Zhou Zhenbiao

I don’t know which words or expressions are adequate to describe my five months’ experience in Paderborn, Germany. It was my first time to be abroad, first time to live in a different culture, first time to meet foreign friends, first time to cook, first time to discuss technology topics in English, etc. However, five months were so short that before I knew it, most of these ‘first time’ turned into ‘last time’, even if I felt that there were still a lot more to do. So my point is: clarify the purposes for your coming here and make a good plan of it. Hope that my following advices would help:



Normally, your buddy, with whom you can contact via E-mail, would pick you up at the train station and take you directly to your dormitory that assigned before your arrival. Then in the next few days, here are the places you need to visit:

- International Office: Inform Ms. Brebeck with your arrival and she’d tell you what to do

- Bank: to open your bank account, but you will not get your bank card at once. If you need money, you can withdraw some cash by your certificate paper.

- Studentenwerk: to sign the lease contract

- Insurance: to get a certificate on your health insurance for visa extension

- Auslaenderbehoerde: to register your information and to make an appointment for visa extension

- Tips: 1. you can get a temporary semester ticket (for taking buses and trains) in a room next to printing service, underneath the Mensa. 2. If you have any problem, look for Mr. Tobias Kotthäuser, who’s a very nice man, as he always said ‘If you have any problem, just don’t hesitate to ask’.


Everyday Life: Eating, Shopping, Cooking and Drinking

Life here is, on one hand, easier and more comfortable than that in China, because of higher living standard and slower pace of life. But on the other hand, it has more challenges: you have to get used to the eating habits, have to purchase food in supermarkets and to cook by yourself, etc. In other words, you have to learn to take care of yourself.


Work in Laboratory

My first impression of GET lab was that everything was in perfect order, from the layout of stuffs to the management of computer system network. Then I started to learn something about ROS (Robot Operating System), which provides libraries and tools to help software developers create robot applications. As a beginner, I studied some useful software tools for program developing, including Graphviz-- an open source graph visualization software which offer a easy way of representing structural information about a running program, and SVN—a software versioning and arevision control system which is widely used at present. After that I did some research in 3D scene acquisition, in which I learned the whole development flow of a ROS project. A ROS project may probably consists of several executables from several independent packages, and they communicate via subscriber and publisher mechanism, which is a new method as well an inspiring idea to me.

Here I would like to appreciate for the kind help of Tobias, who was my supervisor. When I had problems, he usually taught me step by step using diagrams, and sometimes even debugged together with me. I did learn a lot from him and enjoyed discussing technical problems with him.



Although most German people speak very good English, grasping more German language would definitely benefit a lot for you. So don’t miss such a good chance to learn German. Besides, teachers and language courses are much more interesting than those in China. So don’t hesitate to take one or more German language courses.

In terms of academic courses, my advice is to choose some open-class courses, in which you can discuss with others your opinions or have chances to make presentations. This is the most different part in university study comparing with China.


Cross Culture Communication

Language is undoubtedly the preliminary part in communication, but attitude and some communication skills are also very important. In Paderborn there are many students from different countries, such as Turkish, Russian and Chinese. But in Eurobiz, you can meet people from all over the world, including Europe, Asia and North America. During the Eurobiz activities, western people could get acquainted with each others in a short time, though Asian students, especially Chinese students, liked talking with their own friends and felt hard getting into the big group.

In fact, I got a lot of fun from cross culture communication and I really enjoyed making friends from all over, as well as participating all kinds of activities with them. From the very beginning, I tried to participate the Eurobiz activities as possible as I could, where I made several friends by my poor speaking English. However, the three days’ trip to Hamburg was the happiest and most memorable experience ever, such as pre-drinking, dancing, boat trip and fish market, etc. I spent a lot of wonderful time with Eurobiz and other exchange students, and some of them became my good friends, who we would still keep in touch with each other in future.



Like many other Asians, I had dreamed of travelling in beautiful European continent since I was very young. Travelling is one of the best ways to learn European culture. After travelling to several European countries, still I like Germany the best, not only because of the clean and comfortable environment, but the politeness and friendliness of German people also impress me most among these countries.

Here are some useful websites for travelling:

- Cheap Flights: www.ryanair.com

- DB Bahn: www.bahn.com

- Hostel: www.hostelworld.com

- Hotel: www.booking.com