Stranded in Munich

Daria Nikitina came to Munich for her semester abroad and made great experiences even though she slided into corona lockdown (Credit: Johannes Lesser)
Daria Nikitina came to Munich for her semester abroad and made great experiences even though she slided into corona lockdown (Credit: Johannes Lesser)


Semester abroad in times of corona


Daria Nikitina is 20 years old and in the 6th semester of her studies in Business Administration in St. Petersburg. She came to the University of Applied Sciences Munich for an semester abroad – and slided into corona lockdown right after her arrival.


HM: Why did you choose Germany and the University of Applied Sciences Munich as the location for your semester abroad?

Daria Nikitina: Well, I was sure that the country would be Germany but I had no idea which city. It might sound strange, but I chose the city by the sound of its name. And so, Munich, or München, as it is pronounced in Russian, was the one that I found to sound really beautiful. The logic behind choosing the university was pretty much the same - Munich University of Applied Sciences sounded reassuring to me.


How was your arrival and your first experiences during your studies and with your fellow students?

I came here on the 1st of March and everything was pretty much okay then. I remember our two organisational meetings here at HM - our mentors kindly asked students from South Korea to stay home for two weeks before coming to any meetings or excursions. And, oh, I also remember the anxiety I heard in the voice of our mentor, when she was mentioning coronavirus. Regarding my first experiences I also recall the visit to my campus in Pasing - the first and only visit.


How did you experience the time during lockdown in your studies and in private life, what helped you to get through this difficult time?

Well, I simply considered things as new experiences. Though it all was hardly realisable at first. After a while, professors managed to find possibilities for interaction through online activities, e.g. brainstormings on white boards in Zoom or simply chatting via this platform.


Were you able to establish personal contacts despite the lockdown?

I was lucky that I won the lottery for the dormitory and confident enough not to leave Germany when this non-typical period was in its early stages. First of all, I got to know better the guys from my shared flat, and then we established good connections with the other exchange students who were staying at the same student residence. Moreover, I put a note on my wall one day: crisis versus opportunities and I did manage to find ways to get to know Germans. Finally, I realised that this was a good time to strengthen existing connections. I made an interesting observation: I met two "camps" of people - those who were afraid to meet, and those who were not. It was also interesting to see that people here have a different attitude towards life in general.


Which experiences will remain in your memories forever?

I'll never forget coffee time with two other exchange students and our designated buddies after the visit to our campus - and that those two exchange students would leave the country soon afterwards. I'll never forget how I sold the router to another exchange student and we became good friends afterwards. I'll never forget how one evening my roommate and I went for a walk in front of our dorms and plainclothes policemen followed and stopped us. And finally, I'll never forget the lesson I learned during this quarantine: If you really want to do something, you will always find ways to make it come true.



Interview by Christiane Taddigs-Hirsch


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