July 31st, 2015
I have fond memories of my university days. As a student of history I was able to satisfy my fascination with history and met many new peers. I did not have to be at the university all that much, and because of that, I lived with my parents. I commuted back and forth from home and university. As I was specialized in Russian and eastern European history, I learned Russian. It was not easy, but it was a lot of fun.
I already knew right at the beginning of my studies that I would like to spend part of it in a foreign country. Russia was of course my preferred country, but it was not possible as Russia was not very open back then, and I had no contacts there.
When I discovered that the Ruhr Universität Bochum in German had excellent East European faculty, my decision was made. I have never regretted it. It was the year of my life! At first, I had only signed up for a half year, but I extended it to a full year. If it was for the good of my thesis, I doubt it, but that is just me personally. It was the last year of my studies, and I wanted to use this year well. Contentwise, the year was full. I signed up for multiple lectures, and the last half year revolved around my thesis.
Besides my studies, the student life was very diverse. In the apartment I shared with other students, I made many friends and was even permitted to join in excursions for foreign students. Usually, there was always something to do and my friend and I were often exhausted by it. My hearing impairment was never an issue. Not for me, and not for the others.
When I came home after my year was over, it was not easy for both me and my parents. I had no apartment of my own, no job, and missed the student life. However, I tried to transfer into life after Uni. I had never been to eastern Europe or Russia despite my studies, and I wanted to experience that. So I enrolled in a Russian language course that would allow me to stay in Russia for 4 weeks. The mornings were taken up with instruction, and the afternoons were devoted to exploring Moscow and St. Petersburg. That was an unforgettable experience. Here too, my hearing impairment was never an issue. I did hear better back then, but I never had any problems, and I was accepted for who I was.
I can only recommend to other students based on my experiences to try a semester or two outside of your homeland. Even if you are hearing impaired; that is not a reason to deny yourself that experience. You will definitely be richer for it.