For our second story in the section Beyond Borders, Stefanie from Italy tells us about her start at the University of Duisburg-Essen and how she managed to feel comfortable miles away from home.
To be honest, I really don’t know why I decided to come to study in Germany. Maybe because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone or because I just wanted to prove myself that I can do it. But it has been a decision that I don’t – well most of the time – regret.
The beginning of my journey started in Düsseldorf where I took a German course. I really enjoyed that time because it was okay to make mistakes. Since we all were on the same level, we had the possibility to get to know a lot of different people from all over the world, who were just as curious to start their experience here. After having finished the course, I applied at several universities and finally decided to begin my studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Meet new people
I was super excited to start a new chapter of my life, but also scared about what could go wrong, for example if my German wasn't good enough to pass the exams. The moment I entered the campus I was really surprised to see the Campuswiese. The campuses that I know from my home country usually don’t have a green area between the buildings. But I really appreciate having it here, especially in the summer when you can just lie down after classes and relax with your friends, study or read a book. Funnily enough, I sometimes got lost and confused trying to find my classrooms as this colour-naming system for the buildings is just weird.
However, another thing I really like about the UDE is the versatile sports program you can choose from. It's cheap, fun and you meet people from outside your own faculty. While trying out zumba, I got to know a very good friend of mine, who later introduced me to the student organization AIESEC where I met lots of international students. In a group of around 30 people we helped organizing internships abroad and welcomed students coming to Germany. As you can imagine, being somewhere new you need some time to understand how everything works as things are a little different. So having someone to help you in the beginning is wonderful and empowering. Being part of AIESEC was an experience I don’t want to miss as it gave me the opportunity to grow and improve myself, but most importantly, I got to know a lot of fantastic people. Some of them are still my closest friends.
Coming back home from a long stay abroad you feel like everyone around you has changed, but it is actually you who has changed. Today, it has been some years from the moment I decided to take this step and I can definitively say that I have grown a lot. And: I would do it all over again! Of course, I sometimes think I could have done things differently, but in the end, all the experiences I gained made me the person I am today. So if you have the chance, go for an adventure like mine. Just do it and you will see the world with different eyes.