Experiencing international student exchange

Experiencing international student exchange

Cam and Monique Curryworst cologne
Third year Bachelor of Commerce students, Cam and Mon share their experiences on international student exchange.

Monique Crawford and Cam Sneddon are studying at the Cologne Business School in Germany. They are taking the international student exchange opportunity now available while studying their Bachelor of Commerce. International student exchange is currently available for all NMIT degrees except the Bachelor of Nursing.

What has been the highlight so far?

Cam - Ok, I'm a huge foodie so my highlight would have to be the food and how cheap it all is. Back at home, dairy is like gold because it is so expensive, here you have people eating cheese like it's no one's business. I think Europe has this association with being expensive and I suppose in areas it is, but the food, absolutely not. Anything over 2 euro is considered a splurge, in my opinion anyway. (You can take the student out of New Zealand but not the New Zealand out of the student.)

enjoying new German friends

Mon - For me, the highlight has been meeting some German friends, they are all so lovely and everyone is extremely helpful. This has really made the experience so much easier because the most simple tasks can become difficult when you don't speak the language. I also went to the Chocolate Museum and this was something else! It's the home of Lindt and boy did I go back to the chocolate fountain a few times too many!

It's such a long way to travel, any tips with travelling there?

Cam - YES absolutely, I travelled via America which at the time felt like a great idea, it really wasn't. I mean, I saved $200 NZD on my tickets but flying 'against the grain' as far as time zones go, the jet lag was honestly horrible. Even arriving here and people asking what route I took, they were surprised I went via America. Usually you would go via Asia, UK and Dubai. It might cost you an extra $200 NZD but it saves having to deal with weeks of jet lag. Plus Houston airport lost my bag, luckily Lufthansa (German Airline) were so incredibly helpful, they found it, flew and couriered it right to my door.

Mon - I had a 15 hour stopover in Hong Kong, it was pretty amazing. But to be honest by the time I arrived in Europe I was absolutely pooped as I'd hardly slept on the plane. I would recommend having a decent stop for a night and getting a good snooze in at a hotel. I would recommend Virgin Atlantic or Etihad as the way to go! Or of course Air New Zealand, if you can afford it.

Orientation week is a great time to get to know the area, what did you learn?

Cam - We went around some really cool areas of Cologne, it really is a great city and incredibly accessible and easy to navigate. We went down Choldwigplatz which is a 'square' that is close to where both Mon and I live. All of us international students went out and tried some local hospitality, on the house of CBS of course! On the way, we saw some great local shops, areas to hang out and become more aware of our local surroundings.

Mon - Orientation week was extremely helpful! CBS even took us for a paid guided tour around the central area where we learnt about the history of Colognia! One of the oldest Roman Empires!

Culture shock happens to the best of us when settling into a foreign country, what has been the biggest 'shock' to-date?

Cam - The biggest 'shock' for me would be the language barrier, not that there is one because the German culture is so impressive with their knowledge of the English language but being in a foreign country, you can't help but want to feel local and speak German too. I think it is a sense of fitting in. So that was a little hard, avoiding standing out too much but at the same time not being able to help it. You feel like you can't speak English but they are so welcoming of it - begin the conversation in German out of respect then switch to English and they honestly love you for attempting their language, it is a tough one and they know that.

Mon- I 100% agree with Cam on this one. At first I felt quite isolated not being able to understand simple conversations. But after month here, I can pick up the odd word in a sentence and everyone speaks amazing English! They do appreciate it if you try speak a little German, although some will just laugh at you too.

Tell us, what was the infamous Cologne carnival like?

carnival on student exchange

Cam - Crazy, I had next to no time to organise my outfit and I ended up getting a pineapple onesie which I actually laughed about because normally I would be a little more original but a onesie was really 'fitting' because being -2 degrees, snowing and in the middle of winter. I was probably the warmest person there - must be my Kiwi smarts. The costumes were amazing, the atmosphere and energy was great, I felt safe and the Germans were so welcoming to have international people present while they celebrate such an iconic time of the year for them.

Carnival in Cologne

Mon - Yeah, crazy is right! There are no words to describe it other than that. You can be whatever or whoever you want on Carnival so long as you're wearing a costume! Each day also has a special meaning, for example the Thursday (one of the biggest days) is women's day, where traditionally women would run around and cut men's ties off, so random. They also play what feels like the same 10 songs on repeat, they're very catchy, I may still be listening to them...

Have you managed to travel the region yet, if so, where?

Cam - I have done a little bit. I have more trips lined up for study break but at the moment it has been all study and adjusting to that first, then carnival of course, but I have been out to Bonn which is an awesome little city. I checked out the markets and enjoyed some currywurst. My new German go to - it's a must try!

Mon - I also went to Bonn, such a gorgeous place and only about 10 stops from where I live! I too have some more trips planned. The great thing about studying at CBS is you get a student travel card. This means you can travel anywhere in the North Rhine-Westphalia with your student ID, and you can take someone with you on the weekend.

What do you miss about home, besides NMIT?

Cam - Family and friends but I have actually made loads here already too... so yeah, short answer but not an awful lot, I really am having an amazing time. Oh actually, chicken chips! They don't have those here... what the hell?

Mon - Ah, today I tried to buy kidney beans, you know for nachos. Nowhere to be seen! But seriously, of course I miss my family and friends but I've been fortunate enough to make some great friends here already. Oh, and I miss driving. And maybe seeing the sun most days. On the plus side, seeing it snow is truly something magical.

How is the study system different to here back home?

Classroom in Cologne Business School

Cam - Ok, you wouldn't think it could get much different but it is. Far out do they work us hard back at home. The system in Germany is a lot different, each 'paper' has two modules and each module is assessed at the end of the semester. None of this 5,000 word assignments due every 3 weeks then slammed with an exam at the end - did someone say a trip to Paris?

Mon - Yes, the system is super different! Our classes can change each week, and the class lengths range from half an hour to three hours. I can't quite get my head around that. They are also teaching exam content from the get go as some classes only run for 7 weeks! The papers also more diverse than back home. You really have the opportunity to delve deeper into topics you're interested in.

Learn more about the international student exchange opportunity here at NMIT or email to find out more.

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