My master's studies in Germany began a couple months ago, and I'm finally feeling organized. I struggled from figuring out what's going on with everything, from the orientation event to email system, as German universities can be quite hands-off. Here are my honest tips that I wish I knew when I first started studying abroad in Germany. To preface, I'm still learning so much everyday so I'll add on to this as I discover more insider tips.
So, let's dive right in!
11 Honest Tips for Studying Abroad in Germany
1. Do: join the WhatsApp groups for international students and your study program.
Unlike in North America, where most students use Facebook to communicate, most group chats are in WhatsApp in Germany. Do reach out and join WhatsApp groups!
2. Don’t: Eat out all the time.
Learning to cook is the first thing I did when I moved to Germany, and I’m enjoying it so so much! I do go out for occasional doners, spaetzle, or even sushi but eating out is way more expensive in Germany than in Asia and North America.
3. Do: Schedule a meeting with an academic advisor to get your questions answered.
I’ve studied in universities in Vancouver, Beijing, and Seoul. Still, I have never seen such a thorough and complicated studies system as in Germany. In Germany, tutorials, colloquium, thesis, etc., make up a considerable part of your degree, not just the lectures.
4. Don’t: just focus on lectures.
On that note, don’t just focus on lectures. As mentioned previously, tutorials, colloquium, discussion all make up a “module” you have to get credits for.
5. Do: the tutorials.
Germans I talked to, while brainstorming for this post, told me that if you never go to the lectures and just do the tutorials 3 times, you will likely pass the exams. This shows how important doing the tutorials is.
6. Don’t: be afraid to introduce yourself at school.
Some say Germans are not friendly, but I find that they are happy to chat if you say hi Studying abroad in Germany means you get to meet students from all over the world so make sure to be open-minded, learn new things!
7. Do: Join clubs to make friends, get to know like-minded people.
There is most likely a day you can drop by a street of student organization booths(zoom meeting this year) you’re interested in joining. I checked out quite a few of them, and they're a great way to meet people who share the same interest as you.
8. Don’t: enroll in sports programs outside universities.
German universities offer a wide range of sports classes for their students at a very affordable price, as low as 5 Euros per semester. Make sure to check them out before enrolling in a private studio. You have to apply at the beginning of each semester.
9. Do: join Fachschaft.
Fachschaft is a faculty-specific student body where you can meet people in your faculty. Mine held an orientation and a welcome party, and I heard you can even join a study group!
For example, this is the Fachschaft for my program.
10. Don’t: forget/ignore mails such as mandatory government payments ex) radio payment.
When I first moved to Germany, I was surprised that a lot of communications in Germany are done by mail. This goes from job termination letters to letters from the government. Don’t ignore them as you might accrue interests.
11. Do: Learn some German
Last but not least, learn some German! It’s true that you can get by just speaking English in Germany but understanding the people and the culture really starts from learning the language. Learning German will help you understand your German friends better and navigate living in Germany more easily. I'll write about how I learned German at home soon.
Hope you found this useful. I plan to write about how to make and save money while studying abroad in my next few posts so check them out as well!