I wanted to experience life and study in a different country for a long time.
First, I wanted to go to an international high school in Italy. Instead, I completed my final two years of high school in English as a part of the IB program (in Slovenia). 100% satisfied.
Then I sat the admission exams to study medicine in Vienna (read a mini reflection here). That didn't work out and I now study medicine in Ljubljana. 100% satisfied.
Now I finally get to experience life and study in a different country as part of an Erasmus exchange to Heidelberg, Germany.
Why Erasmus and why Germany?
Objectively, there's a lot to figure out. The country you want to go to, how long you'll spend there, and which subjects you want to do. Then you go into the selection process, apply for the Erasmus scholarship and find a place to stay. A lot of work.
But in my mind, it's all worth it. Or at least will be.
An Erasmus exchange has been on my mind since the moment I started studying in Ljubljana. I tried to taste living and studying in a foreign country so many times and it somehow didn't work out. I wasn't letting go of this opportunity.
But why Germany? A lot of people ask me this. I wanted to gain the most out of my exchange. The obvious choice was Germany or Austria, because I can speak German. Additionally, I take it as a challenge, to see if I am able to study, live and function in a German-speaking environment.
So this was the primary driver, but not the only one. I want to taste how life really is in Germany. And as important, how their healthcare system functions. We usually hear good things about Germany. In Slovenia, we're constantly reminded of their top-notch organisation, including in the healthcare system.
Then it was just a matter of selecting the university that had the best selection of subjects for my 5th year of medical school. And it just so happens that I got selected for the University of Heidelberg (one of the 50 best medical schools in the world).
So far, so good. Actually, more than good.
The first part of "more than good" came at the very beginning. The train that runs from Zagreb to Frankfurt just so happens to have a stop in my home town and in Heidelberg. So I literally went to the train station in the morning, boarded a train to Frankfurt, and was in Heidelberg in the evening. Perfect!
The next awesome thing came the very next day. About a week ago, I bought myself tickets to see the EuroBasket 2022 game between France and Slovenia in Cologne. That's one thing I didn't want to miss!
A slight problem? Travelling to Cologne on the very next day after my arrival.
Until that day, I didn't appreciate how big Germany actually is. So for me, this was just a quick train ride from Heidelberg to Cologne. In reality, that it takes about 3 hours. And you have to take into account that this is coming from someone, whose country is so small that one could drive across it in the same amount of time as it took me to come from Heidelberg to Cologne.
I've been very excited about trains since my Interrail trip in 2019. Partly because it's so effortless - plenty of leg-room, no baggage limits and frequent connections. You just sit on a train, relax and do whatever you like - read, work, observe the landscape.
Although Germans love to complain about Deutsche Bahn, I arrived to Cologne without many complications. And had it not been for some railway repairs, I would've arrived on time (I missed the 1st quarter). As if the day couldn't have been any better, Slovenia beat France and advanced to the next round as the 1st of the group.
The train ride back was even more enjoyable, as it was an ICE (Inter-City Express), travelling at about 300 km/h. Again, coming from someone, in whose country, trains rarely exceed 100 km/h.🙃
So, how is Heidelberg?
So far, it's pretty amazing. I adore the university campus (as we don't have that in Slovenia). The public transport is top-notch. And when it's sunny, the views from the castle are beautiful.
It's very multicultural with a lot of students and I'm looking forward to experiencing it during the remainder of September when I still have time.