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

Last changed: 21 December 2023
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 educational system, culture, food, and even their society’s code. Since I’m studying in a program with two possible majors (Forestry Science or Landscape Architecture), I chose to take some biology and  some forestry science courses that are available in English. I wanted to get as much credits as possible within these concentrations so that I can obtain my degree in biology.

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).

I am allowed to take courses at master’s level even though I am currently studying in a bachelor program. This was due to all the courses at bachelor level are only offered in German language. Local students, however, tends to have a discussion in German. There was an excursion where we met a local forest manager who couldn’t speak English, the professors did their best to ensure that all international 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 is very good, the exams and assignments can be 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 International Office arranged 2 free visits to historical sites in Germany (Concentration Camp). The International Office also arranged 2 gatherings at the beginning and at the end of the Erasmus program at a nice café where we all met and mingled. A German girl was assigned as my buddy to help with my need there. I lived in a student hostel with students from all over the world. It was a nice opportunity to get to know each other, cook together and exchange stories.

During frew time, we hang out in the park or in the city. The most fun thing is that Germany has such a cute culture where everyone would walk around in a group and drag a cart filled with alcohol and loud music. You can also join along when you stumble upon them on the streets. Summer time is the best time to study; there are many events and activities in the city one can enjoy. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organized many activities for every week. I thought it was fantastic! It's worth it to be their member. 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 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. I also made friends with Indonesian community and got invited in their Independence party. Oh, almost forgot, I am a very active and sporty person especially in badminton and volleyball. Being a member and train at the university’s sport facility was great. It is cheap for student. I trained badminton 3 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 the third place for mixed doubles and fourth place for women doubles. It felt good!

What was your best experience during your exchange?

The best experience during my exchange was when I met a man who is now my boyfriend. I never expected to meet someone during my exchange studies. I met him at a bar after an Erasmus gathering during my first week there. I was sitting with my fellow Erasmus friends, and he was sitting with his fellow German classmates. He decided to give me his number and I contacted him few days later. We went out on a date the next day, and little did I know, he brought me to meet his parents. I met them early on and got so close with the entire family. I often spent a lot of time at his parents and learnt about their culture, cooked together, and did a lot of activities together. It was tough when I was about to leave. He decided to move to Sweden in few months upon his graduation. I found my love and a family that care about me. Exchange studies sometimes gives you more than education, it also opens the door to many possibilities. 

What was the biggest challenge during your exchange?

There were many challenges for me personally. I had to change my learning agreement 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 are all sort of at the same time and they were in an oral form. Exam at bachelor’s level is usually in a written form.

Advice for future exchange students:

Exchange studies sounds like a lot of work, scary and complicated, but with the right choice, good timing, sound plan and neat preparation, right people whose helping you, everything will be easy. 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 overwhelm with such an undertaking, but when 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 frsa0003@stud.slu.se if you have questions regarding exchange experience and anything related to it.

 

 

Facts:

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


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