Mail from … Braunschweig Master student Alejandro Mesa Heredia from Colombia about his impressions and experiences at TU Braunschweig
This is what I am doing in Braunschweig:
I’m doing a full Master’s degree in aerospace engineering here at TU Braunschweig, I work as a student assistant in the International House and, above all, I’m building my life here.
My stay lasts…
I have been in Braunschweig since 19 April 2018 and am now in my 4th Master’s semester. I hope to stay in Germany for a very long time.
That’s why I decided to study at TU Braunschweig:
To be honest, Braunschweig was not my only choice. I had Aachen and Braunschweig in mind because of the subject area of my study programme. I applied to both universities and in the end fate brought me to Braunschweig. When I started studying here, I found that it was the best thing that could have happened to me because of the balance between theory and practice, the different institutes and research groups, and the proximity to DLR and the airport.
That’s what I want to do after I finish my studies:
I focused on aircraft engines in my studies and would like to work in this field, more specifically in engine maintenance. I would like to stay here, but I am also aware that if I find a good opportunity in another city, nothing will tie me here. But in any case, my firm plan is to stay in Germany.
Living in Braunschweig
That’s how I live in Braunschweig:
I live in a shared flat with a student from Iran, with whom I have a very close relationship. He is actually more like a brother than a flatmate to me now.
How is studying in Germany different from studying in my home country?
I think the main difference is the examination procedure. In Colombia, there are exams all the time during the semester – two or three per course. The fact that there is a fixed exam period in Germany increases stress and reduces free time during the holidays. In Germany, however, it’s more relaxed during the semester. I don’t think one option is better or worse, but there is definitely a difference.
What is the difference between everyday life in Germany and in my home country?
Two things come to mind: Firstly, people here have time to live and not just to study or work. I can spend much more time on my hobbies! And secondly, the climate influences people a lot. I come from a tropical country and we are very open people. In Germany, I notice that in winter, people’s moods and lives change because of the darkness. That was a new experience for me.
That’s what I learned here in the first three days:
On Day 1: It is very easy to meet new people in Germany as long as you are open and friendly towards other people.
Day 2: A beer or a glass of wine is always a good excuse to meet up with friends.
On day 3: To order a kebab, you have to say: „Einen Döner mit allem, bitte.“ And not: „Einen Döner mit alles.“
The biggest challenge during my stay so far has been …
The language and the food. I really miss the large selection of fresh fruit in Colombia.
What I will take home with me from here:
I would take with me two small lucky charm figurines (a pig and a chimney sweeper), chocolate, cheese and a few different kinds of beer. And something non-material would be the respect, peace and security you feel when you walk through German parks and streets.
Good to know
This is my tip for other international students or academics who are planning a stay abroad in Germany or are currently doing so:
One hand washes the other – it is not easy to do everything alone in a foreign country. Help each other and simply approach people. Most of them will support you in the best possible way. And: Everything is closed on Sundays!
This is something that you should definitely try out in Braunschweig:
Watching a sunrise from one of the park roofs, going to carnival and shouting “Braunschweig Helau” loudly, eating a kebab after a night of partying and driving at least once on the German autobahn without a speed limit (before it is banned).
This is something I would like to add:
Don’t be afraid to take a risk, to dare a new experience, to learn about a different culture, to try new foods or to make mistakes. I feel that this whole process has helped me develop as a person and Braunschweig is a beautiful city that makes all this possible – even in times of a pandemic.
This is how the pandemic affects my stay:
Unfortunately, the pandemic started just in my second semester, so I didn’t have the chance to meet many of my fellow students, many activities were cancelled and I had to miss out on many trips, but I always try to think positive. That’s why I used the extra time to study more and to think through my plans for the future.
Despite the pandemic, this was my favourite way to pass the time:
At the beginning of the pandemic, I lived in a student dormitory. There were about ten of us and we had a pool table, a basketball court and kayaks that we could take out on the river Oker. There were also various board games, so we didn’t get bored.
I’ve been living in my new shared flat for six months now, and although I don’t have as much space as I used to, we still go out a lot and meet up with our friends.