Studying abroad is an adventure that not all of us get to experience. There are so many reasons to study abroad at least once in your life, and even more so for studying in Germany. To me, the idea to move to Germany came several years ago when I decided to make a major career and life change and immigrate long term to Germany. I had tested the waters during a temporary stay in Germany by enrolling in a language course. This time spent here motivated me to take the plunge and enrol at a German university full time. After I successfully finishing my second master’s degree in ten years, I am now in a position to compare my life as a student in two different western European countries.
Here are some of my reasons for studying in Germany!
No Tuition Fees
This is a big one! If you compare Germany to other first world countries one thing that stands out is the fact that German Universities are tuition-free as of October 2014. This privilege is enjoyed not only by German students but also by international students wishing to pursue a degree in Germany. Students at the public Universities are required to pay only the semester fees which include free access to public transportation within the region.
However, this doesn’t apply to the private Universities around the country where there is no ground standard and tuition fees vary depending on the institution. In contrast, when I studied in the UK, I paid a whopping 15k GBP for a one-year masters degree. On the other hand, my EU & UK coursemates paid about 5k GBP in tuition fees.
Excellent Higher Education Staff Members and Infrastructure
German universities are known to excel in both infrastructure and high academic standards. Many public universities in Germany date from the Middle Ages, keeping alive the tradition of qualitative education in various academic disciplines. Several modern institutions were either founded after the Second World War or fairly recently, including most of the private universities in Germany.
Optimal facilities providing contemporary technology, research facilities and a diversified professional staff ensure promising future generations of experts regardless of the discipline. Innovation, international cooperation and practice-oriented studies are considered to be the revolutionary roads to a world-class education.
Courses in English
Did you know that several German universities also offer courses in English? That is correct! English is an international and widely spoken language, taught as a second language in the majority of schools around the world. English is also the language of science and research, therefore a lot of master/Ph.D. programs give students an option to conduct their research in English.
Having said that it is still highly recommended to learn the language – at least at conversational level – as it will make your life in Germany much easier. Scratching from the start in a new country, a new education system using a new language can be really hard for a lot; therefore you might want to go easy on yourself and take up an international program taught in English while learning German on the side. You can always switch to German speaking modules if your course offers such an option.
Affordable Accommodation Options
As in every other country, German student dorms are way more affordable than a rental. Residence halls commonly are old, worn buildings where everything is usually shared. In most cases, you also cannot choose with whom you’ll be sharing your day to day life.
Bear in mind though, you should start your search early as these dorm rooms tend to be pre-booked quite in advance. If you are counting on a room in a dormitory you will have to contact the Studentenwerk quite early in order for them to get you accommodated. The student services might as well put you on the waiting list, so one must have a backup plan. Even if you do not manage to get a student dorm, the areas around the campus tend to be quite inexpensive and offer several options to rent out studio apartments to more traditional WGs.
Safety, Especially Safety of Women
Germany is ranked 14th on the ranking of world’s safest countries. While there is no such thing as 0% crime rate here and crime in Germany exists, it is rather low-scale. The nature of the crimes also depends on the individual situation, both the city and the neighbourhood you’re in. Chances are, the worst you will hear of crime in Germany will be an incident of a stolen bike which by the way, is possibly the most widespread type of crime in Germany.
Generally, as a woman living mostly alone as a student, I find Germany incredibly safe place to live. I am able to move around freely and safely – in town or in the countryside, by day or by night. Obviously use common sense, when you are out and about. Listen to your inner “safety alarm”. It takes a while to get accustomed to new surroundings and assess genuine risks properly, but it’s really better to be safe than sorry.
Freedom to Travel on a Student Visa
Germany is surrounded by some of the most stunning countries in the EU. Your residence permit as a student also allows you to travel visa-free in the whole Schengen Area, which makes for a wonderful opportunity to visit the countries you are interested in within the time-frame. There are several cheap flights to major cities like Paris, Rome or Amsterdam as well as train connections (although they take reasonably long time). It is also possible to rent a car with your mates and take a road trip and experience Europe at your own pace.
When it comes to touristy experiences, Germany itself isn’t too bad. After all, it is home to some of the most popular cities of the world. Berlin is great for its history and modernism, Nürnberg gives an illution of being in a life sized medevial Disney set, and Munich…well Munich is known for the biggest volksfest in the world.