Before leaving the UK for my year abroad in Germany, I was very nervous and was thinking about all the difficulties I would face, such as the language barrier and starting my job as a language assistant. However, my time in Germany turned out to be the best adventure I had ever been on. I knew relatively little about Düsseldorf before arriving there, but I quickly discovered it is a beautiful city with a stunning skyline, very fashion-orientated and with something new to surprise and fascinate in every corner.
From talking to my work colleagues in both German and English, I was lucky enough to form very close friendships with them and had the chance to experience many German social activities together. To my surprise and delight, a few of my female colleagues and I discovered we had a love of music in common and founded a fortnightly event where we would socialise, have traditional German food and sing together. These rehearsals even resulted in me performing as part of a choir as well as solos for Christmas, Easter and other concerts throughout the year.
Other friends that I made introduced me to regional delicacies and the wonderful tradition Germany habit of ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ (coffee and cake). I also got to see a concert of one of Germany’s biggest bands ‘Die Toten Hosen’. Spending time with my German friends was not only an excellent opportunity to immerse myself in the language and culture, but to form friendships for life.
One of the highlights of my year abroad, was the chance to travel to Eastern Europe. In the October school holidays, a few friends and I decided to travel by train to places such as Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Prague. This trip was a once in a lifetime experience that has provided me with wonderful memories and pictures to treasure forever. Another highlight was experiencing the crazy tradition that happens in February called Karneval. It is a week long party in the centre of the city where everybody dances, sings and has a wonderful time, whilst being dressed up in colourful costumes. Quite a sight to behold!
My time in Düsseldorf exceeded all my expectations and taught me many things. By saying ‘yes’ to invites, and embracing all the new experiences that come your way, no matter how challenging they are, it enables you to get the most out of your time abroad, which is important, as it really does go too quickly! I couldn’t have wished for a better place to live for a year, I now consider Düsseldorf my second home.