Top 10 Tips for Studying in Germany
Doing a study program abroad is always an exciting challenge. And Germany, in the heart of Europe, has always been a highly coveted educational destination for the rest of the world. Every year, the outstanding universities of Germany make advances and innovation, attracting a large part of the world to its doorstep.
For international students, there is plenty to plan and organize. Fortunately, there is also abundant help available. If you are preparing yourself to turn a new leaf in Germany, here are some tips from your predecessors.
1. Learn German
Even if you are planning on studying in English, your university might require you to pass a German language test for visa purposes. Regardless, it is always recommended to have basic knowledge of the language, so it is easier to blend into society. This will make the whole experience of living in Germany easier and more fun.
Don't let language barriers get in your way, make sure that you take the initiative with what little knowledge you have of the language and seek help from your fellow German friends as well. You can also book a German language course in Germany to improve your skills.
When it comes to academics, assignments are can be a challenge and the structure might be different to what you are used to especially if you are going to be taking a course in German. If you are choosing an academic course in English, you will have no trouble in adjusting to your classes. If you need more help, you can always reach out to a reputable writing service for help with essays and coursework.
English is also rather popular among the German people, so you shouldn't have too many problems making friends with locals if your German isn't up to scratch. Locals are generally very friendly.
Studying abroad can be expensive and although Germany is an affordable destination to study in Europe, if you haven't already considered scholarships for funding your education abroad, that is the first thing to check.
Germany offers hundreds of scholarship programs for American and international students. You can check out platforms such as DAAD, where you can find scholarship programs provided by politically-affiliated foundations, religious organizations and more.
These will help cover your living costs alongside receiving free education. However, you might notice that most of them are for post-graduation or research programs, so undergraduates might have to explore other financial options.
Around 35% of international students are attracted to study abroad in Germany because of its free tuition universities. But that said, you should still be able to prove that you can support the other living costs while in the country. You can split your expenses in Germany into four:
- Your semester contribution;
- Living expenses;
- Health insurance;
- And tuition fees if applicable.
In some universities, the semester contribution will also cover the cost of public transportation in and out of university, the cost of food while at university and such. The biggest chunk of your finances will be kept for your living expenses.
If you are living in cities such as Berlin or Munich, your rent would be on the higher side. On average, you should expect to spend around 850 euros a month. If you have inexpensive accommodation and live modestly, you might be able to save a couple of hundred every month. These tips will also give you ideas for how you can study abroad on a small budget.
Before departing, be sure to consult your bank, and let them know that you will be living abroad and possible making international transfers. Some banks have limitations for the amount of money transferable, as well as charge significant fees for transfers and exchange. You do not want to wait until the last minute to make important transfers only to be told that it is not possible. Also, verify with the university if you need to bring additional documents if you want to open a local bank account in Germany.
Alternatively, you can also consider payment options such as Transferwise or Revolut to make quick transfers between international borders.
4. Plan Ahead
Everything from your travel, sim card provider, accommodation and your banks are all going to be needed to be arranged, usually in advance of arrival. You will need to find out if things like internet and utilities are included in your rental fee, if not, will have to pay for them yourself.
You can choose to stay in university's halls, dorms, or private accommodation. Halls of residence tend to be the cheapest option and need to be arranged before arrival. Private accommodation can provide you with more privacy, but it can also be less social.
6. Term Time
At German universities, the academic year is divided into two terms: "Wintersemester" and "Sommersemester". The winter term begins officially on October 1 and ends on March 31. The summer term begins on April 1 and ends on September 30.
7. Oral Exams
Some of universities might require you to take an oral exam in order to get onto a course. This is an assessment and is needed for some courses. If you are required to have an oral exam, you uni will be able to give you more information and to help you prepare.
Pünktlichkeit (punctuality) is something very important in Germany and something local people pride themselves on. Teachers will expect you to arrive on time, be sure to arrive early especially at the start of term. You will also need to understand the Akademisches Viertel (academic quarter), a phrase used in reference to classes at Germany universities. Classes with an akademisches Viertel actually start 15 minutes after the stated start time and end 15 minutes before the given end time.
9. Be Social
If you are worried about living abroad, especially if it is the first time you are doing this, be sure to be social, check events and student groups and get active in making friends. This is a great way to improve your German language skills, learn more about your destination and get to see more of your new surroundings.
10. Enjoy the Experience
Going to study abroad can be a life changing experience. Remember that you chose a course abroad not only for the educational aspect but also for the immersive life experience. Germany has plenty to offer on that front. Do not hesitate to take advantage of every opportunity, explore the culture and relish in the European culture whenever you get a chance. In the meanwhile, take conscious efforts to respect their cultural values, traditions and way of living.
Have you ever been to study in Germany? Do you have any recommendations? Let us know in the comments section below.