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New country, new friends: How William combined a teaching degree and travel

This article appears in: Education, Learning abroad
William reading books with his exchange friends

Motivated by a desire to see how people learn in other countries, William Jansen decided to combine his teaching degree and travel. He travelled to Germany as part of CDU’s Global Mobility program, spending four weeks at the Philipps-Universität of Marburg in their Summer University Program. Read on to see how his overseas experience and newfound friends gave him a fresh perspective on education. 

Studying overseas was something I always wanted to do

Image of the town of Marburg in Germany

Why did you want to study overseas? 

I wanted an opportunity to discover how other students learn, to explore new contexts of education and meet new people. I knew that this wasn’t an opportunity I was likely to ever have again. If I didn’t do it now, it would be lost forever.

I heard from other students who went abroad to study. Their tales filled me with awe as studying abroad was something I always wanted to do, but the process seemed to be so complicated.

How did you get started on this journey? 

While browsing CDU's website, I read about the wonderful opportunities that CDU offers to study abroad. I sent an enquiry, but didn't expect much as I was entering my final year of study. Luckily, the CDU team was willing to jump through all manner of hoops to make my dreams a reality. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Germany.

Tell us about your semester in Marburg, Germany

Marburg is a university town located about an hour south of Frankfurt. Something I heard repeated over and over again by almost all the locals was: “Marburg doesn’t have a university, Marburg is a university". 

The courses I undertook were interesting and delivered in ways I had not experienced in the past. I was worried that not being a German speaker would mean I would be constantly lost in a foreign land. Luckily, no matter where I went there was someone who could speak English, usually prefacing it with a warning that they weren’t very good at it, only to put my grammar to shame. 

I had the chance to learn and get a much deeper understanding of a variety of cultures


Image of the town of Marburg in Germany

The University of Marburg is extremely multicultural. I had the chance to learn and get a much deeper understanding of a variety of cultures. Our group was made up of people from across the world: Chinese, Middle Eastern, American, Canadian, and of course German and Australian. Everyone got on so well and joined all the festivities.

Any challenges?  

I am no stranger to travel but I was concerned I would be lost on my way to the university or not be able to communicate with others once there. As someone one who finds it difficult to interact socially when I meet new people, the idea of having to put myself out there was daunting. None of these challenges were difficult to deal with though. The staff settled me in and students made me feel welcome from the beginning.

There was lots of laughter and fun

Image of William and his exchange friends on a bus

What was the best part of your experience?

I made some of the best friends I could ever have, even though we are now separated by the entire planet. Every night we would pile into someone’s room and just enjoy each other’s company.  

One weekend we took a bus to Strasbourg, France. Sitting several hours in a cramped bus doesn’t sound like the most appealing time, but when surrounded by friends, there wasn’t anything I would have wanted to do more. 

What advice do you have for anyone considering studying overseas?

Apply today! This is a wonderful experience. Remember the amazing staff at CDU are always there to give advice and to help. Submit every document you're asked for. Make sure - in advance - that your passport is valid for the duration of your stay. Don't wait until the last minute.

Seize every opportunity! It is easy to sit in a corner alone, but it’s far more fun to be with other people. Everyone is nervous. They are also away from their home and their friends, so you already have something in common. The people who study abroad are more likely to be open to new experiences, and are therefore more likely to welcome you with open arms.

Find out more about studying an Education degree with CDU. If you’re a CDU student, discover more about opportunities to study overseas

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