Erasmus Student Exchange Report Winter Semester 2016 Rachel Rae Stella Patricia
My name is Rachel Stella Rae Patricia, 22 years old, currently doing my thesis, and I always wanted to study abroad. Two years ago, I saw a brochure about this program, at that time I was so excited and I decided to contact one of professor to ask about it. I told him that I was really interested in applying for the program. But then, he said that my GPA should be at least 3,75. I was so desperate and so down because my GPA was only around 3,30. There was no way I could join the program.
A year later, which was last year, my friend told me that I have to apply for this program again because started from this year there would be a scholarship for all the accepted students. Again, I was so excited yet so frustrated because my GPA was not improved that much. I told my friend I could not join the program because I was not required for it. But he told me that it was okay, he pushed me to at least try to apply for the program. Well, this time I prayed that nothing would fail me.
After several selections, I finally got a paper with my name written on it, saying that I officially accepted as one of the students for Student Exchange Program to Germany. Twenty two years of living, I have never ever thought, even in my wildest dream, that I will get a full-scholarship to Germany, Europe. So far away from home, from my family, and from my comfort zone. And I was so thankful for that, I still am.
I have to admit, at first I was so scared because I have never done something like this before. “How do I live?”, “How do I communicate?”, “How do I manage to fit in?”, “How do I maintain everything by myself?” these were some of the questions that stucked since I was officially accepted. I am the kind of person that adores perfection, it makes me a perfectionist and an ambitious person. That is why I was so afraid that I will fail my university, my family, and myself. I put my goals in the highest level and I did not want to face any disappoinments. Well, I realized that sometimes, being a perfectionist and an ambitious person is not always a good thing. Sometime they haunt you, they scare you. You need to get to know yourself more, because once you managed to overcome your fear, everything will be just like what you have expected before.
Time flies so fast and now I already finished the program. I am so grateful for this opportunity. There are a lot of new things I have learned through this program. I met a lot of people from all over the world. I learned how to maintain a good relationship with new people, how to deal with them, how to do a business with them, and so much more. Some people said that six months are really short for studying abroad. But for me, the last six months were so amazing and I am dying to go back and repeat all over again.
This report summarizes my journey in Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen, Germany during the SommerSemester 2016. In this report, I will explain more about the university, the courses, my studying experience, my cultural experience and many more. I hope that this report would satisfy the reader and can be such an inspiration for people to study abroad.
2. Studying in Germany
2.1 An Overview of Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen, Germany
When I was accepted at this program, I did not know anything about this university, and then I looked up at the internet to see how my next university would look like. I remember that I was so excited because in my opinion, this university is so amazing and I could not wait to be one of the students. The campus itself is not really big, at least not as big as my campus in Atmajaya, but it looks so modern and so awesome.
Westfälische Hochschule is a medium-sized of applied sciences university in one of the most active active regions in Germany. It has 3 campuses, the main campus is in Gelsenkirchen and the other two are in Recklinghausen and Bocholt. Gelsenkirchen campus has the biggest campus out of the other two, it has at least 5 buildings located in the same area. It is the home of technical engineering, informatics, water environment engineering, and journalism and public relation major.
Westfälische Hochschule has a lot of international partnership with foreign universities, exchange student from abroad, periods of study and internships since many years ago. These particular programs enable the students to aquaire international and intercultural competencies. This also stimulates creativity and innovation in the region and helps to accomplish the mission of the university in education and research: to take responsibility for the future and find solutions for tomorrow.
Westfälische Hochschule has at least about 7,500 students and 340 international students are among them. The students are obviously not only from Germany but also from 40 countries around the world such as Indonesia, India, Jordan, Romania, Spain, United States, and many more. They also have cooperations and partnership with at least 60 universities in the world. There are over 200 Professors and about 180 scientific assistant work in this university.
2.2.1 Environmental Communication
This course was given by Prof. Don Lewis Kirk. He is a professor and he really concerns about the environmental issues. At the first meeting of this course, he asked every single student at the class a question, it was “What’s popped up on your mind when you hear the word “environmental”?”. Me, as an Indonesian, automatically thinking about the big flood in Indonesia that comes every 5 years, he seemed so interested with my answer and he asked me to write something about the rising sea level in Indonesia.
At this course, we always discuss about what happened in our world and how media or journalist can cover the issue. Mr. Kirk often gave us homework to do such as posting something in the blog that he made specially for this course. He wanted us to write our opinion about world’s environmental problem. For the final exam, he gave us two options. It was either a presentation or making a paper but he let us chose our main topic. I chose to make a presentation about how movies influence animal populations. In that case, I chose “Finding Dory” as the main topic because at that time that film was just released. According to the research, people will instantly want to have a certain animal that were exposed in some movies. This happened to the clown fish when “Finding Nemo” was released. Everyone wanted to have clown fish in their home fish tank because they fell in love with nemo. Unlike clown fish, dory –or you might wanna call her “blur tangs fish”, can not be bred in captivity. This means, they will be caught in the wild ocean and this could damage the ocean because the blue tangs fish has a big role in the sea. I found this topic really interesting so that was why I chose this topic. I presented this topic while Mr. Eko Widodo and Mr. Salvatore Simarmata was visiting us at the university. It was such an honour that I can present something in front of home university’s teacher in Germany.
2.2.2 Executive Decision Making and Communication
This course was also given by my favorite professor, Prof. Don Lewis Kirk. In this course, we learned about how public relation officer can cover an issue that the company have faced. This course was really interesting for me because this is very useful for me as public relation officer in the future. He gave us different cases in every meeting of the course so that we can learned how to managed and cover the company’s image.
He was not really often give us a homework to do at this course but he always give us some paper to read so we can discuss the topic at the next topic. For the final exam, he gave us the same exact options as he gave us in the previous course. I chose to make a paper this time because I already did a prentation in his last course.
For this one, I chose Blue Bird Group as the main topic. I wanted to present about what was happening in Indonesia at that time. Blue Bird Group recently got the problem because a lot the drivers just violently showed their anger towards Go-Jek. They thought Go-Jek made their customers went away. This incident made Blue Bird’s great reputation went down to the ground and people started to hate Blue Bird Group. That was why I found this topic very interesting because Blue Bird was the best and the biggest taxi company in Indonesia and with a single mistake their image and good reputation was just nothing to the public.
2.2.3 Presentation Technique
This course was given by Prof. Rainer Janz. I really love this course because at this course we were asked to be very confident and very professional while we present something in public. Prof Janz told us how to be a great speaker, not only concerning about the topic that we present but also concerning about our body language, voice, eye contact, and many more.
At the first meeting, Prof Janz asked us to introduce ourself in front the class and in front of the camera. He recorded every single student so that we can discuss our performance in the next meeting. Almost in every meeting of this course, Prof Janz asked us to present something in front of the class and after that he would let the other student give us a comment or advices towards our performance. In my opinion, it was really great because through all the comments and advices, we can learn from the mistakes and improve our skill for the next performance.
For the final exam, we had to present something in front the class for maximum 15 minutes and we could choose whatever topics we were desired. I came up with a very interesting topic that every country had already face, it was about rape. I chose this topic because I found out that rape victims rarely get justice for themselves. Rape is the only crime that the victims become the accused. I chose this topic sincerely not only for the score at the class but I really wanted to inform everyone in the class to stand up for the victims, and I think I did a pretty good job because I got a lot compliments about my presentation and Prof Janz gave me very good –almost perfect- score for my final exam.
2.2.4 Cross Cultural Communication
This course was given by the only woman professor that I had in my entire semested, Mrs. Andrea Wolf. She is very nice and very smart, she used to work in international office and she spends most of her time traveling across countries, she has a lot of experiences dealing with people from different nations, I think that was why she was chosen to give us this course. This class was so international because we have not only German, but also Indonesian and Rumanian students.
I really love this course, because through this course I got the chance to learn about how to deal with people from different country. Mrs. Wolf asked us to make a pair and choose which country we desired to present. Me and my friend, Gloria, chose India as our topic because no one in the class chose Asia and we thought that India has several things in common with Indonesia. In every single meeting, we learned about new country and how to deal with the people, I found it super interesting and I really love to be in the class.
For final exam, she gave us an oral test. She was not alone while giving us the test, she asked other professor from technical engineering to also give us question in the test. The oral test itself was about our presentation topic and about the chinese provebs that she gave us in the class. At the test, she asked us to explain a bit about India and she –and her partner- asked us about the casts system in India, the common and different things between Indonesia and India, and many more. At the end, she asked me about my cultural experience in Germany and also about my opinion towards german. For me, this course was something, and I am so sure that everything in this course would be very useful for me in the future.
2.2.5 Unternehmenorganisation und Führung
This was the only course that I had in german. This course was also given by Prof. Rainer Janz. Though we had difficulty to understand the language, Prof. Janz often talked about in English so we could understand at least the main point of it. Basically, this course was about leadership management and I already passed a similar course in Indonesia, so it was not really hard for me to understand the topic because I already learned the basic.
Prof. Janz put us in the English group in the class and he asked us to make a presentation about Employee Management. At that presentation, me and Reika got the chance to explain about employee ethics and we made a little role play to explain it in a better way. Turned out, the presentation that we did was also the final exam for us –only for us, Indonesian students- because the other had to do the writing exam and there was no way we could pass the writing exam because it was all in German. Well, though I could not learn so much through this course because of the language problem, at least I have an experience being in a real german class.
2.2.6 Project 01
Unlike in my home university, the Journalismus und PR department requires the student to finish at least 2 projects before graduation. In this project I have a big group consists of three Germans, four Indonesians, and one Rumanian. For this project we had to make an image film about a company, and that company was Klöcker Brothers. It is a company that has 2 factory, the first one is in Borken, Germany and the other one is in Bandung, Indonesia. This company produces textile and also produces the machine. They have a motto “We Create the Original” because a lot of other textile company tried to copy what they invented.
To start the project, we had a meeting with the company and they welcomed us very nicely. In the first meeting, Prof Janz came with us and accompanied us throughout the meeting. We also asked them what was the most important thing that they want to be showed in the video. After the meeting, they showed us all around the campus and they also showed us the machines.
The project was not only about making an image video, but we also had to make a timeline sheets, protocols, budgeting, exposé, and many more. It was not really easy for me because I did not have an experience in making an image video, I did not know how to edit the video and operate the professional camera. Fortunately, we have Andrada –our Rumanian friend- who is really good at making a video and she has a lot of experience in this field. I learned a lot from her.
We had the whole semester to finish the semester yet we felt the time was not enough for us because we rushed everything in the end of the time. We had to present the project in front of almost all the JPR student, Reika and Syuzanna did a pretty good job and the judges said it was the best presentation out of all.
2.2.7 German as a Foreign Language
This course was given by Mr. Andreas Nagel-Syben. He is a very sweet and very smart person I love the way he teaches us so much. He always asked about how our weekend was before we start the course. The class was only consist of five people, it was four indonesians and one Rumanian. We took the basic class that was why there were only five people in the class. Nevertheless, I love being in the class because the Herr Nagel-Syben knew how to teach us properly.
For the final exam, we had to do the writing exam in the class. It was the only sit-in exam we had during our stay in Gelsenkirchen. The exam was actually not really hard because it was only about the basics, but I still had some mistakes especially in the articals “der, die, das” field.
2.2.8 Social Media
this course was given by Mr. Benjamin Gust, he is a young teacher that also graduated from Westfälische Hochschule Gelsenkirchen. The class was only available once every two weeks because our teacher was really busy with his job and we often got holiday on the day that this class was held. In total, I only attended 3 times during my stay in Gelsenkirchen. It was not really satisfying because I really wanted to know more about this course. I worked as a social media specialist in several companies in Jakarta before I went to Germany, that was why I found this course really interesting for me. I was really excited about this class, actually.
Basically, at this course we learned about how to maintain social media account for the company. Nowadays, people cannot underestimate the power of social media because it gets stronger everyday. Almost everyone in this planet has a social media and this makes approaching through social media is more dependable than through any other media.
For the final exam, I had to make a pair and make a presentation about new product, our own “inventions”. We had to present about how we came up with the product and how we wanted the social media looked like. Me and Reika came up with unusual product yet really useful if this really happens, it was Biodegradable Cigarettes. We chose that product because we found out that cigarettes litter is one of the biggest problem in every country. We created cigarettes that can biodegrabled easily, and we also made the box from the grain so that if the box was thrown away in the sea, fishes can eat them up.
Mr. Gust seemed so interested in our product, so were the other students at the class. They gave us compliments and support us to make it really happen because it could save the world, they said.
3. My Study Experience
I was so excited to join the class at Westfälische Hochschule because I wanted to know the differences between this university and Atmajaya. I arrived in Gelsenkirchen on 11 March 2016 and the classes started on early April. I have a lot of time to adapt in the new place. Before the classes started, there was a orientation program that made us know the environment and the university much more better. In the orientation week, my first class in Germany started, it was German course class. At that class, there were only 4 of Indonesian students because we were the only ones who never learned German before.
After the orientation program over, I had my first official class in Germany, it was Environmental Communication class. I prepared all the things that I might need in the class a night before. In my opinion, the teaching method was kind of different with the teaching method in my home university. In the class, the professor asked us a lot of questions and made us talk and discuss about certain things. The professor let us speak up and stand up for our opinion. I must admit that the teaching method in Atmajaya is kind of boring, because only teachers speak the whole time and not really involve the students to be a part of the class. For me, that kind of method makes students easily get bored and end up sleeping or doing something else in the class instead of listening to the teacher.
I experienced a lot of new things by learning in this university. I got the chance to show my ability more than I could in my home university. Some people said that six months are too short to study abroad, but for me the past six months was the best in my life and I am dying to repeat it all over again.
Talking in English was never easy for me because English is not my daily language. In this program, I needed to speak in English in order to survive. I was never satisfied with my skill in English until my german friends said that my English is so good. They said I speak so clearly and so fluently. Again, this opportunity teach me how to trust myself more and believe that I could do more than I think I could. Despite all of the imperfections, I thank God each and everyday for this awesome chance that has changed the way I think about everything.
4. Cultural Exchange
Come to Germany was something something for me. Before I arrived, people told me that germans are really stiff and they won’t help you if you cannot speak german. Those stereotypes were gone at the moment I arrived at Düsseldorf. There were two german ladies picked me up at the airport and take me to my apartment. They are so nice and helpful, they helped me to carry my huge luggages to the car. If they did not pick me up, I think I might get lost in Germany at the first place.
I really love to make friends and this program allowed me to have a lot of friends from all over the world. I have friends from India, Romania, United states, Jordan, Palestine, Czech Republic, Brazil, Vietnam, and many more through this program. Despite all our differences, we all can communicate really nice. They are like new family to me and I could not ask for a better environment.
Before this mobility, I never knew that Indian are really helpful and they like to throw a party. Almost every week, my Indian friends asked me to join the party that they made in their house. They prepared everything such as the drinks, the snacks, and the music so we could enjoy the weekend together. They also like to help us everytime we needed. I remember that I always had a problem reading the mail that come for me because everything was always in german. I always asked my Indian neighbor to translate it for me so I could understand everything perfectly.
From what I see during my stay in Gelsenkirchen, the people are really nice and helpful. There are a lot of Turkish in Gelsenkirchen because in former time, Gelsenkirchen was a city of mines. A lot of Turkish came to Gelsenkirchen to work at the mines. I also have a lot of Turkish friends there.
Actually there were not really much too see in Gelsenkirchen because the city is kind of big but not a lot of people live there. The city famous because of the soccer team, it is Schalke 04.
Living in Germany give me the chance to travel around Europe. I have been to 11 countries in Europe during my stay. I started my travel journey in June and the first country I visited outside Germany is Switzerland. There are a lot of student travel agencies that allow us to travel around Europe with a very low cost. I was so excited to travel outside Germany because I always wanted to know how other countries look like. I travelled with the bus and it takes so much time to get to the desired country, but it was so worth it.
After Switzerland, I went to Poland with the other Erasmus student. I stayed there around 4 days. This was the only trip that I went with plane because the ticket was so cheap. Poland is a very beautiful country, I visited Krakow, Auschwitz, and Tatra Mountain and it was very beautiful. Everything was so cheap in Poland, at least cheaper than Germany. I have lots of fun there with my friends and by writing this, it brings so much memories to my head.
I continued my journey to Paris, the city that I had always been long for. I was so excited too see Paris with my own eyes. And yes, Paris is so beautiful and romantic, but unfortunately it was so crowded because of the Euro football thingy. I also went to Disneyland Paris and it was one of the best days in my life. I love Disney so much and Disneyland Paris is the first Disney park that I ever visited. I went there with 2 of my Indonesian friends, my American, Vietnamese, and Jordanian friends as well.
Some people said that your journey in Europe would not be completed if you have not visited Netherlands. So I set up my trip to Amsterdam for a day in weekend. Amsterdam is a small little city with a lot of museums in it. The beautiful river makes Amsterdam looks even more romantic. I went to Rijks Museum when I was in Amsterdam with Reika and her friend but I never got the chance to roam all over the museum because the time was limited. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun in Amsterdam and I do not mind to go there again.
Back to Germany, I have to finish a lot of assignments and it made me have to postpone my travel journey. I also did a lot of trip inside Germany such as Berlin, Koblenz, Xanten, and many more. My favorite city in Germany is Koblenz. Koblenz is so beautiful and peaceful. I went there with Professor Janz and I met his wife there. When I was in Koblenz, I also hung out with my Indonesian friends. It was such an amazing time for me.
After I finished all the assignments and exams, I continued my journey to Italy on July. I visited five cities in Italy, it was Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Milan. Like any other countries in Germany, Italy was so beautiful as well. But when I was there, the temperature was so high it made my skin tanned in no time. We had a bad experience because my friends lost her bag and her iPad when we were in Rome. Other than that, everything was just great.
Here comes to the last trip during my stay in Germany, I went to the Baltic Sea and I visited Stockholm, Talinn, St. Petersburg, and Helsinki. I never thought that I could go that far from Germany. It was super amazing. I went there with a cruise named Princess Anastasia. The cruise was okay but not so modern because it has been 31 years operating in the Baltic Sea. Nevertheless, the trip was so great and I still cannot believe that have done a trip like that.
Travelling makes me realize that I am just a small human being in this universe. There are a lot to see and learn from anywhere in this planet. I learned not be arrogant and always stay low at everything. I promise, my journey won’t stopped here. I will continue.
This program is a really great program because it allows us to show the best out of our life. Not everyone can experience something like this and I am so grateful that I had a chance to be a part of it. I hope that the partnership between Atmajaya and Westfälische Hochschule won’t stop here.
I found this program can be the choice for those who wants to experience study abroad and to improve creativity of ourselves.