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Studying in Germany: What a paradise! It is free and you can go to any city you want to. That is at least the opinion I have heard from my fellow co-learners during my Master programs in the US. True, die Uni (the university) used to be free and now a small fee of between 500- 750 Euros per semester has been introduced, which almost caused a revolution among the students in Germany. There were numerous strikes and riots during the beginning phase of the new tuition law. I have always asked myself how a strike would have any kind of affect under these circumstances, but apparently it caused a lot of media coverage and resulted in some steps towards the students by the government.
Studying in Germany in my opinion is not half as much fun as it sounds like. During my degree in Germany I was in rooms with about 600 other students and the atmosphere was comparable to the one you would find in small stadiums or train stations. Needless to say there was not a lot of opportunity to actually learn something while in the physical university. Since the universities were so overcrowded, the goal seemed to be to get rid of as many students within the first years as possible. That caused the exams to be harder and sometimes misleading. On the other hand it raised the bar which was a positive aspect.
I did not really know many of my fellow learners in Germany and it was hard to actually find the familiar people or friends since there were just too many students in the building. Most of us had only part time jobs even through the Master phase of the program, while during my Master programs in the US I was studying with professionals with full time jobs, which was a very pleasant surprise since there was actual job experience in the room and people did something that was almost impossible in a German university: They talked to each other and had actual discussion.
I think it was important to have both experiences though. I would encourage every US student to take semester off and study in the country of their choice. It is a great opportunity and a lot aside from the actual life in the university can be learned.