Life in a Foreign University A student studying in Germany shares how to choose college course and make friends

Life in a Foreign University: A Student Studying in Germany Shares How to Choose College, Course and Make Friends

In India, I ran a start-up called ‘The Box Keeper’ that made custom gift boxes for people. But when things didn’t work out (2019), I decided to pursue a master’s degree. Hello, I am Sreejit Dutta and I am pursuing a Masters in Data Engineering and Analytics from the Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München), Germany.

I decided to move abroad for higher studies as I wanted to explore new cultures and cities and experience life in another country. The other reason was that the course and college I opted for are ranked among the best in the world. I chose Germany as most technical programmes there are tuition-free even for international students. There is a bare minimum fee of around 140 Euros per semester. One of the main attractions was the exposure that they provide to students. I have almost completed my master’s programme and will be pursuing my PhD in November at the same university. Also, I will be working at the German Aerospace Association soon.

How to apply to study at German universities?
I did thorough research before submitting my application to the university. The entire admission procedure was online and was fairly simple. I took the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) for my course as it was required. The documents that were needed were:

–Bachelor’s degree
–A summary of courses undertaken by the applicant
–An essay on a given topic
–A letter of motivation
–CV and
–An analysis of the curriculum.

My university — Technische Universität München — also has an additional process where the Bachelor’s grade is certified by a third-party website called Uni-assist. There were scholarships available, however, I could not apply as my application process was delayed. The primary criteria for most scholarships are academic excellence, along with certain other conditions such as co- or extracurriculars.

No need for an education loan; it’s Germany
I did not feel the need to apply for an education loan as the fee is nearly 140 Euros per semester and most living costs can be covered by getting student jobs or part-time jobs, especially in the technical field. The wages as well as the experience of having a part-time student job in your field are a blessing. It helps in the future too, when you are looking for full-time positions.

My experience here has been superb so far however, there were some hurdles along the way, COVID-19 being one of them. I was in Munich when the pandemic first struck. I felt lonely as most of my friends were leaving the city and I couldn’t because of leg surgery. The classes switched to the online medium and like every student, we adjusted to it. Gradually things opened up and people I knew returned, so things got better.

Friends are family
It was hard to adjust initially however, I learned to navigate difficult situations and be more patient. Besides academic knowledge, living independently also taught me important life skills. Managing my finances is an important one.

The best part about pursuing higher education in Germany has been meeting international students and forming a group of friends from different cultures and communities. It has taught me to be more independent, to be open to new experiences as well as how to deal with intercultural situations.

I suggest aspiring students try to be culturally receptive, sensitive and outgoing. I realised as a southeast Asian student, how close the subcontinent is culturally and how we relate more to each other than to other nationals.

Academically speaking, the level (what level?) is completely different. In India, the primary focus is still on theory and good grades but here they teach you how to apply your knowledge. The courses and exams are structured in a way that you have to learn and there is a lot of emphasis on self-study. There is also a higher level of trust where the onus is on attending lectures, exams, and getting good grades. There is little involvement of the university in trying to get students to study or involving their parents/legal guardians if something goes wrong.

That level of trust also inculcates a degree of responsibility. Though I do feel that teachers in India were more approachable compared with this place. There can be between 50-200 students in a lecture hall, depending on the course.

It is always a bit hard to fit into a new culture but I think I am getting there slowly. People are approachable and if you try to communicate in their language, they will be ready to help. I used to be an introvert but now I like talking to people.

I completed the first semester before COVID and the experience was different. The following semesters until my last have been mostly online. Thankfully, everything is opening up now but I wish I could get the opportunity to attend more physical classes.

Food and life

Being a Delhi girl, what I miss the most about India is food, especially street food like chaat and momos. There are a lot of Indian supermarkets in Munich. The first time I went grocery shopping, I converted everything I bought into INR. But with time, I got used to it. After much search, I found an Indian supermarket where most desi items were available. I have started cooking as well.

As Munich has a great bike (bicycle) system, I mostly ride a bike to travel short distances. Otherwise, this place has a good transport system of buses, tramps, etc. Plus, you get a student discount on your transport ticket. I live in the main city, but my campus is around 40-45 minutes away.

The weather in the city is cold compared to India. The houses here were not built for intense summers. There is no concept of air conditioning, so it gets a bit difficult. In Munich, it rains 5-6 days a month.

My advice

My advice to students: Study abroad only if the college or course you plan to apply to is good. I have seen many students who apply to universities or courses abroad without enough research and eventually return home after spending a lot of money. Chalk out your options, aim for the best ones, and make sure it is worth it.

The whole admission procedure may seem overwhelming, but it isn’t. It is designed to be done by you. Paying consultants who charge exorbitant amounts to do it for you is a waste of time and money. Also, be careful while writing your SoP. It should not read like a CV but should be about what you have done in the past and why you have done it.

Courtesy : The Indian Express

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