One Semester at HAW Hamburg - Five questions for Brian & Emma from the University of Florida
Currently, Emma and Brian from the USA are spending a semester abroad at HAW Hamburg - one of the seven member universities of UAS7. In a short interview, the two students from the University of Florida talked about their time in Hamburg, their classes at HAW Hamburg and the differences between Germany and the USA.
1. Why did you decide to study abroad in Germany?
Brian – “I chose to study abroad in Germany for its reputation as a world leader in engineering, specifically, sustainability. I am passionate about research and development for sustainable energy and knew that by studying in Germany I could learn from experts and gain practical experience. Additionally, I chose to study in Germany so I could improve my German language skills. I’ve studied German for five years and wanted to immerse myself in the language to further my proficiency.”
Emma- “I knew that I wanted to study abroad but I wasn’t sure where, so I asked the UF study abroad advisor, Ping Neo. She gave me a short list of schools offering senior level aerospace engineering courses, and I researched each one before deciding on HAW Hamburg. Hamburg seemed like an amazing city with a lot to offer, like cool architecture, lovely neighbourhoods, good food, and great shopping.”
2. Why do you think studying abroad is important for your studies/your life?
Brian – “As an engineer, I feel that it’s important to be aware of my role as a global citizen, my responsibility to the world and to the generations who come after me, and this is something that studying abroad has taught me so much about. As a result of my time abroad, I am even more confident in my place in the world and where I want to go after my time in university comes to an end.”
Emma - “During study abroad, I have had the chance to go places, meet people, and take courses that I never would have had the opportunity to otherwise. This has been the busiest and most exciting few months of my life and I am so happy that I made the choice to come here.”
3. What is your favourite class at HAW Hamburg?
Brian – “My favourite class is definitely “Digital Signal Processing” with Dr. Leutelt. The class builds directly on one of my favourite classes from UF, Signals and Systems, so it feels like a direct connection to my engineering curriculum back home. Dr. Leutelt is an excellent teacher. He’s very good at explaining concepts in a light-hearted yet practical manner. I find myself actively looking forward to the class and getting excited about the material every week.”
Emma – “My favourite class here is “Finite Element Method” with Prof. Schulte-Bisping. The material is super interesting and I love her teaching style. In the course, we learn about how to model and solve complex mechanical systems in an elegant way using finite element programming software.
4. How is studying in Germany different to the US and what do you really like about it?
Brian – “I’ve found that university in Germany is a lot more decentralized. There’s definitely much more personal responsibility on the student to stay on track in their classes. None of my professors assign homework or track attendance, so aside from the labs, it’s basically up to me to make sure I’m where I need to be. It’s pretty different from what I’m used to but, overall, I think it’s comparable to the US collegiate experience. I’ve very much enjoyed interacting with the other exchange students and I’ve grown especially close with my roommates and the Finnish exchange students, all of whom have taught me a lot about their home cultures.”
Emma – “I really like how at HAW Hamburg I have had the opportunity to see some of the concepts we have learned in class at work in my labs. At UF, I do not have that opportunity often. Here, the biggest difference is the lack of homework. All of my grades here are based on final presentations and exams, so it requires a lot more independent work and study than I am used to. The advantage is that it gives us a lot more time to travel on the weekend!”
5. What do you like about Hamburg and being in Europe?
Brian – “I’m not sure how to summarize my feelings on life in Hamburg and Europe, at least into only a single paragraph. There are so many little things that all add together into something beautiful: The trains that take me everywhere in the city, eating döner after working out, studying in the Stadtpark, walking down the Lange Reihe; spending a night in Sternschanze with my friends; grabbing a coffee in the cafe before class, morning walks along the Alster, and so much more. My time here has been nothing short of wonderful and, though I can’t see the full impact yet, I know that studying in Hamburg has changed my life forever.”
Emma – “There is so much that I love about Hamburg! The food, shopping, public transportation, architecture, the parks, the Alster Lake, everything! I love how easy it is to travel around Europe once you get here and I love the people I have met here. I will never forget the experience I have had here for the rest of my life!!”