A study travel experience in Germany blows away any preconception of the country a visitor may have. Talking about the nation’s population, Almir Krupic, Sales Manager at did deutsch-institut, which has centres in several locations across Germany, says, “Germans are more fun than their reputation [may lead you to believe] especially young people [who] easily get in touch with students from abroad.” For this reason and others, Krupic says Germany attracts more and more students for study and work purposes. “Students enjoy the way of life in Germany, the freedom, the many cultural events and also the diversity [of] the German cities.”
When asked to highlight the country’s assets, Kim Kluckhohn, Director of International Marketing at Humboldt-Institut, which operates language centres mainly in southern Germany, says, “That’s hard to answer in just a few sentences: Germany is so rich in culture, history and natural beauty. Our big cities offer great sightseeing opportunities: historic buildings, impressive cathedrals, old monasteries and churches, palaces, narrow cobbled-stone streets, etc. But there is also art, architecture, shopping, sports and lots of cultural events theatre, musical festivals, galleries and then there is, of course, the wonderful nature of Germany.”
Ute Gleich, Director at IH Heidelberg Collegium Palatinum in Heidelberg, agrees, saying, “Germany’s famous forests and mountain ranges offer many different opportunities for hiking, biking and outdoors activities.”
In addition, adds Gleich, Germany is highly attractive to those wishing to increase their employability, as it is one of the world’s leading exporting countries and home to many famous manufacturers, including the international car companies Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen. Germany’s economy is also relatively buoyant compared with some of its European neighbours, and Bernhard Freidl, Director of Horizonte in Regensburg, says, “The number of doctors, nurses, IT specialists [and] engineers, especially from Southern Europe, keeps growing, and they all need to learn German.”
As a consequence, many language schools offer a range of highly intensive business and career-oriented language courses. For example, F+U Academy of Languages has introduced highly targeted professional programmes. Alisha Fields at the academy explains, “The Foreign Language Correspondence Clerk, European Secretary, World Trade Correspondence Clerk and Translator programmes open up varied, interesting and, above all, future-proof career opportunities. This is because you integrate both foreign languages and commercial training, thereby learning a highly sought-after dual qualification. At the same time, you are competent in all aspects of secretarial administration, as well as the application of information technology.”
F+U Academy itself is located in the beautiful historic city of Heidelberg in southern Germany. Fields mentions a well-known traditional song about Heidelberg, that states, “Ich hab’ mein herz in Heidelberg verloren” [I lost my heart in Heidelberg]. She continues, “After visiting the city, there is seldom a student who cannot understand why!”
Set on the River Neckar, among the green hillsides in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Heidelberg is home to the country’s oldest university which today includes a museum and the old Student Prison an attractive market place and cobbled alleyways lined with pubs and restaurants, as well as the breathtaking ruin of the Heidelberger Schloss (castle), which won the German Top-Tourist award in 2012. However, according to Gleich at IH Heidelberg Collegium Palatinum, Heidelberg offers many more “out-of-the-ordinary” attractions.
“One of my favourite obscure destinations is the Heiligenberg (Holy Saints Mountain). On top of the mountain there once stood a large, fortified settlement built by the Celts and later a temple built by the Romans. Nowadays one will find the ruins of two old cloisters there. But the main attraction is a carefully constructed outdoor amphitheatre, built by the Nazis. Today [it] is used as an outdoor stage for [plays] and opera concerts. But above all, it is used to celebrate a tradition from the Middle Ages called Walpurgisnacht-Feier (Walpurgis Night Celebration). Every year on April 30, thousands of young people gather together to welcome the month of May by dancing the night away.”
Another beautifully preserved historic city, situated north of Munich, is Regensburg, which has a lively student population of around 30,000. According to Freidl, one of the advantages of studying in Regensburg is that the cost of living there is lower than in more expensive cities such as Munich, Berlin and Hamburg, and yet there is still plenty to do. “We have an enormous offer of cultural events and activities like a jazz festival, days of Medieval music, and the surrounding [countryside of] green [hills], forest, the Danube and other smaller rivers [make it] ideal for hiking [and] biking.”
Kluckhohn at Humboldt-Institut says that out of all their schools’ locations, she appreciates those with a mountain view. “Even though we have many different campuses, most of our year-round schools are located very close to the Alps and have a magnificent view of the snow-covered peaks. So, we take our students on hikes and mountain bike rides, and that is my personal preferred activity, as well.”
Most of Humboldt’s schools are located in southern Germany and include a year-round school for juniors and teenagers in Bad Schussenried. “Bad Schussenried lies nestled in an area between the Danube and Iller rivers and very close to Lake Constance. The town itself is small, but very typically German, with half-timbered houses, narrow streets, a wonderful old monastery and many little fun attractions, like a beer-mug museum,” comments Kluckhohn.
Beer is also what most people might think of when Bavaria’s capital, Munich is mentioned, as it is well-known for its Biergarten and Oktoberfest, but Krupic says the city has much more to offer. “Munich is one of the most traditional and touristic cities in Germany. It is known for its high quality of life and [many] tourist attractions, beautiful lakes and mountains close by.” It also boasts many famous art galleries, museums and a laid-back population that welcomes visitors.
Another city with a relaxed and friendly population is Berlin, which has a reputation for enjoying life to the full. But, despite being the country’s capital city, Berlin, says Barbara Jaeschke, owner of Berlin-based GLS, “is not Germany, but Berlin certainly is one of Germany´s biggest assets, a city that fascinates many.” Berlin’s unique history can be seen at every street corner, from Schloss Charlottenburg and the Brandenburg Gate, relics of its Prussian past, to Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery, reminders of the Cold War era.
Krupic describes Berlin today as Germany’s “trend-setting capital”, which is a hub for new fashion, art, design and music, and this hotbed of creativity gives the city a lively atmosphere. The trendy street Kastanienallee, which is home to GLS, is the backdrop of many fashion and film shoots, according to Jaeschke, and is therefore a great place for people watching. “Kastanienallee right in front of the GLS campus sometimes seems like a catwalk for über stylish people,” she says. “GLS has its own restaurant and if [students] sit on the terrace facing Kastanienallee, they can just watch them pass by all day.”
For Krupic, his highlight of Berlin is Mauerpark (or Wall Park, a nod to its past as part of the Berlin Wall), “especially Sunday afternoons in summer, where you can, for example, go out for open-air karaoke”. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Germany is one of the most powerful economies in the world and students understand the business advantages that a knowledge of German will bring them, especially as Germany is quite close to Slovenia and a lot of people are thinking of living, studying or working there. The beauty of the country attracts students, as well as its rich history and lively entertainment which German cities offer all year round. We send our students to Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt – depending on the student’s needs and expectations. Quite a lot of people think that German people have rigid principles and are unapproachable. However, as soon as students arrive they find they are talkative and friendly.”
Vesna Kosir Salabalija, LTA, Slovenia
“Swiss students want to experience the language [and] the culture of Germany, and of course visit Berlin! Berlin, like Barcelona or Florence, is a city everybody loves. We send students to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt with Berlin and Hamburg [receiving] the most requests. Once in Germany, students discover the pleasure of speaking German, to understand it and they also discover the wonderful people behind the language. I love Germany in general. It was our honeymoon [destination] almost 30 years ago, and the kindness of the people was a great discovery for me.”
Antonella Drompt, AD Voyages Langues et Cultures, Switzerland
“Spanish students are attracted to Germany because of the country itself, the job opportunities for Spanish people at the moment and that the Germans, in general, are regarded as people you can trust. We send students to Heidelberg, Freiburg and Berlin. Heidelberg is especially popular because of the university atmosphere [of the city], and the fact that it is not too big. They like Berlin for how cosmopolitan it is and for its recent history, and Freiburg again for being full of young students, a relaxed lifestyle and its proximity to the Black Forest. Our students often expect Germans to be very serious, but they find they are open, polite, friendly and very accepting of Spanish students. I have been to Germany and I’ve found that it is beautiful, that people look after nature very well and that everything is very clean.”
Lourdes Bereciartua, International House Madrid, Spain