Bachelor of New Media Arts
Exchange @ Fachhochschule Würzburg, Germany
FHWS is very accommodating to prospective international students, nearly all students and most lecturers speak fluent English, some even changed the language of their classes to English for us. HOWEVER a notable except is the primary Photography lecturer who doesn't speak a word of English.
Ingo Petzke was invaluable in the first few months and very generous with his time - we couldn't have done it without him.
The various teaching areas are spread out around a couple of suburbs, this can make things a little difficult at first.
Studying at Fachhochschule Würzburg
The classes tend to be smaller and the format is different to what we are used to - generally there are no formal lectures. There is a stronger focus on independent work with few group projects - this has its advantages and weaknesses.
Classes are split between larger project classes and technical skills tutorials.
Compared to SoCA, there is much less equipment to go around. It shows how spoilt we were to have those huge Mac labs. There are maybe 14 shared iMacs at the Villa in Wurzburg compared to 50+ at SoCA. The same goes for camera gear.
Living in Germany
Generally living costs are lower and the public transport infrastructure is at a level I have never seen in Australia. After a small initial fee, public transport in Wurzburg is free for students. Unlike most Australian cities, a car is an optional luxury in Wurzburg.
Knowing some basic German is essential for dealing with certain people and offices (namely the town hall for organising your Visa). Many cab drivers also don't speak much English.
People are usually pretty friendly and Bavarian food is interesting.
What were the most rewarding aspects of the exchange experience?
Being able to travel was awesome, I was also able to connect with much of my extended family in the Netherlands as well for the first time.
Getting a taste of other views on Graphic Design and Illustration was also rewarding. I have made a number of friends and professional contacts in Germany who I still talk to regularly.
I hope to go back to Germany again to live for a while. I had an awesome time there.
Did you experience any difficulties?
An unnamed devil lady at Town hall (Rathaus) and Christina Schuster (at the FHWS international office).
Christina is nice and pretty good at her job, but she very often she simply has way to much work and as a result things fall through the cracks. She seems to do much of the work of the entire JCU international office for FHWS.
The woman at the Rathaus international office speaks poor English (or perhaps pretends to) and made life difficult for us and other international students in other ways on a few occasions. She has a well known reputation.
What advice would you give to a JCU student going to your host university?
DO IT! :)
Being able to speak German is not absolutely essential, but it certainly helps things along and makes day-today life a bit easier.
It is easy enough to do the exchange on $10k, however I'd strongly recommend saving up considerably more if you want to travel and do things in other cities. Travel is fairly cheap and so can be accommodation but actually doing things can be expensive.
Be wary of the fact too that the rooms you get have next to nothing in them, apart from a bed, desk, etc. Buying basic things to cook and eat with, linen, even light bulbs etc can be surprisingly expensive as well. We all probably spent at least 400 euro setting up our rooms at the start.