So to anyone in the UK you’re probably thinking, “why is she only just finishing her first semester now? We’re already like 3 weeks into the second semester!”
Well ladies and gentlemen, the German uni system is totally weird and messed up. Basically the first semester runs until mid February, then you have a two month holiday, then the second semester runs until the end of July and you start back in October. Unfortunately for me, however, my fourth year at Southampton will start back in September. So I essentially get a month off for Summer.
But I’m laying down plans for my two month holiday which is coming now instead of in the summer. The things I have planned so far are:
- Two weeks at home (blasting out my YARP)
- Collecting my Queen’s Guide Award at the House of Commons
- 5 days in Southampton, visiting friends, looking for somewhere to live next year, going to tap class, and going to Scoops and getting my favourite ferrero rocher fever ice cream sundae!
- A few days visiting my Grandma
- Making DIY lava lamps with my Brownies
- A week doing work experience at a law firm (basically trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my life)
- 4 days in Rome with my mum
- 4 days in Edinburgh (with 15 Brownies in tow….)
Quite a busy holiday!
I wanted to look back over the time I’ve spent so far in Potsdam and share with you a few reflections I’ve had.
- At first life here was really hard. I hardly knew anyone, I missed my family and the German bureaucracy was driving me crazy! I learned not to jump into friendships too quickly, after being let down by someone. And not to get too upset when the friends you thought you made on the first day here, don’t turn out to be your best friend. Friendships sometimes they click instantly, sometimes they don’t. But sometimes they need time to develop, and that’s ok.
- After Christmas however, things started to look up. I understood the system here a bit better. I had started making some good friends (shout out to Arielle and Jennifer!) who I could talk to (and rant about current world politics with). I got my head down a bit more with the work. Netflix wasn’t my best friend anymore (I still love you though, don’t worry). Instead I was going out and doing things, like visiting museums, going for walks and simple things like reading more and having a creative project to turn to when I needed some time away from uni work. Since Christmas I’ve managed to make a really cute cross-stitch picture of a teddy bear holding a balloon. It’s nice to have something productive to do that isn’t uni related, because if all the things that you do are uni related it could drive you a bit bonkers!
- Putting in the extra effort with work has paid off: I finished my German language course with 96.78%, and finished my German Grammar course with a 1,7 (which is about the equivalent of a low first in England I think: maybe 72/73?). I haven’t got the results of my French grammar exam yet, but I think that went well.
So looking forward to the next semester what things am I looking forward to and what things would I like to do differently?
- At the beginning of this semester I wanted to go on lots of trips and day visits with the Erasmus society at the uni, but always managed to find an excuse not to go when the day came. Next semester I’m going to actually go!
- I’m looking forward to the sun and the better weather! I think Potsdam in the summer will be beautiful, with the parks and the palaces. I’m going to try and spend more time outdoors, going for a walk or just sitting in the park reading my book.
- I’m going to try and be more of a tourist. I know this seems a bit backwards because I should be trying to be more of a resident than someone on holiday, but for me I’ve felt that I haven’t taken enough of the opportunities that living abroad offers. Especially living so close to an amazing city such as Berlin! I want to visit more museums, visit more tourist attractions and enjoy living in such a great and historic part of the world.
- I’m looking forward to not always having to be thinking about my YARP (sorry Paty!). As much as I’ve found doing the YARP interesting and generally positive, it’s going to be a relief to hand it in on the 2nd May. Sometimes having research for the YARP to do has stopped me from being as social as I would like to be, but at least next semester I won’t have to think about it after the beginning of May and I can dedicate more time to cultural and more exciting things!
There it is, the final sum up of my first semester at Potsdam! It’s taught me a lot and I’ve had to experience a lot, but I’m looking forward to what next semester brings!