After finishing my bachelors in Prague, I started considering Germany for my postgraduate studies. I’ve travelled to Germany several times before, on vacation, for shopping, on a concert here and there or just for fun with friends. Travelling around the country will give you a different and more genuine perspective on what the Germans are really about, which I truly grew to love. Additionally the sights and the experiences, sharing the major German attractions with other tourists is rather insightful. Some of the best places I got to visit in Germany inspired me to move in for a year or two and see where this leads.
Germany strikes me as easy going and motivational, people find a way to keep themselves busy most of the time, life is well organized and the state treats its citizens fairly. For a student it’s affordable and practical to be living in such a country right in the heart of Europe.
Culturally it’s no secret that Germany is all about bureaucracy however there is a side to it that unravels slowly-slowly, this nude and genuine approach to life as it comes, pro innovations. Picking Germany was rather easy regarding its abundant beneficial opportunities it provides for me as a person of interest. I tend to elaborate each bullet point thoroughly hoping that for the ones who read this blog, it will be of great aid in coming up with a decision.
Germany tends to surprise me each time I visit, therefore I’ve decided to land in this mystical piece of soil and discover its secret spell.
Every city is different and unique, wrapped around a positive and inviting aura.
So, why did I choose Munich?
1. Education System
Munich, as the rest of Germany has an exquisite educational system concerning higher education apropos postgraduate studies.
The responsibility is segregated in several types of in situations based on their field of studies and methodology.
- Firstly, there are Universities that offer a wide range of academic disciplines, traditionally focusing in basic research meaning that they are more theoretically oriented.
- Universities of Applied Sciences are institutions that concentrate on a more technical approach. Their study program is strictly professionally oriented.
- Universities of Art and Music are deliberately separate due to a more liberal and objective approach and the delicacy of the field of studying.
- Last but not the least you have semi private institutions that are governed and financed by churches or private institutions. They are called Berufsakademien.
German higher education used to be offered in integrated "long" (one-tier) programmes leading to Diplom- or Magister Artium degrees or completed by a Staatsprüfung (State Examination).
However, today it’s adapting to the international Bologna system of a Master and PhD degree recognized widely.
Germany has even revolutionized its system by adding Master and PhD programs for internationals that are taught entirely or partly in English.
2. Universities in Munich
There are only two Universities in the Bavarian city of Munich, Technische Universität München and Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München ranked among the top ten Universities in Germany. Since quality usually defies quantity, although there are only two institutions the city hosts a great number of international students that have found their way into studying here.
As an international I am obliged to pay just the same amount of money for tuition as the rest of native German students that study in these Universities. It’s not even a real tuition fee, it’s something the Germans call a semester contribution and an administrative fee additionally, all in all 250 euros max.
As the public transport in Germany is one of the best in mother Earth, known for its punctuality, comfortableness and speed, you’d be happy to know that a free ticket around the year comes with the price of the semester contribution that allows you to use any means of public transport within the city of Munich. At first, this didn't impress me however I ended up with the pockets full of savings since all I ever use is the Bahn and my bike. It’s so clean inside those transportation boxes that you can even smell the fresh odour of shampoo if you catch the morning bus.
3. Cultural Affairs
Munich seems to be everyone's favorite town in Germany. There's so much to do and see and it's in one of the most beautiful parts of Germany. I would expect the major gripes are those common to all expats living in Germany - the Germans have their own particular mindset and until you get used to it, it can drive you a little nuts.
The Germans are very "green", very precise (the folks I worked with could quote chapter and verse of the entire labor law code) and very clean.
They mind their own business until you get in their way; Sundays are dead silent, politeness and salutation goes for everyone you meet, even the ones you just stumble upon in the streets, mature and calculated behaviour among dinner with acquaintances and the less tourist amazement the better.
Hail Hitler is not something you make fun of in Germany, no matter how open-minded and western your crew might sound, Nazi’s are off the limits. Also, although people do drink a lot of beer in these regions, public drunkenness is considered offensive so try to behave or simply get a cab home.
To find accommodation in Munich isn’t always easy. Student tent to go for more affordable options like student residencies and similar compartments. Nonetheless, finding a spot there is pretty much mission impossible so the next option would be renting a condo. At first I was confident I would do it on my own, no one to bother me or tease me during my reading, no unwanted mess or crowds and most importantly all the space to myself. Yet again I was wrong; the loneliness was driving me crazy, the space was eating me alive and I was begging for a soul to knock on my door for once. Also, all the cool and hip places I was so keen on discovering, hidden in the shadows of Munich - never happened when I was on my own. Not to mention the money pouring monthly.
Sharing is caring I realized once I decided to move into an apartment with two other guys, and from that day on we did everything together. I wouldn’t say we we’re this match made in heaven, we fought a lot and disagreed on everything at the beginning, we still do however we are like a family, we cook and party, cry on each other’s shoulders and share our beliefs and thought on a better future. Unison brings power, so that’s how we invaded the streets of Munich.
Several great neighborhoods in the city make for a tough choice.
Glockenbach is this small hippy town, in the middle of civilization where I happened to be living. It’s mostly populated with youngsters and internationals who are victims of their ideals and principles. It’s an enclave within the Isarvorstadt neighborhood.
Isarvorstadt is a fashionistas quarter where all the local rising stars have their own shops. The neighborhood is also full of students living here or just stopping by for a break in the several small cafes in the area. In the warm summer nights people gather outside in the streets and mingle while enjoying their drinks and cigarettes.
City centre encompassing Marienplatz, Odeonsplatz, Karlsplatz, Viktualienmarkt and Kaufingerstrasse is crazy dynamic and crazy expensive. It’s more of a window shopping habit I reckon and a tourist pit stop.
Lehel is the Munich’s historical hub. It’s a bit further in the suburbia where everything lives in peace and quiet. The famous English garden is one the many attractions.
Schwabing is where the nightlife happens. This posh and trendy district is known for attracting an elite crowd – referred to by many Germans as the “Schickeria” of Munich – and some of its bars, restaurants, and clubs are definitely priced to match. I am no fan of fancy myself but some of the never-ending parties I went to in this district will still be a mystery for my amnesia.
Munich is a controversial metropolis, very modern and up-to-date yet with this distinct flavour of tradition interwoven. The city provides numerous attractions for the newcomers, historical venues, museums of art and architectural masterpieces.
One of the touristic attractions that will never become lame in this country is Oktoberfest- the festival that celebrates beer in Munich. Yes, Germans are famous for their beer nonetheless this festival is more than just drunks and junks passing out on the streets. Oktoberfest is history, tradition and pride passed through generations to our modern world. It’s an anthropological lesson on identity and the importance and influence the ones past holds in the present and the future.
Among my favorites, the aforementioned gardens are a slice of heaven. Every student needs a hiding space when the due dates and exam week step on our doors to haunt us. The stress is unbearable and the pressure usually knocks students out of their feet so what better than dreamy botanical gardens for some Zen soothing experience and meditation for the soul.
By EmiliaJ Peterson: I'm from Denmark. I moved to Munich just recently on a study abroad program, and I am loving it. My adventure has started when I stepped on the land of Germany, so follow my posts on how my life turns out to be in a completely new country.