Germany is home to more than just Hefeweizen and Currywurst. There’s also football stadiums, gummy bears, fast cars, and Lederhosen in the mix. On top of all that, Germany is one of the world’s most dynamic countries and is extremely welcoming to international students (to the tune of free tuition!). Germany is also a major player in the global trade market, has the EU’s largest economy, boasts a world class education system, and functions with bureaucratic perfection. If career plans are contributing to your decision to study abroad, Germany warrants your consideration, big time!
Germany is chock-full of fun cities to explore and study abroad in, all of them brimming with potential for new educational adventures. Regardless of where you decide to have your next housewarming party, you will be able to explore the rest of the country with its superb transportation system. Leave it to the German values of organization and efficiency!
As the country’s capital, Berlin adds some serious momentum to the world’s creative industry. With a rate of immigration that contends with the United States, Germany’s cultural atmosphere is consistently diverse and innovative. Berlin’s rich history stretches far beyond Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall. If you’re not into basking in the ghostly past of the Cold War, you can take a stroll through the impressive zoo, gawk at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, and chill out at all of the artsy cafes in East Berlin. Don’t forget to wave at the uniquely-designed traffic light men (Ampelmännchen), who will appear on every street corner and souvenir.
On the northern sea, Hamburg has been identified as one of Europe’s hottest cities for new music, discos, and restaurants. See a musical on Lion King Island or stroll along the port with an afternoon stop at the Maritime Museum. In the summer, check out Hamburger Dom, a festival full of amusement rides and endless sausage varieties.
The Bavarian Alps never disappoint. In the summer, hike through the green mountains. In the winter, see a white winterland, complete with Christmas markets, hot chocolate, and some Pfeffernusse on the side. Get your history on by visiting some of Germany’s 25,000 castles, all with their own distinct architectural characteristics (if visiting the Disney castle is on your bucket list, don’t miss Neuschwanstein).
As the Bavarian capital, Munich is well-known for its tech industry and traditional Oktoberfest celebrations, (as well as the Big Six, to get your hop on year-round). If you would like to get out the industrialized cities, consider studying abroad in dreamy Heidelberg, in the middle of the big, scary Black Forest. Fairytales really do come true here (Michael Fassbender was born here as proof).
Study Abroad Programs in Germany
With universities being as large and plentiful as they are in Germany, there is no shortage or lack of variety when it comes to course offerings. Whatever you decide to study in Germany, you will receive an excellent education in a top-notch environment.
One of Germany’s most progressive study abroad opportunities is for students in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math. Study abroad for STEM majors can be challenging; however, Germany’s sophisticated science initiatives and standards of practice make it possible for many international STEM students to earn the appropriate credits to fulfill their degree requirements back home. Humanities also rank high, though Germany has also been a wonderful destination for foreign language and international business in recent years.
Although some universities offer courses so students can study in Germany in English, it is advisable that you learn some German if you plan to study abroad in Germany. While it might seem complicated and full of long words, its structure and rules are very consistent (not like English’s many rule exceptions). There are plenty of resources available for students who want to learn German before they study in Germany, and the effort will be most appreciated by local professors.
Germany has a fairly temperate climate and there is something for everyone at each point of the seasonal calendar. If you like sunny hikes through the Alps and long bike rides, study abroad in Germany during the summer session. The winter months may get cold, but there are always the colorful Weihnachtsmärkte (with their mulled wine and wooden tree ornaments), high ski slopes, and beautiful photography opportunities of snow on snow on snow!
Scholarships & Costs
Standards of living are good in Germany, and very reasonably priced. Keep in mind that the major cities in western Germany typically have a higher cost of living than eastern Germany, however; but, there are still affordable supermarkets, plenty of student discounts, and great service value throughout the country. Clothing and transportation are pretty standard fares (do take advantage of the €1 cross-country special bus fares!), and there are always public cultural events to partake in.
Due to great governmental funding and a more independent educational style in Germany, fewer university services mean fewer study fees! Specifics costs vary by program, university, and length of instruction, but compared with your current tuition rates, study abroad programs in Germany will be a financial dream come true (there’s even rumors of international students qualifying for free education!). You’ll save even more by directly enrolling in a German university. However, if you are interested in transferring credits back home, be sure to double-check with your current institution prior to filling out any applications, as the process sometimes gets lost in translation.
Germany’s DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst), promotes the country as a premier study abroad destination, providing generous scholarships to qualified foreign student. Be sure to peruse (and apply for!) scholarships for study abroad in Germany.
Accommodations & Visas
While it’s phenomenal news to discover how low the cost of university tuition can be in Germany, accommodation is where finances may be a little more challenging. Campus housing and on-site accommodation are not typically part of university enrollment in Germany, so students must find a place to live on their own. This makes it very important to begin the search sooner rather than later, before spots fill up. Of course, if you select a study abroad program in Germany offered by a program provider, one of the helpful services they will offer is accommodation arrangements.
Most study abroad programs in Germany offer a homestay experience, which is great for cultural immersion and language learning. If students opt for some more independence, the common shared student residence will set you back around €200 to €300 a month. Usually, students have their own room, with a shared kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Apartments are a great way to meet other students and split utility costs. Don't’ forget DAAD, which also has helpful information about locating accommodation options for international students. While this is one of the more challenging aspects of study abroad in Germany, once it is sorted, the rest is as straight-forward and delightful as a slice of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte!
Visa requirements depend on your specific citizenship and the length of time you play to study in Germany; check out GoAbroad’s German Embassy Directory to get more specific information. You can also consult with your home university advisor, a program counselor, or the German university you are interested in.
Benefits & Challenges
Anyone who decides to study abroad in Germany should be prepared for culture shock, but this is a good thing! Much like in other parts of Europe, university, academics, and social life will probably be different than what you’re used to in Germany. Students are expected to be much more intrinsically-motivated and self-monitored. Classes are large and punctuality is essential. One-on-one interaction with professors can be limited, and campus life remains focused on academics, while social activities, parties or excursions are experienced out of one’s own initiative, rather than that of a student-life body or residential program.
Do go enjoy a social life while studying abroad in Germany though! German students appreciate the value of focusing on the activity at hand and being active in the present task or moment. When they’re studying they are really studying, and when they are celebrating, they are REALLY celebrating! While there is a stereotype of Germans being cold and distant, it’s not true. It might take a few more smiles, but once you make a friend, it’s a friend for life (and endless party invitations). It’s also great to note the vast diversity of the student body in Germany (everybody loves Deutschland), so there is a very open-minded and inclusive atmosphere.
The very best bits of Germany will be in the surprise scenarios that an international student comes across while living in their new environment. Learn more than just the subjects of your study abroad curriculum or how to pick the proper lager. Get moving and grooving to discover ways to expand your approach to lifelong learning. You’re sure to make some great friends along the way!