Student portraits

Student testimonials studying abroad

On this page you will find testimonials from abroad by students studying environmental sciences.

Moritz' experiences

Moritz spent a year abroad in Peru at PUCP University. Through the ENVI programme, he was able to study at the university for two semesters. The variety of courses related to the environment and sustainability, as well as the possible excursions, were enriching at the university in Peru.

  • Motivation
  • Learning culture
  • Place of study
  • Personal experience alongside studies
  • Conclusion

Motivation

What was your motivation for the ENVI programme with integrated year abroad?

The ENVI programme offered me the opportunity to learn subjects that are probably not offered in this form at any German university. In terms of content, I was particularly interested in the geography programme with its focus on the Peruvian Andes highlands and rainforest. However, another decisive factor for me was that the ENVI programme, unlike the classic Erasmus semester abroad, consists of two semesters and all achievements are credited. It also gave me the chance to spend a second year in Peru.

What topics / aspects / focal points did you deal with during your year abroad at the PUCP in Lima, Peru?

At the PUCP, the subject Environmental Sciences does not exist in the same form, but you belong to the Geography and Environment degree programme, but you can choose from the entire course programme of almost all faculties and find a wide range of other courses with an environmental or sustainability connection. Especially if you are interested in the physical and ecological aspect, geography offers itself as a good supplementary course, with some content that is not taught like this at Leuphana University. They often offer many exciting excursions to landscapes that are seldom or never found in the rest of Europe. Also, because many courses are divided into seminars and practicals, the content taught is usually applied directly in project work and/or deepened by means of numerous excursions. In this way, I learned how to use geoinformation systems and was able to deepen some methods of field work. The courses "Geografía urbana" and "Cambio climático y territorio" were very helpful. It is definitely worth attending as many courses as possible in the first week to be able to make a better decision afterwards. The module descriptions are not always very informative. (Note: At the PUCP, course selection only takes place in the second week of the semester, after you can try out all the courses in the first week).

Learning culture

How is the teaching and learning culture at PUCP in Lima, Peru, compared to Leuphana?

I look back very positively on the two semesters I spent at the PUCP in Lima. Above all, the comparatively smaller course sizes allowed for an intensive learning experience and a good relationship with the lecturers. The professors in my course seemed very open-minded and were always approachable when problems arose. In addition, there was more and catchier reading work at the Peruvian university, which is why I now have a much broader and more diverse horizon in terms of authors, papers and theories in the field of environmental science. However, this also means that I spent a lot of time in the library reading the texts and the relatively high workload was spread over the whole semester instead of just the exam period. The many group assignments in the courses were sometimes very time-consuming and difficult to coordinate, but they also offered the opportunity to gain a lot of practical experience. I had the feeling that the PUCP also works a lot with external partners, such as NGOs. Many of the geography students, for example, were deeply involved in the protection of the fragile coastal desert ecosystems, the so-called "lomas", and not only dealt with this in several courses, but also had contacts with various people in charge and got involved in the area outside of everyday university life. If they are interested, exchange students can also get involved. On the one hand, this offers the opportunity to gain a better insight into Lima and Peru as a country and its conditions. On the other hand, you get to know how to deal with different stakeholders in practice. I feel that my time there gave me a better understanding of how and what I would like to write my Bachelor's thesis about and how any necessary data collection (better) works. All in all, the focus of the teaching was more practice-oriented than at Leuphana and I got to know a different perspective on partly similar, already familiar issues. In principle, studying at the PUCP can be very time-consuming, as a module in Peru involves a lot more teaching and several exams. There is usually not just one grade per course, but at least three, each of which in turn can be made up of further small certificates of achievement. Since the requirements of the faculty of sustainability are 30 ECTS per semester, which corresponds to 15 Peruvian CP according to our conversion key, my week was well filled with university. That was fine, but you have to expect some night shifts to get everything done well. Due to the stress and the many group activities, you should also expect that things might not always go as planned. Since everyone is very busy with their studies, there is little time for group meetings and often the work is only finished at the very last minute and may even be handed in too late. I had only experienced this to a limited extent before from my environment at Leuphana and it was a change for me.

What language did you study in Peru and what language did you use in everyday life there?

Did the language preparation at Leuphana help you, or were you able to expand your language skills? I spoke Spanish in everyday life as well as in the courses. Depending on the course, I often read basic English texts. However, this is much more awkward because I had to translate some words into Spanish for reading tests. Therefore, it is easier to read Spanish texts directly, as most unfamiliar terms can be inferred from the context.As there are only a handful of courses in English, I would advise against studying at PUCP without a sound knowledge of Spanish. Before leaving, I took a Spanish complementary course. However, I could hardly improve my language skills there. I then took a B2 language course at PUCP. That was very helpful to internalise the rules once again.

Place of study

How did you like Lima as a place to study?

Since Lima is a very large city with a lot of traffic, the distances are often long and far. I lived in the neighbourhood next to the university (Pueblo Libre). It's neither a bad or dangerous neighbourhood, nor one of the big, beautiful, rich and quiet ones. I was very happy with it, there were local markets, supermarkets and lots of cheap restaurants and the university was only 10 minutes away by bike (although it's more common to take the bus). The trendy districts like Miraflores or Barranco are easy to reach from Pueblo Libre by taxi and/or bus, so I would recommend anyone who prefers short distances to the university to look for a room close to PUCP. Suitable districts are San Miguel, Pueblo Libre, Magdalena del Mar and Jesus María. The rent for a room is around 600 to 900 soles, which was usually 150 to 250 euros. The equipment at the university is definitely up to scratch, there are computer rooms equipped with the usual programmes, such as ARC-Gis.

Personal experience alongside studies

What cultural differences did you notice most when you arrived in Peru?

Many things are said through the mouth, which can lead to misunderstandings if you don't understand the subtle message. If there was a certain basis of trust, it worked well for me to ask directly about the deeper need in order to avoid misunderstandings.Otherwise, there is quite pronounced racism in Peru between urban and rural populations, but also between social groups and external aspects. Because of my white skin colour, strangers often complimented me and I was favoured in various situations. How you deal with that is of course something everyone has to decide for themselves, but you should at least be aware of it. On the other hand, there are also people, especially in rural areas, who are very sceptical or even negative towards people with white skin colour due to the historical context. You should also be prepared for that and be able to understand it.

What did you do in your free time during your studies in the host country? What leisure activities are available in Lima?

The range of sports and activities offered by the PUCP is quite broad. There are many sports courses and initiatives in which you can get involved. However, my free time during the week was very limited; on Saturdays I mostly played basketball in an informal group. The nightlife in Lima offers many opportunities, but is also very touristy. On a long weekend, however, it is no problem to escape the city life and visit one of the countless ruins around Lima.
 

How was the contact with the Peruvian students?

Contact with Peruvian students was very uncomplicated. It always helps to take part in joint activities, even if it's just to have dinner together after group work. For me, this quickly led to some very good friendships. On weekends, I usually spent time with a group of friends outside of the university that I already knew before studying abroad.

What were your best and worst experiences during the year abroad?

I didn't have a bad experience in that sense. Lima is often considered unsafe and tourists do like to get ripped off or stolen from. However, you can easily prevent this if you walk through the city with your eyes open and wear valuables on your body or simply leave them at home if they are not indispensable. Of course, it doesn't hurt to know which neighbourhood you're in. The PUCP gives a good introduction to this. Otherwise, Lima is often associated with its high traffic volume and grey, gloomy winter. This is indeed not the nicest season, but I have made the experience that such aspects become a minor matter when you make social contacts. Then even the weather becomes a minor matter. The programme is comparatively small, with around 100 students, and the informal atmosphere means that you quickly get to know lots of nice people. I can only recommend the ENVI programme at PUCP to anyone who is interested. The year abroad gave me the chance to get to know a country as well as the study content from a completely different perspective.

Conclusion

Did the year abroad change your view of the study content and teaching and learning culture at Leuphana?

All in all, the focus of the teaching was more practice-oriented than at Leuphana and I got to know a different perspective on partly similar, already familiar issues. I am sure that I will be able to benefit greatly from these new insights in subsequent (academic) papers.

What is the most important thing you took away from your year abroad?

A different perspective on the same subjects and study content and friendships.

Amy's experiences

Amy studied in Karlstads (Sweden) for a year. She particularly enjoyed the small courses and the intensive exchange with the lecturers, and she also acquired a basic knowledge of Swedish.

  • Motivation
  • Learning culture
  • Country & culture
  • Conclusion

Motivation

What was your motivation for the ENVI programme with integrated year abroad?

Environmental problems and changes do not stop at national borders - so solutions must also be thought of internationally. For this reason, I wanted to add an international component to my studies. At the same time, I was curious to get to know a new country, a new language and a new study culture. Compared to other exchange programmes, the ENVI programme was particularly appealing to me because a whole year abroad gave me more time to settle in and integrate on site.

What topics / aspects / focal points did you deal with during your year abroad at Karlstad University in Sweden?

The courses I chose in Karlstad mainly dealt with the effects of global change (especially climate change) on ecosystems and how to deal with the challenges that arise. However, the university (due to its geographical location) also conducts a lot of research in the field of freshwater ecology and management, an orientation that clearly influenced the course content. I liked this very much, as I was able to learn a lot about the region and get an insight into the research.

Learning culture

How is the teaching and learning culture at Karlstad University compared to Leuphana?

The teaching and learning culture in Karlstad was much freer than at Leuphana: In general, students have little time to spend at the university and are largely free to decide when and how much time they want to invest in coursework. Due to the small courses and flat hierarchies at the university, the contact between teachers and students is very close compared to Leuphana. I particularly liked this, because students' questions and interests could be addressed and I was often invited by teachers to extracurricular events in my areas of interest.

In which language did you study in Sweden and which language did you use in everyday life there?

Did the language preparation at Leuphana help you, or were you able to expand your language skills? The courses offered for international students at Karlstad University were exclusively in English. I spoke both English and Swedish in my free time. I was very grateful to have acquired a basic knowledge of Swedish before my departure, which I could build on. 

Country & culture

How did you like Karlstad as a place to study?

I really liked Karlstad as a place to study, especially because of the beautiful landscape in the surrounding area. I also felt very comfortable at the university.

What cultural differences did you notice most when you arrived in Karlstad?

At the beginning, it was very unusual for me that all Swedes - from lecturers to my dentist - introduced themselves to me exclusively by their first names. However, I quickly came to like the comparatively informal atmosphere that developed in this way.

What did you do in your free time during your studies in Sweden?

What leisure activities are there in Karlstad? Since the landscape around Karlstad is breathtakingly beautiful, I spent a lot of my free time outdoors. Lake Alstern is only about a 20-minute walk through the forest from the "Campus" student residence, and there are many beautiful places in the vicinity that can be reached by bike. The university offers a wide range of sports and leisure activities, and there are many free activities for young people in the city, for example from the UNO, the city youth centre, and the Fritidsbanken, where you can rent leisure equipment such as skis, skates, etc. for free. I myself enjoyed going to the climbing hall and taking advantage of the free Swedish courses offered by Medborgskolan.

How was the contact with the Swedish students?

Since the courses I took in Sweden were specifically designed for international students and the Swedish mentality is generally a little more reserved, my contact with Swedish students was rather limited at the beginning. Through leisure activities - for example, being a member of the choir - I was able to get to know more Swedes during my year abroad and make friends with whom I am still in contact. However, my circle of friends remained a colourful Swedish/international mix, which I personally liked very much.

Conclusion

Did the year abroad change your view of the study content and teaching and learning culture at Leuphana?

The new, much freer and more personalised teaching and learning culture in Sweden has definitely sharpened my view of the strengths and weaknesses of the Leuphana system. The new perspectives and methods I learned in my courses at Karlstad University have also complemented and expanded my studies here at Leuphana.

What is the most important thing you took away from your year abroad?

The most important thing I will take away from my year abroad are the wonderful people I was able to meet during my time in Karlstad and the strong friendships that were formed. But I also received valuable food for thought for my personal development. For example, the advice from one of my former lecturers to not only look at environmental problems through the lens of resilience has changed the way I deal with stress and setbacks in the long term.

Juliane's experiences

Juliane spent her year abroad in Barcelona at UAB University. In Spain, she was able to build up and expand her language skills, as most of the teaching at the university is in Catalan.

  • Motivation
  • Learning culture
  • Country & Culture

Motivation

What was your motivation for the ENVI programme with integrated year abroad?

For me, it was attractive to study in another country for a year, as the Erasmus offers are often only designed for one semester. I also wanted to have the opportunity later on to apply for Master's degrees abroad that require more than the 180 credit points necessary for the normal Bachelor's degree. I wanted to go to Barcelona because I had already taken Spanish classes at school and wanted to improve my knowledge.

What topics / aspects / focal points did you deal with during your year abroad at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain?

Environmental Sciences has a larger range of natural science courses at UAB. So I took the opportunity to choose courses from this field, such as oceanography and renewable energies. I also found courses from the field of geography very instructive.

Learning culture

How does the teaching and learning culture at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona compare to Leuphana?

The UAB is a bit more school-like than Leuphana, frontal teaching is the rule rather than the exception, and regular submissions and exams during the semester are quite common. However, I found the relationship between students and lecturers to be more on an equal footing than at Leuphana. In addition, excursions are often offered.

What language did you study in Spain and what language did you use in everyday life there? Did the language preparation at Leuphana help you, or were you able to expand your language skills?

The language of instruction at UAB is Catalan - especially in the environmental sciences. During my entire year abroad, I took two courses in English, one of them outside the subject area, all the other courses were in Catalan without exception. In this respect, Leuphana's language preparation not only helped me, it made studying in Barcelona possible in the first place. With the help of another Catalan course offered at the university there, I was able to expand my language skills somewhat, but in everyday life I spoke Castilian (Spanish). I was definitely able to improve my language skills here. I also spoke in English with other Erasmus students.

Country & Culture

How did you like Barcelona as a place to study?

Barcelona is a beautiful city, the university is located a little outside, surrounded by an impressive landscape. There are many cultural activities and opportunities to go out, the proximity to the sea and the surrounding hills and mountains offer many excursion possibilities, more than I could use in one year.

What did you do in your free time during your studies in spain?

What kind of leisure activities are there in Barcelona? In my free time, I did a language tandem, helped out a little in the university garden and explored the city with friends. On the weekends, I often went on excursions to other parts of Catalonia. In the summer, I also travelled through northern Spain for a few weeks.

How was the contact with the Spanish students?

The Spanish students are very helpful and friendly, but you have to make an effort to establish closer contact with them. Especially because if you only spend a few hours a week with the same group in class, while they spend day after day in the same class group, and possibly for years. However, excursions and leisure activities offered by the programme help with this.

What were your best and worst experiences during the year abroad?

The excursions to the Pyrenees, Morocco and harbour mapping, the summer in Spain, the festivities in the city on holidays and the friendships I made with Spanish and Erasmus students during the year were particularly nice.Negative experiences, on the other hand, were the theft of my wallet in the underground, being initially overwhelmed by the language of instruction and the German exams I still had to write, quickly followed by the first Catalan exams. In addition, the housing agency tried to cheat me out of my deposit at the end.

Jana's experiences

Jana spent her year abroad in Hungary at the University of Sopron. She really liked the opportunities to specialise in the natural sciences and the small English-language courses at the university.

  • Motivation
  • Learning culture
  • Country & Culture
  • Conclusion

Motivation

What was your motivation for the ENVI programme with integrated year abroad?

My motivation was curiosity in many respects. The ENVI programme gave me the opportunity to complement my studies at Leuphana. It gave me the chance to learn more, to get to know other subject areas and disciplines, to try out a different university and a different university routine, and to deepen my interests in my studies. Beyond my studies, I was curious about the country and the language.

What topics / aspects / focal points did you deal with during your year abroad at the University of Sopron in Hungary?

I studied at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Sopron. There I learned a lot about hydrology, chemistry, geographic information systems (GIS), land use and climate, and ecology. The university offers specialisation opportunities in the natural sciences. There was also a language course, of course. 

Learning culture

What was your motivation for the ENVI programme with integrated year abroad?

My motivation was curiosity in many respects. The ENVI programme gave me the opportunity to complement my studies at Leuphana. It gave me the chance to learn more, to get to know other subject areas and disciplines, to try out a different university and a different university routine, and to deepen my interests in my studies. Beyond my studies, I was curious about the country and the language.

What topics / aspects / focal points did you deal with during your year abroad at the University of Sopron in Hungary?

I studied at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Sopron. There I learned a lot about hydrology, chemistry, geographic information systems (GIS), land use and climate, and ecology. The university offers specialisation opportunities in the natural sciences. There was also a language course, of course. 

Country & Culture

How did you like Sopron as a place to study?

I liked Sopron very much. I felt comfortable at the university and was able to learn exciting things. The campus is very beautiful and well located. The city is similar in size to Lüneburg. The surroundings, especially the Sopron Forest, are fantastic and excursion destinations are easily accessible thanks to the location.

What did you do in your free time during your studies in Hungary?

What kind of leisure activities are there in Sopron? You can go hiking in the forest near Sopron. There is also a bathing lake and good routes for cycling. I also did a lot of running in the forest. The hall of residence has a fitness room and there are other sports facilities. In Sopron, you can also go bowling, play billiards and there is a bobsleigh track. I also spent a lot of my free time on excursions to Vienna, Budapest and other places near or far. Budapest in particular is very easy to get to and simply fantastic!

How was the contact with the Hungarian students?

I rarely had contact with the Hungarian students. Most of them didn't take advantage of the English programmes. However, there was a field trip in the summer where we travelled together with Hungarian students. I tended to meet Hungarians outside the university in the city, in the community or in the bars and pubs.

What were your best and worst experiences during the year abroad?

The most valuable thing for me is that I made a very close friend in Sopron with whom I was allowed to share a room for 2 semesters. Overall, I really enjoyed doing things with the student groups or just sitting together around the campfire or on the roof terrace. My favourite place there has become the forest and the orchard of a Hungarian friend.

Conclusion

Did the year abroad change your view of the study content and teaching and learning culture at Leuphana?

Through my studies in Sopron, it was very easy for me to choose my specialisation modules at Leuphana, as I was able to develop an interest in the natural science specialisations. The small courses at Sopron University were valuable, you don't often have that at Leuphana, but I appreciate it all the more. I also learned how important it is to include our guest students at Leuphana in our own university life.

What is the most important thing you took away from your year abroad?

A friend for life, wonderful memories and awakened interest for more.

Future perspectives - what's next for you after graduation?

I will do a Master's degree after my Bachelor's degree. I want to continue in the natural sciences, especially chemistry. I still very much appreciate the inter- and transdisciplinarity of the Bachelor's degree at Leuphana, but I would like to specialise a little more.

Susanna's experiences

Susanna has been studying Environmental Sciences and Industrial Engineering since the winter semester 2013/14. She is in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies programme, which allows her to spend an integrated semester abroad. She will soon be going to Hungary for a year.

  • Why the Leuphana College?
  • My studies
  • Admission Process
  • Opening Week
  • Leuphana Semester
  • Complimentary studies
  • Internships and study abroad
  • Engagement besides my studies
  • Student finances
  • Lüneburg as city to study
  • My future
  • Why and to whom would you recommend to study at the Leuphana College?

Why the Leuphana College?

I found the study model here very interesting, with "thinking outside the box". There is this complementary area, which is something special. There you are confronted with other people and other perspectives. Then there's the minor, which also takes up a large part of the degree programme.
I also integrated my year abroad into my studies here.

My studies

My major is Environmental And Sustainability Studies and my minor is Industrial Engineering, because I wanted to have another engineering, technical part in my studies.

In Environmental Sciences, we look at sustainability from very different perspectives and I'm particularly interested in the natural science perspective, i.e. chemistry and ecology. Next semester I'm going to Hungary for a year, where I'll also study this in more depth.

I'm in the Envi programme: you apply for it in the first semester if you've been admitted to environmental sciences. There are 20 places in Sweden, Spain, Hungary and now Peru has been added. I got my application at the end of the first semester and the first Hungarian course started in February. Now in the third semester, we have a module as preparation for our year abroad, where we deal with the country we are going to.

I have just chosen my modules in Hungary, and I think it will be very different from here. The culture there is a bit different, and they're not all so well planned. It's a forestry faculty and there are a lot of hunters studying there. It's all about ecosystems and forests. It's probably the case that the modules we do are not together with Hungarians, but with other exchange students. That's because Hungarian is very different from German, and you learn it very slowly. That's why we can't study in Hungarian. One advantage is that you then have a pretty good supervision ratio; some seminars have 5 people.

Admission Process

I was admitted directly. I think it makes sense that admission is not only based on the Abitur grade. A lot of effort is made, especially in environmental sciences.

Opening Week

Demographic change and urban development was our topic. We talked about it in the group and then drafted a concept for the future. I thought it was good that we did such a project right at the beginning. At the beginning of the week, I would never have thought that we would end up producing a whole video clip. It was very exhausting, but also very interesting.

Leuphana Semester

I experienced that as very positive. You were able to study with people from different degree programmes with whom you might not otherwise do anything together. I thought that was nice, but it was also nice when ENVI really started.

Complimentary studies

Last semester, I made a conscious decision to do something completely different from what I usually do. I took a course where we wrote plays and texts in English. That was a lot of fun, I could try myself out and the people were super interesting. This semester I had a block course, which was a bit chaotic.

Internships and study abroad

Due to my year abroad in Hungary, I have a long break between the two semesters in the summer. That's why I'd like to do an internship there sometime. We already have a lot of practical experience here in the degree programme, but I would also like to try out what it's like in reality.

 

Engagement besides my studies

I am active in university politics. I'm also a member of CampusGrün, which is a list in the Stupa and the Senate. I do this because I wanted to know how decision-making processes work at the university. And especially through the work in the FGV, you can also have a certain influence on the course of studies. I like to participate in things where I can actively shape my environment.

 

Student finances

In the first year I got Bafög and a little money from my parents and now I have a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. I applied myself and took a test on the computer that was similar to the Leuphana test. The best from this test are then invited to the selection seminar. There you prepare a presentation, have discussions and individual interviews.

Lüneburg as city to study

The city is relatively small, so you always meet the same people, which is quite pleasant. You have a few places and it's very easy to find your way around. The studies and the university also have a big influence in the city, for example in terms of cultural life.

My future

I would like to do a Master's degree and specialise in the natural sciences.

Why and to whom would you recommend to study at the Leuphana College?

I can speak mainly for ENVI. I can recommend this if you are interested in different perspectives on sustainability. Environmental science is not only characterised by the natural sciences here. You get a broad overview, but you're not that deep in any subject area. You have to be aware of that.

Contact

Initial Information

Information Office (Infoportal)
Building 8, ground floor
Universitätsallee 1, 21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-2277
infoportal@leuphana.de
Opening hours
Term time & term break:
Mon - Thu 9.30 - 12 h & 13 -14.30 h
Fr 9.30 - 12 h

Arrange an appointment

College's Student Counselling Service
Buil­ding 8, ground floor
Uni­ver­sitätsal­lee 1, 21335 Lüne­burg
Open Con­sul­ta­ti­on Hours
(via Zoom)
Wed  11 – 13 h
Thu 16 – 18 h