Germany has long been a popular destination to study abroad. It has more than 300 institutions of higher education throughout the country, has a fascinating history, and is relatively affordable. Study abroad in Germany and you can learn or improve your German language skills, get international business experience with an internship, or work at a startup.
Many students also choose to study abroad in Germany for its central location and ease of transport to neighboring countries.
Germany's contributions to western culture through the arts, business, technology, and research still continue to be celebrated today. Now a multicultural society, we hope you feel inspired by Germany's successes and choose to study abroad in Germany.
Although you could certainly spend your time studying abroad in a smaller German city, the most popular destinations include:
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.
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 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.
Planning Your Trip
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.
Housing in Germany
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.
If you have to organize your housing independently (which is typical if you directly enroll in a program), you can find furnished student apartments across Germany through UniPlaces.
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!
Language and Customs
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.
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.
- German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD): Offers various types of scholarships, grants, and fellowships for study and research in Germany; support ranges from 3-week courses to support for an entire degree program.
- Congress - Bundestag Youth Exchange Program: This all-inclusive scholarship program facilitates cultural exchange for American and German young adults in a variety of fields, and is a year long program that includes support for intensive language instruction, university classes, and a related internship.
- Are you a part of the national German honor society, Delta Phi Alpha? If so, hightail it over to their website and apply for one of their scholarships!
- As a non-profit, the various USAC study abroad scholarship opportunities aim for students to gain international experience -- without breaking the bank.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
Study Abroad Programs in Germany
What is it like living in Germany?
Living in Germany, depending on the region, can offer huge variations in your day-to-day experiences and routine. There are numerous articles written on modern-day German life and culture, and they're mostly very accurate.
Regarding the language barrier, there are always solutions to "bridging the gap". Although most Germans speak at least some English and often another additional language, you will face moments where German language skills are required. The best advice is to never give up learning and bettering your German at every given opportunity. Just remain patient, learn to accept that sometimes you won't be able to properly communicate, and most importantly, learn to be okay with making mistakes.
Is living in Germany expensive?
Compared to other European nations, the cost of living in Germany is actually quite reasonable. Rent tends to be on the lower end of the spectrum, and Berlin is recognized as being one of the most affordable capital cities on the continent. Generally, you can expect to need around $1,000 a month to cover all living expenses, including rent.