Germany

Being A Foreign Student In Germany

Hello everyone! The new semester has in Germany began and I wanted to write an article about studying in Germany.

I decided to come to Germany after finishing high school in Turkey. To be honest, everything happened all of a sudden. I was always interested in studying or being a volunteer in a foreign country. When they asked me what my biggest dream was, I always answered travel around the world. I always felt having this connection with foreign cultures. I wanted to become an international person, no borders in the head, no cultural boundaries in the mind. One day I ordered a catalog from a language course agency home and my mother saw it, she told me later that this was the moment when she realized that I want to have something like this. I mean, I have never thought of studying the whole of my bachelor’s in a foreign country, my actual intention was being a volunteer somewhere else in the world.

In that summer that I finished high school, I remember a very specific moment that changed my whole life. We were at a hotel for a holiday, I had a beautiful massage, I felt sleepy already and my parents were waiting for me near the pool. I went down there and they asked me, what the next step is. Do I really want to study abroad? I was 18 years old at that time and this opportunity seemed really magical and once in a lifetime thing. I said, yes. That night I was really excited but on the other hand really tense. The massage had lost its impact. And when we were back from the holiday, we found an agent who helped me to come to Germany, which I think now that this step was a bit unnecessary. I mean it was logical for that time I guess, cause I didn’t have any German knowledge and we did decide really late for Germany. If I would know it about a year before I came here, I wouldn’t be hiring an agent. The most important reason and maybe the only reason is, agents are EXPENSIVE. And if you have enough time to research, there is always some other way, for example getting in touch with the students who are already studying there, getting some help from the university web-pages, etc.

Hamburg

Anyways, I applied for a speaking course visa in the first place and after 6 weeks from the application, I got my visa. In only 2 months after this conversation at the hotel, I found myself in Germany. My dad flew with me to Frankfurt Airport, and my uncle who lives in Germany for about 20 years, took us from the airport and we went to Heidelberg, where my speaking course was located. After a week, my dad flew back to Turkey. One day after our arrival I started the speaking course from A1-level. I came here with no German knowledge. The course that I was registered was an intensive course. That means every weekday around 6 hours of German course. I completed my C1 level in 9 months.

I had the BEST times of my life in Heidelberg. I can say this with no hesitation. I met people from around the world, old, young, children who came with 14 years old to study high school in Germany. I have my best friends from Mauritius which I did not hear of it before but after I learned it, I told it everyone that I know in Turkey and they fell in love with the beauty of Mauritius after the first picture that they saw in Google Searches. Now if I want to travel to another country, I can easily find someone to meet and talk about the old, beautiful days.

I moved during these 9 months in Heidelberg exactly 4 times! The first month in a dormitory, only 5 minutes away from the speaking course by foot. Then with a host family. This host family that I was staying in was literally awkward. After my 4 months of residence there, I was supposed to move out and during my move out my host mother asked me for my name. I mean… Anyways… Then I moved to two other dormitories.

During the speaking course, I applied for universities. I got acceptances from the Technical University of Braunschweig, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Technical University of Kaiserslautern. During the application times, TU Braunschweig wanted my language certificate but I didn’t attend the German exams till September, that’s why I couldn’t go there. KIT wanted 3000 Euros per year from foreign students who are not an EU-Citizen. That’s why I had to pick TU Kaiserslautern.

TU Kaiserslautern

The day I wanted to see the university for the first time, I asked a girl at the main station for the direction. And when I came back home, I started to make applications for a shared flat. I got an invitation from one and when I went for the interview, this very girl from the main station opened the flat door for me. It was a shocking moment for me and also was very clear that this home was my destination. In 2 weeks I moved to this apartment and lived there for 1.5 years. And now I live at a home from the university with 3 other people, 1 other girl from Germany, a guy, again from Germany and a guy from Vietnam.

After I moved to my first apartment in Kaiserslautern, I attended the German exam DSH. I got my DSH-2 level, this is the German level you have to get to be able to study bachelor’s in Germany. I also became friends with Germans and internationals very quickly and didn’t have time to feel alone in this country. I attended to Erasmus Student Network (ESN) at my university and two months after my moving to Kaiserslautern we went to Braunschweig to the ESN National Platform for 2 nights with a person that I didn’t even know those times. Then we became good friends but I feel now that they were the crazy times. I wasn’t aware of the bad thing which was waiting for me. I was just having fun and didn’t care too much.

In December 2017 I had my interview in the foreigner office to extend my visa. I went there and the woman who works there told me that I have no right to study in Germany. I was like, whaaaaaat?!!!!!

She explained the situation to me, that I had the language course visa and not a visa for a university. I told her that the university accepted me and I am already studying for 3 months, in 2 months I have my first exams and I am here to extend my visa. Why can’t she do it? I did not understand, I just could not. After spending a year and giving up everything that I got used to in Turkey, my own language, my family, my friends, and the whole culture, I was finally able to settle down for my studies and had a chance to get used to the city and the culture. Cause it was the university, not the speaking course anymore and this was serious. The woman told me that they had to de-register me from the city, I had to move out and the university had to give me my de-registration certificate. I felt that it was over. As I called my parents and told everything, they were devastated.

Then I went to the university and explained the situation and thankfully they told me that they won’t de-register me and the only thing that I have to do is going back to Turkey and get my visa, come back and keep going to study. It was such a relief…

During all those chaos, I met my boyfriend, Patrick. Now I am in my sixth semester and we have met during my first semester, while he was almost at the end of his masters. Then I went back to Turkey. I was in terrible shape. I didn’t know what comes next. I was in Turkey for about another 6 weeks and finally, I got the visa and was able to come back to Germany. I also didn’t move out of my apartment, so everything was okay end of January 2018. I could only write one exam that semester, but I had the chance to meet the most amazing person that I have ever known, Patrick.

The German system is different. Not just the laws but also the math. THE MATH is different guys. I had to learn almost EVERYTHING from zero. Also, all of my classes are in German from the very beginning. Even though I passed the German language exams, it does not mean that I was qualified enough to understand everything during the classes. I had really hard times with the classes and also the system.

Life abroad is challenging. This is not a play. Not a joke. It took me 2.5 years to realize what I am into. For about half a year I am in my best shape, mentally and for my studies. But till I got there, I was having big time troubles. If you are considering studying abroad, you have to know what you are going into. I am not saying this to scare you off. But as a person who experienced almost everything at a very young age, I have to say that you have to be mentally ready and strong. Like really strong. There are so many months that you have to be alone. If you have not gotten used to being alone, this is not for you!

Marienplatz, Munich

You also have to want this strongly, cause your beloved parents, sisters and brothers can only help you limited. The rest of it is on you. I have heard so many things even from the nearest relatives who wanted to make me feel bad, instead of giving me motivation and encouragement. I am an only child and being separated from me is also hard for my parents. They needed also motivation but more than motivation they heard critics. My parents are the strongest people that I know and this decision that we have made belongs just to the 3 of us. This is no other person’s business. Of course, there were also supportive relatives and friends and I am thankful for each of their positive words. But here I am telling you everything with an open heart because if you are a foreigner like me, you have already gone through or are still going through similar things as I did and do. Do not give up. Just don’t. I know this is hard but you and I will get through those hard days, just like we did till now. What we are doing is something big for ourselves and we are growing with each of these amazing experiences. Be thankful for everything you have experienced, cause you are the person who you are right now because of them. You are a grown-up at your age 18, 19, 20, you name it. You are strong and successful, even if sometimes you think that you are not. Look at you, look at what you have gone through and be proud of yourself! If your parents are encouraging you, be thankful for them!

As my parents were in Kaiserslautern
When my parents were in Kaiserslautern.

And if you are someone who is not a foreign student but considering to be one, I am telling you with an open heart, if you feel that it is the right thing for you, do it! Do not hesitate. If you have the change to make it real, do it! This is really a once in a lifetime experience, hard, sad, happy,  more exciting than any soap operas that you have ever seen till now. But it’s worth it. It really is! There always has to be balance in life, this is the law of nature, and that’s why you don’t have to get anxious. Yes, you will have hard times but also the best times of your life.

Frankfurt

Thanks for reading this article. This one especially does mean a lot to me. If you have any questions, thoughts, experiences that you want to share, please write to me. If you feel unwell, write to me. I know what you are going through and I will be listening to you.

A picture from my 22. birthday this year.

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