Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany - Ms. Gayesha Wijemmane, Faculty of Arts, Special Degree in English 2011

“The study abroad program at the University of Colombo has given me the opportunity to be able to say I have had the experience of a lifetime. It has enriched my undergraduate learning experience immensely. This program has given me the opportunity to meet other students of various cultures and has taught me to accept and understand cultures and perspectives different from my own. As for personal development, along with the freedom and independence you gain when studying abroad and living alone, this enhanced my self-confidence and self-esteem. This program truly has been an enriching experience both academically and personally.”

Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany - Ms. Ranali Fernando, Faculty of Arts, Special Degree in English 2011

“The student exchange programme with JLU Giessen was one of the memorable highlights of my undergraduate career. Living and studying in a new environment was exciting. The university system was extremely student-friendly and I found the exposure to new academic perspectives and approaches very enriching. I also had the opportunity to interact with many other international students reading for the same degree. It was a great experience in terms of both academic and cultural exposure and I’m grateful to everyone at the IUUC for organizing the study abroad programmes.”

Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany - Ms. Shazna Muneer, Faculty of Arts, Special Degree in English 2011

“The experience of living alone in a foreign environment, though daunting at first, was quite an adventure! Beginning with learning to navigate around Giessen and the university on our own and trying to learn a complicated language we moved on to being quite independent regardless of language barriers and could even handle a simple transaction in German! I was also able to meet and make friends with students from across the globe ranging from Australia, Asia, Africa, and Europe to the USA which exposed me to people with different experiences and attitudes. I believe exchange programmes of this nature give students a rare opportunity to live within a foreign culture and thereby gain valuable experiences of living out of your comfort zone in a different environment.”

La Trobe University, Australia - Ms. Sachi Rajapaksha, Sri Palee Campus, Special Degree in Performing Arts 2012

“The most exciting thing about studying at La Trobe, Australia has been the opportunity to experience a foreign culture. It helped me a lot to improve my second language communication skills and to explore my own heritage. The friends I made from different parts of the world helped me to communicate across cultures. These experiences also made me independent and taught me to manage my own finances. It has helped me a lot to develop my career and to build a network of contacts for the future. Although I’m far from home, La Trobe has been very inviting and I have never felt the difference.”

Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany - Ms. Ruth Surenthiraraj, Faculty of Arts, Special Degree in English 2013

“In all honesty, flying from 32° C straight into 2° C was not fun, and I remember that my first week of traveling consisted of simply getting from one warm place to another in the least amount of time! But aside from my aversion to German weather, I absolutely loved the experience of studying abroad. Firstly, I loved the independence that comes with living alone and learning to manage things for myself. It was really different from Sri Lanka where you could always depend on someone to help you out. I also loved the fact that being independent also meant that I had to push myself to make friends and try to communicate despite the language barriers and cultural differences. In my opinion, being alone helped me to evaluate my skills of communication and helped me become friendlier and more easy-going. On the level of academics, it was a big change in terms of perspective. I feel especially enriched in this area because I experienced a different style of education. What particularly amazed me was how ready the students were to argue and critique their lecturers as well as the critics they studied. The discussions to me were more satisfactory because I was expected to interrogate the text and comprehend it for myself, instead of depending only on what the lecturer had to offer. I also liked the atmosphere of encouragement and enthusiasm that the lecturers offered in their classrooms. Travelling was the best experience – it was lovely to walk the streets of various cities, seeing the architecture, landscaping, art, and cultural sites, not to mention burning calories to boot! I’m very grateful for this opportunity and have realized how much it has changed me and the way I view life. I owe the International Unit of the University of Colombo a big thank you for facilitating this program – it has been an amazing experience!”

Ms. Carina Hartmann - Department of English, University of Colombo 2012

“Going to Sri Lanka for half a year appeared to be something new and it proved to be exactly this. When I arrived, it took some days to get used to the Sri Lankan climate and even more to the culture. With a German background, almost everything felt new. However, Sri Lankan kindness and hospitality make it easier to settle. During my stay, I saw the most beautiful places and experienced moments that probably no normal traveler could even think of. As an exchange student, I also got an insight into university life at the University of Colombo. I think that studying in Sri Lanka means going more into the details and taking closer looks. It’s about being academic and professional. In my case, the low number of fellow students also meant closer cooperation between the lecturers and the students. The time I spent in Sri Lanka changed my views and my own personality. I learned to take things easier and not be too stiff. Personally, I think this is what summarizes as the Sri Lankan mentality to a great extent.”

Nathaniel Kassel

“My semester in Sri Lanka, studying at the University of Colombo, was great. The campus is lush and green, the students are super friendly and the academics are dedicated and inspiring. Studying sociology and south Asian literature really provided me with a contextual understanding of Sri Lankan public life and the subtle idiosyncrasies that make Sri Lanka unique. I saw neon flashing Buddhas, ancient rock carvings of Buddha, cave paintings of Buddha, and huge white statues of Buddha. I saw Hindu temples, mosques, and churches. I saw wild deer, enslaved elephants, thieving monkeys, elegant peacocks, stray dogs, dead fish, and hungry cats. I went to fancy casinos and back-alley wine shops. I ate rice and curry with my hands and jumped on and off the bus while it was still moving. I’m going to miss Colombo, the chaotic flows of traffic, the clean-cut parks and streets, and the sight of the Indian Ocean lapping up against it. But, more than that, I’m going to miss the friends I made in Colombo. Seeing the sights is lovely but the people are what make this place great.”

Norihito Gunji

“I spent about four months on this campus. My English was so bad, but everyone was so kind. The teachers and students were good so I was able to spend so wonderful time. I have taken a class in sociology and journalism. Both classes were so interesting. The society of South Asia and Sri Lanka are interesting for me. I also learned the differences between my country and Sri Lanka, I have experienced a lot of things. It must be a precious thing for me. I want to come back again. Thank you very much.”

Anna Risager

“I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to attend a semester at University of Colombo. I have been extremely lucky to meet a lot of kinds and welcoming Sri Lankan students at the faculty of Management and Finance. Experiencing a very different way of studying and attending classes has given me great insights into a different and amazing culture, and I cannot imagine being without this experience. The Sri Lankan spirit of kindness and friendliness is unique and has helped me in many different regards. People often asked me why I came to Sri Lanka for studying, since many Sri Lankans often go to Europe and not the other way around. My answer became more precise during my stay: As a student of culture, I find it very exciting to immerse myself in a completely different culture and encounter many people, who can teach me about their culture. In this sense, my stay has both been an academic gain as well as a personal and cultural gain. I hereby extend my thanks to all the wonderful students and staff who have dealt with me at University of Colombo.”