As I’m likely to be spending my final 10 days in this amazing city attempting some serious crash revision and saying goodbye to far too many people, this will be my last blog. It’s been a strange week – everything’s kind of tinged with the feeling that we’re running out of time here. Apologies for a terrible cliche worthy of Jim from the Apprentice, but the time between my flight out to Munich last October and now has gone in a flash. If I had to sum up the last 12 months in one sentence, I’d say it was the craziest, busiest, and, although the most challenging, ultimately the best year of my life.
It’s probably not surprising, then, that I’d advise anyone considering a year abroad to sign right up. I very nearly didn’t hand in my application form, because I wasn’t 100% in love with the concept of leaving Scotland for 10 months, but I’m so glad I did. When will the opportunity to study in another country, meet people from all over the world, learn a new language first hand, with a generous grant come up again? You only live once!
I will concede that studying abroad isn’t for everyone. I’ve met some lovely people who made the best of their ERASMUS year, but ultimately would rather have stayed at home. It’s certainly not been an easy year, in many respects, for most of us. The flight out (most of which was spent crying all over a German businessman to whom I am eternally grateful) ranks amongst the worst experiences of my life. However, the rougher times are just part of the ERASMUS experience – getting through the times I felt homesick and going out and finding my feet in the city when all I wanted to do was skype home/ check out the easy jet flights to get the hell out of here made me realise I’m a tougher cookie than I thought and I’m grateful for that as well as the (exponentially) happier times. Please don’t let feeling a scared of the prospect of being so far from home put you off – the vast majority students I know adapted pretty fast and have had a wonderful time.
Studying in a foreign language sounds daunting, and a lot of people back home thought I was crazy to want to study law in German, but despite the horrendously steep learning curve I’ve enjoyed my classes here. Studying partly in English helped – I do American law as well – but at any rate the workload’s manageable if and don’t get so caught up in the ERASMUS spirit that you forget that you’re a student. I’m not going to lie – I could have studied a lot harder this year, but I’ve passed the year with 3 exams still to sit with reasonable grades so far and it’s been nice not to have feeling that every exam I sit has a direct impact on the rest of my life. So I called Martin Luther a dude in the constitutional history oral exam – still got a B, and as they say you just need the magical 60 credits!
The social side of things has also been smoother than I thought. Arriving in Munich was pretty scary – I knew no-one, besides having added the other 3 Edinburgh students on facebook – but I’ve made wonderful friends over here and it’s been easy enough to meet people. No worse than Freshers’, honest!
I’ve loved meeting so many great people this year, many of whom I hope will be friends for life. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have got through the year without them. I’ve also realised how lucky I am to have an amazing family back home and friends who’ve kept in touch while I’ve been out here – leaving Munich will be absolutely gutting, but it’s easy to accept that it’s time to come home because I get to see you all again:)
My perspective on the world and its people has changed, and I think (I hope) I’ve changed a little for the better as well. I’m still useless with directions, don’t have nearly as much common sense as the average 20 year old and can’t cook anything remotely impressive – but as I’ve managed to open a German bank account, negotiate studying in German and get through the first few hectic weeks here, there’s hopefully been at least a bit of ‘personal growth’. At any rate I’ve gained a lot of awesome memories.
Thanks for reading this (especially my mum, Nikki and Tricia!). I’ve really enjoyed writing the blog (thanks Lesley Balharry!); I’ve felt like a miniature Michael Palin. Finally, if anyone has any questions about the LMU/Munich/Germany, feel free to get in touch. A chat with the last law student at the LMU really helped me get organised for my year abroad, and I’d be more than happy to pass on the good karma: my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again to everyone who’s made this year so amazing.