Emma in Euroland

Tea, Cake and Travel: a year abroad in Germany

An Ominous Brown Envelope

I am very excited to say that after months of waiting, I finally know where I am going for my year abroad! I shall be in the biggest city of Thuringia, Erfurt. From my rushed research on Wikipedia (more to come later), its seems to be a beautiful city with around 200,000 residents. It is also the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany which is perfect for me as travelling around the country shouldn’t be too difficult!

For months I have been refreshing my email account multiple times each day in the hope that I would have finally ‘heard from Germany’ but to no avail. Instead, after a leisurely bike ride to the pub with my mum and brother, I was putting my bike back in the garage when I suddenly heard my mum calling my name. I looked round the corner to see her dancing like a mad woman waving a brown envelope around and saying “It’s addressed to Frau Emma Benson!!” It took me a moment to realise what she meant. IT’S FROM GERMANY.

Well, to cut a long story short, half an hour later I still hadn’t taken my shoes or coat off but I had rushed through most of the paperwork in the envelope. I’m going to a Berufschule (Beruf meaning job). My understanding of this is that it is a vocational school that people go to around two days a week after they have finished secondary school, if they are working towards an apprenticeship. It is possible to gain lots of skills there to prepare people for specific industries and it would seem that students there will already be being employed as an apprentice at a company but are there to gain any extra skills required. All this means that my students are likely to be either my age or older, not something I had really considered before now. This presents a whole new challenge to me but one I’m excited about and I have no doubt that working with students I can connect with more will be a very rewarding experience.

After the initial excitement I felt totally overwhelmed. This was all the news I had wanted to hear since I first applied for my assistantship in December. However, before I had the news, many of the things I need to do before I leave couldn’t be done yet, I didn’t have enough information. Now though, all the things I need to organise, flights, accommodation, erasmus grants and so on and so on, can actually be done. This news brings with it a wonderful sense of empowerment. I can now actively prepare and I should feel much more in control. But there is a LOT to do and every time I seem to get something done, I seem to find two more things I need to get on with.

That’s always the way with these things though isn’t it. In order for it to all work well, things have to be organised properly and I do love a bit of organisation :). I’ve woken up this morning with a new, very very excited, head on my shoulders. I have been granted a place at a completely different sort of school than any I have had experience of previously and whilst that was daunting at first, now, I just can’t wait to arrive. Also, Erfurt is just about the best place I could have ended up in Thuringia. Finally, I don’t have to go until the end of September which is later than I expected, leaving me with lots of extra time to make sure I’m completely ready.

This new development has made my year abroad real in a way that it wasn’t really before. That’s scary, definitely but its exciting too. My year abroad is edging ever closer and let me tell you, I can’t wait.



  1. How exciting! I definitely can relate to your feelings about this though; the overwhelmingness (definitely a word) but also the excitement and the comfort at having some more certainty about things. Looking forward to hearing all about your progress with preparations, and learning a bit more about Thuringia!

    • haha, I’m sure that’s a word ;). I’m looking forward to finding out more too! It would seem that noone I’ve come across so far knows ANYTHING at all about where I’m going, although a couple have vaguely heard of it. Oh well, surprises can be fun right? 🙂

  2. I spent a year in Erfurt on erasmus! Loved it. BEAUTIFUL LITTLE CITY. people there are lovely.

    dancing….go to club-eins! Great fun! real R&B music. Nowhere that does pop music in clubs. they all sort of classed into techno etc.

    I usually flew into Frankfurt and got a train from there to Erfurt. couple of hours. expensive though, in 2008 it was €50 each way. not sure what it is now though.

    lovely little places nearby aswell with lots of history and sites.

    If you’re there for Christmas you will LOVE the Weihnachtsmarkt! its amazing!

    It has all the usual shops like H&M etc and lots of other German ones too.

    and you HAVE to try their Bratwurst – so tasty!

    ………..all I can say is I know you’ll love it there. I spent the best year of my life in Erfurt! Loved every minute of it! Enjoy!

    • Oh, its so great to hear from someone who actually knows about Erfurt! I think I will just fly into Frankfurt. I have lots of friends there anyway so it might be nice to have the chance to visit some of them at the same time! I certainly shall try their Bratwurst and it would seem I am going to get all my christmas presents at the christmas markets! :). Thank you so much for letting me know about Erfurt :). Any tips on finding accommodation? I shall be working at a school right near Erfurt airport. Is travelling around the city difficult/expensive? Sorry for all the questions! xx

      • No there is a S-Bahn that goes through the city and services most places. there is one that stops off right at the airport there too I think! Tickets for the tram when I was there were about 1.50 or something for the entire day! But if you are a student, then you can get a Student ID and that covers you for travelling round the city, and even to and from some of the cities nearby!

        Also, you should invest in a Bahn-card: (think that is what it is called!) forget now… But you will prob see them advertised. You buy them in any train ticket shop and it gives you discounts on travelling on trains. Be worth it if you intend to travel around Germany while you are there!! 😀 Can’t remember what it costs, was about €80..But whatever it was it was worth it cause the discounts were half price nearly!

        Not too sure about accommodation. I went there to Erfurt Uni for the year and I stayed in the Studentenwohnheim. Maybe the school can help you out with accommodation lists or sites? Worth asking!

        Look up the Erfurt website too…they have some 360degree views on it! Give you an idea about what the city is like.

        You will love it though. Small city but has everything you need! And easy to get around! Even the lifestyle, it was as if everyone walking round wasn’t in a hurry…!!!
        I always found Sundays amazing there….No shops open – just everyone out with their family going for walks! really nice.

        Hope some of that info helped. Sorry about not knowing much about accommodation!!! 😦 Also there could be other Irish/English students there on Erasmus studying at Uni Erfurt – so you’ll never know who you might bump in to!!!

        Enjoy ♥

      • Oh thanks so much for all that info! Bahncard sounds about right :). I shall investigate it all and work out the easiest way to get around. So you don’t think I’d have a problem living in the middle of town and getting out to work near the airport then? I might get a bike out there which would negate the need for trams and trains, but failing that (rather ambitious plan) my experience is that German transport is much more reliable than the British equivalent! 🙂

        It would certainly be nice to see some English faces every so often I’m sure! So I’ll look into the Erasmus groups. Did people in Erfurt speak much English or did you get to speak German all the time?

        I’ll defintely look at the 360 degree views on the website, thanks again!

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