Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Last updated: March 2023
TL;DR: Germany is not for everyone. If you are planning to pursue medicine, law, or architecture, bear in mind that your qualification from a German university is not recognised in Malaysia, which means you will not be able to practise your profession back in Malaysia. You may also want to avoid studying in Germany if learning a new language is not an option for you. Read on to find out what other factors to consider before deciding to study in Germany.
The idea of studying abroad among Malaysian students has always revolved around the UK, Australia, and the U.S. Recent years, Germany has become another popular destination to further studies as more students realise this unconventional but rewarding pathway.
Studying in Germany has many advantages, such as free tuition in most public universities, affordable living expenses for a relatively high living standard, and its beautiful scenery that will certainly melt your heart. However, the Deutschland dream is not for everyone. Some students find it difficult to fit into German culture, while some just prefer an English-speaking country.
If you are also considering this option, read on to see if you tick off any of the early signs that Germany is not for you.
Germany is NOT for you if…
…You want to pursue medicine, law, or architecture and return home to practice your profession.
Haven’t you heard that most German universities offer free tuition to German students and international students alike? This reason alone may make you jump with joy and make up your mind that you’re going to Germany.
But hold on, not all courses in Germany are recognised here in Malaysia. Medicine, for instance, is one of the most attractive courses to study in Germany due to its free tuition, but graduates from German universities will not be able to practise medicine in Malaysia. A quick check on the Malaysia Medical Council website will tell you that Germany is not listed as one of the recognised countries/institutions where graduates can practice medicine locally.
Similar to law, since Malaysia follows the common law whereas Germany follows the civil law, a qualification from Germany will not be relevant to be practised here in Malaysia. Hence, if you are aiming for these courses and don’t plan to settle in Germany for good, you can drop the idea of studying in Germany altogether.
Generally, professional courses have stricter governance which leads to non-recognition of qualifications from certain countries. Some other examples of courses that are not recommended to pursue in Germany are pharmacy and architecture.
Not sure if you can pursue your interested course in Germany and be recognised here in Malaysia? You can check with the respective governing bodies in Malaysia for the latest updates or speak to our study advisors.
…You are not up for learning a new language.
Must you learn German?
Are there English-taught courses available?
Is German difficult to learn?
We can totally understand if you are taken aback by this requirement. While it is not a must to learn German, and yes, English-taught courses are available, we still strongly recommend that you learn German.
Here’re a few reasons:
One. The options available for English-only courses are pretty limited, especially for bachelor’s degree level. According to the DAAD program database, there are more than 8,000 options available for German-taught bachelor’s degree courses but only 301 options if you select English as the course language.
Two. While more than half of the German population speaks English to some extent, their fluency varies by region. Bigger cities like Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg have higher English standards and you can easily hear English announcements on the trains. However, you can also expect little or no English from residents in smaller and more rural areas of Germany. If you’re thinking about why would international students choose to study and live in these places, it is because the cost of living in smaller towns or outskirt areas is much lower than those in bigger cities. Also, if you look beyond the popular universities like TU Munich or TU Berlin, you may find some really good universities hidden in these corners of Germany.
Three. Being proficient in German not only eases your communication with the locals, it also gives you an advantage in landing yourself a part-time job as you now have more options to apply to. The same goes for securing a full-time job after graduation. Candidates who are fluent in German are almost always preferred by employers compared to those who can speak only minimal or no German.
All the above being said, if you still feel that learning German is too much for you and you rather opt for a country where you can understand and be understood by the locals without any fuss, then Germany might not be the right choice for you.
…You are expecting a vibrant student life, particularly nightlife.
If you’re an avid mamak-goer for late-night suppers or enjoy spending your Sundays at the mall, be prepared that you won’t be getting much of these in Germany. In Germany, most shops close around 7.30 pm or 8 pm on weekdays, and those in smaller towns or more remote areas may close as early as 6 pm or after lunch. If you’re living in bigger cities like Berlin, you can still grab a drink with your friends at the pub, but that’s pretty much all there is for nightlife. Most shops and even malls are closed on Sundays so there’s not much shopping that can be done, be it window shopping or grocery shopping. Restaurants and cafes are mostly open, but it still depends on the location you’re living in.
If you’re thinking about having your own party at home and inviting your friends over for a stayover or a Sunday brunch, be sure to keep your noise level low as Germans follow very strict ‘quiet hours’. Quiet hours prohibit any loud noise that may disturb others, including vacuuming, drilling, even loud music. Quiet hours typically start from 10 pm to 6 am the following day from Monday to Saturday and the whole of Sunday. So be sure to respect the quiet hours or you can expect authorities to show up at your door due to complaints lodged by your neighbours.
Don’t get me wrong, students in Germany still hang out and socialize. Some of the favourite leisure activities that Germans do include hiking, cycling, skating, or simply watching the television. On Sundays, Germans like to spend their day relaxing and regenerating after a week of busy schedules. For Malaysians? Our students enjoy getting together to cook some of their favourite food from home and share a meal together.
Too boring of a student life for you? If your ideal student life depends a lot on having an active social life and wild partying like what you hear from your friends in the UK, Germany is not your ideal study destination.
…You dislike bread.
Well, we’re not saying that bread is all you get in Germany, but Germany indeed has one of the highest bread consumption per capita in the world. According to the German Institute of Bread (yes, there is such a thing), there are more than 3,200 varieties of bread in the country. Bread is commonly eaten for breakfast, dinner or ‘Abendbrot’ in German which literally means ‘bread of the evening’, and is often part of the meal for lunch. If you dislike any kind of bread, meal time is going to be a little more troublesome for you as the variety of food in Germany is not the best, or should I say, Malaysians have been pampered with a wide selection of food with very different flavors to choose from. Apart from bread, some of the other common food choices include potatoes and meat, especially pork. In short, some foreigners would describe German food as bland, or simply a lack of choices.
On the flip side, here are some very solid points that Germany could be just your ideal study destination.
Germany is for you if…
…You are interested in the engineering and technology field.
When we think about Germany, we often think about some of the best cars and high-quality tech equipment in the world. The 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index awarded Germany as the most innovative nation. Germany places much importance on R&D and education. German universities have very strong ties and strategic relationships with the industry to allow university students to apply what they learn in class to solve real world problems. Engineering students have the opportunity to intern at renowned engineering or tech companies and may possibly get a permanent position upon graduation. For instance, TU Munich works with Siemens and BMW to offer students with exciting projects and internships where they can not only learn directly from the industry experts but also be part of the latest research and development effort.
…You prefer a more practical approach to education.
Do you prefer heavier class work and exams or more hands-on projects and industry experiences? If you prefer the latter, Germany’s University of Applied Sciences (UAS) will be a good choice for you. In UAS, practice-oriented training forms a huge part of the course. While there will still be the usual lecture and tutorials, students in UAS get to have more industry exposure in the form of practical projects, work placements, study trips, and seminars. Most students will also be required to complete a 20-week internship at a German company to gain on-the-job experiences. This approach to education prepares students well for the real working world and promotes critical thinking and application of knowledge, an aspect that some traditional universities or countries are still lacking.
…You dreamed of studying abroad but Australia and the UK are way above your budget.
While studying in Germany has more to offer than just free tuition, the affordable cost of studying and living in Germany is still the no.1 reason many international students choose to study here. Based on the comparison below, Germany’s annual cost of studying (tuition and living costs included) can be only one third of the fees of studying in Australia! That being said, the cost of studying in Germany is almost comparable to the cost of studying in some of the private universities locally!
…You wish to work overseas, particularly in Europe.
Graduating with a German qualification opens up many career opportunities. The job market in Germany is generally promising and welcoming towards international talents, and getting a job is fairly easy compared to those in the UK and Australia. Many employers are looking for motivated and well-qualified talents regardless of nationality, but take note that one of the important criteria that most employers look at is German proficiency. Some of the more in-demand jobs are in the healthcare, IT, and engineering sectors. Not only can graduates work in Germany, you are free to venture out and explore other European countries as your qualification and German proficiency is highly valuable to neighboring countries as well.
So, are you cut out for Germany?
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