Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany
Arriving in Neu-Ulm was a smooth transition in lifestyle for me. Since we arrived a couple days ahead of time, I had the perfect opportunity to take a tour of my new city and get to know my surroundings. Neu-Ulm is located in the Bavarian province of Germany. The city is filled with beautiful sites such as the Ulm, Munster and “Blautophf”, the nearby natural spring. Neu-Ulm is a relatively smaller city than Toronto, but similarly as vibrant with a lot to offer!
My transition into starting school at HNU was also a smooth process. The school had planned two weeks of registration, activities, language classes and events that not only helped me stay informed, but also kept me busy and allowed me to make some great friends! I had already taken care of my Visa and Health Insurance before I left Toronto. All that remained for me to do when I arrived in Neu-Ulm was set up a bank account and register my seat of residence. The International office at HNU was very accommodating throughout the whole process and I immediately felt comfortable settling in. A key factor that helped ease my transition into HNU was being paired up with a student tutor.
One thing I learned while travelling abroad is that it is really important to keep an outgoing mind-set, be confident and stay organized. It is also a great idea to connect with your student tutor prior to leaving for your trip. I lucked out when I was paired up with my student tutor, Sophie Jonke, because Sophie and I have similar personalities. We both share a love for travel, food, business and an overall enthusiasm for life. Therefore it was easy to become friends with her and even make plans to travel together for the upcoming semester break! Sophie picked me up from my hotel on move-in day and helped me get settled in at home. She was even nice enough to bring me to IKEA afterwards for some much needed shopping!
HNU had planned some fun activities for us such as bowling nights, brewery tours, laser tag, intercultural classes, and day trips to Munich and Stuttgart. Attending these events was a great way to meet and hang out with other International students who were travelling on their own as well. In a way, living in Neu-Ulm is very similar to living in Toronto where everyone is from somewhere else! In Neu-Ulm, there were students from Sweden, Jordan, Croatia, Spain, Russia, Finland, China, Turkey, Mexico – the list goes on. This made my trip interesting because not only did I have the opportunity to learn about German culture but I also had an amazing chance to experience different customs, languages and meals from around the world!
Germany has great food options for anyone that loves to eat! The local grocery stores offer a large variety of different ethnic foods including Mexican, Italian, Asian, and pretty much every thing you would find at a local grocery store such as Metro in Toronto (thank you globalization!).
A traditional German dish in Neu-Ulm is Weisswurst, which translates to White Sausage. Tasting this dish was a nightmare at first. The texture of the sausage was too rubbery and not very visually appealing either. It took some time for me to get used to it but I must say the sausage has grown on me (especially when its drowned in German mustard!). If you are ever visiting Bavaria, I definitely recommend giving Weisswurst a try. If pork is not in your diet, the chicken schnitzel is a great alternative and a popular traditional dish in all of Germany as well. There is also no better way to top off a meal in Germany than with a butter pretzel and a litre of brew.
In Germany, it feels as though everything is so different yet so similar in many ways. Realizing the similarities between Toronto and Neu-Ulm helped make my transition that much easier. I was pleased to find out how accommodating the school was and how friendly people around me were. I truly feel right at home! Although I am settling in well, I also know that there is still so much to do but I look forward to it!