In the last couple of weeks I’ve negotiated my way through 5 exams (3 German, 2 English) and far too many goodbyes. ‘Stressful’ doesn’t quite cover it. I spent the night before my first exam, German criminal law, hyperventilating in my room with my pile of flashcards and trying desperately to understand the concept of an ‘Erlaubnistatbestandsirrtum’. In a typically German move the exam was at 8am, and I was pretty much running on adrenalin and coffee after a night trying to comprehend what could possibly have made me sign up to study law in German.
The exam, however, went surprisingly smoothly. After the exam nerves subsided, I realised that the paper was pretty manageable and at least attempted to answer all the questions (albeit in slightly dodgy German). This weeks exams were admittedly somewhat harder. In one I really just flicked though my statutes, choosing an assortment of vaguely relevant paragraphs from the thousand or so we’re meant to know our way around. During my last few weeks in the depths of the LMU library/stuck at my desk eating the contents of the local Lidl out of stress I’ve wished I’d studied entirely in English, but now the exams are over I’m glad I stayed in the German classes. I’ve been attending lectures in American law as well, which made settling into life at the LMU slightly less scary – the balance is probably a good idea if you’re not particularly confident with your language skills. Perhaps I should have just been more confident that studying in a foreign language is actually, with a bit of perseverance, a lot of fun. Once you get past the initial language barrier ERASMUS life is a pretty good deal. I may not be so full of enthusiasm about German law if it turns out I’ve not reached the magical number of 30 ECTS credits this semester, but in the meantime I’m happy that I ‘challenged myself’ (or something less cliched).
With the end of exams comes the end of my first semester in Munich and the first round of goodbyes. Generally, it seems that UK, Irish and American students tend to study abroad for a year, whilst those from Asia and continental Europe return to their home universities after one semester. Today I drank peppermint tea with the first ERASMUS student I met in Munich – she’s travelling back home tomorrow and I can’t believe I won’t see my favourite Latvian around campus again anytime soon. Last night I dropped by another goodbye party, and I was gutted to miss seeing off one of the girls I have coffee with every Wednesday (Starbucks just isn’t going to be the same). At least the goodbyes have made me realise how lucky I am to have met these friends in the last few months – the harder it is to say goodbye to someone, the more memories you have to be thankful for, I suppose. Although I can’t imagine that leaving Germany in July will be worse than the first time I left Scotland, it’s been an emotional weekend.
To end on a slightly less emotional note, I am happy to have my post-exam freedom, and although I’ve mostly just been catching up on sleep lost to memorising German legal terms, it’s been a nice weekend, and now I’m looking forward to a trip back to Scotland and starting back at the LMU next semester.