List Of High Calorie Foods To Gain Weight In India How to Benefit From an Exchange Program – Student Life Abroad: Vital Non – Academic Aspects

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How to Benefit From an Exchange Program – Student Life Abroad: Vital Non – Academic Aspects

The question about my necessary accommodation, which was a big part of those general matters, turned out to be a real melting pot: many international students inhabit this place, which made me feel really cosmopolitan. The decision about this dormitory had to be taken at home already when critically evaluating a wide range of possible accommodation locations for this period.

Actually, I was assigned to a room, which consisted of one living room with a small kitchen and a bedroom with an adjacent bathroom. No kidding, but these few square meters had to be shared by 2 people. This moment was the first time I was confronted with the American concept of living with a roommate. However, there was no logical reason for an apology, because in Germany I agreed beforehand on this philosophy.

If you​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​are experiencing problems regarding living with your roommate, there is always the realistic possibility of changing accommodation. At that time, I was given the opportunity to move to another dormitory (McTyeire International House) which was located on campus and was divided into several international sections. I highly recommend this academic location, because living closely together with students from a Russian, French, Spanish and German hall definitely turns out to be a real inspiration.

In addition to happily enjoying the excellent inspiring environment of the university with countless brick buildings that remind me of the Victorian age, my attention was also drawn to the large number of students who had already arrived, especially even accompanied by their parents. It seemed to me a kind of official homecoming for those students who feel safe again in this educational and spiritual environment for the next academic semester.

Now it was time to meet the first administrative requirements after I got down to my dormitory. In the first days, I was required to get some important cards and certificates that enabled a practical life on and off campus. There are some select identification cards that I still keep as cherished holdovers from my amazing time at Vanderbilt. The following selection of IDs shows a first glimpse of mandatory ‘bureaucracy’ at an American university.

The most important ID needed for life on/off campus allowing basic access to all faculties, facilities, canteen or library to name just a few. Above is the back page of the central ID including mandatory descriptions and explanations from the Social Security Admin.

The Social Security ID is basically required for every citizen in the USA and/or temporary residents such as exchange students. This ID is called the ‘Validation card’.

The next item on my ‘self-guided agenda’ was to take a closer look at the canteen, where my mind needs to be refreshed every day with food for thought. By this point in my tour, I could already tell that I would not have the opportunity to indulge in quite ‘haute couture’ meals during my academic year, although the cost of living on campus was considered quite high. It doesn’t matter, I just had to keep a very critical eye on the calories to avoid wrong eating procedures and also stay healthy. In fact, I managed not to gain too much weight but to maintain my previous BMI (Body Measure Index). Fast food restaurants were out of reach.

Regine, the other student, who already worked for the Akademisches Auslandsamt in Regensburg, made me aware that the local film center Sarratt offers a huge amount of all kinds of different and very interesting films from all over the world. This was definitely the creative place I went to quite often during my stay. It was definitely worth going there, especially since the tickets were undoubtedly affordable and basically all the movies I got to see there were quite classy.

This film center turned out to be the regular meeting point for all the international students.

Another current highlight was music: concerts on and off campus played a predominant part of my life abroad. I felt very proud to enjoy the performances of: Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, U2, Simply Red, James Taylor, Keith Jarrett, David Costello, Dave Brubeck, JL Hooker, and even some Cajun music. Someone who is personally involved with musicians will certainly get a taste for this cultural problem upon arrival at his/her academic base.

I should not forget to mention that Vanderbilt offered the unique opportunity to participate in the local radio program on campus. Especially German students were wanted; that’s why I took the opportunity and participated. It was great fun and a great way to gain additional experience in presentation techniques.

One peculiarity I encountered was the clever marketing strategy of being overwhelmed with coupons: the principle of taking advantage of all kinds of savings whatever was imprinted in my mind from the first days since my arrival in the States. Sure, you will be flooded with such small items (eg ‘241’, ‘Free Refill’ etc.) almost every day. Happy hour events have also vividly incorporated this policy.

Actually, there was another mind-boggling event I experienced in my Urban Economics class: Looking out the windows, I could hardly believe what I saw: Navy Marines parading across the Library lawn after Thanksgiving Day.

One interesting issue that I should also talk about was the existence of a security service on campus: knowing this organization made you feel quite safe and secure when you came back from the outside world at night. Female students in particular have made wise use of this special service.

Have you ever been a member of a fraternity or a sorority? If not, you may be quite surprised when you walk around the campus and see several small houses where many students stay during their academic life. It was amazing, but bewildering at the same time to pass the buildings with Greek letters on top of the entrance. According to popular belief, there were also numerous parties and festivities in those different places.

On the other hand, it soon became clear to me that the classic CV (Curriculum vitae) in the USA explicitly contained such kind of information which is of course considered vital.

The fact that students with a wonderful aptitude for physical strength and sports in general would have an advantage regarding the general graduation process fits perfectly in this context. The combination of both mental and physical fitness definitely played a crucial role in and out of the classroom. Being a member of a football team could possibly have compensated for other shortcomings in the normal class routine.

Organizing many interesting special events and excursions was mainly the task of the ‘Office of Student Organizations and Events’ (OSOE). Our connecting pin throughout the academic year was a very kind and gentle person called Rosie Ashamalla, who immediately managed to bridge the cultural gaps through her outgoing and spontaneous personality and offered many interesting events such as for example: International week on the Vanderbilt University, Parents Weekend, July 4, Thanksgiving or an international weekend of Latin American politics with Madeleine Albright and some other heavyweights of the Reagan Administration.

In addition, she was eager to organize attractive excursions such as an Indian summer trip to the Smokey Mountains or us playing in an international soccer team, to name just a few highlights. However, joining the life of a host family was definitely the ‘Dot on the I’, at least from my perspective. This was by far the best way to mutually enrich two cultures.

In addition, there was the opportunity to be interviewed on campus, which also turned out to be something special and eternal. It was not officially announced, but it was still very exciting. Since I already stayed in McTyeire dormitory, this was the location where everything started. Among all the international students, a bunch of them showed great interest in this memorial. Glad to hear from them, I was ready for preparation: I had been told to go through a list of potential FAQs that might be asked during this interview; thus I had enough time to get the most out of it.

Last but not least, you can benefit from getting jobs during your academic stay.

For this purpose, you may have contacted the office of recruitment affairs on campus, where all kinds of different jobs can be analyzed in advance. It didn’t seem strange or unnecessary to me to take care of such variety between the weeks of studying and exams. In fact, there would have been the brilliant opportunity to gain even more experience abroad. In my case, I decided to help the law library on campus update their German law books. Especially students from Germany were very welcome to fulfill this requirement.

It goes without saying that you could have looked for even more attractive jobs; however, the ideal temporary employment was not my primary goal. Nevertheless, participation and good interest are viewed positively in any case.

Finally, I would like to summarize this exciting student life abroad by mentioning the most essential issues to keep in mind:

It won’t take too long to think, feel and even dream in English.

Get used to the situation of living with a roommate.

Get involved with the local office of student organizations and events.

Immerse yourself in the wide range of cultural activities (concerts, films, theatres).

Celebrate local/national holidays and anniversaries as festivities.

Try to get temporary jobs on/off campus.

If you can move into an international dormitory that is divided into different language sections, go for it.

Be interested in joining a host family or find similar ways to enrich each other

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