This post will be bilingually-written in English and Bahasa Indonesia, to convince those seeking the opportunity studying abroad to choose Germany as their study destination. The information are mostly derived from personal experience, and various informative websites and blogs for some reality-check (the list is presented at the last part of the post).
I hope you find it useful!
Free education for all!
Starting from early October 2014, with the decision to overturn tuition and fees in Lower Saxony, Germany, all universities is now tuition-free (Forbes, 2014). And not exclusively for Germans only, but also for immigrants coming from various countries. However, you should aware of these conditions:
- For German-language programs, either bachelor, master or doctorate, minimum C1 proficiency in German language is a must to ensure that students can actively participate in the class (this is the part where students have to pay for their own). Students can register to a German-language institution either in home country or in Germany. Prior to enrolling in the university, international students applying for bachelor program in German language also have to enroll in Studienkolleg and pass the entrance test (Feststellungspruefung).
- For International program taught in English, the TOEFL score is a more important requirement. Generally, you need 550 to be able to apply for international program in Germany. Proficiency in German language is not necessarily mandatory, but some programs required a certain minimum proficiency, probably more for the reason to help the students in their daily life. And this is IMPORTANT: some international programs are free while some are not. So, it’s necessary to check first whether your preferred programs is tuition-free or not. But, don’t worry, there are a lot of scholarships offered, for example from DAAD, or other education-supportive organizations like the Ministry of Education in your respective country.
Though it’s tuition-free, each semester the students still have to pay the contribution fee which costs vary in different states of Germany. I remember I paid around 230 Euro every semester. This contribution fee will benefit the students back since most of the money is used to pay the 6-months public transport pass (semester ticket). The remaining fee is used for administration and student organization activities.
Similar high quality in all universities
All universities in Germany possess equal high quality. Some universities may be more known to people because of the historical background or certain achievement in the past and recent years but all in all, they are similar in quality. The lecturers are also highly qualified. Most are professors or doctors with additional comprehensive experience in research, project work and even cooperation with institutions in developing countries (AGEP).
Naturally, the lecturers have their respective teaching style, but generally they are so open to input and feedback from students. Different from Asian culture where teachers are regarded more superior than the students, and students are expected to follow all the instructions without many protests, in Germany (and probably in other European countries as well) teachers are as equal as students. Students can easily talk to the lecturers and complain to them without hesitance if they encounter a poor quality of teaching (which are rarely the case, but I experienced some), because the lecturers are bound to maintain their high quality and improve even more.
Best European country for student
During my 1-year study in Germany, I happened to travel to some neighboring countries and be able to compare living expenses in every country. Without much thought, I was thinking to myself, Germany is really the best country for student. The price of stuffs and the quality it bears is undeniably the best. You can get many stuffs (for example food, student dorm, etc) with cheaper price but still with the best quality.
Returning Experts Programme
If you have completed a study or training, or employed at least two years in Germany and would like to return to your country of origin to take up career there, you can apply for financial support for travel and transport, salary topping up payments, internship allowance or workplace equipment from Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM). For further details about the requirement please refer to this site.
Reliable Transportation System
Despite the transportation workers’ strikes that often happened, Germany’s transportation system is still among the best I have ever experienced so far. Its excellency lies on the punctuality, safety, networks and cleanliness, whether it is in the train, bus or tram. And there are always interesting offers from Deutsche Bahn (DB), the main railway operator in Germany, to travel inside or outside Germany, during weekdays or weekends. For frequent travelers, you can apply for DB Bahn Card and get 25%, 50% or even unlimited travel chances by paying certain amount of Euro for membership.
WHY NORTH RHEIN-WESTPHALIA (NRW)?
Because North Rhine-Westphalia is the current emerging federal state and the most populous state out of the 16 federal states in Germany (around 17,5 million in 2013). It is located in the heart of Europe, in the plains of the Lower Rhine and share borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. Four among Germany’s ten biggest cities (Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen) are located here. You may also known some other cities like Aachen, Bonn, Bochum, Duisburg, Münster, etc, and yes, they are all in NRW, too.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Westphalia was known as ‘Land von Kohle und Stahl’ or the land of coal and steel. After WWII, the Ruhr Region was one of the most important industrial regions in Europe (Wikipedia). The mining sector may have declining at the moment, but NRW is still home to large industrial corporations of world as well as dozens of smaller companies which are leaders in their respective business fields. It is the current economic center of Germany. In 2013 NRW earns EUR 599.8 billion, 21.9 % of the German GDP, putting it at the top of all German federal states, and also generates 4.6 % of the European GDP (EU-28). 16 of the 50 largest companies in Germany are based here, e.g. Bayer, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, E.ON, Metro, Rewe, RWE, ThyssenKrupp. (NRW Invest, http://www.nrwinvest.com/NRW_at_a_glance/)
North Rhine-Westphalia is home to 14 universities and over 50 partly postgraduate colleges with a total of over 500,000 students in 2012 (Wikipedia). Let me tell you the biggest advantage for studying in NRW. All students will get a semester ticket, or student transportation pass which can be used to travel to all cities in NRW by public transportation modes!! That means you can go explore more of the Germany culture in NRW by visiting Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen, Aachen, Bonn, Bochum, Duisburg, Münster, etc for free! I feel like a Hogwarts students with the magic wand. One simple swish (to show the driver or controller my ticket) and I am able to go everywhere around the state without having to spend even one cent for transport. As far as I know, not all states in Germany has this similar policy, in many cases the semester ticket is only valid within the city area only. And you know what? I can even go to Netherlands for free using a direct train from Dortmund to the bordering cities, Enschede. Really exciting, huh?
The most prominent characteristic of Dortmund is of course, Borussia Dortmund (BVB)! The football team is part of a large membership-based sports club with 100,000 members,making BVB the third largest sports club by membership in Germany. Dortmund plays in the Bundesliga, the top tier of the German football league system, and it is one of the most successful clubs in German football history (Wikipedia).
During a year studying in Dortmund, there were considerable number of matches held in Signal Iduna Park Stadium located so close from my student dorm. I happened to witness the thrilling fanaticism that Borussia Dortmund fans are having for their beloved club. From children, to teenager, adults, grandparents, and the city itself are always so enthusiastic to support BVB with all their best efforts. The Borussia Museum and the fan shop of Borussia Dortmund is always crowded. Jersey, t-shirt, jacket and many other souvenirs are sold out easily. I need to struggle a lot to find a perfect shirts for my family and boyfriend.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t ever get the chances to watch a match of Borussia Dortmund during my stay in Germany, so I had not yet able to watch the interesting play of BVB and the enormous support from its supporters with my own eye in the stadium. But anyway, I can’t even stand being in a crowded place for too long, so I doubt that I can manage until the end.
The devotion of German people to football are unquestionably tremendous. I was there when Germany won the World Cup 2014 and heard people screaming during the matches and watched the celebratory fireworks. Again, I chose not to participate in mass-watching or mass-celebration, since it was Ramadhan and the matches time were always coincidentally collide as the ifthar or breaking the fast time.
A good news for football fans from all around the world! Deutsches Fussball Museum (DFB) or Germany’s Football Museum is currently being built in Dortmund since 2013. The construction will finish in 2015 and the museum itself is planned to open during summer next year. So, this is a must visit place for all people coming to Germany and Dortmund particularly. Don’t miss this out! (Too bad, I already move from there. Jeez, why do good things always happen after you leave the place?)
There are so many interesting places in Dortmund, like Phoenix See, Dortmunder U (an art museum which formerly a brewery), Dortmund Zoo, Florianturm, Operahaus, etc. You have to visit them as well.
Dortmunder U (Source: Private Documentation)
Phoenix See, an artificial lake on the former steel works, Phoenix East in Dortmund district Horde. Named after the legendary bird, Phoenix, it symbolizes this area’s rebirth into a better livable one. (Source: Private Documentation)
WHY TU DORTMUND?
When I applied for studying in Germany, I initially thought like this, that I don’t care wherever it is as long as it’s in Germany. But then, after I got accepted in Technische Universität (TU) Dortmund, I realized that I was so grateful to be able to study here. Aside from the mobility advantage for living in NRW, I also enjoyed many facilities from the university which makes my study easier here, such as:
- H-Bahn (“Hängebahn”, or “hanging railway”), a suspended, driverless passenger suspension railway system. The system has been developed by Siemens. This H-Bahn connect north and south campus in only 3 minutes ride (by walking it takes 20-30 minutes). Really makes our mobility easier. I remember when I still lived around South campus and have to go to North Campus on the weekend, it was a torture since it’s not working at that time.
TU Dortmund H-Bahn (Source: Private Documentation)
- Uni-card. Well, it’s most probably like this in the whole Germany but i still find it very fascinating that you can put money on your Uni-card and pay for meals in the cafeteria or copy and print many things with a very cheap price. We can transfer some money from our ATM card to Uni-card using a specific machine. To borrow and return books in the library is also very easy since you just have to scan the barcode and then the system will automatically put the data in your Uni-card.
- Free language course. Really, this is so exciting! I took 2 semesters German language course and also enrolled in Spanish class (but sadly, my schedule didn’t allow me to continue until the end). A girl in my Spanish class even enrolled in 4 different language classes, took advantage of this chance to learn languages for free to the fullest. However, of course it is taught in German, so it’s a challenge for me to learn Spanish in German since my ability in those 2 languages are still not enough.
Well, that’s basically it. There are a lot more reasons to study in Germany, NRW, Dortmund and TU Dortmund. Just browse for it and feel free to ask if you have any question, I’ll do my best to help you find the answer. And since I only lived in Germany for a year, please correct me if you find any inaccurate information.
Now, let me treat you to an interesting video from BBC about living in Germany, ‘Make Me a German’.
Further information about studying in Germany can be checked in these websites:
The post version in Bahasa Indonesia will be updated soon.