Immersed In German Culture: Exchange Student Edition

Exchange view, Features

Vol.26, Issue 16. 09 February 2024

Taking a step into the world of an exchange program can be both daunting and exciting. It can lead to high levels of anticipation and novelty: a new country, a new culture, a new routine, and a new language. For many students, Germany is a treasure trove, bubbling with rich history, technological innovation, and a dynamic culture. Diving into the exchange experience in this bustling country is evolutionary.

No matter the point of arrival, for example, Berlin or Hamburg, there is a plethora of historical buildings and monuments to visit, learn about, and post about. The German language greets you the moment you land, a rich language that is precise and cutthroat, which becomes a major challenge but also a great opportunity to make connections with the locals. Although most Germans, usually the younger generations, speak English, one will find them extremely shy about using their English skills. “Entschuldigung, Sprechen Sie Englisch?” which translates to “Excuse me, do you speak English?” is a great way to break the ice with locals. It shows them there is a little effort as the initial language used in the approach is in fact, German. What happens after that is always different, some respond with “Yes a little bit” and some just shake their head no and continue with their life.

One incredible thing about being an exchange student in Germany is being immersed in the strong history which ranges from century-old castles to cobblestone-covered streets to Gothic cathedrals and museums. Beyond that, the nightlife and student life can be quite impeccable, from a night out at a techno club to a relaxed evening over a cold brew with friends, there’s always an experience waiting to be had. One thing to note before going to Germany is how much they love their beer, pretzels, sauerkraut, and schnitzel. Holiday meals often include sauerkraut and almost every local restaurant offers different types of schnitzel. Besides the schnitzel, a rule of thumb for being an exchange student in Germany is to try the different types of beer. With 5,000 different types of beer and about 1,500 different breweries, one can never run out of new beers to try.

This point might save some students a possible mental breakdown: Everything! In Germany is closed on Sundays! No grocery stores except possibly the expensive stores at the train station, no pharmacy unless the hard-to-find emergency pharmacies, and no shopping center is open either. The locals call it “Ruhetag” which means “rest day” and is extremely important to them. In addition to rest day, no loud music, partying, or noise is permitted after 22:00, be it behind closed doors or in public, any violation of this can be very disrespectful to neighbors and sometimes lead to short visits by the authorities.

In the end, being an exchange student in Germany is in itself, a wonderful experience of self-discovery, intense cultural immersion, and fosters open-mindedness. Not to mention, the profusion of pretzels, beer, bread, and Oktoberfest adventures.