When planning to challenge oneself to a new life abroad, studying in an entirely neoteric ambient Germany is the place to be. For once, it is right within the heart of Europe so you can experience bits and pieces of every neighboring culture well-integrated in the different German regions. While living in Germany, there are ginormous opportunities for learning and research, offered by numerous highly ranked German universities in the international domain, due to an exceptional reputation regarding their openness, transparency, innovative methods and the quality of studies. The proof is the huge number of international students, around 250,000, who are part of these universities already.
Nevertheless, living in a new environment needs a whole lot of prior planning and considering before you embark in this insightful journey. Each country has its own peculiarities that shall taunt you, so you better learn to use them to your advantage. Germany is an open book for those who know how to read.
Study in Germany
The majority of institutions for higher education in Germany are governed and funded by the federal government and since Germany is a federal state, every federation approaches the matter autonomously. Additionally, there are a number of colleges that are semi-dependent and mostly financed by Protestant and Catholic Churches. The minor rest comprises of private universities, around 80 in the whole country that still follow the official curricula. German education system comprises of:
Universities in Germany – They are the perfect choice for students planning to study in Germany who are scientifically-oriented as in medicine, technology or education among many other courses.
Universities of applied sciences in Germany – For those who wish to practice while they preach this is the ideal choice. The degree programmes generally include internships practical module. The course of education prepares the student for the demands of a professional life.
Colleges of art, film and music in Germany - Colleges of modern media train students to become directors, camera operators, screenwriters, technicians and producers for film and television. Potential candidates must possess a high degree of artistic talent which they are asked to demonstrate in an aptitude test. Therefore, there are usually special admission requirements.
Cost of living in Germany
Life in Germany is rather affordable for a student. Firstly and most importantly, the German education system provides almost free education, concerning the public domain, whereas the majority of the universities don’t require tuition fees for either the natives or the international students. The tuition fees at the private universities can go up to 20000 Euros yearly. What one is obliged to pay is the semester contribution (as they call it) around 100-150 Euros depending on the federation, the administrative fee from 50-70 Euros, the residency permit and the visa expenses depending on the students’ nationality and the health insurance which is a must. In Germany, you can choose between public and private health insurance, however, the public offer is by far more affordable. No university will ever accept you without the health insurance papers. The beauty remains in the fact that once you’ve paid the semester contribution, it includes free public transport around the city you live in.
Student life in Germany varies from city to city and, of course, the price ranges depending on the certain neighborhood. Students usually go for University residencies and dorms which are safe and affordable, however for such, one has to book months in advance and there is no concept of privacy. Living in Germany on your own is great, but expensive. Depending on the city in which you live, you will likely pay between 185 and 345 Euros per month for accommodation. The rental prices in some large cities like Hamburg, Munich, Cologne or Frankfurt am Main are much higher in comparison. The aforementioned amount goes for students who tend to share an apartment with roommates, which clearly helps their budget. Of course, it’s always better if you have native roommates to help you accommodate in the new area, introduce you to other people and coexist. Berlin is the cheapest and the craziest German city to live in. For those who want an adventure out of the year abroad more than just a degree, Berlin is their final destination.
Cheap eateries are to be found every corner of every city offering to-go meals starting from 4 Euros. Student Mensa is far from bad, yet one needs some colours in their daily menu. Germany is famous for its beer and its sausages; it’s cheap, it’s tasty and will keep you running on fuel. However, since the German cuisine has gone through essential changes in all these years of international influence, it’s likely to find your favorite hometown dish in your new German neighborhood. Every metropolis has Italian, Asian, French, Spanish, Russian restaurants or else, while the Turks have their own quarters. Students are eligible for numerous price concessions. With your student ID, you can receive concessions on tickets and entrance fees to theatres, opera houses, cinemas, museums, public swimming pools and other cultural venues.
Job Opportunities in Germany
In order to put some money on the side, many students combine their studies with a part time job in Germany, or a weekend job, if possible. Germans have no policy against it as long as it doesn’t interfere with the studies which should always be a priority. Part-time jobs and internships offer a perfect opportunity to make professional contacts and earn some extra money. However, these mini jobs as they call them pay only 400 Euros per month, the standard fee that someone earns without having to pay any taxes. Also, if you are a citizen of no European Union country, then the hours you are allowed to work while study in Germany are restricted. Waiting tables at cafÃ©s or pubs is traditionally popular among students, as well. Other students find work at coffee shops, assist visitors at trade fairs, drive delivery trucks, work as cycle couriers, cleaning staff, etc. Working at the university is also a beneficial alternative since you get to make your own schedule without compromising your classes.
Student life in Germany
Life in Germany for students, intrigued about all and everything, will take their breath away. There’s a piece for everyone, the fun lovers, the hikers, the explorers and the solitarians. Every neighborhood in every city has a different vibe; some are more secluded and quiet while others are tremendously loud and vivid. Cafes of all kinds, whether they are hippy or classy, fashionable, trendy, contemporary or traditional Germany offer a cosmopolitan cocktail for those who dare. Nightlife is Berlin's most precious gem, yet other cities aren’t far behind. Some of the worlds’ famous clubs like Bergheim or Cocoon belong to Germans. Germans, however, are more into private indoor parties where you drink wine and chat about the zeitgeist, especially during the vigorous winter times. On the other hand, they love their daily outdoor activities to keep fit and healthy. All the grandiose parks and gardens give you a hint of the sanctity of the green spaces in this country. Travelling around the country will give you a true feel of what Germany is all about. The fairytale small towns with ancient castles and traditional lifestyle are a great example of how life in Germany used to be without all the technological advances. They are the perfect get-away from all the urban noise and dynamics. Another true advantage to be living in this country is their excellent public transport, efficient, safe and fast. Students can purchase 50 euro cards as a valid pass to travel by buses, subways and trams.
It’s no secret that Germans are notorious for being too bureaucratic and formal even in their daily lives. Prior research about the dos and don'ts, the expected behaviour among the natives will be very helpful. When entering a store, for example, one is not likely to be noticed, unless one announces oneself forcefully by saying, “guten Tag” (literally, "good day") or "hello." Hugging isn’t particularly something they are fond of, especially not in the beginning of the relationship, work colleagues, school friends or random acquaintances. Their etiquette concerning punctuality is something you should consider since they really hate people who are late, so no consideration there, I guess.
The honesty is admirable; they say everything on your face. In the beginning, this might bother you, however, one gets used to it and returns the favour. Germans, once you get to know them, are people you want to keep close forever.
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