I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but I kept on postponing it without any particular reason. To be honest, the first time this idea began to form was many months ago, while I was spending my spring break in Greece. Relatives, friends, and friends of friends are always extremely curious about how life and studies in Germany are. However, I am not going to tell you about that. My perspective is too narrow for me to write a guide about studying abroad, so I will tell you about my life and studies in Germany, using all the FAQ I’ve answered again and again to interview myself.
My name is Katerina. My family calls me Katerini, my grandpa lady, my boyfriend Kati, my friends Katerina, Kate, diva or flâneur. I am 21 year old Greek girl who is currently living in Germany. No cats, no plants, just two affable roommates.
Oh, in Germany? What do you do there?
I’m doing my bachelor in translation; that’s considered a BA. I think the best way to describe my degree is as mixture of language, culture and translation studies.
You must be able to talk many foreign languages.
Even though I’d loved to be able to do that (you have no idea!), the only languages I speak relatively fluently are English and German, which are also my ‘work’ languages. I also know a few things in Spanish, e.g. about ten different ways to tell a girl that she’s beautiful. It is a real shame I’m too keen on dating guys. J Learning Italian has been in my bucket list since
forever… I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, and I also find the idea of Afrikaans and Japanese very compelling.
Why did you leave Greece? When did you decide you wanted to study in Germany?
I left Greece in 2012, after having successfully completed my first year of translation studies in the respective department of the Ionian University in Corfu. Whilst still in high school I felt the urge to go abroad for my studies and my parents supported this idea. As a result, parallel to my preparation for the exams for university admission in Greece I sent applications to multiple universities in Germany. However, when I completed the exams and got a place in the university in Corfu, I felt like I wasn’t ready to go abroad yet. My speaking/writing skills in German were pretty poor compared to now and I didn’t feel mature enough to do the transition from living with my parents to living alone as an adult in a foreign country. Therefore, I persuaded my parents to let me go study in Corfu for a year in order to find out whether I liked living/ studying there. If I was unhappy with my choice, I could always re-apply for the universities in Germany, which I actually did.
So you didn’t like Corfu?
No, I loved Corfu with all my heart! I fell in love with it from day one; apart from being a beautiful place – hence the thousands of tourists swarming there every summer – it’s also the place where I made the first steps towards adulthood and met many interesting people that are still very dear to me. In addition, I was lucky to have a couple very dedicated and charismatic university professors; I’ve learned a lot from them and I’m truly thankful for that.
However, I was craving for more. I wanted to go abroad and improve my language skills in an environment where I’d have the chance to exercise them actively – after all, languages are the subject of my studies. Germany sounded like an interesting choice. Everybody asks me whether I have relatives here or I’ve lived here previously. None of them, actually. I’d done a couple language courses in Germany as a teen and I’d also been here on vacation, so coming back for my studies sounded like a great as well as economical idea, especially compared to the tuition fees and cost of living in the UK. (More on the economic aspects of studying abroad on the second part of this post.)
And do you enjoy studying there? Is studying in Germany harder than studying in Greece?
There are many aspects that make studying here pretty amazing. Firstly, I get the chance to meet smart and talented people from all over the world. Even though the university where I study is located in a very small city in Southwest Germany, Germersheim, it has quite an international character. If you walk through the campus, there’s a great chance you’ll listen to many German dialects (can’t promise you that you’ll understand all of them, though!), French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Greek, different kinds of Arabic, Russian, Polish, Dutch, several different English accents and so on. Secondly, judging from the experience I gained while studying in Greece, the university here is organized more efficiently. For example, you always get a response to your emails; it might not always be very polite, but it will meet your needs. I was lucky enough to have some really great professors/ staff members so far, from whom I learned lots and I enjoyed working with. I don’t mind putting extra work for people who are really knowledgeable about their area of expertise and are pretty clear about what they demand from their students. I’d like to underline this last fact, since people often ask me if studying in Germany is more copious than in Greece. I find studying here was – and still is – challenging for me in many ways, which I’ll analyze in my next post, but I wholeheartedly believe that if you’re willing to work hard and focused, and have genuine interest in the subject of your studies, it will be worth it. It will be strenuous, but exciting, as well.
Stay tuned for more!