Freya Saidin: Georg-August-Universität-Göttingen, Germany

Last changed: 27 February 2024
bild på Freya och klasskompisar och lärare

It was a lot of fun I must say. The opportunity to go into the German forests and study about trees at their full force was amazing! Exchange studies is all about having fun while studying. In Germany, there are lots of activities and events during summer time. Students can participate and enjoy their social lives regardless the simultaneous study system.

Why did you want to do an exchange?

I’ve always wanted to study abroad. A change of environment is good to stimulate my mind especially when I get to explore a new culture, meet new people and most of all, get to be inspired by new educational experience. I’ve been exposed into other countries’ perspectives and getting a better insight of how they do things in forestry practices which perhaps could be a good use for me in my future studies and work.

Other than that, despite Germany being geographically close to Sweden, these two countries have a lot of differences when it comes to the education system, culture, food, as well as their society’s code. My program at SLU is a hybrid between Forestry Science and Landscape Architecture, and since my interest leaning more towards biodiversity and nature conservation, I mainly chose biology and forestry science courses that are available in English. The forest faculty offers many interesting courses that aren't available at SLU or even in Sweden. Since I'm moulding my own degree, I wanted to get as many relevant courses as possible within the field of my interest, so that I can obtain a unique degree at the end of my education. 

Which courses did you take?

I took three courses which makes up to 15 credits in total. The courses were as follows:

  • Environmental Biotechnology and Forest Genetics (M.FES.324)
  • Forestry in Germany (M.FES.713)
  • Tropical Dendrology (M.FES.728).

Despite being a student at bachelor level, I was allowed to take courses at master’s level. This was due to all the courses at bachelor's level are only offered in German language. However, local students tend to have discussions in German. There was an excursion where we met a local forest manager who didn't speak English, and the professors did their best to ensure that all English-speaking students felt included. It felt special to be among students above my level, but this came with a cost. They have more in-depth knowledge compared to me. The professors sort of expected students at this level to be independent. Although the quality of the lectures was very good, the exams and assignments were quite challenging.

What was the student life like outside of your courses?

Göttingen is located perfectly in the middle of Germany. From there, one can get access to many major cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Hannover etc. The train connections are rather good. As a student there, one is entitled to a semester ticket which allow oneself to travel around Lower Saxony for free. I often took the opportunity to explore other cities on my free time.

During my first week there, the University International Office arranged two free visits to German historical sites (Concentration Camps). They also arranged two gatherings: one at the beginning and one at the end of the Erasmus program. The gatherings took place at nice cafés where we all met and mingled. A German student was assigned as my buddy to help with my needs there. I stayed in a student hostel with students from every corner of the world. It was a nice opportunity to get to know each other, cook together, and exchange stories.

During free time, we hung out in parks or in the city. The most fun thing was that Germany has such a cute culture which everyone (mostly students) would walk around in a group and drag a cart full of alcohol and play loud music. I once stumbled upon them on the streets and decided to tag along. Summertime is the best time to study; there are many events and activities in the city that one gets to partake. I joined almost every program organised by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) on weekly basis. I thought it was fantastic! It was worth it to be their members. The sport festival was also one of the highlights during my stay there. It was a joyful midsummer day! Other than that, I met a fellow Malaysian who’s doing a PhD study in my faculty. She introduced me to a Malaysian community around Göttingen. Through her, I got invited to Eid’s celebration twice which totally cured my homesickness.

Furthermore, I also made friends with Indonesian community and got invited to their independence party. Oh, almost forgot, I am a very active and sporty person especially in badminton and volleyball. University’s sport facility is great. They offer a very affordable fee for students to use their facilities. I trained badminton three times a week and took part in the university tournament towards the end of the exchange. It was just for fun at first but ended up winning third place for mixed doubles and fourth place for women doubles. I didn't just win the prizes, but also made many sporty friends. It felt good! 

What was your best experience during your exchange?

The best experience during my exchange was when several random stuffs happened to me. There's one in particular that highlight my experience! During my weekend trip to Frankfurt with a friend, I walked into a festival where Mogli was performing. I always adore her music and had no idea she was going to be there that day. I gagged and almost couldn't believe my eyes! I saw Mogli up close and in person. My friend and I decided to hang around and enjoy the concert for a bit. Exchange studies sometimes gives you more than education, it also opens the door to many possibilities and throws you random opportunities.  

What was the biggest challenge during your exchange?

There were many challenges for me personally. I've had my learning agreement changed several times due to the course unavailability and timetable conflict. I also had to keep a fast pace with my classmates at master’s level. Most of all, the exams were all sort of happened at the same time and in an oral form. Exam at bachelor’s level is usually in a written form which is easier in my opinion.  

Advice for future exchange students:

Exchange studies sounds like a lot of work, scary and complicated. Although, everything will be easy if you got helps from the right people, with the right choice, a sound plan, and at good timing. If you dream of doing an exchange study, just go for it. Where there is the will, there is a way! I always think of it as a journey of a thousand miles which start with a single step. One can feel overwhelmed with such an undertaking, but if you look at it just as one step at a time, one day you are going to look up from your feet and you will be at your destination.

You are welcome to contact me at my email if you have any questions regarding exchange experience, I'll be happy to answer those.




Name: Freya Saidin
Exchange at: Georg-August-Universität-Gö>ngen
Programme at SLU: BSc Forest and Landscape
Period of exchange: Summer 2023