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Frothy beer unites Germany's contrasts of old and new, and with more than 300 institutions of higher education throughout the country, Germany makes an ideal location for a student abroad interested in procuring general German language skills or learning new, worldly perspectives for his or her field of study. Germany's contributions to western culture through the arts, business, technology, and research still continue to be celebrated today.
Since the end of the 80s, a more unified Germany has emerged on the international stage as one of the continent's largest economic players. Now a multicultural society, we hope you feel inspired by Germany's successes (especially if the lederhosen doesn't do it for you)!
Many factors will influence your selection for a study abroad program in Germany. A handle of the language will undoubtedly make your experience studying there more interesting. Many students choose to study abroad in Germany solely for its central location and ease of transport to neighboring countries. However, there are many things to see in Germany, and its many diverse cities and regions should not be overlooked! To add to your study abroad experience in Germany, we recommend you think critically about the following factors.
1) Language: While English may be the most prominently used language in business, it is actually German that surges ahead as the most commonly spoken first language in Europe. It is spoken in the neighboring countries of Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Belgium, as well as the smaller nations of Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. Want to see Europe on a grander scale? Prioritize studying German while you are in Germany, and take advantage of any available language classes or tutoring opportunities outside of your program's offering.
2) Housing in Germany: Choosing where to set up camp during your time abroad will affect the outcome of your experience. Some students opt to live with other students participating in their study abroad program, building relationships with friends from their home university or from their home country. Other students prefer living in international student dormitories, as the environment is cosmopolitan, challenging, and inspiring. Still other students swear by homestays for more cultural immersion and support for language acquisition.
Regardless of where you decide to live, feel motivated to take advantage of opportunities to expose yourself to the local culture. Some programs will give you many options for your living preference, such as CEA's Berlin program. Other programs, such as IES Abroad's semester in Freiburg already organize living in a private suite with German or international roommates. There are a wide variety, so research will be your best method for deciding which living situation fits you best.
3) Immersion and Cultural Activities: Germany has a plethora of museums, forests, and small cities all worth visiting. While some students prefer to organize these excursions on their own, some do not even know where to start.
That's where programs step in. Some study abroad providers will do the work for you - planning events and weekend activities to complement your studies. IES Abroad's Berlin program offers an optional week-long trip around central Europe. GlobaLinks takes it a step further by allowing students to select up to three different cultural activities in addition to the included four.
Reflect on your degree of interest in being responsible for organizing your own activities. Sometimes, it is nice to have another person do all the planning so you can just enjoy, while other times you are taken to a place you would not have liked to go in the first place. Familiarize yourself with activity schedules so you can make the right decision.
Be sure to check out the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) for more information on how to select a program!
More than 80% of the German population live in an urban environment. That being said, it is easy to imagine the differences that abound when considering what part of country to study abroad in.
BERLIN: Known as a cultural powerhouse, the city of Berlin is robust with museums, cultural sights, theaters, restaurants, and night clubs. Berlin has frequently hosted unique festivals, concerts, and art exhibitions, and is the epicenter of the recently unified nation. Lovers of creativity will find Berlin to be mesmerizing. Full of both historic and modern architecture, you can see Germany's diverse populations here first-hand.
MUNICH: Located in the southern part of Germany, this big city offers more than just an annual beer fest. Home to the largest student population in the country, you and your friends can spend your free time exploring some of Germany's most beautiful gardens, decorated orchestras, and Baroque architecture. Known for being a friendly city, Munich is an unforgettable city in Germany's Bavarian-influenced region.
FRANKFURT: Frankfurt has become a economic powerhouse for western Germany with a booming business center. This metropolis is steeped with history, and the skyline of its financial district simply enchants. Shopping and jazz are also a mainstay in Frankfurt culture - it's said that the city center's Zeil is the busiest retail street in all of Germany! Sip on locally brewed apple wine as you soak in this big city's small town feel.
Germans are known for being hardworking and efficient - you will not find afternoon naps or late arrivals in this work-oriented nation. Its dedication to timeliness is seen best in the punctuality of its transit system (a tip that will come in handy if you're running a little late for your weekend train!)
The Renaissance played an important part in Germany's history and continues to be influential today, as many famous pieces by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Monet, among others, can be found in one of Germany's abundant museums. Even contemporary modern art has made a name for itself, with pop artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein proudly showcased. An appreciation for art is an understatement for the German people.
Beer and Volkswagens are not the only great things Germany has to offer the world. Spend your Euros wisely and invest in a semester of study in this lively nation!
Since financing all of those weekend jaunts to nearby places or second servings of sausage may cost a pretty penny, these scholarship may be worth applying to help offset your costs.