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Published: 30 Aug, 2016

"It really is worth it!"

NEWS 22-year-old Julia Abbevik chose to study her fourth semester of the Architectural Programme at a German school of architecture. Now she is back with fluent German, new knowledge in construction, and is many experiences richer.

“It was great fun! I can really recommend it to students that are considering to study abroad. Just go ahead and do it! Though it's good to be well-informed about the country and how the education is set up, such as the teaching language,” says Julia Abbevik.

She went on an Erasmus exchange to the School of Architecture in Kaiserslautern in southwestern Germany during spring semester 2016. The town is about as big as Umeå and also has a technical university.

The plans took shape during the autumn, about six months before departure. She talked to Tobias Westerlund, director of studies at Umeå School of Architecture, and told him about her interest in studying abroad. In turn, he made contact with the school in Germany and it was smooth sailing from there. Student grant from CSN, Erasmus scholarship and housing was arranged, and already in March she set off.

Julia Abbevik was the only exchange student in architecture that semester and experienced the school as very welcoming.

“A student met me at the train station and showed me around and helped with registration. There were eight Erasmus students in town and we had a joint buddy group that answered our questions and took us to various activities. It was great, especially at the beginning when it’s easy to feel a little bit lost. I experienced the German students as very helpful.”

Julia Abbevik studied construction engineering, design and CAD. She also made a study trip to the Netherlands and Belgium about sustainable architecture and restoring buildings.

All teaching took place in German only.

“I have studied German in upper-secondary school, but it was still a bit tricky to speak the language at first. However, I had kind professors who took the time to explain when I didn’t understand. In May, I started to speak more fluently.”

What was different from studying in Sweden?

“All courses run parallel. During two intense weeks in late July, all work should be submitted simultaneously. It made it difficult to plan one’s time. At home, I’m able to concentrate on one project at a time. Somehow I managed anyway.”

Julia Abbevik shared an apartment with a fellow German architecture student, who she took some of the same courses with.

“I was very lucky! We got along well, cooked together and travelled together.”

In Central Europe, everything is close by and in the surroundings of Kaiserslautern, which is an old industrial town, there were many beautiful towns and cities to visit by train, such as Heidelberg and Neustadt”

What have you learnt from your visit abroad?

“I've learnt things within the architectural profession that I hadn’t learnt here in Umeå. I made new contacts with people from all over the world, which can be useful in later working life. It’s also exciting to study in another country, you learn a lot about yourself, especially that you can manage more than you think.”

Although Julia Abbevik is very happy about the exchange, she is still glad to be back.

“When you’re away you realise what you miss in Sweden: The sea and the water!”

Julia Abbevik comes from Umeå. She went to the Natural Science programme at upper-secondary school. After school, she took a year off when she was working in a restaurant and as an au pair in London. She applied to the School of Architecture in Umeå as a first choice, because of the more artistic emphasis compared to other architect schools in Sweden. Julia knew already in school that she wanted to become an architect.

“I think it’s a creative, yet practical profession. I find buildings and design exciting. The education is different from what I had imagined, but in a positive way. I remember that I thought that the education would be more theoretical, but so far, we‘ve worked very practically and learnt to design aimed at those who use the buildings instead of always following the theory books. It's a fun and inspiring way to learn.”

Some facts:

Name: Julia Abbevik
Age: 22
Semester: 5
Lives: In a flat in Haga in Umeå
Interests: Spend time in nature, do sports and socialise
Likes: Japanese architecture
At the bedside: The book My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (in German)

Editor: Ingrid Söderbergh