If you’re planning to pursue your higher education in Germany and want to figure your way out, we’ve got you covered. This blog will take you through a candid interview we had with an Indian PhD student, Ragini Mahesh, studying in Germany. She pursued her Masters at the Technical University of Munich & earned laurels in the field of Aerospace Engineering.
As an experienced student who, like you, had the dreams of an amazing career abroad, is the best person to address all the questions you might have as you plan to study in Germany. We discuss important aspects of life in Germany such as, the Application process, Visa essentials, tuition fees, University life as well as Oktoberfest!
Here’s what Ragini has to say about it all:
In Conversation With Ragini, An Indian Engineer in Germany.
Hey! Ragini, please elaborate to us about what you are studying and your career plans?
Hey, I’m originally from Mysore, Karnataka (India). I’ve been living in Munich, Germany for the past three years. I came here for my Masters’ and graduated last year. Currently, I’m working as a Doctoral Researcher at the German Aerospace Center, Munich.
Why study in Germany?
While doing my research, I was obviously looking at the top destination that is the US; and parallelly was looking at Europe. Well, I was not prepared enough for the US. So, I began to look into Europe, especially Sweden, since I had a friend there to guide me through the process. But eventually, Germany won the race for me because of the Technical University of Munich!
Must Read: Top Reasons To Study In Germany
What was the process like to actually choose the ideal University to study at?
A suggestion I had received was to create three lists: the first was of the top tier universities I really wanted to study in, the second of the Universities I wouldn’t mind studying at, and the third were my safety-net Universities that I knew I had a really good chance of getting into. So based on these lists as well as the field I wanted to pursue further, I eventually chose my ideal universities.
For instance, I had a Bachelors in Environmental Engineering, so I went online and searched for Universities that offer MS courses aligning with my Bachelors. This is where I also took the rankings of the Universities into consideration as well as the course material being offered by them. Even if a particular University was really good but didn't offer a course that I actually liked or was interested in, I didn’t take the University into consideration.
Most German Public Universities do not charge tuition fees - how did this factor influence your decision of choosing to study in Germany?
Not having tuition fees to worry about was definitely very instrumental in my decision-making process. At the end of the day I had a choice to make between Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and France so the money definitely played a role in the choice I eventually made. However, it didn’t make too much of a difference since even the rankings of German Universities were higher than the rest, and the courses being offered were aligned with what I wanted for my future. The cherry on top, I guess, was the absence of tuition fees.
I’d say it all comes down to what you are comparing to. So if you have a University where you are paying really high fees then yes, of course, the lack of tuition will come into play. But it’s still a personal preference, I would say.
Must Read: Free Public Universities In Germany
Is on-campus accommodation the most feasible option for International students? What are the safe accommodations outside of the campus?
Okay, so there’s a big difference that one has to take note of here: the American education system is very different from the German system. So in Germany, we kind of do not have on-campus accommodation. There’s a network called Studentenwerk , an organization that is responsible for students’ well being, any difficulties faced in terms of accommodation and more. These networks are in every city and it is through them that accommodation is managed. So accommodation is not on-campus but actually spread throughout the city and these are entire buildings allotted just for students! The last accommodation I stayed at had around 4,000 students all from different Universities across the city!
To stay at one of the accommodations, you would have to go to their website and apply - list your preferred accommodation, personal information, etc.
There might be a waiting list sometimes to get an accommodation but once you get it, you can stay there for the entire duration of your course. So I would definitely say, it is worth it for an International student to live in such an accommodation. It is great for socialisation and even to learn about other cultures! Students here come from everywhere in the world, not just Germany or Europe, so it’s a great opportunity. It’s also really affordable, especially in Munich where I live. Munich as a city is a bit expensive so having affordable accommodation is really important. If you go out in Munich to rent an apartment, it might be twice as expensive as a student residence.
Must Read: Cost of living in Germany
How do International students maneuver through the language barrier in Germany? Does it play a huge role in everyday life?
With respect to the application to Universities I did not face any barriers since most Masters courses in Germany are in English. And even on their websites, you find information about courses in English so that was not a problem. Even the visa application process was simple because all the information on the website was in English. But there are still some websites that have information only in German and you would have to translate it but Google translate helps with that as well. It isn’t an issue anymore. I did not personally have any problems with language since I live in Munich and it’s quite international and everybody mostly speaks English. In everyday life you might have issues while doing bureaucratic work or filling out forms because most of that is in German. But even that depends on which city you’re living in and whether the city is cosmopolitan or not.
In terms of University life I had no issues at all communicating with professors or even socialising because everybody here speaks really fine English. Even making friends was no problem at all! I’d say only the bureaucratic work was a little tough but it’s manageable. But all in all, Germany is quite global and I don’t see any difference between an English speaking country and Germany in terms of the quality of education.
What do International students need to know about the Blocked Account?
There’s very little information about the Blocked Account unfortunately but it's a very simple procedure. It basically goes like - in a German Bank or a Bank recognised in Germany, you are supposed to open an account, which is sort of like a Fixed Deposit Account, and deposit around 10 lakh rupees. When you deposit the money, you receive a letter confirming it in your name. In this account, the money deposited will be blocked -- This means that your amount is blocked & you can’t take it out as you wish.
When you arrive in Germany, show the letter of confirmation that you received upon the deposit and then the authorities will proceed to open a sort of Current account for you. Basically, how it works is that a particular amount of money -- 850 EUR per month -- will be transferred from your blocked account to your current account to help with expenses and more. I can only draw from the account once a month, I also can’t cancel the account at any random time.
It is sort of like an allowance but it’s your allowance being used by you!
Another main issue that usually comes up is that a lot of Indian banks do not offer this service! As far as I remember only Kotak Bank offers this service and I’m not completely sure if they still do.
Must Read: All you need to know about the German Blocked Account!
Does having an agency like Yocket that tailors Study Abroad plans according to students’ preferences - make the whole process smoother?
Yes, I would definitely encourage people who do not have much idea about what to do in this process to always take guidance. It definitely helps a lot. For a lot of people, from what I see right now, they don’t have to put so much effort into something that has been done time and time again by agencies like this one. It is a go-to place for information about all things and that helps a lot while making decisions. It is very beneficial for students -- building a community where they can get the right information at the right is very helpful. And also, one you move abroad, the bureaucracy doesn’t stop there! You cleared only one hurdle but there’s more to come! So I would always say -- get all the help you need!
Tip: Book a FREE consultation call with a Yocket Professional for your study abroad plan!
How is life as an MS Graduate in Germany different from life as an MS Graduate in India?
I definitely see a broad difference between studying a Masters in Germany versus that in India. For instance, when I was doing my Bachelors in India, I had no idea about what opportunities I had in my field of Environmental Engineering. It was quite narrow, the scope in India. Whereas in Germany, the people were quite sure of what they wanted to do with their education and what careers seemed interesting and all of that. So this difference was quite evident. People in Germany, I would say, have a better understanding of their career plans with respect to their fields and can make a more informed choice. So this was something that I liked at my University especially. My course was not rigidly structured at all and I could take electives from say, the Physics department even, for instance and that’s pretty cool! You get the liberty to make decisions for yourself and evolve -- I haven’t found that in India as of yet.
US or Germany - Which one is better for an MS?
Well, this is a question that comes up again and again! I would say it is a matter of choice and personal preference. Are you willing to learn a new language? -- is a question you should ask yourself and start from there. Because at some point you will have to learn the language and understand a new culture. If you are just focused on getting an education, perhaps the US might be the place for you.
You should also consider the costs of course - all the US Universities are quite expensive but if you do not mind it then it wouldn’t be a problem. So, it is definitely a personal decision.
What is life in Germany like for a student? What’s the Oktoberfest like!
Well, as a student in Germany, I’ve come way far! I’ve met a lot of International people from all over Europe and my friend base right now reflects that! My best friend is from Turkey -- I also have friends from Italy and Morocco; just being able to talk to them and have this cultural exchange has been so important to me. As a student, I also really like Germany’s concept of Student Residence. For me it was just such a happy place. For instance, on a sunny day, all my flatmates would get together and we’d have a nice barbecue!
Must Read: What is a student’s life like in Germany?
Travelling is also really easy in Germany given its central location in Europe. You can easily pop into another country for a weekend. So yes, Germany is really student-friendly given how everything from transportation, health insurance, residence and more is already well taken care of.
If you’re thinking about moving to Germany, Oktoberfest is like an ice-breaker! Everybody has an Oktoberfest story to tell. It’s quite dominant in Bavaria since it's a Bavarian festival, especially in Munich too where it happens. It’s a huge festivity here; absolutely a one-of-a-kind experience. I really miss it because it hasn’t happened for the past two years but I must say, it is truly a blast!
Studying abroad can be exciting. But, the challenges of studying abroad can truly make you nauseous. This is why having extra assistance saves you from long tensing hours of effort. Discuss your study abroad plans with a professional counsellor to achieve your dream in a stress-free manner.