Hello! My name is Claudine Thomassians and I am an exchange student studying International Business at the DHBW Campus Bad Mergentheim. I come from Oregon State University in the US.
#The first days and weeks of the semester abroad: The Honeymoon Phase
Initially, I was faced with the decision of how to spend my last semester at University. I only had one required class left to complete, but didn’t want to spend an entire semester at OSU for a single class. I heard about the opportunity to study abroad in Germany and decided to run with it. Sooner than I knew it, I landed myself in Bad Mergentheim.
The first days in Germany were an absolute dream! I had studied abroad multiple times before, but never in a country where I did not know the language; despite my lack of German language skills, I applied what I already knew about communications across cultures to navigate myself easily around town. Locals were friendly and patient as I tried to do the things that seemed so simple back home, like ordering coffee, asking for directions, or resolving disputes.
I was already accustomed to being abroad for long periods of time, therefore I found it somewhat normal to be away from family and friends back home. I’ve learned that life gets different for everyone, and the true friends will be there to pick up where you left off no matter how long you’re gone for!
#Half-time: Normal Life
The biggest difference between studying at DHBW and my home university are the intimacy of the classes. Being in a single classroom with the same people for 8 hours a day creates an entirely different atmosphere than going to a lecture with 400 students. We are able to create stronger bonds with others that is not possible back in the States.
A typical day for me looks like attending class from 9-4:30; after that, it’s a choice of hanging out with other students, relaxing, going to the gym, or going for a walk. I enjoy a slow pace of life, which is exactly what I like most about Bad Mergentheim. For me, a hike up the mountain and relaxing on a bench for an hour or two is enough to call it a day.
Of course, I enjoy exploring on the weekends and traveling to other towns or countries when I can. Germany is vastly different depending on the city you are in, and sometimes it was quite nice to get out into the bigger cities to explore or go shopping. Although, living in the slow pace of Bad Mergentheim has made me realize the kind of town I really enjoy living in: the nature, the walkability, the history, and the people.
#Farewell and thinking back: Saying Goodbye
Thinking about walking across campus one last time is an emotional thought. But, I’m happy I’m here in Bad Mergentheim to walk across any campus for the last time in my entire undergraduate studies. Thinking back to the beginning of the semester abroad, I would have never expected how close I would have gotten to some of the other students. Some of my best insight to studying abroad is to take advantage of the moments that will not be here in 10 or 20 years; the landmarks, the foreign countries, and the European vacation experience will always have a time and a place, but making the connection with the people here is something I will never have the opportunity to do again.
The best moment in the past months was definitely our excursion to Berlin. It was the first opportunity to bond with the other DHBW students, and I knew in that week that it was going to be a very fun and memorable semester abroad. I will never forget my stay abroad because of the people I met and the memories we made.
Exchange students can join one of our 3 month-long International Programs. Business students can choose the International Program in Business (IPB), which runs three times per year. For Engineering students, we offer the International Program in Engineering (IPE). The classes are taught entirely in English and you can earn up to 30 ECTS in each three-months program.
Exchange students join DHBW Mosbach students, so there is an intercultural mix of students in class. We keep the class size small: you get to know everyone very well and be one tight group during your stay here. Each program includes an Intensive German language and culture course. The programs also include excursions, cultural events and company visits, so you have a great time with plenty of fun and adventure.