There are many myths about studying in Germany. My experience there shattered all those, says PRADEEP KUMAR JAIN
Some years ago, the dream destination for those desirous of studying overseas was U.S., U.K., Australia and so on. But my brother chose Germany and got an opportunity to pursue his masters there. Inspired by him, I decided to explore higher studies opportunities in Germany. The preparations for this began right from the time I was studying engineering at the College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai.
At the end of my research on study opportunities in Germany, I understood many things about the country. Germany offers approximately 300 plus international masters degree programme in diverse fields and all of them are offered in English. Contrary to the common belief, the courses are less expensive. While some universities charge 750 Euros per semester, most university did not charge any tuition fee. (As of 2013 there are 278 International degree programmes in Germany which do not have any tuition fees; source: www.daad.de)
At the end of my extensive research, I applied for various courses and decided to accept the offer from Hochschule Offenburg for the unique masters in communication and media engineering and thus started my journey to Germany.
Mine was a truly international experience. Our batch, that comprised 23 students from 15 different nationalities, kick-started with a Cross Cultural Conflict Management Course at Feldberg, the highest mountain in the Black Forest region. It was an exhilarating experience and the aim of the meet was to break the boundaries so that everyone understood each other’s cultural differences. This interaction helped us build a good relationship.
The university offers useful services for foreign students such as Buddy service wherein senior students guide freshers in administrative formalities, opening bank accounts, health insurance and so on; Senior Service, a platform to interact with local senior citizens which helps improve one’s knowledge of German culture and language; and Tandem Language Partner, a mutual language exchange. Additionally, events such as international barbecue, international evening, winter and summer trips are also organised.
Industrial exposure was made possible by my university. I worked at companies such as Philips, GE and Bombardier Transportation during my internship period, and this helped me gain professional experience and also earn my living while studying.
The academic culture in Germany is completely different from what Indian students are used to. German universities do not encourage spoon feeding and so never enforced compulsory attendance. If you want to learn, it is up to you to be responsible and attend the lectures. Universities in Germany do not organise campus interviews but host job fairs.
The new visa rules permits foreign students to stay for up to 18 months and look out for jobs. The work experience I gained while studying made job hunting easier. I started my job search during my thesis and eventually joined the International Management programme of the Deutsche Telekom AG. At present, I am posted as a Business Development Manager for Cloud Services.
Germans believe in working hard and partying even harder. There are parties and social activities organised in most of the cities during the weekends, thus making sure that you can have fun apart from studying. Couch-surfing and International platforms are my choice to meet international and diversified people and socialise.
Most big cities in Germany have an Indian community that organises various Indian festivals. In addition there are temples, gurudwaras, Indian restaurants and Indian shops where you can network with fellow Indians. My stay in Germany turned out to be an interesting learning experience — knowing the “outside” world, living independently and being self- responsible. At first I was not sure if my decision to study in Germany was right but now I am proud about it. Germany is truly an amazing study abroad destination. Irrespective of whether you want to live or work abroad in future, I would highly recommend you to pursue your studies abroad and gain this amazing experience which you would remember for a lifetime.
The writer had recently completed his masters at Hochschule Offenburg, Germany
German universities do not enforce compulsory attendance, and they do not organise campus interviews but host job fairs