For many students, completing a stay abroad is an important chapter in their studies. Nevertheless, a foreign country, a new language and other university systems can be daunting. This is why tips and information from fellow students who have already been abroad are so helpful. Every semester, the “studieren weltweit – ERLEBE ES!” campaign offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) trains students going abroad to provide interesting and exciting reports on their experiences on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter 20 TU Berlin students have already reported as “correspondents” from countries such as Brazil, China, and Great Britain, and shared colorful and diverse impressions of their stay abroad using photos and videos.
One such student is Lenz Köhl; he continued his energy and process engineering studies from summer 2017 to summer 2018 at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His motivation: “To encourage other young people to go abroad. Plus it’s fun and allows me to re-live my experiences.” Amelie Krüger from TU Berlin’s Student Mobility and International Students is the liaison to the DAAD and the success is apparent: According to a survey by “studieren weltweit”, hardly any other university in Germany has sent so many correspondents to the DAAD. Lenz Köhl: “I want to offer an honest look into my experiences.
“Being a correspondent wasn’t my full-time job. I was a normal student who shared his experiences.” How is this different to a “normal” blog? The DAAD trains correspondents how to use media and provides them with smartphones. “I learned a lot in my role as correspondent that I wouldn’t have in my engineering studies. For example, writing text that can actually be understood and using pictures and videos,” says Köhl.
The DAAD now sends correspondents as ambassadors to schools and universities after their stay abroad. These institutions can request this offer free of charge using an online booking system. Individual profiles provide information about ambassadors, their backgrounds, study subjects, study abroad destinations, and types of funding. Eleven TU Berlin students are currently participating in the program. Köhl adds: “My highlight as ambassador was attending the opening weekend of Futurium and explaining how stays abroad change the world.” Ambassadors provide authentic insight into the first steps in a foreign country, raise others’ interest in a stay abroad, and offer practical tips for preparation.