Higher education in the United States vs Germany
When I went to visit colleges in the United States, I was overwhelmed by the plethora of options for student life that were offered. Higher education in the United States comes with a high price tag, but it also comes with all the endless opportunities handed to you. It’s so easy to get involved in any sort of bizarre club.
I knew that student life in Germany would be different, but I wasn’t quite sure how. To sum it up, it’s like a toned-down version of the US, but with more activities in German, and including alcohol more liberally. There are also a lot more opportunities for you to create your own projects, as I have done. There are a decent number of activities organized by the university here, and even more social events created by students that don’t involve the school, but this blog post focuses on the ones affiliated with the university.
One of the main weeks where student life at the university is a focus is the welcome week. In the US this week is usually filled with things like brunches and the sort of activities you might find at summer camp, but Germany does it with a twist. The most popular welcome week activity was the pub crawl, and along with campus tours, they had brewery and rum factory tours.
Many of the other events arranged for students are oftentimes at clubs or bars. The best night at the local club was the night that they arranged for the professors to play the music. Study programs sometimes have a special orientation weekend trip for their first year students that I have heard can be quite intense.
If you are looking for activities that are more on the normal side, they have those as well. The international center at my school organizes lots of excursions to various places, as well as events such as a Christmas show and a barbeque. It is possible to get involved with organizations like JEF (young European federalists), UNICEF, and Amnesty International. My university has a normal and an international blog, as well as music and theatre possibilities. I personally have enjoyed working with our garden on campus. My campus also has a very nice gym that offers fitness classes, but language isn’t necessarily an issue, because there is something liberating about attending a fitness class in a language you don’t fully understand. A lot of these activities are in German, but if you seek out the right ones, they should be friendly enough and do some things in English.
Lack of pressure
I personally found the lack of pressure to join a club and dedicate a lot of time to it liberating. In the US, I would have dedicated most of my time to running track and field and cross country and the campus newspaper at the college I had planned to attend. Here, I could help in the garden when I had time and contribute a bit on the student international blog. After interviewing someone for the blog, I realized that I wanted to do something very specific with the interviews I had and created my own blog. For me, this worked out perfectly, because I have quite a particular way I like things done with my writing. I have interviewed five people now with incredible stories and perspective, and probably wouldn’t have had time to do that in the United States.
If you’re looking for student life activities at the university, you will probably find it. It won’t be as directly in your face as it is at an American school, but they exist, and can be a great way to meet other people. Of course, there are ways to meet and befriend others that don’t involve school, but that’s for the next blog.