Only one in ten German students is gripped by wanderlust to such an extent that he or she takes the decision to pack up and set off to learn at a foreign university for one or more terms.
The number is low. The fact that many students have worked hard to build up lucrative sidelines or would not want to be separated from their girlfriends or boyfriends are just two reasons for not wishing to embark on a period of residence abroad. Nevertheless, there will never again be such a good opportunity to immerse oneself in another country's culture and get to know it from a perspective other than that of a tourist. What is crystal clear is that a period of study abroad contributes greatly towards one's wealth of experience. And it features positively in any curriculum vitae. After all, anyone who has managed to get by in a foreign country also demonstrates to a future employer mobility, self-confidence, linguistic competence and tolerance - qualities in increasing demand in international business.
To enable you to cure your wanderlust, POP-UP has brought together some tips and links relating to studying abroad. Incidentally, they do not only apply to German nationals.
Erasmus enables mobility
Most universities have agreed exchange programmes with colleges and universities in other member states. As a result, with support from the European Erasmus programme, opportunities to study at partner universities open up. Forming part of the Community initiative known as Socrates, Erasmus is a programme specifically designed for colleges and universities. Due to the relatively low admission requirements, Erasmus is a common means of getting abroad. Since the participating universities already have experience of Erasmus students, in the main, the students are well looked after. Fellow students who have already spent a term at the partner university are frequently able to pass on a lot of insider tips about the university and the city in which it is located. A further advantage for Erasmus students lies in the fact that the academic achievements at the partner university are recognized in full by the home university, even in cases where the contents of the curricula do not entirely correspond. Study fees which would otherwise be levied in the host country also do not apply. Information on the exchange programmes and Erasmus is often provided directly in the individual faculties or by the Office for International Relations which can be found at nearly every university.
However, the grants provided within the framework of Erasmus do not exactly permit a life of luxury. With the limited budget of about 150 euros it is often only just possible to cover the minimum costs. Whoever is in a position to do so must therefore make use of savings, do casual work in the foreign country or hope for parental support.
The German Academic Exchange Service
The German Academic Exchange Service Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD)) is the central German organization for periods of residence abroad. In over 100 programmes, the DAAD supports students, graduates and academics from home and abroad. Financial assistance is mainly in the form of partial grants for year-long or short periods of residence abroad. The comprehensive websites provide important information for both foreign students wishing to study in Germany and German students attracted by the prospect of studying abroad.
Foreign students can get a general idea of the German college/university system from the "college/university guide". The "admissions database" explains which qualifications are required to embark on a course of studies in Germany. Anyone looking for grants which match his or her profile of academic training is certain to strike it lucky in the "grants database". The pages also provide a brief introduction to Germany. Since the Internet offering is only in German, the DAAD evidently assumes that anyone interested in Germany has already been to the country and has basic command of the German language.
The DAAD also provides German students with abundant information about studying and undertaking research abroad and, above all, about how to prepare for a period of study abroad. A search engine enables the selection of a university in the chosen country. It is then also possible to search the "grants database" for the appropriate financial-assistance programme. The application form can, of course, be downloaded immediately. The DAAD provides grants on the basis of quality criteria. It is therefore absolutely essential to have the necessary proof of academic achievement.