Attending university in your home country is scary enough at times, but going to university in another country, where the language is different, is a whole new ball game.
I would like to begin by saying, however, that the language isn’t usually the biggest difference that you may find while attending university in Germany. I would say that the availability of classes is the biggest difference. When I am at Cardiff University there is a pre-enrolment period where we can pick the classes we would like to attend. This usually sticks and we simply go to these classes at the beginning of each term. However in Germany for us there was no such pre-enrolment onto the classes we wanted to do. We were advised to simply attend the first class to see if we could choose each module. At first, this sounded like no problem at all, but then I went to my first class. Each class has a limit of how many people it can accept. The limit for the majority of mine was between 20 and 25. The first class I attended must have had somewhere around nearly 50 people in it! This was a shocking discovery and we spent the whole lesson on tenterhooks to find out just how and even if we would be able to enrol in the class. It turned out that it would be a case of a lucky dip. We all had to email the teacher of the class and she picked all of our names at random. I couldn’t believe when I got on to all the classes I wanted to! Not all of the classes were this difficult to get on to, however, but it was a bit of a learning experience in the differences between Uni in Germany in comparison to Uni in Wales.
So once the term started I really began to learn about the way that German university works. It is much more practice based. I do not have any lessons which are lectures, so in all of my classes, I am required to talk and interact. In fact, participation is often part of your final mark! This is unusual. In Cardiff, we are of course required to attend, but it doesn’t usually correspond to our final grade. This also goes for participation.
Presentations are a popular form of assessment here. I have already completed two presentations, one on my own and one in a group of 3. As stressful as I find them I can also see the various benefits of them and I enjoy listening to other people’s presentations too.
We also receive quite a lot of homework here. In Cardiff, we are given quite a lot of homework. But I felt a bit shocked here at first because when I was studying in Spain we didn’t really get homework. We had coursework, but extremely rarely did we have homework. I actually can’t recall ever having homework! I think, however, that it is a positive thing to have homework. It helps me to remember what we learned in class and prepares me for my return to Cardiff.
I really like the style of German Uni life. It is sometimes hard to navigate but in general, everyone is very friendly and it is relaxed without being too relaxed. I like it here.