A Week in the Life: Erasmus-Jahr in Deutschland

A Week in the Life: Erasmus-Jahr in Deutschland by Erasmus year in Germany

This article was written by Rachel MacLean, published on 6th November 2014 and has been read 16467 times.

Rachel MacLean studies French and German Interpretation and Translation at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and is spending her year abroad studying at the Universität des Saarlandes in Saarbrücken. Read her breakdown of a typical week in the life of an Erasmus+ student in Germany, including battling through language barriers and bus doors, learning to be punctual and trying out a whole lot of classes...


12:15 start - not a bad start to the week! Especially as it’s one of my favourite classes… German to English translation.

Following my favourite class is the most difficult. It’s translation from English into German. The translation of, say, washing machine safety instructions from English into German – complicated vocabulary in English as it is. Not really a fan of that. I’ll need to have a think, but my first thought on that class is that it’s a nein from me - but we shall see!


One hilarious day for sure. So glad Jordan and I were a team for the day! Jordan also studies at Heriot Watt and it’s so good having an already-made friend here.

The day started off with beginners Spanish – HOLA – hopefully an easy 6 credits will be achieved! We then went to ‘Teaching German as a Foreign Language’. Well, safe to say when it came to reading a short text and group work we excused ourselves and escaped out of that class!! It’s quite difficult and daunting doing just any old course in German, even although we know German. We are used doing just interpreting and translation really. Still, at least we gave things a shot. It was an appropriate time to go back to the drawing board and continue trying to figure out what on earth we are doing. Getting there s-l-o-w-l-y though.


Spanish class at 08:30 in the morning... not a fan of these super duper early starts but hey ho!

Take note: Punctuality is important in Germany.

I only live 5 minutes by bus from the University so that is a real BONUS and I definitely feel I have more time here as I don’t have to sit on a bus for up to 40 mins like I do in Edinburgh!

After Spanish, we went to ‘Introduction to interpreting’ in German. I really enjoyed that – heard lots of new words. I’ll need to write them in my vocab book (standard language chit chat). I went to a Step-Aerobic class at the gym that day. €26 for a term…not bad, not bad. Safe to say I know my Links from my Rechts now. Drei, zwei, eins…


Ah Donnerstag… so today I found the classroom where 'Introduction to Pyschology' was held. Nothing like a good old challenge. I found the class but I actually didn’t end up going in because I was too scared…whoops…maybe next week! I understand more German than I think I do but it isn’t exactly easy walking into a class that you know is full of native Germans.

I also tried out another class that I won’t be going back to. They seem to like analysing German articles using computer programmes here. I, for one, do NOT understand computing properly at all sooo it’s another NEIN from me. The class was in German but the powerpoint was in English . I don’t even understand the concept in English so nein nein nein from me. Not for me. Entschuldigung!


TGIF! French class, of course, is taught in German as I’m in Germany (I really do need to think at times!). Surprisingly, I found this class a bit better today, although I definitely need to revise my French verbs! I have no words to describe not knowing what language to think/speak in. I explained to the teacher that I find it difficult giving direct French translation of French sentence from German. She was very nice and told me to have kein Angst. Who doesn’t love a good challenge? I have two presentations coming up this month – LOS GEHTS!

Halloween! My friends and I enjoyed a great evening of eating pizza! I stay in Waldhaus. We have our own room, ensuite and a little kitchen. It’s really great but we don’t have an oven in our Kitchenette, therefore we were very happy to see a oven again. Student life jaa! A good calorific evening! We went to the Heimbar (a social spot at our block of flats) and scared all the Germans away by dancing to the Macarena, S Club 7 and YMCA.


A day for homework and cleaning the house, aka my little studio room. I want to prepare as much of my presentations as I can before two weekends of country hopping! Looking forward to a Mädelsabend tonight – girls night! It’s also a bonus that ALL the shops are closed today for Allerheiligen-Tag so I really have no other option but to crack on and get the uni work done!

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to the once-a-month Sunday treat of the shops being open 2-6pm tomorrow! All shops are shut on Sundays in Germany except for the first Sunday of the month when they treat us and are open for a few hours. So, in other words, don’t get caught out and make sure you have plenty food for a Sunday! Cute Christmas things have started popping up in the city centre. Looking forward to all the Christmas markets. PS…since when was it November?! Crazy!


A day for wandering around the shops no doubt trying not to spend my Euros as I am going to Paris in a couple of weeks! I quite like Euros. The notes look pretty (of course that’s something I’d say!)

Skype day with family and a few friends. La vie est belle.

My top 5 tips for living in Germany

1) If in doubt and you have absolutely no idea what they are saying just nod your head and say JA – or not.
2) A pretzel a day keeps confusion at day BUT pick of all the salt on the pretzel because it tastes really mingin’ (Ich glaube!)
3) Don’t forget to do Pfand-recycling….We all love to get a few Euros back after returning our plastic bottles.
4) Do your best not to get squished by the doors whilst leaving the bus. The bus driver had no patience as there was a queue to leave the bus the other week and took no pity on me so I was almost squished. I kinda froze and im scared of getting squished by bus and lift doors now. Yay me! SCHNELL.
5) If you feel like you need a break from Germany just get on the train to France and visit Strasbourg or Paris. On y va.

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