyone here is crazy about baseball. Everyday commuting from work, I see everyone, males and females, young teenagers to adults wearing baseball uniforms, and watching baseball games everywhere. Even my relatives at home watch baseball every day, so I’m forced to watch it with them while enjoying fried chicken and beer that was delivered to our home.

During the stay, I have visited many wonderful places and tried many things that I have never experienced before. I went to the getaways during the holidays for some sightseeing and for some relaxing away from work. I have tried rafting down a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, plowing through the mud with an all terrain vehicle, exploring through a cave, paragliding through the sky, and bungee jumping from fifty meters high. Finishing the night with some exciting music and some tasty Korean pork belly barbecue.

 

A challenge I faced for a bit was using the transportation system and navigating through the city while I was commuting to work. After a few tries, I became familiar with the transportation system and was able to go around the city on my own without getting lost. Since I work at the airport, I saw many tourists visiting from all around the world trying to use the transportation system and having troubles finding their ways, so I got to help them at least once a day during my commute from work.

A challenge that I thought I would face was whether I can get adjusted to the food in Korea and if I was going to survive on my own. It was a thought that was not required. I love the food here and I think I like it too much that I gained a few pounds. Getting homesick can be another challenge as well but I was able to keep myself busy and keep myself from getting homesick. Also seeing my relatives and friends helped refraining myself from getting homesick. But all in all I was used to being away from home from my family since my Seneca College campus is also away from home in Peterborough.

Best,

Ki Oh An

Belgium, here I go!

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Author: Phillip Owen-Scott
Program: Business Administration – International Business
Study Abroad Location: Ghent, Belgium

Hello, my name is Phillip Owen-Scott, but everyone calls me Phil. I am a 4-5th semester student at Seneca’s Newnham Campus, studying International Business Administration program. Recently, I was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to study in Ghent, Belgium for the fall 2016 semester and on a whim I applied.

To my surprise, they chose me and started the long but exciting process of preparing me to become an “international student”. Most would not see this as a huge deal, since a majority of the people at Newnham campus are already from another country, but for a Canadian kid like me this will be a huge change. I had previously visited Europe to see family and friends but never for more than a month at a time. The main reason why Belgium was so interesting was that I had never been there before, and I was looking for something new. After looking up recommendations online and reading about what others who previously lived there, I decided it was a good choice. After months of planning and getting everything, set up I am ready to leave and excited to begin a new chapter in my journey! I will be sure to take many photos and share the experiences that I have had with everyone else.

Looking forward to this adventure!!

Phil

Dobro Došli! Welcome To Croatia!

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Author: Stephanie Rukavina
Program: Business Administration – International Business
Study Abroad Location: Zagreb, Croatia

As an international business student, learning about other cultures has always fascinated me. While researching which country I wanted to study in prior to my departure, I realized something very important, I barely knew the country my family is from. This realization shifted my focus, and I knew right then and there that I would be studying abroad in Croatia. From that point, everything else just fell into place. I was able to find a school in Zagreb (the capital city as well as business capital in Croatia), an apartment, and even book my flight so that I had extra time to spend with my family!

            Preparing for this experience was beyond exciting! My mind kept racing with ideas and thoughts of how it was going to be like to live on my own in another country, as well as all of the new experiences and opportunities I was going to be faced with. I had no trouble at all packing, and could barely fall asleep the week before my departure, but it was all worth it once I stepped off that plane into the Zagreb Airport!

            Since my early arrival, I have been spending lots of time with family and friends who I have not seen for many years. This is what I believe will make my study abroad experience different from other students. I have a connection with this country and its people and I am very excited to learn more about it!

Stay tuned on my next blog posts.

Best,

Stephanie