The jour­ney be­gins when the plan­ning starts - or some­thing like that

Organizing a semester abroad is a challenge. In this blog entry I would like to tell you how I prepared before finally leaving for Australia. What should you not forget in your planning and when should you start?

Lisa with cliffs and the sea in the background.
Photo: private


Once you’ve been accepted by HU for a semester abroad, the second step is to apply to the partner university. I received my letter of acceptance in January and was able to apply to the University of Melbourne (UniMelb) in March. The applications do not differ much; it’s mostly just a matter of sending some additional documents such as insurance certificates. The confirmation by the partner university marks the point at which you’ll definitely want to get on to planning everything else. In my case, the conformation letter arrived only in mid-May - and I was supposed to go to Melbourne in July already! In order not to increase your stress levels unnecessarily, I advise you to get the following things in order, even if you’re still waiting to be accepted by the partner university.


Two months before leaving for Melbourne, I applied for a student dorm - and got a place only two days later. However, friends of mine were still looking for accommodation well after the semester had started. It’s advisable to think about where you want to live early on, as there are many options. Do you want to live in a shared flat? Or do you prefer a small apartment in a dorm? Do you have friends/acquaintances nearby? The question of housing is usually where you’ll start to think about finances as this will always be one of the most expensive aspects of a semester abroad. It’s best to take care of it early enough to ultimately be able to feel comfortable with the decision.


Although funding is usually something you’ll consider before applying for a semester abroad, this becomes extra tangible once you have received the acceptance letter from the partner university. It is helpful to make an estimate of the most important costs (accommodation, food, travel, insurance, etc.). After you’ve made your calculation and got over the little shock (Australia is very expensive, so for me it all added up to a five-figure number!), you can start thinking about funds: Do you have savings? Could you work during your semester abroad? Can family members support you? Are there scholarships available (yes: DAAD, PROMOS, Erasmus+, and more)? Again, the motto is: start as early as possible - especially to not miss important deadlines for scholarships. I receive the PROMOS scholarship, get support from family and use savings.


Two months ahead of my departure, I got myself a plane ticket to Melbourne. Although the flights kept getting more and more expensive as time went on, I wanted to be sure that I would really be accepted by UniMelb. At that time, I was already in contact with fellow students who were also flying to Melbourne, so we booked our flights together. I would advise for you to get in touch with other students who are going to the same city; we were able to connect through the exchange team at HU. You can support each other in the preparation process and discuss any questions that come up. Also, when you're planning your trip, apply for a visa ahead of time. I did receive mine within a day, but friends of mine had to wait two to four weeks. Oh, and don't forget that your passport should be valid for more than six months!


I flew to Melbourne with a 30kg suitcase that was pretty much bursting. Packing only took me an afternoon, but the preparations began about a month earlier. I started by making lists of things I really wanted to take with me, which helped me see what I needed to get before I left. My tip is to buy everything before you start packing your suitcase. Right before you leave, you'll want to say goodbye to people instead of going shopping. You will also buy things abroad, so it’s advisable to leave room in your luggage for new items; I’ll even have to buy a small second suitcase to get everything home.

Bits and bobs

It’s so easy to forget the little things that might come up in the span of a semester abroad. That's why this section is called "bits and bobs". Think about which doctors you want/need to see before you leave and make the appointments early. Also, if you are taking medication, check whether you’re allowed to take it abroad and in what quantity. Other little things that come to mind: Are you going to want to drive while abroad? Then it may be worth getting the international driver's license (it can take up to a month to get). Do you have adapters for all your chargers? Adapters with multiple slots to plug things in are worth their weight in gold!

(Published 17 October 2022)