Language students tend to have several things in common: they’re adventurous, they enjoy meeting new people, they’re fascinated by other cultures. Studying German abroad will satisfy your wanderlust by surrounding you with another country’s customs, giving you new experiences, and teaching you plenty of useful German along the way. German is the most widely-spoken language in Europe, and is extremely beneficial for anyone considering a career in international relations or science- or simply wants to zoom down the Autobahn in style/ Say Auf Wiedersehen to your country and consider studying German abroad.
Why Earn German Degrees Abroad
There is nothing like being able to practise what you’ve studied in the classroom in everyday life. Study the world’s 11th most-spoken language abroad, take the chance to improve your job prospects, and add ‘polyglot’ to your Twitter bio (but with a few more consonants)!
Getting a degree abroad as a German major is a huge addition to your skill set. Becoming fluent offers the ability to communicate with a large number of people, and speaking to them in their mother tongue will help you relate to them and their culture. Never again will you have an awkward moment in a German café where you misunderstand the waiter or you can’t read the menu - you’ll be ordering your currywurst with confidence in no time!
Professionally, knowledge of German is a great asset when applying for all sorts of jobs. German is one of the three official languages of the European Union, and is still widely-used in the scientific world. Being fluent in another language could also give you the edge in job applications. Moreover, studying abroad demonstrates to employers that you are a confident person who is unafraid of a challenge. You’re adaptable and culturally aware; you’re all the buzzwords that employers want to hear!
Finally, majoring in German abroad gives students the chance to study the language from a different point of view than their own country. This may seem a challenge at first, but it provides a much wider understanding of the accent and usage of German in the long run. There’s all sort of cultural quirks and historical notes that support word evolution, and it’s much more interesting to see this in real life than read about it in a multi-language dictionary.
Whether you opt for a German-speaking country or not, the idea of getting a language degree abroad is to surround yourself with as many German Freunde and real-life situations as possible. This is the time to spread your wings and fly forth from the Eagle’s Nest!
For maximum efficiency, get your German degree abroad in Germany. Between living with native speakers and having easy access to local media and literature, you’ll be rolling your guttural r’s in no time. Being surrounded by native speakers will improve your comprehension like crazy, you will have German teachers to quiz, AND you will be able to live in the country of Oktoberfest and currywurst. The capital city, Berlin, is full of tourist attractions such as the Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate, which bring history to life. Another option is Munich, which was named the best city in Germany to live in 2014. Its central European location makes it the perfect city to study abroad - it’s easy to jump on a train and be in another country in no time. Munich is also the host of Oktoberfest and the capital of Bavaria, so it is a city with varying fascinating cultural experiences.
Another country with German as a mother tongue is Switzerland. Immersing yourself in the language of Mozart and Kafka is the best way to improve fluency, but there are also many American universities in Switzerland that offer the chance to study a degree taught entirely in English, reducing the chance of any language-based confusions in your studies. Study in Bern, the home of Kambly biscuits, cheese fondue, and famous Christmas markets, or travel to Zurich, a small but vibrant city, full of outdoor activities like mountain climbing and wakeboarding.
Alternatively, if you would like to study German but still keep the rest of your life in English, head to one of the United Kingdom’s many universities, the vast majority of which offer degrees in German. London is one of the world’s most diverse and international cities, and is perfect for students as it is full of people from all walks of life. Ride on the London Eye, stroll through Chinatown, visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and make sure you take the chance to find fellow German-speakers!
German Degree Programs
Studying German is an increasingly popular choice, so there are plenty of different courses and universities to choose from. Not only does a degree that requires a lot of self-motivation to practice and get over the fear of making mistakes shape you into a much more confident person, but you’ll see the respect in other people’s faces when you tell them you’re bilingual. And no one messes around with German phrases.
For those pursuing an undergraduate degree in German, be prepared to dedicate the next four years to wearing Lederhosen and socks with sandals. Language classes are couples with German history, literature, and music, as well as your typical college courses. Majoring in German at the Masters and doctorate level take another couple of years to complete, and really focus on a specific field of the language that interests you. Higher-level degrees do require a firm grasp of Wagner’s language.
When it comes to applying, be aware that deadlines for applying to European universities are often earlier than you would expect. Apply early to give yourself the best chance of being accepted. Most universities will expect a strong GPA and some may require additional tests like SAT, so make sure you check their websites before you apply. You are also likely to need at least one reference from a teacher, so choose your victim soon to give them plenty of time! On the other hand, you shouldn’t need to worry about your level (or lack of) German if applying for undergraduate studies, as it is possible to choose whether you would like to build on an intermediate level or whether you would like to start from scratch.
Benefits and Challenges
One of the major benefits of studying German in Europe is the Erasmus+ scheme. This offers students at the vast majority of EU universities the chance to study or work abroad for a year, with no fees charged. It is a fantastic opportunity for those living in countries where German is not widely spoken to spend time in a German-speaking country, improving comprehension skills and fluency while being immersed in the culture and history of another country.
Getting a German degree abroad is also likely to be cheaper. European universities’ fees vary a lot, but are generally fairly reasonable. In terms of value for money, earning your entire degree abroad gives you plenty of knowledge for your Euro (or can be free, if you opt or good ol’ Germany!). Your language level will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who stay at home, while you will get to make memories with your new multi-cultural friends that they could only dream of.
This is not to say that studying German abroad won’t be a challenge. You will be far from home, and you may experience culture shock, especially in a non-English speaking country. However, this will make for great stories later, and, thanks to 21st-century technology, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with loved ones back at home.
Studying abroad opens doors to new opportunities, fresh friendships, and the chance to spend time with native German speakers, travel around new countries, and grow as a person. You’ll never forget your first authentic German beer, your first European Christmas market, your first fluent conversation with a native speaker. Watch your German abilities soar as you flourish in your new home!