Master Studies in Germany
Coming from India, I considered not finishing one’s studies in the prescribed duration a taboo. However, this notion was challenged by the outlook and freedom of work I got during my studies. Initially, I struggled with the idea of not completing my two-year course within the time period, but eventually I came around the idea and it was liberating in more than one way. It conferred me with the much needed time which I used to explore my areas of interests than running to the next possible opportunity that stumbled my way. Consequently, it gave me the satisfaction for the work I did — which is, indeed, a luxury.
I did a course called Commercial Vehicle Technology at TU Kaiserslautern. The course is an amalgamation of mechanical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering. Amalgamation because there are very few core (i.e. compulsory) credited course. Most of the credits have to be earned by picking and choosing courses from a catalogue as per one’s interest. The catalogue has a complete spectrum of subjects in every field and lets student design the course for oneself. Exams are to be enrolled on your own volition which has its own merits/demerits. A major departure from the standard rules one is used to in India is that one can always write an exam the next time the course is offered. Well, I called it a characteristic for a reason, but at the same time it makes you more aware of your understanding of a subject and makes you the decision-maker.
There is no criterion of minimum attendance but there is absolutely no reason why one shouldn’t go to class. Professors are awesome! Exercises, need not say are practical and useful, are taken by researchers working under a chair headed by a professor. People are very responsive and helpful, in general. They are happy to discuss any questions pertaining to their subject or research ideas one might have. Consequently, subject knowledge is lucid, kindling both confidence in oneself and interest in the area. Research is not all that big a deal as it is in India, maybe. (how to write everyone researches here)
Even when you complete your credits one can take up new subjects of interest and if writing an exam for credits is too much of a burden — you can take exams as schein. Schein is additional exam that you write and only pass goes on the marksheet. If you flunk you can omit the subject altogether. There is an online portal to enroll/unenroll for exams and manage your credits. Caution: Examination office has stringent regulations which are mostly in German, so it is better to double check all the rules you heard from people.
About internships, first thing first, yes, internships are paid. This can depend a lot on the project and company one works for, but in my experience if you do not have a project of your own choice, you can discuss it with your supervisor in a candid conversation. One does not need to trudge only because it is needed on your curriculum. Companies are, generally, flexible in both working timings and one’s approach to solving a problem. Family emergencies are dealt with in the most humane way.
There are quite a few scholarships available for students at different stages of their study program and are fairly easy to apply. Check DAAD website for this. Additionally, one can also apply for scholarships through university. Research assistant jobs are easier to get if one knows German, but it depends from department-to-department.
German language is an important bullet point on you resume. It is a long, continuous process and one would need to know German to integrate even if the office work doesn’t require it. I have been trying to learn German for sometime now and it is no easy feat. It needs consistency and perseverance in efforts.
To sum it up, my overall experience has been amazing! From my side, it is a :thumbsup: