It is a big step to move to the other side of the world, and not everything went smoothly. The semester had its ups and downs like anywhere, but looking back Emily wouldn’t change a thing. 'Everything led to something great. Once, I missed an opportunity to join some friends on a trip, but I ended up meeting someone else instead, who I've become incredibly close to. Or a missed train led to great conversations with total strangers. Everything led to something and it was all incredibly worth it,' she says, smiling. 'When I first got to Hamburg, I was worried about making friends. Now I realise that I am surrounded by people who I am going to remember forever! At the beginning they were just as worried as me, and now I am part of a group of amazing people.'
In The Economist’s yearly ranking of the 'most liveable cities worldwide', Melbourne has topped the table every year for the last seven years. Hamburg is also in the top ten, and knowing how the people of Hamburg love their city, we can only imagine how hard it must be to leave Melbourne, even for a semester. So, how has life in Hamburg been and how do the two cities compare? 'Hamburg and Melbourne are very similar. They are both people places. They are very welcoming with their own unique vibe. And Hamburg’s summer is like Melbourne’s winter,' she says, laughing. 'Hamburg is modern but old and has a fantastic nightlife. For me it is truly the city of music. There is always something going on, whether it is parties along the Reeperbahn, or church bells ringing. I quickly learned my way around and it has been the perfect place to satisfy my craving for adventure. I feel like Hamburg welcomed me with open arms.'
When you come from a country into which you can fit most of Europe, a semester in Germany quickly becomes a semester of travels. And Emily is no exception. 'Because we are such an isolated country, and it's expensive to fly anywhere, I am taking advantage of every opportunity I can get to travel. During the semester I used some long weekends to go to Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam and Antwerp as well as cities in Germany like Cologne, Berlin and Potsdam.' But it doesn’t stop there. Once exams are over Emily is off and the list is long: 'I am going on a tour of Italy, then one of Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo, and then another of Prague, Brussels, Paris as well as Southern Germany, And that's only what I've planned so far!' she says, laughing. 'I've got a serious case of Wanderlust and have come to love how accessible Europe is. A spontaneous spur-of-the-moment decision can lead to an amazing trip, so who knows where I will have been by the time I leave Germany.'