Study

For me, the choice to do my semester abroad in Germany was an easy decision to make. I had studied German back in high school for three years and participated in a couple of competitions for students studying German, so I already had a good knowledge about Germany and the language itself, but I was still very interested in learning more. The reason why I chose Dortmund as the city of my exchange was also easy because, firstly, I had never been to Dortmund before and, secondly, it was near Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bonn, which are cities that I already knew. In addition, the International School of Management interested me very much. I got a good insight from the website about the student life and the courses they had to offer and I became very excited. At that moment I knew that ISM and Dortmund would suit me perfectly. And I wasn’t wrong. 

Semester at ISM Dortmund campusThe campus of ISM Dortmund.Studying at ISM Dortmund

As an exchange student at ISM, you can join the International Business Certificate Program at six of the seven campuses. The program consists of six courses with core and specialization modules. The specialization modules in Dortmund are Tourism, International Management, Finance and Communication. I decided to take tourism as my specialization module because I already had knowledge from that field, since I am studying it back in my home country. All courses are taught in English and studied together with other exchange students. This gave us the opportunity to get to know other people from different countries, which was great. The courses were interesting and very educational. Not only the courses but also the teachers were very good and helpful. The teachers really knew their area of expertise and gave us real-life examples to help us understand different insights. Besides teachers, the International Office was really helpful both beforehand and throughout the studies. Sharing information worked very flawlessly and they gave us great tips and advice on how to, for example, get accommodation, how to choose your courses and what kind of activities the school offers besides studying. All in all, everything worked perfectly with the school, teachers and the staff.

Finding an apartment in Dortmund as an exchange student was actually in my opinion pretty easy. The International Office of ISM sent us an accommodation guide before the semester started which had different suggestions from student housing to private housing. Personally, I feel like the guide was such a helpful way to get to know different accommodation possibilities and check out what suits you the best. Based on the guide I decided to take an apartment from private housing and that really was the best decision for me because I wanted to get a place near the city center and I ended up getting an apartment exactly from there. Therefore, without the guide I wouldn’t have had any clue where to look for housing. But in general I would recommend everyone to apply for accommodation early on whether it is student apartments or private housing that you are interested in because some of the apartments are fully booked very quickly.

semester ism dortmund buddy programVisiting BVB stadium with ISM’s Buddy Program.Exploring Dortmund & Germany

But what would a semester abroad be without the activities and people outside the school? Literally I can’t express enough how well different events and activities were planned for us exchange students. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Dortmund organized various events every single week, such as hikes, parties and picnics in order for international students all over Dortmund to get to know each other and get acquainted with German culture. 

Then there was the Buddy Program organized by ISM, which was an amazing way for us to get to know other students not just from different campuses of ISM but also from different course blocks of ISM Dortmund. The Buddy Program gave to each and every one of us a Buddy with whom we were able to chat before the semester start and while abroad, if we wanted to get some tips or ask something about Dortmund or Germany in general and that was very cool. There were also the Buddy Coordinators who organized some very interesting and unforgettable events for us with the help of the International Office. Personally, I participated in every single event by the Buddy Program and I couldn’t be happier how much fun the events were, and how they were such a wonderful way to get to know new people both from abroad and from Germany. We visited, for example, the German Football Museum, BVB Stadium and we went to a Climbing Forest and Movie Park and to be honest I had a blast at every single one of them. Amazing people and incredible experiences. 

Because of the changing course schedule we had a lot of free time during the weeks, which was great because it gave us the possibility to explore Germany and do something with our new friends. During my free time I traveled a lot with friends through NRW because I wanted to explore new cities and see new places. My must-visit-places in Germany would probably at the moment be Heidelberg, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin because they all have great attractions and many things to do and experience. But to be honest I really have fallen in love with so many different cities in Germany. In addition to traveling, I spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends, for example, by playing cards, grabbing something to eat, going to parties or going to our favorite bar, Glückshot, in Dortmund city centre. 

Only good memories of my semester
abroad in Germany

In conclusion, I can really recommend from the bottom of my heart to do a semester abroad here in Dortmund and at ISM because everyone is so friendly and welcoming and there is so much to discover and learn. This exchange here was one of the best experiences I have ever had. This was an incredible journey and I couldn’t have wished for a better one. I’m so honored to have met so many amazing and lovely people here who I have the pleasure to call my friends. This semester abroad taught me so many new things, it helped me to improve my German skills even more and it also gave me the confirmation that I want to study in Germany in the future and work with the German language. So, thanks to this exchange I’m now going to follow my dreams and keep on doing what I can do the best, which is languages. The time spent here and the people I got to meet will always have a place in my heart and I’m forever grateful for this experience. Thank you friends, ISM, Dortmund and every single one of you who made this exchange an unforgettable experience that I will never forget.  

Are you also interested in a semester abroad at ISM? Find out more on ISM’s website en.ism.de.

Pictures: Private

Laura Ilmonen

Laura Ilmonen is studying Hospitality & Tourism Management at Haaga-Helia in Finland and spent an exchange semester at ISM Dortmund.

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