What I Loved Most About Studying Abroad In Germany
I guess a better question would be “What didn’t I love about studying abroad in Germany”? The year I spent as a student in Germany has completely shaped my world view, and forever changed the way that I live my life. There are countless things that I loved about my host country, but here are a few:
While many Germans may seem initially reserved, the ones that I met while studying abroad were nothing but welcoming, kind, and fun. My German friends taught me a lot about the culture, but also lessons about life and new ways of doing and seeing things.
Cheap Train Travel
Schönes Wochenende (Have a Nice Weekend) tickets are available for those who are willing to spend a little more time on a train for a much cheaper fare. I spent so many weekends taking advantage of these tickets traveling to Berlin, Munich, Prague, Strasbourg, and many more cities. The ease with which you can travel throughout Germany and the rest Europe is an amazing advantage to a study abroad student.
I need to begin by saying that I LOVE GERMAN. Yes, it’s true that telling someone that you love them in German may sound like a threat to a non-German speaker. But German is also a beautifully crafted and exact language that is philosophical at its core.
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, and for good reason. Anyone who enjoys the Christmas season or just likes good food, drinks, and beautiful lights can have a great time. There are tons of fun things to do like shopping from booth to booth, people-watching, drinking Glühwein (hot wine) or Kinderpunsch (the non-alcoholic version of Glühwein), and taking in the beautiful sights.
Parks and Forests Everywhere
Germans value their time in nature, and put a lot of focus on maintaining green spaces in their cities. A great advantage to studying abroad in Germany is that no matter how large your host city is, you will always find plenty of parks and forests nearby.
Pace of Life
While Germans are known for being hard-working, they also know when it is time to disconnect from work and enjoy life. On average, Germans enjoy 1-3 months of paid vacation per year. Business hours are generally strict, and stores tend to close earlier than those in the United States. Many businesses will be closed on Sundays, or will at least have shorter operating hours, and everything will shut down on major holidays. Overall there seems to be a healthier sense of work/life balance in Germany than we see in the United States.
Efficiency and Order
Germans are all about efficiency and order, which can be seen everywhere – the public transportation system, the cleanliness of the cities, the maintenance of homes, and the speed of transactions.
Germany offers three types of public transportation; the S-Bahn (the Subway/Metro), the U-Bahn (an above-ground city train), and buses. All three modes of transportation are typically very clean, easy to use, and far-reaching.
Diverse Student Population
Students from all over the world go to Germany to study, which creates a great opportunity to meet people with different cultural backgrounds. I made friends from many different countries while studying abroad with whom I am still great friends to this day.
Arts & Classical Music
Germany has a special place in its culture for the arts, specifically classical music. From Beethoven to Bach, to Handel to Mendelssohn, Germany has a great tradition of producing and performing classical music. Free and very inexpensive concerts are easy to find in most cities.
Having a student status in Germany opens you up to many discounts and breaks. Showing your student ID at most museums for example will typically get you in either for free, or at a dramatically discounted price. When going to concerts, museums, tourist sites, etc. don’t be afraid to ask if there is a student discount.
Kristyn O. is CEA’s Student Services Coordinator. She studied abroad in Stuttgart, Germany, majoring in German and International Studies.