A Guide To Language Study Abroad in Germany
Learning German will help you easily navigate one of the most culturally influential European countries. The country boasts half-timbered towns, majestic palaces, and spellbinding architecture brought to life by its invigorating culture. One of the wealthiest nations in the world, Germany is a worthwhile destination for language study abroad, and possibly even for building a career. Its strategic location at the center of Europe makes it a wonderful gateway to the many treasures the region offers, and German language skills surely won’t hurt your future either.
There is a myriad of language schools, colleges, and universities that provide a wide variety of language programs in Germany. Aspiring German speakers can explore language program options in large metropolises as well as smaller cities.
Berlin is the capital city of Germany. With a population of 3.5 million people, it is the largest city in Germany and the second most populous city proper in the European Union. Although a huge metropolitan city, Berlin has a remarkably laid back lifestyle. Germans live by the credo “live and let live,” placing a greater value on creative lifestyle and personal freedom over status symbols and material wealth. Their free-spiritedness has helped make the city a creative cultural hub, with new ideas encouraged, created, and nurtured constantly. A witness to remarkable events in history, including the formation of the Nazi party and the division of Germany, Berlin is a true historical treasure.
Munich. With a population of more than 1.4 million people, Munich is the third most populous city in Germany. A city of contradictions, Munich has managed to maintain its cultural heritage while spearheading important technological developments. It has been dubbed the city of "laptop and lederhosen”, and is visibly teeming with lederhosen-clad locals and well-heeled power dressers. Munich is also known for its annual Oktoberfest beer celebration, striking architecture, and rich cultural scene. The city is a major international center of medicine, research, engineering, and business, as is evident in its multitude of science museums, world-class technology, multinational companies, research universities, and smaller colleges.
Hamburg. With a population of more than 1.8 million people, Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany. Home to the biggest port in the country, which is also the second busiest in Europe, the city has earned a reputation for being the “Gateway to the World”. Hamburg is characterized by a palpable maritime spirit that is evident in its architecture and gastronomy. Wherever you may be in the city, you will always be reminded of your nearness to the sea. Hamburg continues to enjoy affluence, marked by its status as the wealthiest city in one of the richest countries in the world.
With three grammatical genders, four noun case endings, and winding words that can go as long as Wachstumsbeschleunigungsgesetz, German can be a difficult language to learn. A complex language is best studied in its natural environment. German is among the most widely spoken languages in the European Union, and is the official language of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Germany. An economic powerhouse and a cultural haven, Germany offers an idyllic destination for German language study abroad.
Course Structure. It is possible to take German language courses at language schools, colleges, and universities in Germany. Each institution will entail a different structure, instructor, and set of expectations. Courses may be taught by anyone from University professors to personal tutors. Most importantly, language programs in Germany are available for learners of all fluency levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
Additional Benefits. Students can take advantage of language programs in Germany that turn the wonderful cities of Germany into lively, engaging classrooms, by selecting programs that incorporate cultural immersion activities, excursions, and many more opportunities for unique learning experiences. Some programs may also offer additional academic benefits, like transferable course credits.
Timing. Many language schools in Germany start on any given Monday, while specific programs may be offered during summer or winter terms, providing opportunities for students who have a strict academic schedule or who are unable to spend an entire semester abroad.
Compared to other European countries, the cost of living in Germany is reasonable (especially when taking into consideration its very high standard of living). The prices for clothing, accommodation, food, and leisurely activities approximate the EU average. Language students will need around 650 to 850 Euros to cover monthly expenses, the largest portion of which will cover rent costs. This monthly budget includes the cost of food, rent, and leisure activities, among other things. The cost of living is generally higher in bigger cities, such as Berlin, Munich and Hamburg.
Language programs in Germany are offered for as low as $100 per week. However, those attending a university in Germany should be ready to pay for tuition fees as well as semester fees (between 150 and 250 Euros), which cover social services and other administrative services. The semester fee may also include the “Semesterticket”, which averages at 100 Euros and covers public transport expenses for a period of six months.
Language students are typically offered a variety of housing options, from homestays to apartments to dormitories and student residences. It is usually up to each individual student to decide which housing option is best for them, as accommodation is not normally included.
Most individuals will be required to obtain a visa to attend a language school in Germany, except for EU citizens and those coming from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a handful of other nations. Citizens from the latter countries only need a residence permit, which can be processed at the Aliens Registration office within three months of their arrival in Germany. Citizens from all other countries will need to apply for a visa at a German embassy or consulate in their home country. Language students can apply for one of three visas: a language course visa, a student applicant visa, or a student visa. The type of visa required depends on the structure of the program and the host institution.
Day to Day Living. As it is an affluent European country, the cost of living in Germany can be high. But it still offers quite a bargain compared to other European countries, especially considering the fact that it is one of the richest countries in the world and offers a very high standard of living.
Ease of Travel. Germany is strategically located in the heart of Europe, making it easy to travel to other major destinations in the region before, during, or after your language program.
Culture. Germans are sometimes criticized for being a bit impolite or oblivious of the people around them, foregoing small talk and friendly smiles. But some people appreciate the privacy and respectful distance this kind of attitude affords. Language students will likely come to appreciate Germans’ emphasis on order and structure, as well as the permissive and friendly attitude the locals will eventually reveal.
Future Career. An economically progressive country, Germany produces new employment opportunities on a regular basis. With earning potentials that exceed its cost of living, the country provides leeway for savings and financial freedom, on top of a comfortable lifestyle. German language skills can be your ticket to a career in this economic powerhouse.
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