Study Abroad Tip: Always try in-person

Just a quick note about something I’ve learned during this second bout abroad:

Always try to figure things out in-person or via telephone.

Getting anything accomplished relating to official business at the German universities requires patience and know-how. Being an Google-friendly society, many of us look towards search engines as providers to answers for life, the universe, and everything (though, I don’t know why they bother with the internet when it’s 42). The problem with the webby bureaucracy of German universities, whose administration offices are spread all over the place just like their classrooms, is that navigating the webs, analog and digital, is tricky.

For each thing that needs to be accomplished, use the web to find out where it gets done, and then spare yourself the trouble of navigating the websites. Call the number of the office or info-center and ask your questions in person- much less complicated. The good news, most people who answer the phone have to have good English to have gotten their position. It helps, though, to be able to express yourself in German.

I recommend calling, but visiting the office and physically showing someone what documents you have, don’t have, don’t know you have, makes things easier as well.

I like to think that Germans make up for their extremely low student fees by having minimal support for their students. I also think, part of their entrance qualifications is figuring out how to enroll in their school. It’s a rite of passage that I haven’t quite made yet, but I’m almost there. There will be champagne (or at least a really fancy beer) once I finally have my admittance papers.



  1. Living in Germany myself, I wouldn’t say the german students have minimal support. They do have student discounts, help with the housing and also financial support. In some Lands the students can even use the public transport within the Land free of charge. I guess it’s only the matter of knowing where to apply and finding the right informations. Try student center, or asking fellow students.And good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kate,
      Yes, thank you. I totally agree- as far as amenities go, German students get A LOT- the public transportation is a great point.
      What I meant, though, is that students get minimal support in applying and getting into the university. Compared to the US, where half the student fees go to supporting a large administrative body that in turn serves the students, a German student (especially a PhD student) is left on his/her own. But I’m not complaining! I’m just saying, one has to be prepared for that.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s