Experience of an Asian Student in Germany

D-Arkaden strives to provide true stories from international students to serve as sources of authentic information about studying, working or living abroad. Read the full report of our short interview with Yuden.

I had the opportunity to meet Yuden some years back in a small Get-Together in Berlin; that was the first time we met and stayed friends since then. She recently completed her Bachelor’s degree program and was kind to share her experience, from how she moved to Germany, applied to come study here to her challenges as an Asian student in Germany.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you have been in Germany

I am Yuden Namgay from Bhutan, age 21. My family lives in Germany, so the process of moving to Berlin was much easier compared to others. I had been coming to Germany since I was a child, but I officially moved into Germany in 2015. So now I have lived here for 5 years.

What do you currently do?

I recently graduated from SRH Hochschule with a degree in International Business Administration with a focus on Finance. Due to personal reasons, I have moved back to my country for a while, and I am doing my internship there as a Business Analyst intern. Alongside, I am also studying for my GMAT to apply for Masters in different countries.

What were your educational plans before moving to Germany, and how did you hear about Germany?

As I mentioned before, my family lives in Germany, so it was natural for me to come here. However, I was also looking into the USA, but it seemed illogical, as universities in the USA are much more expensive and students are not allowed access to the world.

How did you apply to study in Germany?

I studied A-levels in my home country which exempted me from Studienkolleg, but even with that, the application process was very frustrating. First, I tried to apply for the Berlin School of Economics and Law, but I had to do it through Uni assist. After I sent in my documents, they told me that I do not qualify to apply for further studies in Germany. This was because I lacked three subjects in my A-levels: Maths, a language subject, and a Science subject. As my A-levels were solely focused on Business, I had not taken these subjects. So I went back to Bhutan to study these subjects within 6 months. Unfortunately, I took Applied ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), as a Science subject but this yet again was not considered Science. I had even asked uni-assist if my subjects were compatible, but they refused to answer me. They said they could only answer if I applied! Which is so absurd since I needed to know what to do before applying! But thankfully, the private universities in Germany accepted my subjects. So I applied to SRH. Therefore, I would ask all students studying A-level and IB to consider their subjects.

Are you studying tuition-free or you pay tuition?

I paid for tuition. The cost was €700 per month for 3 years. But I received a merit-based scholarship for €300 and I had to maintain my grade every semester for over 1.4, which I managed to do, so I received the scholarship for 3 years.

How would you describe your study experience so far in Germany?

My expectation for my university experience was very much influenced by American media. However, the reality was very different, as German universities are nothing like American universities. First, they do not have any of the activities like the American universities, we are more left to ourselves, which I found very odd. Second, the teaching was also very different. It was nice to have professors with actual work experience in business, however, it also caused a problem as even though they were very knowledgeable they were unable to relay the knowledge. They were not able to teach properly.

Let’s take you back a bit – do you have friends studying in the UK, USA, Australia or other countries?

Yes, I do have a couple of friends studying in the USA and that’s why I actually felt that the teaching system in Germany or at least in the private universities was not as good as the American education system. However, saying that I believe as a career choice, Germany is much better as students have the chance to work a proper student job which is not allowed in the states and they (in the states) have a hard time getting a job after graduation since they have to be sponsored by a company, but that is not the case here so, in the long run, I think Germany is better.

My friend also studies in India and when I heard about her experience I thought Germany is better because India focuses a lot more on education and less on extracurricular activities which are good, but I think it takes away from the student experience.

Are you familiar with the German grading system? Tell us a bit about it and how hard or easy it is to pass examinations in Germany, especially if your previous education was from another country.

I was not familiar with the German grading system, I only came to know about the grading system once I had to convert my transcript to the German grading system. Since I did the levels in my country it was very challenging, and it was definitely not easy to get an A. But I think it is much easier to get better grades in Germany compared to Bhutan, India and other Asian countries.

Did you face any challenges generally as an international student in Berlin?

There are a few challenges I faced, the first would be discrimination. Even though Berlin is a very international city, there still subtle discriminations that I see, it isn’t as bad as systematic racism, but there are subtle discriminatory acts. For instance, when I was in the line at a store in Markthalle, the cashier was visibly smiling at the German customer in front of me but when it was my turn, she became very stern.

Another problem is the language, no matter how hard I have tried as an Asian, it has been tough to learn the language. I have finally reached B2 level, but I’m still not very confident and fluent with it, however, it is my own fault because I do not try to speak in the language, and it is actually not important to speak the language, but nevertheless, I’m still trying to learn.

General remarks and advice to people who plan to come to study, work or live in Germany

As for my advice, I would like to say that please everyone check the subjects and everyone please just studies a Maths subject, a language subject and a Science subject. This will seriously make or break your application. And I would also like to suggest students not to compare German university experience with Americans’ as these are two different countries so naturally the experience would be different. Just because the American experience is highlighted does not mean that the German experience is bad, it’s in fact even better as people should really look at the big picture and the long term not just the short picture of a university experience. The career path is much better here.

Do you know anybody on the Destiney Arkaden team? How would you describe them?

Well, I know you Mike and I think you are the sweetest person ever. When I first met you at that get together at your house, you made me feel really comfortable and inviting. I really appreciate that, as I never felt like an outsider or someone that didn’t belong and that was really important for me because I did not have my own community here, so thank you for always being supportive. Thank you for going the extra mile for me when I was in trouble, it makes me feel really glad that I have you as a friend.

Thank you so much for doing this, Yuden, it means a lot to me, and I am very grateful.

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