Interview with the Exchange Students Representatives

Brent Kanowski (University of Queensland) and Michael Owen (University of Miami) were elected by their peers to serve as international exchange student body representatives during the 2016 fall term at Bucerius.

The two acted as a liaison between students from partner universities and school administration and spearheaded several initiatives, including the organization of regular evening gatherings at a Hamburg pub. In wrapping up the stay abroad, they sat down to answer a few questions and shed light on their time in Germany.

Tell us a bit about your experience as an international exchange student at Bucerius and in Hamburg. What surprised you, what was different to your home school and home city?
Brent: I loved my time at Bucerius. The city of Hamburg is a great place to go on exchange and offered a really nice opportunity to travel Europe, meet new people, and learn from some of the best. The success of Bucerius lies not just in it being very well resourced, but also in the inherent quality of the institution, which prides itself on producing Germany’s highest performing law graduates. Hamburg is certainly colder than warm and sunny Brisbane, but the warmth of the people you meet certainly makes up for that. Also, it's only a short and cheap flight to a warmer part of Europe when you need a weekend off!

Michael: For me, studying as an exchange student at Bucerius and in Hamburg was a dream come true. The professors at Bucerius are leaders in their respective fields, and it felt like we were being taught by the best Germany had to offer. The city of Hamburg is an absolute gem. Whether it be football in St. Pauli, an afternoon at the Kunsthalle, or a peaceful morning bicycle ride around the Alster, Hamburg never ceased to impress me and it truly cemented itself as one of my favorite cities in the world.

You both have been serving as student representatives for the international exchange students group for the last four months. What were the most important and / or surprising issues you had to deal with?
Brent: Being elected student representative was a great opportunity for me to stand up and make a bigger contribution to my Bucerius experience, and that of others. I used my time in the role to work as a link between the very receptive staff in the International Office section of the University and the exchange students. We dealt with minor issues and provided feedback to the staff throughout the semester. It was a positive step by the institution in offering the best experience possible for the exchange cohort.

Michael: Serving as a student representative was an honor, and afforded me the privilege of fully integrating myself not only with my classmates, but also the international office as well by serving as a conduit for the concerns of my fellow peers. A particular challenge of being a representative was being able to listen to concerns and being able to frame them in a way that could be effectively addressed. While no major issues came up with the exchange class, Brenton and I were able to successfully discuss issues regarding exam and class break policy.

Just after the start of the program, in September, you established a Stammtisch for the exchange students. Tell us more about this idea!
Brent: The idea of a Stammtisch is to come together as a group at regular sessions at the local beer hall and drink and eat and dance the night away! It was a nice and regular opportunity for the group to meet on a larger scale and was always a good night. The Stammtisch allowed for a group discount and a large booking, and was an excellent way of keeping in touch with the larger group.


Interview: Kasia Kwietniewska; Photo: Brent Kanowski