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Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Leaving everything you're familiar with to immerse yourself in a different culture and all that entails makes you not only a more diverse person, it can look really nice on your job resumes. Let's say you've decided on a country; Germany. Now what do you do? Lucky for you this article is going to explain to you just how to study abroad in Germany as an undergraduate.
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The Very First Step
Maybe you were interested in German language. Maybe you just want to immerse yourself in some new culture. Perhaps you want to visit some museums, or see the place where your ancestors came from. Either way, you've decided that you want to go to Germany.
Well, the most obvious question would be; where exactly do you want to go in Germany? There are so many options! In 2009, there were 355 universities and colleges that participated in American exchange programs. There are many, many places for you to choose from.
Do you want to go to Munich? Berlin? How about Stuttgart? They all sound so exciting! Look at the list of cities and try to pinpoint a couple that you're interested in. Remember that there are different dialects, so check and see what you're going to be more comfortable with, based on what you've learned.
The cities with universities (Berlin and Munich are the biggest ones and probably have the best opportunities) are very student friendly with lots of public transportation and affordable living spaces. You might even be able to find some employment. Now you're ready to move on to the next steps.
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Steps to Get There
First, go and see what your school can offer you. Some schools will have programs set in place to help you find a place to go in Germany. They will outline the cost for you, the requirements, and tell you if your country is a good fit for you. If your school does NOT have a program in place for this, you're going to have a more difficult time. You will need to do some private research and weigh the pros and cons. One of the most major requirements is having studied German for at least a year. This is so you'll have an idea what you're getting into and will at least be able to communicate the very basics.
Next, decide what kind of program you'd like to go for. You could go for language immersion, or academic studying, or a summer program. Find out what will fit best into your studies. Perhaps it isn't feasible for you to be gone for a whole semester to learn another language, but you could certainly go for a summer.
If you would like to go for an academic program, make sure you meet the requirements for that university. Also, make sure the credits are going to transfer before you make the decision to go over there. Know that there are also public and private universities. They differ in cost and requirements for entering. German education is slightly different from American. Decide which one is going to be right for you.
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Pros and Cons
The biggest issue you will probably have is cost. It isn't cheap to study aboard, between passport, tuition, room and board, spending money, and plane tickets. It is hard to come up with the money, and not many schools will cover the cost of it. While it is hard to come up with the funds, it is not a decision you will regret.
Some of the other issues people studying abroad run into are; homesickness, which is now easily combated with cell phones and Internet web cam chat capabilities. Culture shock can also be an issue, and so will cultural barriers in making friends. Learn about correct dining etiquette in Germany, so at least that might not be an issue for you!
Also, most programs are full a whole year, or two semesters. Are you going to be comfortable studying away from home for a year? Or is that too much for you?
There are many pros to traveling, however. You get to learn a new language, for one thing, which is a very marketable job skill. You get to be immersed in a new culture and step out of your “comfort zone” and become a more well rounded person. You will make life long friends in a different place, and do something that few people can say they have.
Decide if you want to try and find a host family or maybe live in a dorm in an apartment. Not every university will let you live alone, some require that you stay in their dorms. This is for your safety as well as the peace of mind for everyone involved in your exchange.
Check on your cell phone, too. What are the international charges? Will you even have service in another country? Should you be looking into another service?
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This is a big decision to make. It isn't something that you can do as a whim. It takes a lot of planning and thinking. However, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Studying abroad in Germany is not something you will regret. Hopefully this article has given you more of a breakdown on how to study about in Germany as an undergraduate.