Several of our GRST majors and minors have been living and studying in Germany this fall. I asked them to share some of their experiences with us. So far, I have received three letters that I would like to share with you. The first letter is from Evelyn Mesler ‘21, who majored in German Studies, Biology, and Data Analysis. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Infection Biology at the Universität zu Lübeck in Lübeck, Germany.
The second letter is from Jenna Lacey ’21. She majored in Government and minored in German Studies. Currently, she is studying Public Policy and Social Change at the University of Tübingen and has good tips for anyone who is thinking about studying in Germany.
There are many ways to go about spending a year or two in Germany after graduation. You might want to apply for a German Exchange scholarship (DAAD) like Evelyn Mesler ’21. If you are a graduate student at Wesleyan, you can also apply for a Baden-Württemberg Exchange scholarship to study and/or do research at one of the nine prestigious universities in Baden-Württemberg. If you are interested in one of these scholarships, please talk to my colleagues in the GRST department, Profs. Ulrich Plass, Martin Bäumel or me (Iris Bork-Goldfield). Another good option—but only for American citizens—to study, research or teach English (ESL) in Germany, is to apply for a Fulbright scholarship. There are also opportunities to teach ESL in Austria with a Fulbright scholarship (USTA).
The third letter is from Patrick Wolff ’21, who is currently living and studying in Göttingen. He received a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange scholarship. This scholarship for Young Professionals (CBYX) is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals between the ages of 18½ and 24 with the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries: studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program.
I hope you enjoy their news!
Iris Bork-Goldfield (Adj. Professor of GRST)
Evelyn Mesler’s news from Lübeck
With the help of the German Studies department and particular support from Professor Krishna Winston, I was able to apply for a master’s scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, or DAAD) during the fall of my senior year at Wesleyan. The scholarship from the DAAD unlocked an amazing opportunity to study Infection Biology here in Germany.
As of writing this, I have been in Lübeck for almost two months, and each day feels like a dream. My master’s program is incredibly rigorous- in the first semester alone, I must complete seven classes (and I thought 5 Wesleyan classes was a full schedule: I now feel so naive). But the classes are taught by clinicians, diagnosticians, public health experts, and researchers studying diseases that I find incredibly fascinating, so I feel lucky to attend their lectures. There is a strong network of international students at my university, and I have been able to meet students from all over the world while we do activities like cooking, ice skating, and lantern making for St. Martin’s Day. Next weekend, I am travelling with our international group to Berlin.
The city of Lübeck feels as though it came right out of a storybook: narrow cobblestoned streets with small arches leading to courtyards filled with roses and ivy climbing up old brick buildings. The city itself is an island surrounded by canals, so on sunny days I often walk along the bank and watch rowers pass me by.
Now that Christmas is coming, the city is being transformed into a Weihnachts wonderland. On my street, evergreens line the sidewalk and tinsel, and large toys are suspended across the street from one house window to another. Tonight, is the grand opening of the Weihnachtsmarkt, so some colleagues and I are planning on going together and enjoying spiced Glühwein, Lebkuchen, and probably some bratwursts, too 🙂
I am so grateful to have made it to Germany, and I would never have accomplished this dream without the support and fantastic education I received from Wesleyan and the German Studies department, in particular. I hope to pay their generosity forward and would love to provide other students interested in studying in Germany with help and guidance in their search!
Jenna Lacey’s news from Tübingen
My program here at Tübingen is very research focused and takes a broadly comparative approach to public policy. I’ve been enjoying my classes and cohort so far and living in Germany has been really lovely. I’m soaking up as much of the good public transit as I can. I’ve visited a few castles, eaten Stockbrot, bread baked over a bonfire (like a marshmallow), and been surprised by a bus strike.
Tips for people thinking of studying in Germany
- Adjust your study habits: The way classes at German universities tend to work is you attend lectures, you might have to give a presentation at some point for a couple of ECTSs (European Credit Transfer System), and then you have an exam which determines your grade for the class. You might have smaller assignments, but these are usually just graded for completion and part of the requirement to get credit for actually attending and participating in lectures. You also don’t have midterms that force you to solidify your knowledge of the first half of the course, thus cutting down on the number of materials you have to study for your finals. So develop study habits that force you to do this sort of knowledge solidification: write out potential exam questions about that week’s material, get together with friends halfway through the semester and pretend you’re studying for a midterm, etc.
- Figure out as much of your general living affairs as you can prior to arriving in Germany. Apply for health insurance early, get a bank account set up early if you can, and if possible, it may be beneficial to apply for your residence permit before you arrive. This isn’t strictly necessary if, by virtue of your citizenship, you’re allowed to enter the country without a permit and then apply for one (this is the case for U.S. citizens), but it may take a lot of stress out of the first couple of months of living in Germany.
- Listen to native speech as much as possible. Watch Tagesschau, listen to podcasts (like WesGerman), watch videos on the Easy German YouTube channel. The German classes at Wes are excellent, but at the end of the day your professors are the only native speakers you have contact with on a regular basis. Listening comprehension is extremely important, whether your intended program is completely or partially in German, or you only need German for non-academic settings.
Patrick’s news from Göttingen
Hello! I’m Patrick Wolff (’21) and I’m a member of the 38th CBYX cohort. The 11-month fellowship stresses cultural exchange through three phases: language learning, a semester at a German university, and gaining work experience.
In the first two months I lived in Cologne to attend an intensive language course. Class was Monday-Friday from 9:00-1:00. During my time there I lived with a host family—an essential and highly recommended component of the program—for the purpose of full cultural immersion. In my free time I got to know the other 35 Americans from the program located there. Together we traveled to nearby cities by train and bike, visited museums and concerts, gathered for potluck dinners, played sports and games in the parks, and experienced Cologne’s abundant nightlife.
In October, I moved to my permanent placement in Göttingen, a smaller city in Lower Saxony. Since then, I have attended lectures on the topic of business management at the Georg-August-Universität and I’ve continued my language learning in an upper-level German course. I also volunteer at the kindergarten where my host mom works on days when I don’t have class. I have been fortunate to meet international students through the Erasmus Student Network and German students in my classes, at the Mensa, and in town. Visiting friends and other cities on the weekends is easy with my semester ticket, usually included in the (extremely low) university semester fees.
Currently I am on the search for internships in the Data Analysis and Consulting areas, as in February the semester will come to an end, and I will begin working in one or more positions until late June. Program members are encouraged to stay in their permanent placement cities for the internship phase, although relocation to other cities for work purposes is possible!
If you have any questions about the program, application, or life in Germany in general, I would love to connect! You can reach me here anytime firstname.lastname@example.org.