An insider’s take on Ulm vs Neu-Ulm, Germany

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

Between the green borders of the German provinces Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, split between a wide winding river, lies Ulm and Neu-Ulm.

This place has been my home for five beautiful months. It has natural beauties and urban treasures. It can be a place to escape, build a family, start a business, even study a semester abroad. Ulm and Neu-Ulm are extremely small in comparison to Toronto but don’t be fooled by their size as they have much to offer for any student abroad.

Getting a job is possible here even if you don’t speak German. You can always use your own language to your advantage. It’s possible to find jobs in translation as well as jobs that don’t require speaking at all. There is always a need for dishwashers or back of house workers in local restaurants. It’s also possible to find a job through the University by inquiring with the International Office at HNU. I was lucky enough to find a job in translating web pages for a local company which allowed me a few hours a week to have a little bit of extra spending money and didn’t take up too much time.

Ulm

Twenty-five minutes on foot from the student residence in Neu-Ulm, you will find yourself in awe at the sight of the Ulm Munster. This church is Ulm’s pride and joy sitting 750+ steps high (which you can climb!) as the world’s tallest church. Climbing up these steps is exhausting and to be honest, quite terrifying, however it’s worth the view once you reach the top.

The city of Ulm is a mix of old and new. It has historical heritage that blends in with its student culture. I would describe Ulm as a student city. There are many Universities in the area and local bars and restaurants that cater to students with free entry with student cards. There are restaurants offering varieties of food from Italian, Spanish, French, Asian and Arabic.

Here is a list of some great things to do if you ever find yourself in Ulm:

Climb the Ulm Munster for an incredible photo opportunity. – Your legs will hurt the next day!

Explore the Canals. – Ulm has a magnificent canal belt with old German architecture, it’s a beautiful area to wonder around on a cool fall day or grab a coffee at a local café terrace in the summer.

L’Osteria. – If you’re ever in the mood for Italian, head over to L’Osteria. Their pizza is the largest I’ve ever seen, a great value for the price and it’s delicious. Try something different on your pizza like tuna fish. I had no clue this was a topping but apparently it’s a popular one around Germany.

Christmas Market. – I haven’t been myself, but I have heard it is one of the largest and takes place right in front of the Ulm Munster in the city square.

Grab a Kebab. – Kebab shops are all over Germany and they’re extremely cheap and filling! I think the best I have had in Ulm is at Firat Kebab and it’s even open late!

Transportation between Ulm and Neu-Ulm is easy once you become familiar with the routes. Local trains and buses are free for students on weekdays after 6 p.m. and weekends, so buying a bus pass isn’t needed! It’s possible to take a train from either Ulm or Neu-Ulm to Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt and connect to close major cities like Paris, Berlin, Dresden, Salsburg, Amsterdam and more. The cost of travel is relatively equal to the TTC in Ulm and Neu-Ulm but further journeys like Paris and Berlin can be between 20-50 euro one way.

Neu-Ulm
HNU is locatated in Neu-Ulm, in the province of Bavaria. The student residence is within a five-minute walk from the University, close to a grocery store, movie theatre, lake and restaurant. Although Neu-Ulm is much smaller then Ulm, it does have its charm. Neu-Ulm has a small downtown area, train station and mall, making it easily accessible and a great place to live and study with all of its amenities. With Ulm a short distance away, you can enjoy city life while living in a beautiful area.

There are many things to do in Neu-Ulm, such as:

Go for a run (or walk) along the Danube. – This river separates Ulm from Neu-Ulm, Baden-Württemberg from Bavaria. It’s beautiful at sunset or sunrise, or any time of the day really.
If running isn’t your thing you can always opt for a picnic!

Half Price lunch at peach pit. – Close to campus is an American style restaurant with amazing burgers and fries. Get there before 3 p.m. and the menu is half price!

Go to the lake. –
There are many lakes nearby that can all be accessed by bus. There is one lake a short walking distance from the University which is most popular with students. Here you can BBQ, swim, play volleyball, football and much more.

Danau Fest. – This festival takes place in the first week of July. Vendors sell all different types of German food, clothing, trinkets, jewellery and art, which line the shores of the Danube (river).

Schwörmontag. – This event takes place July 18th and is one of the largest festivals in Ulm/Neu-Ulm. Businesses, schools, families and friends make their own boats (or buy them) and sail them down the river for hours, eating, drinking and listening to music. The sides of the river are littered with people, vendors and live music.

With city life in Ulm so close by and beautiful scenery in Neu-Ulm just a walk away, it’s the best of both worlds here in the south of Germany.

Safe travels!

Catherine Camara

It’s All Temporary – Germany

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

There is a quote from Orange is The New Black which really stuck to me in the past months: “Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when you’re done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.” A mandala is a round Tibetan art piece made of sand. After months of work laying out beautiful designs, it is wiped away. The character is referring to her time at an all-female federal prison – a situation completely unparalleled to mine – but still I find this can relate to any person taking on a new chapter of her/his life.

Never have I ever expected myself to be the one who would blog about feeling home sick! To be honest, there is not a lot about home that I missed. At least there wasn’t in the first three months here. I love Europe and even the culture shock was a pleasant experience. However, all it took was a visit from my friend from home put a lot of things into perspective. Seeing a familiar face was bittersweet and brought back a familiarity I haven’t felt in three months. I missed home! I am often alone here, whereas in Canada I was living with my family of four and two cats; there was always someone around or at least some background noise. But like most things it’s just temporary. You will miss your friends, your family, your car and even the simple pleasures that would make you happy like a mocha coconut frappucino from Starbucks, or an all-you-can-eat sushi date with your best friend.

 

Me and my best friend from Toronto, Rebecca Rausch walking the canals- Amsterdam, Netherlands

It is important to realize that during your time here you will find people who can take the place of your friends and family for a short while. After all, its only temporary. Being alone is not a bad thing as much as it is a challenge. It challenges creativity and with it your mind adapts to the feeling of loneliness. I started to make friends, plan events, have dinner dates, play sports and create my own study abroad family. The feeling of loneliness quickly turned into independence, and that’s exactly what it is. Independence is something important to me that I can take away from this experience.

Me and my new family of International Students.

Part of being on your own is navigating in a city that is foreign and unfamiliar in every way. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, taking the bus, and loading your student card can become quite difficult with simple miscommunication. It makes everyday exciting and new, sometimes even comical. German is an extremely difficult language to learn, and though I am slowly learning, I can’t help but be helpless when it comes to ordering a taxi or pizza. It’s not easy but it keeps things interesting. When someone finally understands you, when you’ve made it to the other side of Germany on your own, or when you’ve given someone the right directions in German, it’s so worth it.

Safe Travels,
Catherine Camara

Living & Studying in Utrecht!

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Author: Victoria Ercolao
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands

Everyone has their concerns when they are about to start a new adventure or experience. These concerns were certainly present when it came to pursuing my studying abroad experience. Although I had my concerns, I knew that with the right help and support that I would quickly overcome all of my concerns with ease. Thanks to both my coordinator at Seneca, and the international office at Hogeschool Utrecht for making my transition one that was both smooth and simple.

The Program

I completed my second semester of my Public Relations & Corporate Communications certificate program at the Hogeschool, Utrecht (HU), where I studied International Communication and Media (ICM). I had a wide variety of electives to choose from in the ICM module that directly related to my program at Seneca. All the courses were also taught in English. From the day I arrived, I was integrated with both Dutch and other international students. Between my coordinator at Seneca and the International Office at HU, I never felt confused or overwhelmed with academic processes. All the staff and teachers were always willing to help. The HU also prides itself on offering its students an international learning experience, and I agree that this was the most rewarding part of the program. My classes had students from Spain, France, Germany, Australia, India and South Korea (just to name a few!). Collaborating with students from such diverse backgrounds really challenges you to think from different perspectives and becomes a very valuable skill that employers look for!

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Housing

The student housing market in Utrecht is extremely competitive due to the large student population, which is why finding a place to stay during my study abroad period became a concern for me. My concern was quickly resolved once I spoke to the international office at the Hogeschool Utrecht (HU).  The HU recommends that all international students use an affiliated student housing company named SSH. I rented my room through this website and had a really positive experience. SSH has properties all over the city and they take the uncertainties out of finding a place on your own. Rooms range in price from €300 to €700 per month, and the earlier you reserve, the more choice you have. I rented a studio apartment right on the HU campus for €625 per month all-inclusive. The apartment was clean, spacious and I didn’t have to share any amenities; however, I would recommend renting something closer to the city centre because that’s where all the action is. Aside from being really close to all my classes, there’s not much else to do on the HU campus.

If you are excited and eager to study abroad, make an appointment with one of the going global coordinators!

Bonjour Paris!

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Author: Safa Siddiqi
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Paris, France

I have always wanted to be a global citizen. I believe that travelling and learning about other cultures is essential to personal and professional growth. When I found out that Seneca’s Public Relations and Corporate Communications program offers a semester abroad, I was nothing short of ecstatic.

I chose Paris because I made a five-day visit during the previous year and really enjoyed my trip. Nonetheless, my expectations were low because five days and five months are very different. I really had no idea about Parisian culture or what living there would be like but I wanted to dive in head first and figure it out along the way. I truly believe that is what made my experience so exciting.

The institution called EFAP – l’ecole des nouveaux métiers de la communication, is centrally located right off of the Champs Elysees which is one of the most well-known streets in Paris. I found this really helpful because there are many English speaking locals and foreigners in the area. I found myself asking these people questions all the time in order to navigate through the city.

I also asked my instructors lots of questions; they were always willing to help and came from a range of backgrounds, both educationally and culturally. I learned so much about communications in the European world because of their vast knowledge and global experience.

I could go on forever about Paris and all the wonderful things about it but I’ll just name a few. In terms of food, I would recommend trying escargot at least once, macarons are a must, crepes,  and croissants of course. French culture is all about having a work-life balance so spending time with family and friends are essential. You will see people enjoying picnics with baguettes and pastries at all hours of the day. Some picnic locations include the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Seine River, Tuileries gardens, Luxembourg gardens and endless parks. One night my friends and I had a picnic from 10 pm-6 am – it was amazing! It is important to move away from the very middle of the city to other areas as well called “arrondissements” (there are 20), the more you move away from the core, the more authentic your experience. Taking in Parisian architecture by day and all the lights at night is mesmerizing- the city never ceased to take my breath away.

I get really shy when I’m pulled out of my comfort zone. Though I wish I was a fluent French-speaker, my knowledge of the language is limited. I would often struggle with communication and get embarrassed quite easily. Eventually I took it as an opportunity to practice my French as much as possible and soon enough, Paris became my comfort zone. I was pleasantly surprised because many locals were happy to help, thereby increasing my motivation to improve.

This experience has changed me in an incredibly positive way. I am able to adapt to a variety of situations and have gained an awareness about the world that I would have never developed without this program. I have made international friendships and my eyes have been opened to opportunities that transcend North American borders. Beyond the educational aspect, this experience has been about personal growth and development. I now know that I really enjoy the French way of life and I would happily live there again.

I should also mention that I was able to travel to multiple cities in Europe including, Amsterdam, Bruges, Nice, Aix-en-Provence, Milan, Florence, Chianti and Rome. Just having the ability to travel to other countries and soak in other cultures during my time off was such a great opportunity.

I think having this experience will be beneficial to me in my professional career because it expresses that I am open to new ideas, well-cultured, self-motivated, creative, and culturally aware. Many employers are looking for individuals who have these characteristics, especially in the global arena.

Author: Safa Sidiqqi

Student Inspiration for Studying Abroad

Three students from the Hospitality-Hotel and Restaurant Services Management and Tourism-Services Management- Flight Services Specialization programs spent 2 months working abroad in Fortaleza – Brazil.
Watch their video and inspire yourself to study or work abroad!

To read more about their experience abroad, visit their student blog: Are We There Yet?

An Experience of a Lifetime

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Author: Jacqueline Roes
Program:  Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Ghent, Belgium

Throughout my university experience, I never had a desire to go abroad. I think part of my hesitation lied in the fact that I hadn’t left the nest and was nervous of being so far from my family. After applying and being admitted into the Corporate Communications Program and moving away from my hometown of London, Ontario to Toronto, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be an amazing opportunity to take my studies abroad and Seneca offered an exciting exchange program called Going Global. After doing some research, I confidently chose to go to Ghent, Belgium. Friends and family had asked me, why Belgium? My reply to them was that I love to travel and Belgium is conveniently located within Europe. To the north is Holland, to the south is France and just below France is Spain. To the east there is Germany and to the west is England. Fortunately for me, I got to travel to all of these beautiful countries!!

Upon my arrival, of course I was anxious and really had no expectations. I had no close friends who had ever been on exchange and I was also going completely by myself. I am a friendly person but of course there are doubts: will I make friends? Will I get to travel? Will I be homesick? The answer? I made so many more friends than I expected, traveled so many more places than I anticipated and I really didn’t get homesick! So therefore, the overall exchange experience surpassed my expectations more than I could have imagined!

So for those wondering, the exchange program was all in English.  All the exchange students plus the locals could speak English and I was surprised how easily we were all able to communicate with each other! To give a very brief blurb about Belgium, the country has two official languages: French and Flemish (Flemish is very similar to the Dutch language). I was in the Flemish speaking area of the country.

I’ve been asked if there was anything I could change about my experience what would it be? My reply was I wish I could’ve stay longer! I met so many incredible people from all over Europe, as well as from the United States, and have made lifelong friends. Even though they are all so far away, my solid group of friends and I have stayed in contact and talk about how we wish we could escape the real world and revisit Ghent. The city was welcoming (most locals speak English), and it is the perfect student town with tons of activities. The historical architecture of the city was stunning and truly has the best beer, chocolate, fries and waffles in the world!!

Through this exchange, I gained more confidence in myself, incredible friends, and a more open and well-rounded perception on life and culture in general. The exchange really opened my eyes to differences in culture and how to adapt accordingly.  This was an amazing learning experience and I would a hundred thousand percent do another exchange in the future if the opportunity ever arose!

I encourage anyone contemplating a study abroad program to do it without hesitation! I jumped from thinking I’d never do one, to one day saying I’m up for the challenge and I am forever grateful for the decision I made and for my parents who encouraged me to follow through with my decision! Every day, I miss my friends and Ghent so much and that’s how I know it was worth every second and every penny I spent!

Author: Jacqueline Roes

Why I Chose to Study Abroad

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Author: Bryan Jo Fernando
Program: Creative Advertising
Work Abroad Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As a Creative Advertising student at Seneca College, I was constantly exposed to innovative ideas and creative environments, which inspired me to want to think beyond boundaries and borders. The experience I have gained in Film and Media production, motivated me to go out and seek a global understanding of this field, and to pursue further international learning opportunities.

I wanted to explore opportunities that would help me not only learn about the business of media and advertising production, but at the same time, allow me to experience a different, yet vibrant culture.

This goal encouraged me to look for opportunities abroad. I started my journey by approaching the International Service office at Seneca. They were extremely helpful in guiding me to find a real-world opportunity that would fuel my entrepreneurial dreams.

I continued working towards identifying opportunities abroad and with the help of the International Services office; I was able to participate in The Ontario Global Edge Program, which is funded by the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.

I am excited to be traveling to Kuala Lumpur, where I will be working for a Production House that shoots international films in Malaysia. I hope more and more students from Seneca identify with these opportunities and make use of them to gain professional and international experiences.  I look forward to sharing my journey of working in Malaysia in my next blog post.