I weighed my options carefully before I made up my mind on which European country was it gonna be, that was I going to continue my higher education in.
University courses in my own country are actually excellent, and young people from all over the world (at any rate, the ones fortunate enough) come to study here in droves; and with good reason I'd say.
But I wanted something different!
I wanted to throw myself under the bus (in a positive sense, of course) if you will, expose myself to a new mentality, undergo a reality check of sorts, within an academic environment slightly different from what we're used to here. After considering the pros and cons to a number of places and vacillating for a while, I finally chose Germany; and with the benefit of hindsight, I can now say I chose well.
Well, good reasons are not hard to find; this country boasts an education system which is highly efficient at providing just the kind of cadre the economy really needs. As they say: 'the proof is in the pudding;' and what better proof can there be than 'the economic powerhouse of Europe' status
I tell you what: those Germans have got to be doing something right education-wise.
What it boils down to, in my opinion, is what they call the 'dual education system,' organized around the principle of 'The Unity of Teaching and Research,' i.e. the combining of the theoretical approach and practical application, with a strong accent on apprenticeship. I wanted to place myself within an academic setting wherein I will not only get top-notch education, but also be hands-on when it comes to practical application and dealing with nuts and bolts. I wanted exposure to and first-hand experience with the proverbial German industriousness in my chosen technical field. The 'Fachhoschule' in Munich I chose for this purpose delivered and then some.
There are certain issues one has to tackle well in advance of actually packing and leaving for Germany, such as: meeting admission requirements for your chosen university course, obtaining the student visa (if you're not a citizen of an EU member country), and securing accommodation. Now, as to the visa requirement: even if you don't need a visa to travel to Germany (and stay up to 90 days), actually staying there to study is a different matter;
You need to produce proof of the following:
? Admission letter from a university in Germany
? Health insurance
? Proof of credits and/or passed examinations
? Proof of German language skills
? Proof of sufficient financial resources
I recommend that you read this Germany student’s guide for more detailed information on the requirements one needs to meet in order to study in Germany.
Regarding knowledge of the German language:
Unless you're studying a course that is taught entirely in German (in which case you would have to be proficient, and able to prove it i.e. have a passing score on the 'TestDaF'), a working knowledge of German will serve you very well; many university courses, particularly the postgraduate ones, are taught in English. However, being able to speak some German will take you a long way, not only study-wise, but also in your day to day life in Germany.
How to better afford your student life in Germany
Although tuition fees are a non-issue in Germany (only two out of the 16 federal states allow their higher education institutions to charge tuition fees – and even when they do, they are ridiculously low compared to what we have in this country) and there are different facilities and benefits students can be eligible for, life in Germany can be pricey.
One option would be applying for a scholarship e.g. try the 'German Academic Exchange Service' (or DAAD – acronym for its name in German) – they offer scholarships (both monetary and non-monetary) to foreign students through partner institutions. An additional option would be to get a part time job while studying (Germany allows foreign students – citizens of non-EU member countries – to work up to 120 full or 240 half days during a calendar year).
Also, there are ways in which to lower one's expenses such as, for example, share a private apartment ('Wohngemeinschaften,' as it is called in Germany); so, with a little common sense and creativity, one can bring one's monthly expenses to below €1000.
Germany can be so much fun to travel around; it is only when you visit different parts of it that you come to appreciate just how diverse a country it is (e.g. Berlin and Munich are worlds apart in many respects, just as Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein are two federal states very different in character).
Although I know Munich and the surrounding area best (BTW, I adore the whole Bavarian 'beer-garden' culture, and would strongly urge everyone to attend the 'Oktoberfest' at least once in their life) my personal favorite has got to be Hamburg:
What a city!
If there were a way to somehow get rid of its Seattle-like overcast skies, I would definitely move to this city and never look back. IMO, this city has it all: the energy, the cosmopolitan air, the incredible nightlife, and the list goes on...
One thing you never hear about, before you go to Germany and experience it for yourself, is just how great the food is:
sausages (hundreds of different varieties of 'wurst') with sauerkraut and potato salad, schweinebraten, so many different types of breads (love Brötchen), and ... don't get me started on beer – now that's an endless topic.
If you happen to be considering enrollment into either undergraduate or graduate studies abroad, there are compelling arguments in favor of opting for Germany as your study destination.
Not only will you be getting a top-notch formal education that's recognized as such around the globe, but by the time you're finished with your studies you will have gained a solid hands-on experience in the practical application of most of the knowledge you've acquired.
And, on the derivative side, you will probably have adopted something of the proverbial German work ethic.
Last but not least, you'll probably end up having a ton of fun, if you keep an open mind and dare to explore, in a country that has so much more to it than ordinarily meets the eye.
Travel tip shared by livluget