Johannes Meyer studied one semester at the Université de Montréal as a German exchange student. He described his time in Canada for SoGerman. 

One thing was clear when I started my bachelor in physics at Technische Universität Berlin: I wanted to spend time abroad. Not only would this allow me to learn a new language but also to develop a new academic point of view and enlarge my personal horizon. As French was my language of choice, my options boiled down to: studying in France, Switzerland or in Canada. The openness of the Canadian society and the astounding natural beauty quickly convinced me to stay in Canada for the third year of my bachelor’s degree.

My arrival in Montreal was extremely nice. Local Quebecers helped me to adapt to my new environment. The people working at the border, at governmental offices and everywhere else were always nice helping me with formalities, even though my French wasn’t the best when I arrived here.

Montreal is also the place to be in the summer – there are tons of festivals and the whole city is out on the streets! I also discovered things I hadn’t been used to in Berlin: there is downtown with lots of skyscrapers and people working from coffee shops instead of offices.

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As my studies progressed I quickly became dragged into the community at the Université de Montréal. My fellow students showed me real Canadienness and welcomed me and the other exchange students.

Canadian students are more involved at the university, be it in the student café or in the numerous student associations. I also worked at the student café “La Planck”, which was a nice way to give something back to the physics community at the Université de Montréal, and went to weekly sports events.

Teamwork was essential for the high workload we had at university. Studying here is more intense than in Germany: there is always a lot of homework to be done, a lot of reports to be written and a lot of exams to be prepared for. As I had the liberty to choose my courses per my interests, I had a fun time and learned a lot. Especially one great professor taught me what good teaching looks like – which means that my standards for good teaching are now really elevated. Besides that, all the professors did a good job and were always nice, friendly and concerned about the success of the students!

What I will miss when I return to Berlin are not only the new friends I made here in Montreal but also the stimulating and nice environment at the university, the general thoughtfulness of the people and that you line up for the bus. The city of Montreal itself is also hard to leave behind, it’s a very nice and vibrant place full of hospitable people. Hospitable people with a funny accent (Québec, je t’adore!).

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I was quite astonished how many Canadians spoke German or at least tried to learn it. I didn’t expect such an appreciation. Some of my colleagues had been to Germany, mostly with the DAAD RISE program which gives North American and British students to intern in Germany. But Germany is not only a worthy destination when you speak the language – you can get along well with English as most Germans speak it, the more so in academia. Germany offers a host of strong academic institutions, is an affordable place to live and you have living history at every corner. It might be worth a look if you intend to do a PhD!

A big merci beaucoup to the Université de Montréal, the Technische Universität Berlin and the TASSEP program who made it possible for me to do this memorable exchange.


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