Advice for when you are Studying Abroad

In my previous blog post I wrote about how to prepare yourself before leaving to study abroad. Now that I covered what I think are the most important things to consider before leaving your home country, it is time to give you my experiences what to do once you arrive at the destination where you are gonna study and live for a part of your life. Student years as they say are the best years of the life so make them count and make the most of them while you are studying abroad.

Settle in: finding accommodation

Finding accommodation is not easy if you haven’t registered for a room at the host University or haven’t searched online for a flat or room mates. But don’t despair, just stay a few nights in a hostel while you look for apartments. Anyway the best thing I think is to see do yourself what kind of place you are going to rent and meet the people you will live with then get some un-pleasant surprise.

German universities don’t have many rooms in their dormitories and some Universities don’t have dormitories at all, unlike other countries where all the students can stay at the dormitories. But, if you like to live near fellow peers and collages register for a room at the Student Service or the International Office who will help you find accommodation. As you can imagine rooms are great, I have a friend who stays there and love it. One of the good things is that you have access to free Internet, TV subscription and many other amenities that will cost you quite a bit if you live alone like I do.

A very popular choice in Germany is to share the apartment among students and split the cost of living, split rent as well as daily necessitates, such as groceries and so on. This is called Wohngemeinschaften in German are flats that you share with few people. You share the kitchen and the bathroom but everybody has their own room and this guarantees some privacy as well as a place for safe storage of personal things. It is great for meeting new people and making friends too. Expect to pay from 150 to 350 Euro a month depending with how many people you share the apartment as well as the place of the city you rent.

The last option and in many cases a little costly is to live by yourself, rent an apartment just for you. This way you have full privacy and you set the rules of the place you live. No one to bother you or in rare cases having a somewhat difficult to deal with room mate. But, this can cost a lot. Particularly in Munich where there is a great demand for apartments since it is a very desirable place, but there are not enough apartments to fill the demand. But with time and persistence you can find a nice place to stay during your studies if you search enough and be patient. Of course everything has a price too, depending on the area of the city expect to pay different prices. Some of the things to consider are when renting an apartment: the state of the building, if it has a balcony, closer to U-Bahn station, shopping malls, markets, attractions and so on.

Working while you study

It is certainly doable to work while you study, and foreign students have the right to work part-time in Germany. And according to the latest survey by the International Student Service two thirds of the students work while they are in University. Just make sure not to neglect your studies and you’ll be fine. Working part-time is not only great for students to get some extra income to finance their life and studies, but also get to know more of their local place they stay and the German culture as well as learn German. While you are in contact with customers most of the time you will be forced to use German and thus in no time learn it. Don’t be afraid nor feel uneasy when you have to speak in German and worry that your accent will give you up, the important thing is to talk as much as possible to increase your chance to get to learn German. It would really be a shame if you left Germany without at least learning the basics.

There are many places where you can look for a job, some of the are: the notice boards at University halls, ask at Student Services, ads placed at local newspapers or at places where students hang out: such as the University, dormitories halls, the caffees and restaurants, markets and so on. Keep an eye on all these to fin a job you like to do and earn extra cash, but don’t forget to check on the Internet as well. There are sites that have ads for vacant positions on any job you can think of, placed by people who know students will be a great addition to their team or local business while you are there for some time.

Another great thing while you work part-time is that you prepare yourself for the professional working world. Yes, you et to see many aspects while working such as the importance of being punctual , correct, the importance of customer satisfaction and so on. After you come back to your home country and apply for jobs or internship’s you should add your study abroad experience – the skills and experiences you have gained – as well as how working and studying abroad has shaped your personality. Companies nowadays are looking for employees who have experience in living and studying abroad since that shows them your persistence, adaptability to new cultures and surrounding and if you learn a new language that will show your desire to try new things as well as not be afraid to tackle on new challenges with confidence. Working while studying in Germany has so many advantages that really you should try to get a job and reap the rewards while in Germany and afterwards when you go back home or in another country – be it for continuing your studies, working or getting an internship.

This was part two of the series on tips and advice for studying abroad – particularly Germany. I hope this has been useful to you and continue checking this blog as I will write more about how it is to live here and what to do in certain situation – if and when I come across them. Stay tuned for more folks and fellow students.

 

18. July 2013 by Koyotie
Categories: Study in Germany | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips for Preparing to Study Abroad

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Hi dear readers, I posted a lot, but forgot to share with you the first time I came to Munich. Just a general overview of what I feel it is important to do to prepare yourself for the studying abroad (mentally besides packing and finances) and what to do once you arrive: all the registration with University student services, authorities and finding a place to stay amongst others. So let me break it down.

Get your friends contact info: Before leaving home I made sure to tell all my friends who haven’t seen in a while that I will be going so I can say proper goodbyes as well as get heir contact info – mainly telephone numbers as well as e-mails – so I can stay in touch with them. With Internet practically everywhere, and in many places for free, I can talk and text them anytime I need to catch up on things after some time. No everybody has has smartphones and laptops and with free applications like Skype and Viber staying in touch has never been easier. There is also the option to buy a local SIM card in Germany (or whatever place you are studying) so you can talk for cheaper than having you phone number that you used while in your home country. It is cheaper and you can some nice deals for students.

Don’t take too many things: I recommend you pack light, don’t make the mistake of taking too much and dragging all the heavy luggage through all the airport terminals, taxis and buses and aeroplanes, when you will eventually buy whatever you need when you arrive. In Munich there are many flea markets where you can buy things relatively cheap and it beats having to carry 3 or 4 languages with you. Yep, I have seen people with THAT many stuff on them, it’s just crazy and not practical at all.

Have all the documents with you: Double check you have all the necessary documents in safe place. You have no idea how much headache has caused me to forget the registration paper of the dorm room and Germans being the way they are – call it precision or just bureaucratic nightmare – I couldn’t register for a room so the first night I spend at a cheap hostel. This turned out to be good in fact, because I now have found a place where I live by myself. Make sure you take all your documents that you will need to register for services in your University. It may sound obvious but we lose or forget something like I did, so just a friendly reminder not to make the same mistake as I did.

Be prepared with local things: Another thing to do is to get some local things, such as money and a dictionary. You don’t want to get stuck at the airport without Euro at nigh and no exchange in sight. Exchange money for Euro at your home city, so you have some money for the basics things such as transportation and food and drinks, before you settle at your place or at the dormitories. I recommend you take a dictionary and a map of the city as well as a map of local transportation (buses and metro: called U-Bahn in Germany). This way when your first few days will be easier to navigate through the city and know the schedule of local transportation as well as places you will have to go, like to your University to register with at the International Student Office and the authorities. You will have to check in with the Aliens Office and register your duration of stay and the purpose. You will have no problems since you are a student.

Learn the local language: A dictionary will help you if you by any chance miss a bus stop or two and get stuck at a place of the city that you don’t know much about and need to ask for directions. A better thing for you is to learn a basic German before leaving home, such as by going o a course or my favourite smartphone application: DUOLINGO. In a few weeks to a month I learned all the basic German words, as well as pronunciation and spelling. You will learn the language while you stay there, I mean you will be in contact with the locals in many places so just get the basics down and you will get better at it as times go s by. Just don’t forget to give it your best and try as much as you can to learn the language or you will come back home with little.

Prepare mentally: OK you will get homesick no matter how exited you are now of the prospect that you will be living in a different and new and exiting place. So a thing that works for me is to write down a list of the things that I chose to study abroad that far away from home and family and friends. That way whenever you will get a little homesick you have a good reminder to go on and not give up. Another aspect you will have to think about is how will you deal with your boyfriend or girlfriend if you are in a relationship. If you will stay just for one semester abroad as an exchange you will have it easier than those who stay longer. Long distance relationships are hard so before you leave home talk with you partner and maturely decide what will you do. Sometimes it is necessary and a better idea to give your relationship an end and not live with the illusion that few years are nothing and you will get back together again. Thing in the long run, it may turn for the best, you may meet a local girl or guy and hit it off and from there on form an unexpected great and wild relationship. So be open to new things and new people and you will be rewarded with great new experiences.

This is for the first part of the study abroad experience, it turned out longer since I had to say more than time permits, so that’s why I decided to divide this post into two parts so the second part will be about what to do and how to handle things when you arrive.

15. July 2013 by Koyotie
Categories: Study in Germany | Tags: | Leave a comment

26 awesome apps for students (and anyone else)

Smartphone
I’m addicted to my smartphone I admit, I take the phone with me anywhere I go. At the same time I also download a lot of apps, try them out and what is not worth it, it goes to the trash bin… erm.. I mean they get un instaled.

So for your pleasure I compiled this list of top free and great apps that you should use. I divided the apps into different categories, and they all made it on my list because they affected me in a good way.

PRODUCTIVITY

1. Wunderlist – One of the best and easiest way to manage and create to-do lists. Whether you are creating a grocery list, planning a weekend travel or study materials, this app for Android and iPhones will help you get things done.

2. Clear – Similar to Wunderlist, Clear is a to-do-list app that is easy, quick and simple to use. For iPhones.

3. Evernote – An easy-to-use free app that helps you stay organized across all devices. Evernote let’s you take notes, find and organize articles, photos, PDF’s from the web as well as record voice reminders. All your collections are organized into “notebooks” and searchable so you find whatever you need quick and easy.

4. Dropbox – With this app you can save files, photos, videos and sync them across all your devices as well as share stuff with others. It’s like having a virtual thumb drive.

5. Simplenote – as the name suggests Simple note is a simple yet powerful and great to use note maker app.

6. Pocket – Is a super savvy app, it lets you create and organize all your content you find in one easy place. It used to be called “Read It Later, but in this new form it is way better and cooler. Pocket does a great job of stripping websites to text only and saving them to your smartphone for offline reading.

STUDY

7. Kindle – Read kindle books, newspapers, magazines, textbooks and PDF’s on a beautiful and easy-to-use interface. You’ll have access to millions of books in the kindle store.

8. Goodread – discover new books by your favorite authors, genres as well as what your friends have read. A large community with reviews, recommendations and “bookshelves” is perfect for every student.

9. iFormulas – With this app you can make your life and studying easier at classes such as Algebra, Calculus, Chemistry, Trigonometry etc. In the app you will find over 380 formulas, definitions etc.

10. Quick Graph – This is one of the best graphical calculators. It is a powerful, high quality calculator that can display explicit and implicit equations as well as inequities in 2D and 3D.

11. Wikipedia – Easy to find free app for anything you may come across during your studies or assignments. Access a plethora of knowledge shared for free.

12. Class Timetable: This app is a great companion for school and university classes. It let’s you keep track of classes of your weeks schedule and is great way to manage your weekly schedule.

TRAVEL

13. Kayak – With this application you can access thousand of popular travel sites to read guides, find accommodation and compare flights. Find the right flight, the perfect hotel, and even manage your whole travel itinerary with this app.

14. XE Currency – This application is sleek, easy to use and best of all – free. It uses live data so you can be sure all information is correct. It supports virtually all the world currencies so no matter what place you might find yourself at the XE app will have you covered for the money exchange rate needs.

15. Weather Channel App – All the info you need to know about weather, anyway you want it. This application is available for Android and iOS phones and it’s free. One of the most popular weather applications to date, with a beautiful and very easy to use interface.

16. TripIt – TripIt is a travel itinerary organizer and manager app. Store all your plane tickets, hotel booking, car rentals and anything to plan your trip in one master online itinerary.

17. SeatGuru – This application will help you find the perfect place you want to travel on a plane. Airlines can’t be trusted with your seat arrangement as they will change places at the last minute depending on their clientèle.

18. Field trip – With Field Trip app on your smartphone it is like having your own tour guide or a know-it-all local that will show you all the hidden and unique places and attractions that you surely would miss if you did find yourself to a new city by your own.

LIFESTYLE & SOCIAL

19. Instagram – What the point of taking all the beautiful and amazzing pictures of the cool places you visit if they are gonna stay in your memory card. Get Instagram, the app that will let you share your view of the world with everyone.

20. Viber – With app you can talk and text for free with anyone on the world as long as you have an interent connection. It is great for staying in touch with friends and family back home as well as colegues.

21. WhatsApp – The ost popular instant mesaging app, you can text and chat with all your contact for free. Just load the app and it willl show you all your friends who are using WhtaApp with just converting your contact list phone numbers.

22. PicsArt – Discover your inner artist is the slogan of the app and is not far from the truth. Than get this app that will turn your phone into an all-in-one professional photo editor.

23. Flickr – Get this app to share your photos with world, discover new ones and with the re-launch of the site comes a new beautiful app and 1 Terabyte of free space. With tons of features, filters and the community this is one great app.

GAMES

24. TempleRun – This is a great infinte running game. You have four characters to run with and as long as you dodge obstacles and not fall you complete challenges. A great app when you are on the train or have some free time to kill.

25. Lazors – On this game you have to move blocks in a certain way so that they enable the lasers to get out and complete a level. This app is really beautiful, slick interface and cool sound effects. You can see the creators have put a lot of though on the design of the game.

26. Angry Birds – You have all heard of the game Angry Birds and that’s why I will not describe it. It’s great to have some fun while you are waiting for someone.

13. July 2013 by Koyotie
Categories: Technology | Tags: , , | 1 comment

Amazing places to visit in Munich

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By Pamela Gipson
I know I am not doing a justice to city like Munich with a list like this. By no means this is a all-inclusive list of all the places and attractions you can visit at this magnificent city, but these are just a few of the top of my head that I have visited or feel the need for others to know about.

BMW Welt

BMW World is a unique car attraction in Germany by one the best car makers in the world: BMW. I love BMW cars and that;s why I include the BWM World on the first spot of the list. Not only car enthusiast or those interested in engineering, but everyone will find this place amazing.

The Allianz Arena

Home of the FC Bayern Munich club, watching a game at the stadium with other 70000 soccer fans is not to be missed. Besides Bundesliga games, Championship League and other international games are played here and a cool thing about the stadium is that at night the light glow can be seen from far and it’s really beautiful. A truly modern stadium.

Oktoberfest

Living in Germany and not mentioning the Bavarian beer festival would be a crime. It is held every year in September/October at Theresienwiese grounds. Since the first Oktoberfest held in 1810 to celebrate a royal wedding it has become the world famous beer festival.

The English Garden

The English garden is one of the most beautiful and largest inner city parks in Germany. This amazing attraction has a great appeal all year long, but especial during the summer. Be sure to stop by the Chinese pagoda and have a German brew at the beer garden.

Marienplatz

Marienplatz is the main square of Munich and is dominated by Gothic architecture, especially the New Town Hall with the great facade. This is the place to go shopping at the shopping malls and street markets. A place to relax at many restaurants, coffees and beer gardens.

Deutsche Museum

The Museum of Science and Technology is one of the kind of so many (around 4000) museums in Germany. You won’t get bored at this museum but instead learn so much, have tons of fun and surely leave informed and entertained.

The Olympic Park

The impressive Olympic Park that boasts around 850,000 square meters is not only a place for sporting events. There are flea markets, cultural events, concerts and community events.

Nymphenburg Palace

The Nymphenburg Palace is located west of Munich and is one of the largest castles in Europe. It was used as a summer house by the Bavarian monarchs. It is an impressive palace, with an baroque architecture and not to be missed.

Frauenkirche

This amazing Gothic cathedral know also as the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady or the “Dom zu unserer Lieben Frau” in German is a sight not to be missed and an unmistakable symbol of the city of Munich.

In Munich there are so many things to do, places to visit, traditional dishes to eat and of course try a homemade beer. This was just a collection of places worth to visit so make sure if you ever come to the great city of Munich to go there.

10. July 2013 by Koyotie
Categories: Travel in Germany | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make it in germany with the Blue Card

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Hey all, as you already know I study Software Engineering in Germany because of the future employability prospect. Yes it’s great to be studying in a field that I love and a t the same time that is in demand almost everywhere, especially the wester countries such as Europe and North America. Today I want to tell you a little about the Blue Card, what it is, the benefits and what you can do do get a change to get one. I have been in Germany for a while and have collected as much info as I could from friends and colleagues from the University so please read on to find out how you too can come and work in Germany.

What is the Blue Card

The Blue Card is designed to make Europe an attractive place for highly skilled workers from outside the EU. With a shortage of highly skilled workers the European Union member states expect United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark sought out to entice skilled professionals to come and work in Europe, with a single work and residence permit, while easing the requirements for successful immigration of non-EU nationals as well as favorable family reunion options.

While in the past people immigrated toward North America, particularly United States of America and Canada because of great chance of success in working in a field they love and strengthen their career, the EU made the Blue Card system, akin to the Green card of USA. The Blue card is not about a fixed number of people that a country will decide to give out to people, but attracting workers in fields of work where there is shortage in European companies such as engineering, medicine, science, IT, telecommunication, mathematics etc.

Germany has implemented the Blue Card legislation fully in April 2012 and since then many workers wishing to live and work in Germany have applied for the Blue Card and thus gotten a residence permit.

Some of the benefits of Blue Card

An important thing to note is that you need a university degree from your home country that is comparable to that of Germany or the European Union or work experience and training and you will get the same salary as German nationals doing the same job.

German language knowledge is a must, many companies will hire employers with English only, but those are international companies that have multi-ethnic employees. Nevertheless on job boards you will see that you need to know and speak German on a working professional level in order to have an advantage in securing a job.

The Blue Card is awarded for a duration of 1 to 4 years but if your work contract is less than 4 years than you get a Blue Card for the duration of your work and extra 3 months. You can apply for a permanent residence permit after 3 years, or if you know German to the B1 level cording to the European Union language proficiently and ability assessment which is the intermediate level you have the right to apply in 2 years. Before this you had to wait 5 years before having the right to apply for a residence permit.

Other benefit include that the relatives of the Blue Card holders also have the right to work in Germany without a delay as long as they are qualified and family reunion has been made even easier – now your marriage partner doesn’t need to know German to get a visa and live with you in Germany, while until now to get a visa even if you were married your partner had to know German, even if only at a basic level.

On to you

With so many companies in Germany hiring skilled workers your chance to live and work in one of the most financially stable and strong countries in Europe has never been easier. I hope this post was informational and helpful. Drop a comment on what you think about working in Germany so we can all benefit.

07. July 2013 by Koyotie
Categories: Work in Germany | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My reasons for studying in Germany

Germany Flag
Hey all, I wanted my first blog post to be about how and why I decided to come half-across the world from Japan to study in Germany, particularly in Munich. For starters I have always been very found of Europe and have visited a lot of places here such as France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, but Germany is a special place for me (no, it’s not about a girl) but about the welcoming spirit towards international students, the great education system and the amazing student life.

I love technology and science and that’s why back home I have studies Computer Science and always wanted to get my Master’s degree in Germany, particularly at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Now LMU is the epitome of what I mean by great education system. It is one of the top universities in the world and the Europe’s most prestigious university. From here 34 Nobel laureates have studied or were associated with. Amongst them being Max Planck who originated the Quantum Theory – and me being a nerdfighter and science aficionado – I had to study at the place where one of the greatest physicist to have ever lived had studied and lectured.

Also the faculty of Computer Science is geared towards the top two percent of students of Computer Science and am lucky and humbled to be accepted to study here. My courses are all taught in English and I have to thank my parents for enrolling me in English courses since the 5th grade. This place is full of international students from all over the world, LMU is the second largest university in Germany with 15% of the students coming from different places in the world so I feel great among so many different cultures and people. Germans are so excepting of everyone, no matter where we are from or how new to the country we are.

Because of the low tuition fees I am able to live in my own flat and explore a lot of places in Munich. This place is vibrant and cosmopolitan and speending my student years here is short of amazing. This is another reason I would advice my fellow students from abroad to consider Germany, can you believe that I am paying for a world-class education for only 100 Euros a semester. Sure I have to pay for medical insurance, transportation, rent and such but at the end of the month I have enough left to travel and do activities I love such as going out, visiting museums (my favorites are the science museum and BMW World), watch new movies at the cinema, go crazy at the Oktoberfest (I’ll write more about this in another blog) and so much more. In other countries in Europe and North America like the USA and Canada I would have to spend a fortune for tuition and basic living costs with no money left for fun and leisure. The cost of living here is certainly comparatively low compared to other western countries and I feel that life here is generally safer than in the big cities of USA.

Another reason (and certainly not the last) for deciding to study in Germany is the future employability. Germany is one of the most strongest economies in Europe and it is driven by manufacturing and innovation, so jobs in engineering are not hard to come by. There is also a shortage of skilled workers in many fields of technology, science, IT etc. and that’s why I feel confident that if I decide to stay here for a few years I will have it easier then before to find a well paying job. Now, with the introduction and implementation of the Blue card, foreigners such as myself have it very easy to find a great job and work for amazing companies. BMW, Siemens, Audi, Adobe, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Allianz are just some of the many companies in Munich that I would love to be a part of and now that is becoming a reality.

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog and please leave a comment for your reasons on why you are studying in Germany or ask me anything if you are planing on coming here. Until the next blog post – sayonara.

02. July 2013 by Koyotie
Categories: Study in Germany | Tags: , , | Leave a comment