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Hamburg is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Germany but also one of the most expensive. Thus the prices for flats and houses are lower than, for example, in Munich or Stuttgart, and although it is in the middle also cheaper than in some smaller cities where many students are living, it is not easy to find an affordable place to stay in the Hanseatic City. It is, in fact, not easy to find a flat in Hamburg at all.

But there is some advice or at least some information about the housing market you should keep in mind. With this, you can, of course, find a place to live in Hamburg without moving far outside to the city limits.

How to get started in Hamburg

But first of all, you will have to decide whether you want to live alone or with a roommate. If you want to join a Wohngemeinschaft, also in Hamburg, you should just take a look at one of the many internet portals that help you with your desire for a room. (for example www.wg-gesucht.de). Here you can not only pick your favorite district and the price, but you can also gain a general overview. For example, you can now imagine which part of town might be cheaper and which one is unaffordable for you.

Be prepared for the Hustle!

Another excellent opportunity is to join groups on Facebook. There you will see many offers and desires for rooms and even flats. Particularly for students, this might also be a very promising opportunity. If you are planning to live on your own or with your beloved ones in an own flat, you should be aware not to be the only one at the viewing: Due to the tight market of apartments, it is common that there will be up to 50, if not more potential tenants. So bring time along and also strong nerves. It might not be your only viewing, though.

Expensive Suburbs

Especially in Hamburg, it’s also worth thinking about the district you are planning to live in. As a small guide, keep in mind that all the areas surrounding the Alster (except St. Georg, perhaps) are more likely for people with thick wallets. Of course, you can just move to the city limits or even to the suburbs like Pinneberg or Ahrensburg. But who want’s to live outside the heart of the city?

Affordable Suburbs in Hamburg

In Hamburg, you can find your luck and also an affordable flat even in the district of Mitte (center). Due to the vast areas of the port and also due the fact that large parts of it have been restricted areas until several years ago because of the German custom, they are still not too pricey, yet near to the heart of the city. The downside might be, that those districts are not the tidiest ones and sometimes a bit unique, i.e. communities where poor people and immigrants live. The good thing though is that these areas also attract many students and artists. So keep a look on the districts of St. Georg, Wilhelmsburg or Veddel.

But with patience and a bit of luck, you can also find a decent place in St. Pauli, Altona or Hamm. Just be prepared to have a few tries more. The Hanseatic City has space for everyone.

The post How to find a Flat in Hamburg – Nothing is impossible! appeared first on smarterGerman.

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Now I will note that I am an American, and as such, found some differing customs between the US and Germany when a child is born. For example, baby showers are NOT held in Germany, out of a belief it is unlucky to celebrate the birth of a child before the child is actually born.

Also in Germany there is the option of a “blank gender” (“X”, alongside “M” and “F”) on birth certificates, meant for infants born with ambiguous genitialia, which is simply not an option in the United States. Also, the practice of infant male circumcision has been debated in German courts for the last few years – while commonly done in the United States for medical and/or religious reasons, in Germany the practice has been seen as a battle between various religious authorities, the legal system, longstanding custom, and various medical and childs-rights organizations. As of 2012, non-therapeutic infant male circumcision has been explicitly approved in the German Civil Code.

The Wedding Tree to celebrate a Girl’s birth

In lighter customs, sometimes when a baby girl is born in Germany, there is the tradition of a “wedding tree” – trees are planted in honor of the girl’s birth. When their daughter comes of age and decides to get married, the idea is that the family will sell the trees and the earnings will be used to help their daughter start her new household as a married woman.
In terms of the gendered customs, these may be slowly changing, but since by and large German society expects people to be gendered male or female (or eventually identify on the binary) and because of the naming laws, this may be a slow change indeed.

Specialities of the Naming Law

Speaking of naming law, this is a major difference between the United States especially that I found. While each country tends to have different regulations in terms of names, in Germany these regulations are a bit more stringent. For example: the first name of a child must be gendered male or female – meaning you cannot have a gender ambiguous first name in Germany, so names like Hunter or Paige would be rejected. The name chosen must also not cause offense or discomfort for the one using it, you cannot use last names as first names or the names of objects as first names, and in addition to all of this, it is the local Standesamt (magistrate/civil office) which approves or rejects names. Yes, the parents or individual may be able to appeal a decision, but because of these regulations and the inconvenience of appealing (every time a name is submitted you pay a fee, so it can add up in terms of inconvenience and cost), many names in Germany have a traditional sound to them. So don’t be surprised if you know a lot of Michaels or Sophies – whether they are adults or children!

The post Traditions around the birth of a child in Germany appeared first on smarterGerman.

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Learn to use German in context with quizzes

The key to learning a language is context. Learning in context gives meaning to the vocabulary and grammar one learns. If you just learn vocabulary by using lists, you are likely to use the words wrongly. Grammar often only starts making sense, when seeing it used in example sentences. Learning vocabulary as part of a sentence, helps with connecting new words with words you already know. But German grammar exercises need to be carefully thought through and well designed.

One way to learn with context are cloze tasks. They can be effective in increasing recall. When filling out gaps one has to consider the meanings of words. Once the meaning of the word is involved a different level of learning is engaged. Cloze tasks add a deeper level of processing because they embed the words in a particular context. Completing them will expose you to actual language usage.

When does one say zahlen rather than bezahlen? What’s the difference of können and dürfen? How about bringen and holen? If you check the dictionary, both of them essentially mean „to bring” or „to get”, the differences are subtle. All these differences are mostly based on context.

Using the wrong words can be quite embarrassing or the very least confusing. Read for instance this article on Seven English words Germans get hilariously wrong.

At smarterGerman we make use of  Learnclick for creating cloze quizzes. Learnclick is a great tool for asking questions in context. Check out our interactive exercises for Lesson 01. When you hover over the i-icon, you will get a tip of what you have to enter into the gap. For instance, you will need to ponder which verb to use and how to conjugate it. Other exercises give you options as a dropdown list and you have to choose the correct German translation for a sentence. If you’re stuck, click on the button „I give up! Show me the answer(s)“.

Do you find yourself always making the same mistakes? Why don’t you try our German grammar exercises for free? You can access them in lesson one of our Everyday German online course here.

In summary, when learning a new word or grammar point try to understand the context and practice using it yourself more often.

The post Tips to learn German Fast: Work with Intelligent German Grammar Exercises appeared first on smarterGerman.

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smarterGerman by Joseph M Gaffney - 3M ago
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Walter Gropius (18 May 1883—05 July 1969) was a renowned German-American architect and academic authority who founded the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919.  The Bauhaus was an advanced academic institution focusing on applied arts, architecture, and design which conflated the teachings of the Weimar Academy of Arts and the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts.  Gropius’s overarching principle stemmed from and developed the ideas of the so-called arts-and-crafts movement of the late 19th century and of the English designer, reformer, and poet William Morris, who objected to the tastelessness and banality of the mass-produced products of the Industrial Revolution. The movement eventually gave rise to Art Nouveau (der Jugendstil) and later to the sublimity of Gropius’s Bauhaus, which blended art with technical expertise.

Gropius was a dreamer who summoned fellow dreamers with the closing paragraph of his manifesto:  “So let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavored to raise a prideful barrier between craftsmen and artists! Let us strive for, conceive, and create the new building of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, and which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of craftsmen as a clear symbol of a new belief to come.”

The Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1925 and from Dessau to Berlin in 1932, but was ultimately banned by the Nazis.  Early on 11 April 1933, the Nazis closed the Bauhaus just as the then director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, arrived for work.  The reason given was that the Bauhaus contained a secret printing press used to oppose the Nazi regime.

Gropius ideas

Gropius promoted the idea that good design should be part of every aspect of daily living and rejected the notion that the creation of individual luxury goods should be paramount.  Gropius realized that, if the combination of art with technical expertise were to influence all society in the 20th century, it would have to be combined with mass production, i.e., practical and beautiful objects for all society had to be designed with mass production in mind.  Toward that end, Gropius included in-depth workshops—wall painting, carpentry, weaving, metal, graphics, pottery, typography, stained glass, and stagecraft—taught by accomplished, respected artists and craftsmen, e.g., Johannes Itten, Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy, Lyonel Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer, Marcel Breuer, Herbert Bayer, Gerhard Marcks, and Georg Muche.  The entire undertaking was exhilarating and impressive and the more than 200 exhibits in the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar chronicle the intellectual fulfillment of Gropius’s farsighted ideas.

Highlights of the Bauhaus Museum

Given the size and diversity of the museum’s exhibits, I will highlight some of the more unusual and distinctive ones; however, bear in mind that my selection is highly subjective and that all the exhibits should be evaluated by visitors.
First on my list is the Tower of Fire, a glass sculpture by the abstract painter Johannes Itten.  It is a glass spiral using leaded glass of the primary colors red, yellow, and blue and is an insightful attempt to represent the manifestation of a version of an ancient Persian religion, Mazdaznan, revived at the end of the 19th century by Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha’nish and is concerned with thought, emotion, and behavior.  The sculpture is quite a bit more than that.  It also signifies the unification of all the artistic and craft disciplines Gropius sought to link.

Gelmeroda XI by the German-American painter Lyonel Feininger is one of several Feininger studies (13 in oil over a fifty-year period) of the church in Gelmeroda, a suburb of Weimar.  Feininger’s works are superb examples of German Expressionism, with their almost melodic coloring and seemingly uncontrolled orderliness (a seeming oxymoron that well describes a significant artistic ploy) and are fundamental examples of Feininger’s incorporating and furthering a sense of science, art, and technology in all his works.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld was an industrial designer known particularly for his sleek glassware and streamlined table lamps.  His “Bauhaus Lamp” is still produced as is his glassware.  He famously said that necessary household objects should be “. . . cheap enough for the worker and good enough for the rich.”  Probably Wagenfeld’s most significant contribution to the classic elegance of the homes of both the rich and the not-so-rich is his teapot, which Jenaer Glass still produces (€142.50).  As soon as you see it, you will recognize it.

The classic baby cradle of Peter Keler continues to awe and amaze new parents almost a century after Keler designed it in 1922―he was only 20 at the time―as a project given him by his Bauhaus tutor Wassily Kandinsky to incorporate the three primary colors: blue, red, and yellow, with the square, the triangle, and the circle―the geometric forms Kandinsky felt corresponded to the primary colors.

Finally, there are several examples of Bauhaus architectural plans.  Take particular note of the plans submitted by Walter Determann in response to Gropius’s competition to provide a larger environment for the Bauhaus, which was always short of both workspace and living space.  The campus designed by Determann came a cropper, but they incorporated every aspect for an ideal learning and living environment.  Farkas Molnár contributed fascinating plans for an alternate Bauhaus campus on so-called Am Horn estate, just above Goethe’s Garden House.  Gropius built a house on the site and it’s worth a visit.  It is as modern as anything you might encounter in the world.

The post The Bauhaus Museum in Weimar appeared first on smarterGerman.

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Germans will be obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure (c) EvgeniT via Pixabay

Today, the German office for migration and refugees (BAMF) published a report which admitted a partial failure of their current approach of teaching migrants and refugees the German language and culture via so-called Integration Courses (Integrationskurs). Yet the problem doesn’t lie on the side of the migrants, but rather on the side of the culture they seek to integrate in.

90% of Germans would fail an integration test

“Those who have created these integration courses especially the part where participants are supposed to learn about the German culture, social life, history and politics must have lived in a different Germany that anyone we interviewed. We asked about 2000 Germans the same questions course participants have to answer and 90% would have failed that same test,” said the head of intercultural studies at Viadrina University Frankfurt Oder, Prof. Dr. Hans Deutschendorf. “It almost sounds like an April Fool’s Joke,” he continues, “but we simply can’t ignore the evidence any longer.”
Ironically about 92% of the migrants pass that test (see official statistics of the BAMF here).
As a consequence the BAMF in cooperation with the ESF (European Social Fund) have worked out a new approach to optimize the integration process: All Germans citizens (18 and above) will be obliged to take the same integration test migrants have to take.

“We can’t have a situations where migrants end up to be the better Germans,” states Dr. Willer Nixsagsehör of the BAMF. It’s time the citizens of this country brush up their knowledge about the culture they expect others to learn about.

Political and Social Re-Education of Native Germans

Those who fail the test, will be obliged to spend 100 hours in so-called re-integration processes (Re-Integrationsprozess or short: RIP). That’s how many classroom-hours current integration course participants have to spend to learn everything relevant about the German culture therefore it should be more than enough for native Germans. Those courses can be taken in the evenings or on the weekends after work hours and will last between 3-6 months.

Proper Language trainings

It has become also blatantly obvious that High German, the language that is being taught in current integration courses and that ironically is even being used to teach German in those courses, is only spoken by about 3,14% of the German population (that’s pretty exactly the exact number of citizens of Hannover the capital of Lower Saxony). Though through some miraculous circumstance most Germans understand each other even in extreme situations (check this seemingly miraculous example of inter-dialectal communication) it would be humanly impossible for anyone to learn all 250 remaining German dialects. The new initiative therefore aims at making regular High German training obligatory for those who fail their High German oral exam which will be conducted via various institutions like the Goethe Institut or the Volkshochschulen over the coming ten years with all German citizens born after 1945. Participants will be randomly assigned to their exams so some Germans might still have a couple of years before they will have to face re-education. “We hope that everyone will take matters into their own hands and start brushing up on their language skills voluntarily.”

Heavy support from the EU

While the budget of approximately 600 billion EUR (that’s approximately 1000 EUR per German citizen) for the next ten years might seem steep at first glance, the economical benefit of a better integration on both sides and of fewer language related issues among Germans themselves will soon make up for this investment. The European Union is also heavily funding this project with 75% of the costs which is no surprise as Germany is the EU’s strongest link.

Similar consequences as for migrants

Those who fail their re-integration process, will have to face grave consequences e.g. loss of voting rights and continuous re-education until passing the test. “In a democracy we can’t have people vote, who have no clue why and what they actually vote for.”, says Prof. Deutschendorf. He continues: “We also think that the Germans will become more empathetic with migrants that had and still have to go through the same experience, especially when they realize how irrelevant this kind of knowledge actually is and when they are subsequently threatened with harsh consequences.”

Currently integration course participants might face shortenings of their already rather limited state welfare or non-prolongation of their right to stay.

Merkel welcomes new approach

Woman chancellor Merkel welcomes this initiative and, setting a good example, is already participating in one of the first model re-integration courses herself together with her favorite party member Horst Seehofer of the CSU, hoping to pass her test by the end of her current term. “I wouldn’t bet my house on Horst passing though”, Merkel said only half-jokingly.

Beam of hope for German citizens

We at smarterGerman are already developing a course for German natives to help them pass their Integrationstest with flying colors and to become better citizens of this beautiful Merkelocracy. How is your German today? Can you already answer the following questions from the final test of current integration courses? Give it a try. The questions are in German of course.

TEST: COULD YOU INTEGRATE INTO THE GERMAN CULTURE (CLICK HERE)?

The post Germans obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure appeared first on smarterGerman.

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Weißwurst, Bratwurst, Schweinebraten: Germany’s cuisine is known as good and robust – and also as very meat-based. When it comes to traditional dishes, it is not always easy to find something suitable for vegetarians or even vegans. But besides the lack of meatless meals, there is a growing number of vegetarians and vegans in the country. Even without eating meat, you don’t have to starve in Germany – although it isn’t always easy.

Hidden meat-base dishes

When it comes to traditional German meals, you will soon notice that meat is often an essential ingredient. Even if you don’t see it at first sight, many foods do contain a certain amount of meat, like soups or the so-called Eintopf which is available in many different styles. So beware of hidden meat when you are planning to have a typical German dinner and better ask for it if you are in a restaurant.

Vegetarian Alternatives

Thus most of the restaurants in Germany do have at least a few vegetarian dishes, but especially smaller ones in rural areas might have not. A durable alternative, in this case, is just to order some “Beilagen” (side-dishes). For example, if you are in Franconia, “Kloß mit Soß,” i.e. dumplings with brown sauce, is a popular meatless alternative not only for children but also for vegetarians. Also, Spätzle can be a very satisfying main-dish. Try some Käsespätzle – Spätzle with onions and lots of cheese. Besides this, many of the sweet dishes of the traditional German cuisine are suitable for vegetarians, for example, Kaiserschmarrn or Dampfnudeln. In northern Germany, old-school food does, of course, often contain fish in some kind. If you are a pescetarian, you won’t have any problems.

When it comes to veganism, it gets a bit more complicated because traditional food mostly contains milk or eggs in certain amounts. In this case, you should just be slightly more aware, but you might find yourself some satisfying food to enjoy.

Veganism and Vegetarianism on the Rise

Vegetarianism and veganism are disproportionately large popular among educated persons. That is why you can find very suitable vegetarian restaurants or those offering vegetarian alternatives in bigger cities. Even many meat-biased restaurants like those offering burgers will have something without a touch of an animal. Universities and higher schools are always a good indicator for a more or less distinctive vegetarian community, in every cafeteria, students will get at least one meatless meal. That’s also the reasons why you won’t have any problems to find something that suits you in the major cities of Germany, also if you are vegan.

Vegetarian and Vegan Street Food

But what about a quick snack on the streets? The real Germans like Bratwurst, Fischbrötchen or Currywurst are not the right choice, but the all-time favorite street food of Germany is Döner. Although Döner usually contains meat, you can always have a vegetarian variation with cheese. Other healthy alternatives at the Döner-stand are Falafel or Halloumi. You can see, even if you are vegetarian or vegan, you don’t have to suffer in Germany. But sometimes, you’ll just have to be a bit more patient.

The post Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine in Germany appeared first on smarterGerman.

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© Pixabay The Situation of Church and State in Germany

In times of religiously legitimized fundamental terrorism, religion is obviously still playing a big role in the ways of the world. Though it’s easy to think the world would be quite secularized, the great religions are in fact gaining in numbers. And despite every society usually viewing itself as the norm, Germany is indeed one of the exceptions when it comes to its religious make-up. Taking into consideration that having a denomination doesn’t necessarily mean you are a particularly religious or faithful person, still more than half of the German population is a member of either the Catholic or the Protestant churches. In addition, circa 5,5 % of Germans is part of another confession, such as the Islam or Judaism. The rest of the population is undenominational, that means roughly 30 Million of 80 Million people. What makes Germany one of the exceptions is that above all the two large Christian churches have continuously been losing members, and are going on to do so. In any case, the churches are still of utmost importance in Germany. So, let us take a look at the relationship of church and state in the country.

Bound by Contract

In Germany, the relationship between the state and the two major churches is defined by a contract. The foundation of this contract is the separation of church and state, which in turn can be traced back to the French Revolution and the development of laicism. The term laicism is derived from the French word “laïc”, which originally meant anyone who was not part of the clergy. A laical state is thus one that bases its values not or at least not only on religious commandments and that ultimately places religion in the private life of its citizens. Germany is almost a laical state, in that there is an official separation of church and state. Churches should not have a say in state matters. As it usually goes with us humans, things are, of course, not quite so clear. For one, the Bundesrepublik is collecting a special church tax (though only from those who actually are church members) for the churches. In return, churches compensate the tax authorities for their efforts. Additionally, Christian holidays are statutory in Germany. But, Churches, respectively organizations that have equal contracts with the state, profit, even more, form German law. They legally are charitable organizations, which has an impact on the taxes they have to pay. Further, the salaries of bishops and religion teachers (who are not allowed to teach without the consent of their respective church) are being paid by the state, not through church taxes but out of the budget that pays civil servants. At the same time, the churches are able to dictate the rules of the working environments. The maintenance of buildings owned by the church is also financed by all taxpayers. In numbers, that’s a sum of about 450 Million Euro each year (not including the church tax). Thus, the Christian churches in Germany are definitely privileged in comparison to other religious organizations.

As mentioned before, the details of these issues are defined in state contracts, the so-called concordats with the Vatican and the Church-State Treaties with the Protestant Church. A very few other representative religious organizations, such as the Central Council of Jews in Germany, have coherent contracts with the Bundesrepublik. As there are many smaller religious organizations that do not have equivalent contracts with the state and merely count as e.g. non-profit associations, it is noteworthy, that these kinds of contracts are very special. As you see, we can’t really speak of a complete separation of church and state.    

The post Grades of Separation – Church and State in Germany appeared first on smarterGerman.

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Of course, Germany is well known for its favorite beverage beer. Drinking it is common and important, but thus it can also lead to some unpleasant moments when you don’t know how to handle the thousands of years of drinking culture. Let’s face the most important rules.

Drinking in Public

Unlike in many other countries, drinking alcohol and especially beer in public is not only legal but very common in Germany. The so-called Feierabendbier (end of work beer) is still a vivid part of the German beer and working culture. That’s why you can easily see workers with a can or a bottle of beer in their hand walking home or riding the bus and nobody will probably care. But beware: in some public trains or buses, drinking alcohol is prohibited, so just watch out for signs. Especially in summer, it is also widespread to have a beer outside at the lake, in the park or at the beach. You don’t need to cover your bottle – just show it with pride.

Anstoßen (toasting) with Beer

Toasting is crucial in Germany, especially when you have some beers with your friends. Germans tend to toast a lot and in many different situations. They toast when they get a new round of drinks, they toast when someone just said something important and they toast just without any reason. If you don’t want to attract attention, you should just follow some simple rules: You should always try to bump your glass to those of every single of your drinking mates, but sometimes it is just good enough to knock them all together. If your mate is too far away, it’s also allowed to just raise your glass and nod your head slightly. Don’t bump too harsh because your drink could splinter. Also, a very basic rule is to make eye-contact to whom you are toasting. If you don’t, you will have seven years of bad sex, according to a German drinking myth.

Drinking Age

In Germany, it is legal to enjoy soft alcoholic drinks like beer and wine at the age of 16, whereas hard drinks like spirits and liqueurs are only allowed to adults over 18. So don’t wonder if you see some youngsters having a beer – it is probably legal.

Never drink Weizen/Weißbier out of a Bottle

This rule is sometimes also discussed in Germany, but most of the German beer drinkers (and especially in the south) will agree: It is absolutely sacrilegious to drink a Weizenbier (or Weißbeer or Hefeweizen – different words, same style) out of the bottle. You have to use a special, high glass, narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. An alternative can be a mug. There is a reason besides the good, old tradition: It just tastes better. Because of the yeast you use for this type of beer, you have to pour it to spread this yeast in the beverage. But better practice a bit because pouring a Weizen is not easy and must be done with the right technique.

The post Rules of and facts about drinking Beer in Germany appeared first on smarterGerman.

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So your qualifications are not considered enough for studying at a university in Germany? Time to check out the Studienkolleg – a preparatory course especially meant for international students to be able to study in Germany.
There are two main types of Studienkolleg; basically, ones attached to a university, and ones attached to a “university of applied sciences” – what people from the United States might call a technical or vocational college. If you go to a Studienkolleg from a university, and pass the qualifications and exams from it, you can study at any university or vocational college in Germany.

However!

If you study at a Studienkolleg at a vocational college, you can only apply to study at vocational colleges in Germany. So please check with the associated universities to make sure that when you study at their Studienkolleg, that the qualification is accepted at the university at which you want to study!

Also, make sure of the requirements for tuition fees, if any. State-run Studienkolleg-facilities do not charge tuition fees and their qualifications are valid within the whole of Germany. Private Studienkolleg facilities do exist, and they do charge tuition fees, but make sure you get as much information from these facilities as possible as to their qualifications, their validity, and if the qualifications will be accepted by where you eventually wish to study!

Within the Studienkolleg, there may be specialized tracks depending on the subjects you wish to go on to study. Of course, this will also include German language classes as well to help prepare you, but the subjects you wish to study will be also reflected in the program of study.

These tracks are usually broken down as follows, with the target degrees in mind:

  • medical, biological, and pharmaceutical degrees
  • mathematical, science, or technical degrees (STEM type fields)
  • business, economics, and social science degrees
  • the humanities (including German studies)
  • language degrees

So please make sure to check and double-check the information you have! Contact the Studienkolleg that you are interested in directly if you must, to get information directly from them. Because they are familiar with working with international students, they will be able to help you get the most up-to-date information about their programs of study and what a student can expect.

The post How to prepare for Studienkolleg in Germany appeared first on smarterGerman.

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Historically, the lands we know today as the nation of Germany were in reality governed by an loose conglomeration of princes and nobles, each with their own lands (even in the days of the Holy Roman Empire). With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 19th century, and the rise of nationalism in the 19th century especially during the Napoleonic era, unity was first achieved by Wilhelm I of Prussia when German princes gathered in Versailles to recognize him as German Emperor on January 18th, 1871.

Days of German unity in the East and West

Since then there have been several days considered a “day of German unity”, for various reasons: in the postwar Federal Republic of Germany, June 17th was celebrated as a day for German unity. This day was actually to remember the uprising of 1953 in East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, as it was called). In East Germany itself, the Founding Day on October 7th was celebrated as a national holiday.

The Origin of October 3rd

While English speakers may mistake the current Day of German Unity to celebrate the reunification of Germany, “reunification” is not a term used within Germany at all. The dream of unity has existed for decades, if not into centuries, and the current Day of German Unity (October 3rd) was partly chosen to reflect a day not already observed in some way by either Germany as to avoid connotations of reunification and the harsh economic and political divisions that had existed. This debate and avoidance of reunification and division comes into play even today: there was a short-lived debate to move the Day of German Unity from its set date on October 3rd to the Sunday closest to it, but was rejected in part because the proposal would have placed the holiday to occasionally fall on October 7th, which had been the Founding Day in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It is not about reunification of what was formerly East Germany and West Germany, but about celebrating the dream of a singular unity that had existed and continues to exist.

An alternate date was considered for the current Day of German Unity, that being November 9th (the day the Berlin Wall came down), but was rejected in part because November 9th was also the anniversary of large-scale progroms against Germany’s Jewish population (notably, the Kristallnacht) and thus deemed inappropriate for a national holiday.

The post Tag der Deutschen Einheit – Day of German Unity appeared first on smarterGerman.

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