Trang Hoang is a Vietnamese who is currently studying and working in Germany. She is studying Media and working in the marketing and design department of a German tech company. During my chat with her, she shared why she chose to study in Germany and a few pieces of advice for those who wish to study abroad.
Trang had always wanted to study abroad but had not decided on a location until the music school she attended in Vietnam exposed her to German culture. She chose to study in Germany because her Vietnamese music school had a direct affiliation with a music school there. The ten-month exchange with this school exposed her to German culture. She decided to get more involved. She got to learn about Germany and thought it would be great to travel there. It also helped that her high school in Vietnam taught German as a second language. Her interest was further piqued when she went to study for a year in Germany as an exchange student.
After the exchange program year, she went back to Vietnam to complete high school after which she took a compulsory entrance exam for Vietnamese who wished to study in Germany. She passed the entrance exam and took her result and other required documents to the German embassy in Vietnam to apply for a student visa. She got the visa and her journey to study and work in Germany began.
In the first year of studies in Germany, most international students have to study a preparatory course where students learn some subjects in Germany to gain some background knowledge about Germany, especially students applying to study history and the social sciences. The German preparatory study program is called Studienkolleg.
After Studienkolleg, Trang got enrolled in a technical university in Germany. Although it was a technical university, there are courses in different fields and non-technical students can also apply to study there. She mentioned that most of the master’s degree programs are taught in English but knowing the German language is advantageous for many reasons.
When I asked if she had ever experienced culture shock, she asserted that the culture is quite different but adaptable. The first shock she experienced was how physically active the German students were, unlike back home in Vietnam. Students in Germany spend about 90 minutes weekly on physical training. She noted that the Germans o not like hot meals unlike in Vietnam and most parts of Africa. They have processed and cold foods like cheese, mostly for dinner. She also pointed out that the bread in Germany was dry. Initially, she had thought that all Europeans liked dry bread but confirmed that it was just Germany after eating bread in Switzerland and Bulgaria.
Germany vs Vietnam: Lifestyle
During her exchange year in high school, she had stayed with a German host family, on a farm. It was a new experience for her because in Vietnam she lived in the city. The family were very nice and welcoming. The family had about twenty musical instruments, even though they were not professional musicians. This is something you don’t see in Vietnam, and through this, she understood the standard of living in Germany. They were able to afford things for their hobby.
Regarding the standard of education, Trang mentioned that technical majors like engineering and IT are better than in Vietnam because there are more experts and facilities there. Vietnamese students are talented but need help to afford the technological devices needed to nurture their talent. But for courses like social sciences, Vietnam is a promising country because they are constantly evolving and more open to organizing events than people in Germany.
Trang mentioned that people in Germany are quite formal, but in Vietnam, you can be more casual, so fields like media and communication are great in Vietnam. As a result, she may be going back to Vietnam but is open to opportunities to travel anywhere after her studies.
In Germany, there is great social care, unlike in Vietnam. You have access to standard medical care and social services. The disparity between the rich and the poor in Germany is not so great. The rich and the poor can live at almost the same standard. If you are poor in Germany, you still have access to basic services like education and healthcare. For instance, school canteens are half the price for students in Germany.
Trang’s Advice for People Who Want to Study Abroad
Studying abroad has changed her life because she has become a lot more confident. Back in Vietnam, she was very reserved and preferred to stay in her shell. It didn’t change the first time she went to Germany until she learned to connect and share her story with people, unlike when she was in Vietnam. She believes that if she had not gone to Germany at that time, she might not be as outspoken as she currently is. From her experience, has these three pieces of advice for you:
- Be open to every chance and opportunity you have in life. Initially, she didn’t pay much attention to German because she could speak English better than Germans and she wanted to go to an English-speaking country. However, she learned about Germany and the opportunities there. Her advice here is that you should be open to every opportunity you find to learn because it may be helpful in the future.
- Be open to learning: When you travel abroad, you will experience things that are different from your home country. Always be open to learning new things and learn to adapt to environments.
- Be social: When you travel abroad, don’t build a wall around yourself. Be social. Talk to people in your class and the places you go. That way, you get to learn about your new environment and make new connections to help you navigate and settle in with ease.
Do you enjoy stories like this? Check out Ritika’s story to learn how she moved from India to Canada and is now all about inspiring people who cross her path.