Francisco, PhD student (Mexico)
1. Start gradually
Once you’ve decided to study in Germany, it’s a good idea to prepare for this experience in small steps. For example, before I left Mexico I looked only at the websites of universities that offer the subject I wanted to study. There you’ll find a great deal of information about applying for admission, too. The offices of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Goethe-Institut and German schools have also started to offer useful advice. Next, I gathered information from those around me: I asked myself, do I know someone who has studied in Germany? How did that person go about planning the experience? Once I was in Germany, I found the student advisory service to be very helpful, and there was one piece of advice that I found to be especially useful: It’s better not to take on a heavier course load than normal. Lectures last no more than an hour and a half, but at first you’ll have to find out how much time you need to process what you’ve have learned.
2. Be proactive
It’s always best to be as independent as possible. You only learn by trying things, even if that means making mistakes. To give you one example: I had a friend who helped me find an apartment, but I always made the telephone calls myself. At first, it didn’t always go well. But then I knew what I had to do differently the next time.
3. Take advantage of study groups
At German universities, there are many opportunities to join study groups. You need to find out what your preferred learning style is, whether you’d rather study alone or with a group. But after I had acquired a certain foundation of knowledge, these groups helped me understand things that hadn’t been clear to me. Whether you have questions about the subject matter or about a lecture, a seminar or a book: We all have something different to contribute, and pooling our knowledge benefits everyone.