Bachelor of New Media Arts
Exchange @ Fachhochschule Würzburg, Germany
There were several major differences between JCU and FHWS (Fachhochschule Würzburg-Schweinfurt). The freely available macs and workspaces aren't as abundant, but there were some specialised areas that were available upon application through a professor (such as blue rooms, editing suites, print labs, illustration studios, photo studios and affordable professional printing).
Dormitory was excellent, clean, large, unlimited fast internet, kitchens and bathroom per room (some rooms are doubles, each with their own bedroom but a shared kitchen and bathroom with one other person.
Studying at Fachhochschule Würzburg
Teachers were much more in touch with the practical aspects of the industry (in general) ie. some professors actually still do freelance work 2 or 3 days a week. Assignments are often very interesting or for real clients. Availability of film&video major including motion graphics and 3d was a big deal for me personally. Students are able to focus all their energies on one large assignment per subject, instead of splitting their attention between multiple small assignments.
Living in Germany
German lifestyle is great. The winter can draw on a bit long (the sun rises at about 9:30am and sets about 3:30pm) and that gets hard even for someone who loves inclement weather. By contrast, the summer days start at 4:00am and last until about 11:00pm in the middle of summer. Living there is super cheap, accommodation approx. $300AUD/month, cheap food, cheap drinking (in or out), cheap clothes. There is plenty of really expensive designer stuff there, but the cheap stuff is great quality and really cheap. People are friendly, helpful, kind and honest. I really do mean honest, Germans can be quite blunt but in my opinion that's a good thing. A beautiful place to spend a year. Nearly everybody speaks pretty good English at least.
What were the most rewarding aspects of the exchange experience?
For me, the ability to focus on a skill that JCU doesn't really offer was the most invaluable aspect, but of course there is more. The lecturers were great, I've made plenty of amazing friends and great contacts, going from conversational to near-fluent in German, travelling to other countries, I learned a tonne about myself, pretty much every moment was rewarding though. As an official rewarding aspect, I also was able to do my double bachelor there and receive a Bachelor of Communication Design (Film & Video major) from there as well as my Bachelor's degree from JCU.
Did you experience any difficulties?
Nothing major. Some of the bureaucracy can be a little defeating at times and hearing different information from different people can make things really difficult, but the support on the JCU end is great - Anna and Sasha helped with everything, from Centrelink dramas to enrolment stuff and just in general to catch up with on Skype sometimes! :) Also, that stuff made a few days pretty average, but it's so worth it and now there's several rounds of JCU students that have been through it to help you and tell you exactly what happens. :)
What advice would you give to a JCU student going to your host university?
If you're even thinking about it, do it. With the OS-HELP loan and being entitled to centrelink while studying over there, it is doable with very little savings, so don't let that be an excuse to not try it out! Also, if anyone is considering it and wants more info, they can email me at email@example.com.