My name is Jess and I am in my fifth year of Arts & Business/Law. This semester, I am on exchange at Bucerius Law School – a small private law school in Hamburg, Germany. Bucerius is the best law school in Germany and has topped the CHE University Rankings for law in Germany for the last ten years. Like most people who go on an Exchange I am having an incredible time and wish I could stay…
Here is a typical week for me at Bucerius.
8:00am – Time to get up. I have class at 11:30am and because the weather is decent I want walk to campus. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and there’s no shortage of beautiful places. But, it isn’t exactly known for having great weather so we have to take advantage of clear skies and sunshine when we can. Bucerius is a 15-minute walk from my dorm through Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen (one of the city’s nicest garden parks). It’s a very picturesque way to start the day.
10:00am – I brace the ominous looking skies and sit outside to try and get some reading done before class. I have two law classes today. As an exchange student, my classes are not at set times each week. Many of the teachers are flown in from other parts of Europe to teach intensive sessions and many of them are also practicing lawyers so our classes fit around a variety of busy schedules. Sometimes I have a full week and sometimes I only have three or four classes. This week is busy class-wise and I am taking extra subjects so I have to stay on top of everything.
11:30am – My first class is International Conflict of Laws. It’s a two-hour session with a short break halfway through. My Professor, Peter Hay, has travelled from Berlin to teach us so we will have class three times this week. Compared to some of the other classes it is quite content heavy but it is also very useful and relevant.
1:30pm – It’s time for lunch. Most people grab lunch on-campus at the Cafeteria or the Coffee Lounge. Both places are subsidised for students and are very good value. My lunch is less than 3 euros.
2:30pm – My last law class of the day – European Capital Markets. I am auditing this class (i.e. not taking it for credit). I have to go to the classes but assessments and exams are optional.
4:30pm – European Capital Markets is over but the weather has turned and it’s raining outside. I decide to stay on campus and a group of us head to the coffee lounge for coffee and cookies to pass the time.
6:30pm – It’s time for my German language class. I don’t get UNSW credit for German but it has been an absolute lifesaver. I have been learning for about 8 months but textbooks don’t teach you how to navigate washing-machine settings or ATM prompts etc. One of the other exchange students successfully managed to shrink an entire load of washing in the first week because he guessed which settings to use. On Mondays, German finishes late so we head to a nearby pub to grab 5-euro chilli con carne for dinner.
9pm – I’m home. My dorm common room is empty so I head to my room and relax by watching some Netflix.
11:30am – I only have one class today – International Conflict of Laws. The course is my heaviest workload but the content is relevant and I kind of enjoy it.
1:30pm – The Cafeteria stops service at 2pm and we are due to meet up for an extracurricular excursion at 2:15 so we don’t have much time for lunch. Today I head for the salad bar because it’s quick and I don’t want to miss the excursion.
2:15pm – The international office organises a bunch of activities for the Exchange Program including boat cruises, excursions to nearby towns, social events, and sports. Our excursion today is a walking tour through the UNESCO Speicherstadt (Warehouse City) and Hamburger Hafen (the Harbour Port) on the River Elbe.
Hamburg is the largest port in Germany and the second-busiest in Europe. Although the port is considered Germany’s ‘Gateway to the World’ it is also why Hamburg is not a traditional Germany city. Most of Hamburg was destroyed by carpet bombing in WWII with the Port being a major target.
The tour is focuses a lot on the history of the area and the urban regeneration projects that are currently underway. We also head up to the viewing platform on the famous Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg’s Philharmonic Hall) to admire views of the Hafen and city.
7pm – Because I had dinner out last night I decide to head home to make dinner and save some money for later in the week. I also have an assignment to finish off for tomorrow.
9:15am – I have Transactional Drafting this morning. The class very practical. Each week we represent hypothetical clients and draft board/client memos and contracts to reflect in-class negotiations and discussions with other groups. This class also counts towards the optional “Certificate in Management & Leadership for Lawyers” qualification.
11:30 – The entire exchange cohort has Introduction to German Law. It is the only compulsory subject for exchange students. But, it’s the only class which doesn’t mark our attendance so it’s not always full.
2:00pm – After lunch it’s time for some quick grocery shopping. I pick up a few things on my way home and hang out in my dorm’s common room for an hour or so.
5:30pm – There’s a food truck festival at the Reeperbahn and I head there for dinner with some friends. The Reeperbahn is Hamburg’s red-light district and one the biggest night-life areas. We take out time choosing which truck to choose and ultimately decide to come back again to try the ones we miss.
9:45am– this morning I have my other German language class. I woke up early to finish my homework and decide to get the U-Bahn (train) to campus because it only takes 10 minutes.
11am– After German we have a short break before the next class so I head to my locker to switch over my books and grab a cookie from the Coffee Lounge.
11:30am– My last class for the day is Introduction to IP Law taught by Professor Dana Beldiman. She is a partner in a San Francisco law firm and teaches at Bucerius in the Fall Semester. For the other half of the year she is a Professor at UC Hastings in California. I don’t know too much about Intellectual Property Law so I am finding this class really informative. There is a strong emphasis on emerging technologies and international trends in IP regulation.
1:30 – And I’m done for the day! I decide to walk back to my dorm to make lunch and put on a load of washing. I end up chatting with my dorm neighbours and practice my mediocre German conversation skills until I run out of things to say in German.
7:00pm – It’s my friend Luisa’s birthday so I head over to one of the other dorms. Luisa is from Colombia and a large group of us are planning to go to a Reeperbahn Latin Bar she found on Google. Our group decides from outside that the Latin bar doesn’t look very inviting and because it’s not playing any Latin music we end up at karaoke instead.
1am – We missed the train home. On Friday nights and weekends the trains run 24 hours but today is Thursday and we lost track of time. Luckily quite a few people live near me so we all walk home.
8:30am: I don’t have any classes today but Bucerius often has events on in the afternoon. Last week we had a Welcome Ceremony and reception for the incoming class of LLB, Exchange, and Masters students which was held in the Chamber of Commerce. This week we have Hanseweisen, the on-campus Bucerius Oktoberfest.
9:30am – I decide to Facetime my family while I have some free time this morning. It’s nice to check in with what’s happening and I’m surprised to hear that the weather here is almost the same as Sydney’s – overcast and 17 degrees.
11am – I head into the city centre which is only two stops from my dorm. I stroll along, visit some shops and grab a hot chocolate. Although my German skills are not fantastic I’m still determined to improve so I head to a bookstore and browse through some German novels – I can’t read any of them but that doesn’t stop me buying the first Harry Potter book in German… No shame.
6pm – I meet up with some friends and we head to one of the other student dorms for pre-Oktoberfest celebrations.
7:30pm – Hanseweisen, organised by the student “party ministry” is already in full swing. Almost everybody is holding a Maß (a 1 litre glass of beer) and a pretzel. A band from Munich is playing and people are dancing on tables. I don’t stay all night because I have plans for tomorrow.
10:17am – We planned a day trip a few days ago and our train leaves Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) at 10:17am. The next train isn’t for another hour so we can’t be late. We are heading to a quiet village called Mölln. It’s a random choice but is free with our Bucerius-provided transport card.
11: 25am – We have arrived in Mölln. The town is very quaint and its cobbled streets are lined with historic buildings. There is a Bauermarkt (Farmer’s Market) and we spend a few hours sampling gourmet German foods, picking up some veggies and gourmet foods for the week ahead. We also grab lunch: Bratwurst, Currywurst, and Flammenkuchen, and it is absolutely delicious. The town isn’t huge and our group seems to lower the average age considerably but the locals are friendly and keen to offer us sightseeing suggestions. We walk around the lake and try to find Reindeer in the nature reserve before giving up and heading back to the main street.
4pm – It’s time to head home. Although we are exhausted from all the walking we still have enough energy to grab dessert on the way (of course).
9am– On Sundays, like much of Europe, Hamburg shuts down. Only one supermarket is open and all other shops are closed. Luckily, a few cafes and restaurants do brunch. I meet some friends at Alex’s – a restaurant next to the Binnen Alster – for a buffet brunch. We arrive just as its opening so the views are lovely. It is 13 euros per person and totally worth it!
1pm– We ate too much and decide that a walk (waddle) around the Alster will help. It’s about 8km around the lake. We make it most of the way before it starts to pour with rain and we hop on the U-Bahn to escape.
5pm – Sunday nights are typically very relaxed because lot of people travel over the weekend. But tonight, we are having movie night.
10:30 pm – I head home to my dorm and check my timetable for the upcoming week. I only have three days of class. I have a look for possible travel options for my upcoming 3 day weekend. I might book something tomorrow but for now, sleep. Cheers for a good week Hamburg.