Written by Gabriela Tanevska
Studying abroad means moving away from home and your routines. For me, it meant a new country, living with flat mates different from my family, having a different schedule than the one I had when I was working from 9am to 5pm and taking care of lots of things that I used to take for granted.
For example, when I was living with my parents, dinner was waiting for me on the table when I came back from work, the fridge was always full, my clothes were washed and ironed, and the bills were payed. Yet, when you choose to study abroad things change dramatically and you take up many different responsibilities.
My name is Gabriela and, in 2016, I got to experience fully living on my own for the first time. I moved to Slovenia to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Informatics and this year I moved again to do an Erasmus Exchange semester in Germany.
Life in Germany is quite different from what I was used to in Slovenia. For example, the biggest difference is that my lectures take place in various buildings around the city, and not in one single place as before. Furthermore, the lectures schedule varies every day, making it difficult to develop a routine and stick to it. However, I somehow try to stick to the following routine:
08:00 – 09:00
One of the best things about my semester in Germany is that I don’t have lectures early in the morning. The earliest course I have starts at 10 o’clock. This gives me the opportunity to get enough sleep even if I stay up late. The first routine I developed is to get up at 9 o’clock the latest. I always have breakfast at home which includes chocolate muesli that I mix with freshly cut banana and milk, and of course, my first cup of coffee without which I cannot survive.
09:45 – 10:05
Whereas in Slovenia the Faculty was just a 10-minute walk from my place, in Germany I must take a bus. The good thing about the buses in Münster is that they are usually empty because people use bikes. My bus ride sometimes takes up to 30 minutes, so I’ve learned to always carry a book with me to read. It helps time pass faster. The one that I am currently reading is ‘The complete Idiot’s guide to managing your time’. So, I seriously work on improving my time management.
10:15 – 11:45
Although according to the schedule each lecture is supposed to last for two hours, they usually start 15 minutes later and end 15 minutes earlier. So, I get excited every time I forget about it, and the professor says, ‘See you next time’ – 15 minutes earlier than the ‘scheduled’ time.
11:45 – 12:20
After my class, I take the bus again and go to the mensa. I make a ‘strategic’ choice to eat at the mensa, that is close both to the library and the place where my next lecture takes place, to avoid riding the bus too much and save time.
13:30 – 16:00
This time is reserved for studying at my favourite library which is at the Faculty of Law. I like it because it’s small and I’m always lucky to find a place when I get there. Also, it has huge top to bottom windows that make me feel like I am almost outdoors rather than trapped inside.
16:15 – 17:45
Every Monday and Wednesday I have my German language classes. Although I studied German in primary school and high school, restarting from the very beginning helps me remember and revise the things I’ve already learned. My group consists of amazing people with whom I have a lot of fun trying to pronounce all the difficult German words. I never miss the course because it’s my favourite part of the day.
17:45 – 18:20
This time of the day the traffic in Münster is chaotic and it takes me a lot to get home although I don’t live far from where my course takes place. To avoid feeling frustrated I try to concentrate on the book at hand.
18:00 – 22:00
As soon as I reach home, the first thing I do is take a shower while thinking about what to do for dinner. If I am too hungry, I make pasta or a quick sandwich. If I’m not that hungry, I usually make some traditional food that takes more time to cook. Afterwards, it depends. Sometimes I go and do the laundry at a nearby laundromat (because I don’t have a washing machine at home), do grocery shopping or clean my room. Other times, I would just make myself coffee and study or do some university-related work.
22:00 – 24:00
The routine that I am trying to maintain within this time of the day is to finish whatever I was previously doing and just relax. I’ve learned that devoting some time to myself is important. So, what usually happens is that I either hang out with my flat mate, talk with my friends and family or simply read a book. Then I go to bed no later than midnight to maintain a healthy habit of getting at least eight hours of sleep.
So, getting an international education is by far more than just acquiring knowledge at school. It helps you learn how to organize your time better and find a healthy balance between studying and having fun.