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ALONE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY

Oktober 5, 2017
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A lot of things changed in the last couple of months. I moved from Munich to Amsterdam, ended my gap year and left my family, boyfriend and friends in my hometown. I started Uni and blogging again. A lot of changes and emotions in a short period of time.

Many of how have asked me if I like studying abroad and what you have to consider when moving into another country. And to state this firstly: It’s not easy. But it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Disclaimer: This blogpost is based on my experiences, they can be totally different to yours. If you want to add anything feel free to comment down below!

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WHY?

One of the questions I get asked the most: „Why did you move to Amsterdam? Don’t you miss your family?“. So to give a good answer, there are two factors which influenced my decision.

First, I wanted to do my bachelor in Psychology. This science has always been a passion of me and is clearly the vocational field I want to work in. Sadly, the German Uni system has several lacks when it comes to equal rights in studying sciences. Psychology for instance, has an average of about 9.7 (1,2) in Munich, which means that there is absolutely no chance to immediately start studying with a high school degree worse than that. In the Netherlands the Uni system is way better. The universities not only look at your grades, but also at your internships, motivational letters and let you take tests where you can prove your knowledge. Better and fairer chances are provided, and the education in Psychology is one of the best in the world.

The second reason is that I wanted change. I love my hometown and my family and friends, but the thought of living in one city for my whole life is rather scary than convenient to me. There should be more to my life than being surrounded by the same environment all the time. This probably sounds like it was easy for me to live with this decision, but there are still some days – especially when leaving your hometown and returning to Amsterdam – where I just lose it. A new city, a new culture, new people – this can be exciting and horrifying at the same time.

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HOW?

If you’re planning to move abroad there are a few things you have to calculate:

Where is it possible for you to live? How much time do your studies take? Is it possible to work besides Uni? What are the monthly costs? Is it easy to reach the city from my hometown?

Especially when moving alone to a new city I would definitely recommend looking for flat-sharing communities or applying for student housing. In this way you’re not alone in the beginning and you do not already dive into the whole apartment hunt (which is a shark tank in most big cities) with organizing gas/water/heating costs, Wifi installations and so on. When you’re looking for flat-sharing communities I would recommend to participate in Facebook groups and constantly checking them (Push notifications are key!!). If you’re lucky you may have some friends who have connections in the city so don’t forget to check on that.

Since the European Union was established, international programs like studying in another EU country were made very easy for us. Most of the time you find all the information concerning your registration, costs of your Uni etc. on the website of your (future) University. Also, the people at the student desk are most of the time very helpful and answer all of your questions on the phone.

! Be aware that if you have a regular Abitur you need to take a test like TOEFL or CAE to get the required degree in English (or the language you’re studying in) to study abroad !

To be connected with the students in your Uni I would recommend to sign in into the „Introduction Week“. This week will be full of activities with fellow students and your mentors which show you the best sides of the city you’re studying in.

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STUDYING IN THE NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands are the only country I’ve been studying in so far and after talking to my friends who are studying in Germany I noticed many differences. While my friends in Munich skipped lectures to go to the Oktoberfest I was sitting on my desk finishing assignments and preparing for the next tutorial groups. Unlike in Germany, the year is divided into quarters. After every 8 weeks (at my Uni), which consist of around 2 subjects, follows an exam week with one exam per course. At my uni, the VU, we also have tutorial groups once a week which are mandatory and where you can ask questions about the lectures you had in the previous week. Also you need to do „homework“ for these tutorials, which consist of summarizing the previous lectures. Even though this is very time consuming you are very well prepared for the exams and don’t have the typical last-minute uni stress which most of the German students have.

STUDYING IN ENGLISH

One of the major questions of you was how it is to study in English. First of all you need to know that I was not raised bilingual, I just went to an english kinder garden but I do not think that this had a great impact on my English skills. Of course it is probably more difficult to study in English, just because it’s not my mother tongue, but so far I didn’t have big issues. For instance, most of the literature (such as research papers) you have to read in Psychology is in English. It may be easier to study in your native language but since I’m a big fan of the English language, can speak it quite well, and also want to work internationally I benefit from it.

I knoooow that this was a lot of information in one post, I tried to keep it as simple as possible. If you have any questions concerning moving abroad comment down below or write me a dm on instagram (my name there is @emeluschka).

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