Study in Germany: an exchange student's view

Germany is a very attractive country for students from all over the world. In addition to other European countries, students from China, India, Russia, the USA and the countries of South America annually spend a semester or a year abroad or are even enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students. One of the most important advantages of Germany is a free higher education.

My name is Oleg, I am studying abroad at the Humboldt University in Berlin for the second semester, and at the same time I am an intern at Dominart Invest.

Honestly, two years ago I didn’t think about studying abroad, being sure that this was an expensive and complicated undertaking, because one needs to start running around much earlier than the beginning of studies, and all the efforts on preparing documents may just go in vain.

However, in December 2017, I talked to people who already had experience in exchange studies, and they have convinced me that it’s easier to try, because bureaucratic procedures for enrollment through an exchange program are easier than attepmts to enroll directly in a foreign university. On the other hand, even though you study only six months or a year, during this time you can not only acquire a lot of experience, but also make connections with other students and with the university itself, which will help for further study if you want to continue.

By the way, I studied on the master program of one of the universities of Tomsk, a fairly well-known "university city" in Russia. The two main universities from which students go abroad are Tomsk State and Tomsk Polytechnic Universities.

In fact, many Russian universities have partnership agreements with foreign universities; they involve student exchanges, double degree programs and internships for employees. Our university has an agreement with Humboldt University, according to which I went to study here.

All those who wish to sudy abroad apply to the international department of their university, indicate preferences among foreign universities. For example, I wanted to go to Humboldt University, and secondly – to the University of Bielefeld. Then, students gather basic documents: an international passport (it can be issued later, if the application is approved), a portfolio, a motivation letter, a preliminary curriculum, and a certificate of language proficiency.

In addition to German, you can learn in English - in almost all German universities you can find English-language courses or entire programs. If there is no certificate - university staff conduct their own free testing - you will not receive something like IELTS or TOEFL, but for the exchange program it is enough.

Further two meetings of the university commission are held. At the first, several students are selected for their nomination to the selected university. On the second, the commission chooses those who will get a scholarship, if offered by the partner university. For example, Humboldt University offers only one scholarship for our university, which I managed to get.

The scholarship - 720 euros - is the official living wage in Berlin. This amount is enough to pay for the room and expenses for a month, of course, with reasonable use. Despite the difficulties in finding accommodation in Berlin and the correspondingly high competition for settling in a dormitory (WG), I managed to get to the student campus Adlershof (Stuentendorf Adlershof). Rooms here cost from 374 euros per month, and every year this amount grows by exactly 2.40 euros. These are the most expensive rooms at the Humboldt. Another campus on the Astronauts Alley (Studentenwerk Berlin) offers rooms from 200 to 270 euros - it's way more convenient, especially if you live only on a scholarship.

For exchange studying, you need to invest in obtaining a passport, if you don't have one, in obtaining a national German visa (about 70 euros), in obtaining insurance. Education in Germany is free, but every semester you need to make a special contribution in the amount of around 264 euros - a symbolic amount in comparison with the price of tuition, besides it includes a chic student card. The student card is a pass to the libraries, and the opportunity to eat at university cafes, receive discounts in almost all museums, parks, and most importantly, use any public transport in all three areas of Berlin (ABC) for the entire semester.

You can also apply for financial support - a russian university can cover some expenses, including air tickets, visa and insurance - in whole or in part. It depends on the budget of the university for the current year and the decision of the commission. In my case, a significant part was financed - about 80% of the amount.

I can talk about pleasant moments of study in Germany for quite a while. In short, there are strong universities, where the quality of education and an effective approach are immediately noticeable, there is also a student community that is open and unique in its own way, where people from different countries can learn a lot or simply get acquainted with other cultures. Dazzling variety of food, represented by countless cafes and restaurants: Indian, Thai, Greek, Italian, African, Vietnamese, etc. There is also very rich cultural life, especially for creative people. I can say surely that I have not regretted my choice.

Study in Germany: an exchange student's view
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