Dresden by Gbart11
I'm studying: German at Oxford University
For my year abroad I went to: Dresden, Germany.
While I was there I: taught English at a secondary school.
Five words to describe my year away are: surreal, cold, relaxing, fun, caffeine-fuelled.
My top tips for anyone going there are: Don't stress, Dresden is an amazingly beautiful city with lots of open spaces, great restaurants, a great culture and student scene and not too many annoying tourists. A real hidden gem in Germany. It gets VERY cold in winter so bring some thermals, but don't worry as it’ll be worth it come the summer when you will definitely need and have Stammplatz by the river Elbe. The dialect can be a bit husky-farmer-ish but you will soon tune into it! If you have flatmates, don't give in by speaking English to them, if you’re not sharing, try and find tandem partners through the uni or tag onto friends of friends. Make a list of all the places you want to see when you start and cross them off, but equally try to be spontaneous and just go with the flow. Use Dresden as your starting point for discovering Germany and Europe: the Czech Republic and Poland are literally a stone's throw away! Enjoy Viel Spass in Dresden!
The cleverest people find accommodation: After all the real students have fought for places. Try wg-gesucht.de and don't panic if you have to youthhostel it to start with.
Don't leave without: A warm coat and hat for the winter, a bunch of forms showing who you are and a camera for all the fun times you'll have.
The best night out is: An amazing play at the Staatsschauspielhaus followed by crazily cheap cocktails in the Neustadt.
When your parents visit: Amaze them with Dresden's beautiful sights such as the Zwinger and the Frauenkirche, then get them to treat you to dinner in one of the many international restaurants in the Weisse Gasse in the Altstadt.
My favourite lunch place: A spot on the bank of the Elbe for a picnic or Espitas Mexican for delicious (and cheap) snacks and drinks in a funky atmosphere.
My best place for a hot date: A stroll in the Grosser Garten then Max's Restaurant - Altstadt or Neustadt, it's not dirt-cheap but sharing a tasty plate of Kartoffelecken (potato wedges) and sipping some cocktails wouldn't go amiss.
On a Sunday: Check out England England for a traditional English breakfast in a quaint little tea-shop and then have a stroll or rollerblade along the Elbe.
The most useful website I found was: www.bahn.de: your bible for travelling around Germany. Get yourself a bahncard and it's even cheaper. Dvb.de for Dresden-based travel.
If you want to fit in quickly, you should: Act more or less as you would at home, but realise that Germany is basically a more direct and better organised version of Britain, so get forms in on time and don't take things to heart. They'll love you!