Study the world

Take the risk! Step out of your comfort zone! Try something new!

How often have you heard someone say this to you? How often have you actually considered it? If you answered one or both of these questions with “Never ever!”, then let me be the first to tell you why this is a mistake.

As a student, you have the perfect conditions to rip out the roots of your Canadian life and plant them somewhere else. No high-paid job you’re afraid to lose, no family you need to feed, basically no responsibilities you’d be neglecting if you just got on the plane tomorrow. But, wait! Before you jump into the next taxi, maybe you shouldn’t do that. Better look at your options first:

Traveling – amazing. On the other hand, expensive.

Internship – working? I think you’re studying so that you can postpone this destiny for a bit.

Study abroad – you’re far away from home, you earn credits for your degree and you can still enjoy the perks of student life, just somewhere else. Perfect combination.

And UVic is fully supporting you in your decision of gaining life experience and getting to know a new culture. Because a stay abroad is more than just studying, I can tell you that!

headshot_AnnaAh, maybe I should introduce myself at this point: I’m Anna, I’m from Germany and I’m doing a study abroad at the moment – that’s how I ended up on your screen. And can you see me studying right now? No, of course not. It’s Reading Break and these are just letters here but I can tell you: Not really, I’m in Banff, Alberta. It’s helping me understand Canadian culture a little better. Furthermore, facing the cold weather will push me to my limits and help me grow as a person, you know?

As a UVic student, you’re offered more than 300 post-secondary institutions worldwide to possibly explore on a study abroad. The hardest part of organizing your stay might be the decision on where to go! But there are several resources and you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help:

1. The UVic ISS (International Student Services) website – Here you can find a list of all the partner universities UVic has around the world, including some background information and reports by students who’ve already been there.

2. The International Opportunities Fair – Current exchange students will talk about their home countries and universities while you walk from table to table. It’s a great way to connect with locals and make sure your dream country is actually as dreamy as you imagined. The fair is taking place next week on Tuesday, November 17, from 10 am to 3 pm in the Michele Pujol Room, Student Union Building, here on campus.

3. This blog post – Because I am one of these current exchange students and I am going to use this chance to present you with your first possibility: The Technical University of Dortmund in Germany.


I mean, why not take the risk of drinking a beer that costs you 80 cents at the little corner store over there? Why not step out of your comfort zone and into a club where “Let’s party all night!” means more than from 12 to 2? Why not try the autobahn, where a car can really show what it’s capable of? Why not go for a once-in-a-lifetime-experience at my home university?

The Technical University of Dortmund is located in the west of Germany in the center of the county North-Rhine Westphalia. As the name suggests, it is widely known for its achievements in technical and scientific fields. But don’t let that scare you away!

We offer a broad variety of programs: 67, to be exact. Moreover, nearly every department provides courses in English. This year we had 32,801 students and 300 professors. It’s not this everyone-knows-everyone and rumours-spread-in-seconds feeling, but you’ll still bump into your friends on campus.

And if you’re coming to Dortmund, your wonderful advisors will make sure that you have friends. They’ll connect you with other international students and also with locals. This happens through a project called “Dortmund Doubles” where you get matched with two German students.

I participated this spring, of course on the other side, and I can tell you what a great experience it is because they don’t just randomly assign you someone but really look into whether you might get along.

It totally worked for me! I’m still in contact with my Double. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, right near the US border, so  I actually have a place to go for Christmas, which is pretty cool. I don’t need to further mention the advantages of having friends all over the world. I mean, that’s basically a free bed all over the world.

…However, I can basically hear you thinking right now, “How would I survive this? I don’t even speak the language!” Yes, it can be challenging to go to a foreign country totally on your own – I can tell you that. Just imagine yourself, sitting in your room. Alone. 7973 km away from home. Nearly 8000 km away from your own bed, your best friend and your mum.

…But now picture yourself getting through this. Because YOU CAN DO IT! You can go out there and make a new German best friend! You can use this as a chance to grow and to learn how to communicate with your hands and with your feet! Period.

…Although… we gotcha on that! Your program includes 4 weeks of German courses before the actual semester starts. That means you can completely concentrate on learning some sentences in our lovely but maybe confusing language.

…However, make sure that you leave enough time before, after, or just in the middle of, your stay to travel. While in Dortmund, you get the “Semesterticket” which is comparable to UVic’s student bus pass. This ticket not only lets you use the public transit in the city but in the whole county of North-Rhine Westphalia. That means, you can get to Cologne, Düsseldorf and many other cool places for free, and don’t forget that you’re in the middle of Europe. Let me give you some numbers:

  • 240km to Amsterdam – that’s two and a half hours by train from Dortmund.
  • 490km to Berlin – that’s three and a half hours by train.
  • 560km to London – that’s one hour and 15 minutes by plane. Sometimes you can get flights from Dortmund for 10€; this is no joke.
  • Not to forget Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Prague, Stockholm and I-could-go-on-with-this-list-forever.

…And I could go on with this post forever because I still have so many arguments up my sleeve. I haven’t even started yet on our vivid cultural scene or just how much I like to live in this city …which, by the way, British newspaper The Guardian described as honest, rough and adorable last week. If this isn’t tempting, I don’t know what is!

TU-Dortmund-Mathetower-Mensa-Emil-Figge-50-2013 (1)If you now have the slightest interest in exploring the real Germany – you know, the one behind all the Lederhosen, wurst and strudel – you’re absolutely welcome to visit, try our beer and test our autobahn.

Also, visit the TU Dortmund website for international students to get specific information or get in contact with Laura Hope (, who would be pleased to answer all your questions!

But if this was not convincing enough for you, please come to the International Opportunities Fair on November 17th and talk to me, so that I can give you some more arguments. Just kidding. Use it to look at some other universities and countries but, please, don’t miss your chance of an incredible adventure!

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