Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!

Q&A with Khanh: Studied in Germany
Share this
Print this
Khanh
Studied in Germany
University of Ottawa
Her thoughts on Motivation
In essence, I decided to go on an exchange to live life while I was young.
Her thoughts on Adaptation
The academic formality that exists in the German school system is certainly something I had to adapt to. From interactions with professors after a class, to the way exams were written; they were a step up from what I was used to.
Her thoughts on Motivation
The beauty of it all was that for half a year, I lived somewhere where no one knew who I was before I stepped off that plane.
Her thoughts on Language Learning
You never, ever, ever sound stupid. Locals who see you genuinely trying to learn their language will do what they can to help you.
Her thoughts on Motivation
If you’re sitting on the fence about whether or not to apply for an exchange, I can tell you that my experience changed my life.

Where did you study abroad? Did you have a study focus? 

From March to July last summer, I spent a semester abroad at the University of Konstanz, in Konstanz, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. I spent several weeks before and after the exchange traveling in various places in Europe as well. Because I was studying kinesiology at my home university, I focused on taking similar sport sciences courses in Konstanz, as well as courses in German and finance. 

What made you want to study abroad?

My main motivation was to take advantage of the fact I could continue to earn my credits towards my degree while being able to roam the European continent. A lot of people told me that after graduation, the chances of being able to take an extended amount of time off to travel would be slim. So in essence, the reason I decided to go for an exchange was to live life while I was young. 

How did you search for programs? What made you select your program?

I knew that if I were to study abroad, it had to be in Germany. From the age of one until I was nine, I grew up in Berlin. Since 1999, I’d never had a chance to go back to the country I once called home. Luckily, the state of Baden-Wurttemberg and my home province of Ontario have a partnership (called OBW) that allows for an almost painless exchange between the two countries. If you choose to go to a country that your home nation, state, or province has a partnership with, well-organized orientations and documents could be available for you to make it easier. 

What was the biggest surprise about your study abroad experience?

I would have to say the gap in studiousness. Maybe it was the atmosphere of the town I studied in (it was a touristy lakeside town that could have been plucked from a picturesque postcard), but I felt as though I was more on vacation than on a study abroad term. I knew that technically, the bottom line was that I had to pass my courses, but I also wanted to do well. I suppose it was just a pleasant surprise to know the academic pressures we go through with midterms, exams, and papers here didn’t seem to apply as much to the classes abroad. But the academic formality that exists in the German school system is certainly something I had to adapt to. From interactions with professors after a class, to the way exams were written, I always felt they were a step up from what I was used to in Canada. And that's where I simply made sure to know what the unspoken rules were, so as to display the adequate amount of respect, or not to offend anyone. 

What made your study abroad experience abroad a success?

Taking chances. The beauty of it all was that for half a year, I lived somewhere where no one knew who I was before I stepped off that plane. I don’t mean I had a radical personality change or anything, but if there were situations back home in which I would have chosen the safe (and somewhat boring) option, I tried to change that up while I was in Konstanz. This applied to social, academic and cultural situations, and you know what? I don’t regret it. I know it’s very vague advice, but if you end up going somewhere that just captures your heart, trust me, you’ll find the inspiration to seize the moment. 

Do you have a classroom story that gave you particular insight into other cultures?

What I found to be extremely interesting is the level of respect students had for lecturing professors. Maybe it was a regional thing, or perhaps it happens nation-wide, but every time a professor finished their lecture, all the students would knock on their desk in thanks or appreciation. It wasn’t always the most genuine (it seems to be a matter of habit), but it sure is a contrast to the lazy shuffle we exit the classrooms with after a lecture here at home. I just thought that that was a nice way to acknowledge the work of the professor, something I’d love to see happen here. 

What was the most important thing you learned about communicating in a foreign culture while you were studying abroad?

You never, ever, ever sound stupid. My German was once at a fluent level, but fast-forward a decade, and I was right at a beginner’s level again. But I feel as though worldwide, locals who see you genuinely trying to learn their language become so appreciative of your efforts that they’ll do what they can to help you master the language further. So whether it’s in the classroom, or out at the bar, or asking for directions, don’t be afraid to try in the local language, and when all fails, use your English as it may also surprise you how well non-native English speakers know the language. 

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

If you go to Europe, you’re going to be using RyanAir (or some other incredibly cheap budget airline). My advice to you is, go on their website, pull up their airport map, and plan your trips according to the destinations they fly to. You could get away to some incredible city on less than 20 euros – especially in the off-season. My favourite city to visit was Porto, Portugal. We got there on a five euro flight (not a typo!) from Barcelona and just loved it. It’s truly a hidden treasure within Europe. Have the tarte de natas, the Franceschinas, the port wine and soak in the sights that’ll rock your world until your heart is full! 

Do you have anything else to add?

I think the stereotype that Canadians are incredibly polite is also true and amplified when outside of Canada. A mere bump into someone and I would quickly say “Entschuldigung,” the equivalent of “excuse me.” Germans were always so surprised at the fact I apologized for something so little and were quick to respond “Oh goodness, no worries!” or something similar. I'm not saying I became ruder, but I definitely noticed myself using different words when around Germans. And that's just something that comes with getting acquainted with the lifestyle of someplace new. 

If you’re sitting on the fence about whether or not to apply for an exchange, I can tell you that my experience changed my life. Wherever you decide to go, if you go, it will change yours too. So take a chance, do your research, step on that plane, and enjoy every moment of it. 

If you’d like to take a 12-minute look at how my time went, watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wldZpbJvxvQ

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career? 

Now that I’ve had a taste of it, I have to have more. I’m currently doing a master’s in sport management in Ottawa, and I hope that one day down the road, I’ll find a job or placement that will take me abroad to explore Europe again. If that unfortunate bout of unemployment hit me upon graduation for an extended period of time, I can see myself borrowing some money and going back to Europe in the low-season of spring or late fall to do it all again. For me the bottom line is this: Europe is not a place you have a fling with just once!

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Although Khanh has a personal connection with Germany and took full advantage of the travel opportunities while in Europe, we’d suggest that she expand her horizons and encounter different regions of the world where she’ll be forced to adapt to new cultural norms and develop new cross-cultural communication techniques. The fact that Khanh focuses on sports management could open up doors with NGOs in developing nations. We’d suggest that Khanh check out some of the sports-oriented NGOs working in Africa or South America. This way she’d be expanding her international skills while building relevant career experience. Khanh could also consider teaching English abroad. Once settled in her host country, she could easily network within her school or community in order to find sports-related activities or side jobs.

Khanh's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $50 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
9742
- # of # Filtered -
  • 83
83
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
1
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
2
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
3
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
4
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
5
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
6
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
7
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
8
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
9
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
10
9748
Adventure In The Alps
11
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
12
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
13
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
14
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
15
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
16
9754
Building Memories In India
17
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
18
9752
Giving In Guatemala
19
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
20
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
21
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
22
9753
A Season In Sweden
23
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
24
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
25
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
26
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
27
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
28
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
29
10157
Changing Course In China
30
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
31
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
32
9787
A Spring Semester In London
33
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
34
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
35
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
36
9771
Learning To Love London
37
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
38
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
39
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
40
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
41
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
42
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
43
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
44
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
45
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
46
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
47
9773
Independent In India
48
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
49
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
50
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
51
9762
American Freshman In London
52
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
53
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
54
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
55
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
56
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
57
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
58
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
59
10851
Tips From Tasmania
60
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
61
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
62
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
63
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
64
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
65
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
66
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
67
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
68
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
69
14088
An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
70
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
71
9737
Passionate About Panama
72
10192
Out And About In Paris
73
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
74
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
75
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
76
9756
Springtime In Spain
77
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
78
9765
Simpatico In Florence
79
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
80
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
81
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
82
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
83
9742
All Job Boards
427
All NGOs
1445
Au Pair Resources
35
Awards and Grants Resources
51
Business and Finance Job Boards
61
Business Directories
19
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
27
Children and Families Abroad
18
Country Guides
63
Cross-cultural Skills
78
Engineering Job Boards
56
Engineering Resources
79
Expatriate Networking Sites
20
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
29
General Job Search Books
18
Global Education and Social Action
42
Health and Medicine Job Boards
48
Health Career Resources
51
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
42
International Internship Organizations
323
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
34
International Internships With the US Government
40
International Job Hunting Resources
12
International Law Careers Resources
108
International Law Job Boards
28
International Studies in the US and Canada
14
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
507
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
153
Language Careers
31
Learn a Language
100
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
30
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
32
Loans for Studying Abroad
19
Low-cost Travel
59
NGO Directories
34
NGO Job Boards
49
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
105
Relocating Abroad
20
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
51
Stories From Abroad
83
Study Abroad Resources
188
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
87
Teach English Abroad Resources
62
Tools for Travelers
73
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
71
Travel Health and Safety
41
UN and Other IGOs
253
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN and Other IGOs Resources
69
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
32
Visas and Passports
25
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
50
Women Living and Working Overseas
15
Working Vacation Resources
56