In September 2021, I visited Munich and Vienna, funded partially by the Gateway programme and the Gateway Challenges funding and a Rosemary Murray Travel Exhibition.
Originally, I planned to visit Munich for four days in August to get a feel for German culture and look at universities as I’m considering pursuing a Master of Mathematics there. The trip really extended my organisation and problem-solving skills as I had to navigate constantly changing COVID-19 restrictions in all countries I was going through.
The first challenge I faced was a COVID-scare two days before my trip, due to which I had to delay it last minute. I ended up quickly changing the date of my flights and having to find a last-minute hotel to stay at, as I was determined to go despite the situation. I was visiting family in Bulgaria, so I had to fly from Sofia to Munich, which was slightly easier due to the freer travel within the EU. The second challenge I faced was when I arrived in Munich and understanding the train and underground system around the city, along with the different zones (there are 6 in total). The city has an amazing transport system, and my stay at Holiday Inn Express was a lovely walk to the train station. My first day in Munich was spent exploring the Ludwig Maximilian University and the Munich University of Technology. Both universities were very interesting historically and architecturally, they are very well connected to public transport and restaurants, although I prefer the location of the University of Technology due to the large field that’s in front of it. I was very lucky to be visiting Munich during the time Octoberfest would usually be happening, as I was able to experience their culture of traditional clothing and live music. What fascinated me most was the German law of shops closing on a Sunday. It was a very fascinating experience to be able to look around museums and parks but not go into supermarkets on a Sunday.
On my second day in Munich, I have visited most of the city and decided to take a train to Vienna on the next day, leading to my third challenge of the trip: getting a 6am train to Wien Südbahnhof. I was able to visit the Vienna University of Technology along with the University of Vienna and speak to students there. I was fascinated by the friendliness and beauty I found there, along with the proximity to parks, museums, and palaces. What impressed me most was Austria’s law to wear FFP2 masks in all shops and public transport – making me feel much safer for my journey there and their very high tax on unhealthy food.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience in Vienna more, I found the location of universities to be more favourable, along with the architecture and student experience. I look forward to learning more German and possibly pursuing my studies further in Austria. I enjoyed trying German sandwiches and pretzels and being surrounded by traditional music.
Undergraduate student, Mathematics