Student Exchange programme – 2019

The Department of English, University of Colombo facilitated two student exchange programmes this year with Justus-Liebig University, Giessen and Technische Universität Dresden.

Piyumi Dayawansa and Yasara Kannangara , 3rd year Special Degree students of the Department of English were the latest batch of students to participate in the Justus-Liebig University, Giessen exchange programme in 2019.

“We would describe our semester abroad at JLU as a complicated mix of juggling academics, work and at the same time making sure that we had enough time to travel. From adapting to a different learning environment to backpacking Europe the entire semester was a collection of many incredible yet challenging moments. The five months spent in Giessen has given us memories that we will cherish for a lifetime. From running to the train station at 4.oo o’clock in the morning (because we both forgot that bus schedules change during holidays) to the babble of twenty different languages during the German evening course we have come to realize that it is these little moments that made this semester memorable and eventful while at the same time being a learning experience. During our stay here, we have met many amazing people both at JLU and on our many travels. This programme has enriched our lives both academically and at a personnel level and we are extremely grateful to the Department of English for providing us with this opportunity.”

The Department of English initiated a second student exchange programme in 2019 with Technische Universität Dresden. Senuri Weerasekara (3rd year Special Degree student), Sachini Nagahawatte (2nd year Special Degree student) and Shamika Kulasingham (2nd year special Degree student) are the first batch of students to participate in the TU Dresden student exchange programme.

“I came to Dresden two months ago with many well wishes from friends and family and more than a few well-meaning words of advice to “not offend the Germans”. I had mentally prepared a timeline in which I gave myself a couple of weeks to feel homesick and then acclimatize to the different environment and people. The fact that I felt at home from the very first day, came as an unexpected yet wholly welcome surprise, making both my mental timeline and apprehension redundant. The “warmth” we found in Dresden and the friendliness among both locals and international students alike went a long way in making us feel a sense of belonging and safety from day one. The past two months could have been two years or two minutes at once for how much we experienced and how quickly the time passed. It’s not just the magnificent views from mountain tops, or exploring old castles or paddling across leaf-strewn lakes that makes this adventure special; it’s also the random midnight stroll in the cold just to savour the sense of independence, it’s looking out the kitchen window and seeing a yard full of yellow leaves heralding winter, it’s seeing that first powdery snow fall through the foggy glass of a moving bus. All of these small, perhaps seemingly banal moments together form a store of fond recollection that I may revisit during inevitable bouts of nostalgia for the cobblestone streets and ice cold wind of wintry Dresden. This city and everyone and everything it brought me shall always remain a constant, inescapable presence; enriching and essential, even in its absence. I am grateful for the University of Colombo, Department of English, the Technische Universität Dresden and all those who contributed so much time and effort to give us this opportunity to cross a multitude of borders.” – Senuri Weerasekara

“I would never have guessed that my first time abroad would be as an exchange student in Germany, having to manage my finances, fend for myself and be completely independent. Thanks to the University of Colombo and Technische Universität Dresden, I was given the opportunity to spend five months there, to study, travel and meet many interesting people from all parts of the world. Needless to say, I was ecstatic but also a little apprehensive of what awaited me but my fears were dispelled as soon as I set foot in Dresden. From cooking dinner for our group of friends at the student dorm and playing endless hours of cards with them to planning trips to other countries while also managing to stay on top of course-work, I had quite a challenging but extremely enriching experience in Dresden. One of my favourite parts of studying at TU Dresden was the fact that we could engage with a more European perspective of post-colonial studies. We were also involved in planning and taking part in “exchange sessions” which were informal meetings with interested German students where we discussed German and Sri Lankan culture. Overall, this was a very rewarding experience; the memories of which I will always treasure and be grateful for.” – Sachini Nagahawatte

“When given the opportunity of studying a semester abroad I was immediately hesitant. I have lived in my small comfort zone very dependent on my family all my life and assumed I didn’t have what it took to live alone for 5 months in a country I have not been to. Looking back I am so thankful to my friends for pushing me to do this and the department for this opportunity. From the day we arrived in Dresden our study buddies went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and made sure we had a great time. From helping us out with administrative documents in German to introducing us to many Germans and international students and even going on trips with us. Even though the thing that made me the most anxious was living alone and having to cook for myself and ‘adult’, this was probably the best aspect of this experience for me. From feeding other international students spicy food and watching them tear up and turn red to picking up words from many different languages, living in an international building has given me a memorable cultural experience as well as a strong sense of independence as I have had to manage my course work with the daily chores. The experience of encountering various cultures, independence and a very different education system has been an experience that will help me in the future.” – Shamika Kulasingham