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Katja Kaboth-Larsen

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  • For his master's degree in "Neurocognitive Psychology" Gustavo came from Mexico City to Oldenburg. Photo: Gustavo Adolfo Leon Montoya

“At the beginning, you need to be patient”

Gustavo Adolfo Leon Montoya has come to appreciate the short distances, nature and peace and quiet of Oldenburg. After two and a half years, the psychology student from Mexico has settled in well and would like to stay.

Gustavo Adolfo Leon Montoya has come to appreciate the short distances, nature and peace and quiet of Oldenburg.After two and a half years, the psychology student from Mexico has settled in well to his new surroundings and would like to stay.

Does he have any advice for other international students? Gustavo Adolfo Leon Montoya doesn’t have to think twice. “At the beginning, you need to be patient,” says Gustavo. And he’s talking from experience: His visa arrived late so he missed the first few weeks of the semester, and he spent his first nights in Oldenburg in a hostel. But he has no regrets about moving to the northwest of Germany to do his Master’s degree in Neurocognitive Psychology. Two and a half years later, he has now completely settled in and has made new friends.

Gustavo is originally from Mexico City, where he also did his Bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was determined to go abroad for his Master’s degree. After spending his holidays in Germany, he could see himself studying here – especially since more and more degree programmes are taught completely in English. Including the Master’s degree programme in Psychology, for which Gustavo swapped his old metropolis of 8 million inhabitants for Oldenburg. He quickly discovered the many benefits of his new home: less air pollution, more peace and quiet, shorter distances and the proximity to nature. He was also positively surprised by the mentality of the people. “There is less physical contact in everyday life than I was used to in Mexico, but the people are open and friendly,” he says.

Couchsurfing on arrival

However, it took a while for Gustavo to meet new people and and make new friends. Couchsurfing was a great help when he first arrived in the city.  Not only was he able to find somewhere to stay for a few nights – and eventually a room in a shared flat – but he also got to know people at the regular Couchsurfing community meet-ups. In his degree programme, he mainly hung out with other Spanish-speaking students at the beginning. Over time, he also got to know his other fellow students, many of whom were also from abroad – from the USA, Turkey, Serbia or India. He also found himself a language tandem partner. “This helped me to improve my German and get to know German students.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of his relationships and contacts have shifted online. As for his studies, however, not much has changed: He had already completed all his courses, and he worked on his Master’s thesis at home instead of at the library. More disappointing for Gustavo, however, is the fact that a visit to Mexico is now off the cards for a while – he misses his family, Mexican food and the weather. Nevertheless, he would prefer to stay in Germany. The 36-year-old is currently applying for doctoral positions. “It would be amazing if that worked out,” he says. “But I'm also open to new countries and experiences!”

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