Alumni Spotlight: Maren Nywelt


Why did you choose this program?

When I asked myself two years ago what I should study and which university I should go to, the priority on my list was clearly the internationality of the degree. However, I eventually realized that traveling is my great passion but does not have to become my profession in order to gain more experience abroad. Health, Nutrition, Food Business was the only degree from my selection that did not include a semester abroad.

Finally, I told myself that I can achieve it anyway as long as I work hard for it, and so I did.
The "Hessen: Queensland Exchange Program" was the key to my unique experience. I was the first student in my faculty who applied for the scholarship and thus the first student from my faculty who left European borders. The program provided great guidance throughout the whole preparation process, providing information about the necessary steps as well as giving all selected students information about the country, culture, and people, so our arrival was as smooth as possible.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The Hessen: Queensland program coordinators made sure I had filled in all forms for the application at my partner university in Brisbane and had every required document ready for the student visa application. They further hosted a pre-departure meeting for all students going to Australia during the same year where they gave us plenty of information about insurance, airport pick-up, finances, accommodation, as well as the Australian culture.

I am a very well organized person myself, but having the program as a helping hand made the whole process much easier. I still organized my visa, health insurance and accommodation on my own, but knowing that you could always ask experienced people for help was a great back-up.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't let the big amount of administrative work and possible occurring obstacles in your way prevent you from taking the challenge to fulfill your dream of a semester abroad. The hard work will pay off. If you're thinking of doing it, just do it and start organizing it with enough time in advance.

During your stay abroad, it will become more and more apparent what your values and beliefs are. It raises your confidence, and what is more, it increases your willingness to tackle subjects that are difficult.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average week in Brisbane was a good balance of uni, work, and sightseeing with friends. The big amount of assignments and the different way of studying was overwhelming at first, but I managed to adapt quickly.

I was always ahead of the due dates and was, therefore, able to work in catering during the week as well. In this way, I could save up money to see more beautiful places that surround Brisbane.
The number of uni days varied, as you could watch the recorded lectures at any time. However, the tutorials and group work on-site helped me a lot to do well in my assignments.

During weekends, I had enough time to catch up with friends and organize my next trips.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was the great number of written assignments that I already knew to expect. I was not used to writing that much in academic English since I had only worked and traveled in different countries before. My course in Germany also does not include any English lectures or tutorials; everything was in German only.

Nevertheless, everything turned out well and I got used to a new way of studying that I learned to appreciate. What also boosted my confidence was the great support of staff members at my university in Brisbane. Even lecturers were very understanding and always happy to help out.
I now know that there is no reason to be scared because there is a solution to every problem.

My semester abroad was an enrichment for my academic expertise and it helped me to become an even more independent, decisive and organized learner.

What did you learn about your own culture by living in another one?

As I already mentioned before, Australia has become one of my favourite places in the world. I keep coming back, with good reason.

It's not only about the beauty of the country: it is about the people. What I learned about my culture is mainly that Germans should sometimes take things easier. Unlike most Germans, Australians are very laid back, even at work. They love their barbeques, a good chat, and barely stress about anything.

If you want to convince yourself, then it's now time to take action and start planning your once-in-a-lifetime experience!