Study Abroad at Home: An Interview with Ella

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Admittedly the last week has been tough. National lockdown is looming, the restrictions have tightened, and to quote game of thrones, winter is coming. So, in this week’s article I want to transport you to Germany. Although I didn’t get to go to Italy this term, one of my uni besties managed to start her year abroad in Berlin. I asked her a few questions about how the start of her European uni experience has gone so far, and how it can help prepare me for my move in February.

Image Credit: Ella Hewes
How was the initial move and beginning of your year abroad?

Ella- “the move abroad itself was very last minute and a tiny bit stressful! I was only told I was allowed to go by Leeds Uni just over three weeks before the move because of COVID restrictions. So, I instantly had to find a flat (and not get scammed) alongside a load of paperwork and handing in my resignation at work (they usually want a months-notice). I then had to organise saying my goodbyes to friends and family, and strategically pack as I could only take one case and hand luggage. From the moment I got the email telling me I could go, to stepping off the plane, to visiting the campus my life has been very fast paced to say the least.”

Image Credit: Ella Hewes
How is Germany compared to England and how are they handling the pandemic?

Ella- “luckily Germany is nowhere near as bad, so my transition here whilst in a pandemic hasn’t been effected too much. It’s bizarre because I feel like my arrival here has brought me back to normality slightly. Everything is open, there’s no limit of how many people can meet. I even went clubbing for the first few weeks. Recently things have been changing as there’s been a spike, but I feel a lot safer her then in the UK at home. There’s been rumours of places shutting next week but nothing’s been confirmed.”

What are your classes like? Are they online?

Ella- “I have picked my module’s, but teaching was pushed back a month due to COVID. Seminars are in person as is the whole of my German language module, and a handful of lectures depending on how many students are partaking. I’d say half my learning is in person and half online. I’ve picked modules that cater to my degree, I had to be careful picking these modules as a lot are taught in German.”

Image credit: Ella Hewes
Are you missing Leeds at all?

Ella- “obviously I miss my friends, but I am having such a fantastic time here. I know I’m returning for final year, so I haven’t thought about Leeds or home too much.”

Image credit: Ella Hewes
What’s the best thing you’ve done so far?

Ella- “this is tricky to answer. I’d say adventuring around an abandoned spy tower in the woods yesterday was very cool, or going to Club de Visionare, that was amazing. That was the first club I went to and it was sick! Berlin is quite possibly the best city I’ve ever been to so it’s impossible to decide. There’s always something fantastic and expressive going on here.”

Image Credit: Ella Hewes

It’s so nice to hear someone whose year abroad has went ahead this semester, and that the pandemic is not slowing down Ella’s adventure in her new European home. It’s taught me that I need to be prepared, organised and calm because things can alter whenever and I have to be ready. I am incredibly jealous, but I also am thrilled she’s living her best life, pandemic or not. I’m on the next flight from Newcastle to Berlin, see you soon! Auf Wiedersehen.

Header image credit: Ella Hewes