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.