Studying in Germany with Liv Luget
This post is part of a series of interviews with travelers who have studied abroad.
Meet Liv Luget from Nice, France. After getting a BA in Psychology from Paris Descartes University, she decided to do an MA abroad, somewhere she could see things from a different perspective. This blogger chose an MA in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany. What was it like? Read on:
How often did you have class? Were classes easier, more difficult or the same as you expected?
In the beginning, I had seminars 3 times a week Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The nature of the class was interactive and spontaneous; we’d interchange theories and ideas together with other mostly international students coming from different cultures and perspectives so this way I was motivated to spend hours in the library preparing for the next subject to be discussed. It turned out to be quite rewarding in the end since my final grade was 1.2, which translated in German grades means extraordinary.
Having everyone speak German, at all times starting with the professor and all the students, even the Germans studying there, it was practically impossible to practice my broken German something that I was very fond of. However, the German lessons I was taking simultaneously proved to be useful, now I am almost fluent in Deutch.
What surprised you about Germany?
Living in Berlin doesn’t necessarily unveil the whole story since Berlin is more of a flamboyant mixture of passengers from the whole wide world. Germans are a tough cookie. One minute they are laughing at your jokes, feeling loose and careless and the next minute they become strange and formal like you’ve seen them for the first time. This was a bit of a turn off in the beginning but after spending more time in this country I started to understand, accept and embrace our differences.
Another rather wicked phenomenon was their heavy meals and skinny figures. I was so jealous of them, eating meat and potatoes and several pies and chocolate cakes while I was eating cucumber and PLANTS and still feeling out of shape.
What was your favorite thing about Germany?
Architecture and History. Their instinct of survival is written all over the ancient castles up to modern buildings; strength is hidden in every meticulously used pattern, the selection of vibrant colors and the sophisticated details. The vivid souls of the people so expressive manifested through art and poetry in every corner associate to freedom and liberty, something this nation wears with pride.
The concept of the past is quite tricky though, Germans have ambiguous thoughts over their history. When talking about past historic events it’s like they are in an emotional crossroad, somewhere between pride, shame and denial. The brutal honesty is something I will always look forward to since my days in Germany.
Least favorite thing?
Truth be told I hated my landlord, and like most of the people there I couldn’t stand my nosy neighbors so these two won’t make me miss Germany ever. Renting an apartment in this country is a nightmare, all the restrictions and damn rules make it sound like a monastery no to mention the huge amount of money you have to pay as a deposit. Healthcare is another annoying issue, if by any chance you don’t get insurance in time the hospitals will rip you off.
The lack of sun can be a bit depressing for the ones who are used to living by the sea, but you get used to it rather quickly. And when the sun comes up, that day is a holy day.
Sum up Germany in 1 word.
Revolutionaire. Every day in Berlin feels like a revolution, its loud busy and demanding something that keeps you focused most of the time. And right after the battle comes the cold beer.
What song reminds you of your time in Germany?
Ironically the song I listened to the most when in Germany, it went on repeat while I was jogging every morning in 5am was from the infamous German band Rammstein and it goes like this: We’re all living in America, Coca-Cola, sometimes WAR, We’re all living in America, Amerika, Amerika.
Did you get to do any other traveling?
On the spring breaks I would invite my best friends over for a couple of days, we’d rent a car and travel in and out of the country. We visited mostly historical cities and small traditional towns ending up the trip in a different metropolitan city each time. We have been to Munchen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Koln and Dusseldorf and for every city there are some intimate stories I will share with my grandchildren when they are old enough.
What was it like coming home?
Since I only got to stay there for 2 years, it felt more of a vacation really so coming back home was a reality check right in my face. I am taking a year off, to reflect on my life and what to make of it in the near future. The idea of leading a responsible and calculated life, the type Germans prefer so much sounds appealing to a limitless person like myself therefore if I decide to settle down, find a job and a steady partner I might choose Germany to be my final destination. Otherwise I just might fly to some other interesting city and get the best out of it. London, perhaps?!
Do you have any advice for future students in your host country?
Work very hard and set priorities. Don’t feel irritated by some of the odd German customs and exclude them for being rude. People in Germany are formal in the beginning but once you get to know them they have a bigger heart than the population of China.
Don’t be afraid to explore every dark corner of the city, that’s where the beauty lies. Go local if you want to be one with the city, change is always welcome and you can always change the change.
I also recommend that you read a lot about studying in Germany and deal with the formalities as early as possible, there are plenty of resources online such as DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service) and Studying in Germany.org guide.
What was the biggest difference between studying abroad and doing a full degree abroad?
Studying abroad for a year or two as aforementioned doesn’t give you enough room to feel the country as your own. Fewer classes per week means a lot of days spent in the library collecting data, stressing out and sometimes not even noticing you are now in a different country. Being a tourist for a year is frustrating, especially if you have one more to go like I did. You go out meet people, never see them again, and continue your routine all over again…It’s more of a rollercoaster through everything you manage to experience without the calm processing part where you get to evaluate the differences.
Doing a full degree has a lot of advantages; you get to learn all the tricks and treats. Less pressure at the University is promising in that you get to socialize more, stick to your own gang from the beginning, join clubs of your own talents, experiment with the classes and try to find out more about yourself. As boring as it might sound accomplishing some sort of comfort zone, a small apartment, friends, a part time job, the park where you jog or your favorite grocery store right in the corner of the street, a pet to keep your mind off homesickness and missing all the loved ones isn’t such a bad idea after all… Probably it’s easier to handle the matters that get out of hand like a love-full relationship, a great job opportunity or even an unborn child when you have settled down in one place and will stay there for longer.
My name is Liv, I’m a French student in Berlin, Germany. Reading and writing are my deepest passions. So is traveling around the world. Combining these together makes my life very fulfilled and meaningful. Be sure to read my other articles at my personal blog and follow me on twitter.