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Hannah and the deep South of the USA – Holiday Season, Exam Period and the new semester

Here you can read Part one of Hannah’s experience.

Winter in Carolina. Photo: Hannah Riemann

I can’t believe my time at Duke University is almost over! The last few months were a hell of a ride and I hardly had time to catch a breath let alone sit down and write down my experiences down for you. I am sorry, friends! So, let’s start from the beginning with me moving to a new house at the end of my first semester, celebrating American Thanksgiving, Exam Period coming up and preparing for Christmas. It was a very busy, but also very fun time!

So first things first: American Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Break

Over Thanksgiving we got a few days off from school, which was very nice and gave us a chance to relax and rest before the stressful exam period started. On Thanksgiving, itself a few friends and I booked a table at a very nice BBQ Restaurant in downtown Durham, because they offered a typical Thanksgiving dinner for a decent price. There was no way we would have been able to cook a turkey and this way we didn’t have to cook anything and also didn’t have any cleaning up to do. The food was delicious! At one point, I almost thought the table was going to burst under all the delicious food. We had mashed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, turkey, ham, pulled pork, stuffing, soy nuggets (so the vegetarians didn’t have to starve either), hash brown, corn bread, beans, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and much much more! Just thinking of it makes me crave it again. It was so much food that even though we were six people we weren’t even close to finishing it and had to take the rest of it home. This way we had a second Thanksgiving Dinner the next day: Two for One, Yay!

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Getting your residence permit application in Nürnberg

Every international student in Germany knows that they need to apply for a residence permit before their visa expires. The residence permit usually allows students to continue staying and studying in the country for another year (depending on the student’s country of birth). The process of obtaining a residence permit can be complicated, involving prolonging waiting time. I first contacted the Ausländerbehörde at the beginning of December, and will be receiving my residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in the middle of April. But this is also due to my missing documents and holidays. Otherwise, I should have received it sometime in February. It is important to keep in mind that the employees at Ausländerbehörde are extremely busy. They know that your visa is expiring soon and will contact you about eight weeks before and ask for documents for your residence permit. So you can wait for them to contact you and just follow their instructions.

But if you are anxious and a bit of a control freak like me, then read on. I first came to the Einwohneramt Stadt Nürnberg, took a form called “Antrag Aufenthaltstitel” and filled out my basic information (name, birthday,…etc.), my wish to renew my visa, and how I can financially support myself during my stay in Germany. Now, you can prove this in three ways. The first way, also the most common way, is to have around 8,700 euros in a blocked account. The second way is to have a scholarship. The third option is to have a German citizen sponsor you. The German citizen would have to go to the Ausländerbehörde, bring all his or her documents regarding income, tax…etc. and fill out a form stating that he or she is responsible for you. The document is called “Verpflichtungserklärung”, and is valid for five years. You then send the document along with the rest of your application.

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The orientation courses at FAU

Two chilean students enjoy the orientation course. Photo: Anh Tran

It is common to feel anxious and clueless when one first moves to a new country, especially to Germany, where there are many rules and regulations. The International Affairs office at FAU has done a great job in reducing the new exchange students’ anxiety and help them settle down. I was very excited to join the orientation course organized by the International Affairs office and to learn about formality in Germany, insurance, housing rules and obligations, and intercultural differences.

Although I am no longer considered a fresh comer, I still find the orientation course beneficial, and I wish I had known this when I first came to Germany. During the orientation, I learned about the move-in protocol that I needed to check my room conditions and report any damage to my landlord when I first moved in. It was also helpful to be reminded to open the window and let the air circulate three times a day. This is because houses in Germany normally do not have ventilators. But most importantly, it was very useful to go over the separation of garbage and recycling procedure in Germany. They can be tricky, and I’m sure I did not separate my trash correctly for the first few tries.

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Ein Auslandssemester in Utrecht – Land und Leute

Eindrücke aus dem schönen Friesland. Foto: Kristin Löchle

Der dritte und letzte Teil der Beitragsserie „Ein Auslandssemester in Utrecht“ soll nun von der Stadt Utrecht, den Niederlanden und den niederländischen Leuten handeln. Hier findet ihr den ersten und den zweiten Teil der Serie.

Utrecht

Utrecht ist eine wunderschöne, oft unterschätzte Stadt im Herzen der Niederlande. Mit circa 340.000 Einwohnern ist die Studentenstadt die viertgrößte Stadt der Niederlande. Es ist einiges geboten in Utrecht, fast jedes Wochenende ist ein Fest oder eine Veranstaltung. Man kann an eigentlich jedem Tag der Woche in Bars oder Clubs gehen und es ist ständig was los. Es gibt viele sehr gemütliche Kneipen, die teilweise außergewöhnlich sind. Beispielsweise gibt es ein Restaurant mit Bar in einer ehemaligen Kirche direkt bei der Fußgängerzone. Was auch typisch für die Niederlande ist, ist dass man sich in den meisten Bars und Cafés Spiele ausleihen darf. Man kann sich also fast überall zum gemütlichen Spielenachmittag oder -abend treffen.

Durch die (Innen-)Stadt schlängelt sich ein schöner Kanal, an dem man teilweise im Grünen oder auf Bänken sitzen kann. Außerdem gibt es unzählige Parks – einer nahe der Innenstadt und mit zugehörigem Streichelzoo ist der Griftpark. Besonders schön ist außerdem der Wilhelminapark, dort treffen sich bei gutem Wetter sehr viele Studenten. eben den vielen Parks gibt es auch andere Möglichkeiten ein Wenig in die Natur zu kommen. Aus dem Stadtzentrum ist man mit dem Fahrrad in guten zwanzig Minuten in Rijnauwen und am Rijnoever. Rijnauwen ist ein großes, teilweise bewaldetes Gebiet, in dem man spazieren oder radeln kann und sich dann für ein Picknick in die Wiese setzt. Das Rijnoever, das sich auch dort befindet, lädt an einigen Stellen zum Baden ein. Neben einem dieser Badeplätze sind ein paar Schafe zu Hause, die man mit Gras füttern kann. Auch um abends gemütlich mit Freunden zusammenzusitzen lädt dieser Ort ein.

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