When I first decided to study abroad, I was petrified. Studying abroad meant leaving a home, a family, pets (six endearing cats and dogs, to be precise) and creating a new foundation all by myself in a foreign land – it was a daunting prospect that intimidated me through my senior year of high school. But the most important and key thing that people don’t tell you about studying abroad is that, yes, it may be difficult at times – but it is never as hard as you have imagined it.
Studying abroad is a beautiful experience and it is an adventure – and Jacobs University intensifies the ‘Studying Abroad’ experience, simply because: everyone is in the exact same position. Everyone has just left their family, their home country and their high school lives to attend university in a strange, strange land. You go through VISA processes, homesickness, applying for residency, finding a new optometrist together – someone will always be there to help you get through each peculiar challenge.
When I got to Jacobs, I made a huge check-list of the things that I had to get done, and there were a lot of things that I had never done before. Open a bank account? Get a “personalausweis”? Get my health insurance card? I had barely turned 18; I didn’t know how to do any of these things. But as days went by, each task was crossed out with the aid of my friends and colleagues, who were either German residents or people in similar positions. *Fun fact: getting your ‘Elektronische Lohnsteuerabzugsmerkmale” at the Bremen Finanzamt is a lot less scary when you go with a friend.*
Even my first time getting lost was not a scary experience – my roommate and I accidentally got off at the wrong train station on our way back to campus, and it took us 2 hours but we made it back. Not only was it a really entertaining and unexpected experience but it is still a story we like to casually bring up as evidence of our ‘general intelligence.’
The point being: we think that studying abroad will be a challenge that we take on by ourselves, a challenge filled with little obstacles and hurdles that are too big and too ‘adult-like’ for us to handle. But this is never the case at Jacobs University – because someone will always be up for taking you to the Burgerservicecenter to get your application for your residence permit, someone will always be willing to go to Primark to help exchange a dress, and that is genuinely what makes Jacobs such a fostering community for studying abroad.