The first step is always the hardest? The truth is: Yes, it is. Unfortunately, at the beginning of my time in university there hadn't nearly been any useful blogs about studying, no how-to's, no valuable advices. As anyone of my family had ever studied, university had been completely new for me - I'd felt like Harry in Hogwarts - and I wish, I had known those following tips, because it would have made it so much simpler for me.
To change this for you here are my 6 tips to make the first step a little bit easier:
1. Finding a residence
Especially the medical students among us will nod their heads audibly. Finding a home in a foreign city two weeks before study starts is no breeze.
Luckily there are possibilities and as I'd probably misdone everything, here are a few tips, how to outdo me:
· Dormitory: Why this is my first point? Because I think it is the best decision. At dormitories you can have whole apartments with or without kitchens and baths or a room in a shared flat and that for a unbeatable price. Unfortunately, that's why they're often full. To file an (hardship) application at student services is worth it anyway.
· housing associations (german "Wohnungsgenossenschaften"): My insider tip. That's how I had found my dream apartment. Housing associations have
often keen apartments, fair conditions and assume renovations etc.. Just have a look, if they exist in your city.
· flatshare (german "WG"): Nice for making new contacts, sharing high rents or just living not alone. You should make sure, if the flatshare is only
for purpose (just living together to share the rent) and what the views of your roommates are regarding hygiene, smoking, parties etc.
· temporary living: Can be worth it as there is a wider range of flats or less competition during lecture-time. Possibilities are
AirBnB, Hostels, Couchsurfing or also temporary "WG-Zimmer" or flats at wg-gesucht.
· Commuting: Comes last, because in my opinion you're missing a big part of your student life, if you have to catch the train directly after
lectures, can't go to spontaneous meeting etc..
Big topic, which surely deserves an own article. Short and crisp:
1. In Germany we have a financial subsidy for students called "Bafög"
2. Filing an application is always worth it.
3. You don't get money automatically at the start of semester, but from the date on you've filed the application. So care about it timely.
Of course there are other possibilities of financing. If you're interested, I'm going to write an article about fellowships, jobs and credits.
3. Contacts, contacts, contacts
I think I don't have to emphasize, that contacts are veery important. University isn't growing in like in school, where everything has been explained step by step.
Alone you're maybe going to make it, but with colleagues it will be a lot easier and surely so much more fun. Believe me, it's worth attending this events:
· Freshman-days (german: Erstsemestler-Tage; normally taking place a few days before lectures start)
· First lectures
· Student associations
4. Student association sessions
That's a jawbreaker. But no. Student associations are not a bloc of super-super nerds. They are dedicated students, who deal with the content of the study and try to make it even better for you. Just try a session and maybe there is some job for you, too. Student associates have for that matter always the best tips and help you, if you have any problems with your course of study.
5. Lending instead of bying
Oh yes, I know, it's hard to resist the temptation. You're facing a professor in "real-life" for the first time maybe and he's saying with his deep, frightening voice: "Buy this book, it's the best, because I am the author. If not, you're not going to pass exams." You know what I mean.
But it just goes like that: At the beginning, everybody's going to give you some well-meant advice, which book to buy or what pencil in what color to use for
underlining the caption. Exactly, well-meant.
My procedure has been this and I saved much money and more important time:
(I'm speaking for medical students for the most part, but I know, it works similarly for other disciplines like law and economics)
1. Write down the advices
2. Search in the online-catalogue of the library of university (often possible in English), where these books are located (often different
locations). If you find one single at the end of the world, you can be sure, it can't be that important.
3. Go to the library: How many copies exist? If there are many of this book, it's being used a lot, which says something for it, but:
4. Just try all books, sit down for an hour or two, take a look and read a few lines, because the german publisher Thieme, Elsevier, Duale Reihe, Springer etc., have one in common: they cover the same topic - but in a different way. Each publisher wants to launch the "best" book of course and every book has its own style, different pictures etc..
What I want to say, don't necessarily listen to your colleagues, if they say they are learning with this and that. It'll maybe work out for them, but for you another book might be better, you're going to have more fun with it and so you're going to learn much more!
6. Frequently second-hand-book-markets are taking place, maybe your book is among them?
7. Buy new (For books there are also book-fellowships existent)
6. Find your learning-style
Writing pad, tablet or rather netbook? Lectures or only seminars? Powerpoints, books or former reports? The choice seems endless, but calm down: everyone has to deal with it! I've also tried different things, till I found my method. I have to write down everything, others just have to read it once and memorize it for the rest of their life. It had costed me much time, but I'd gone ahead with it and it really has been worth it.
7. The 7th tip is for free: Enjoooooy it! I loved my time in university. It is not for nothing that it is described as the best time in
life :) Maybe you are overwhelmed at the start, but don't worry, it will get easier within a few weeks.
Please consider, that those advices are intended for foreign students, who want to study in Germany. I don't really know how they would work out in other countries.
How did you like my first article? Is something left?