Life in Germany

germany_stuttgart copy

Time really flew by. It’s been about a year since I move to Stuttgart, Germany from Canada. So, let’s recap. I’ve divided it into section of: Housing, Transportation, Food, Beverages, Language, University and Overall Impression.

Housing

I live within student dormitories, which is really cheap compared to the rest of the city of Stuttgart. The building that I live in has 3 floors with each floor having about 12 rooms, 1 kitchen, 2 showers and 2 toilets. I have my own bedroom (bed, desk, book shelf) which has its own sink with mirror and a little walk-in closet. Therefore, I share a bathroom, and by bathroom I mean one toilet and 2 showers with 12 people. Which means I also share a kitchen with 12 people. We have 1 oven and 6 stove burners. If there’s 2 people cooking in there, the kitchen feels full and it’s not to comfortable to cook it. The fridges are also different, very small, think of a mini fridge from Canada, and now imagine sharing it with 4 people. Yeah, it’s really small. I go grocery shopping twice a week because a week full of groceries won’t fit in there. But that being said, there are few people on my floor that I actually see cooking, plus we all have a different schedule and we eat different times of the day based on our culture.

Transportation

We have an S-Bahn and then a U-Bahn. The S-bahn is basically a larger transportation system with longer distances and higher capacity. Then the U-Bahn is smaller and goes into more neighbourhoods away from central roads. They usually connect together. Then of course, we have the bus. I use the bus more for grocery shopping and my student card works as a transit pass but only between 18.00-6.00 which kinda sucks because of class schedule, you sometimes have a lot of free time during the day which would be nice to head out.

And the worst part, the price of it all. It’ 2.80€ one way. They work in zones, so it could be more than that too. I’m really use to buying a ticket and the ticket would have a time limit on it, like 1.5 hours. But nope, not here. You pay each way, and when you pay for your ticket, you have to enter your destination. So I really try to avoid traveling out outside of my student pass.

As for traveling, I’ve found the train to be stupid crazy expensive compared to flying or taking the bus. I took it in the beginning when I wasn’t sure which bus company was reliable, but now I take the bus all the time or just fly cause it is just that cheap. Also our S-Bahn connects to the airport and is about a 20-minute ride from my place.

Food

German food is usually fatty meats, but the new generation is trying to move away from this by consuming healthier meals more or so using French and Italian inspiration. As for me, I go to the grocery store and can still buy whatever I did in Canada, like vegetables, meat, bread and fruit. Of course there are exceptions, like any brand you’d find here in Canada, probably not in Germany. Also another thing that really bothers me is their lack of spicy food. I love spicy food and here in Germany it is non-existent. Even things that are labelled “hot” which I’ve old found in their version of Mexican food, is not even hot at all, I would consider it mild. They do have some specialities stores, like an Asian or Indian super market which did have some spicy flavours.

The prices in Germany for food I find to be cheaper. Especially cheese; I can get 200 grams of Brie cheese for 99 cents. They also have a chocolate brand called ‘Milka’ which is really good and comes with so many combinations. I also really enjoy that they have lots of Pretzels which is usually consumed during breakfast.

Beverages

I was actually shocked by the amount of people who drink bottled water when the tap water is perfectly drinkable. I drink the tap water and it’s fine, no weird taste or anything.

As for alcohol, you can buy it just about anywhere, many grocery stores have it and you’re able to drink in public. It was really weird to get use to, seeing people on campus sitting on the grass drinking beer. But you’re just not allowed open alcohol on the public transportation it seems.

Language

Yeah, German is a tricky language to learn and I started at the very bottom, A1.1 and am now at A2.1. When I first got to Germany, I was placed within an intensive class which is 5 days a week from 8am to 1pm for 6 weeks. Do I feel like I can hold a conversation with someone? Of course not. I can maybe read it well, listening is okay but speaking/conversation… nope nope nope. All of my classes are taught in English, everyone that I live with and have class with, the common language is English. So I’m really not exposed to the language except for when I had German class once a week at 6pm for 3 hours.

University

I am doing my Master’s in Science at the University of Stuttgart in Stuttgart, Germany in Water Resources Engineering and Management (WAREM).

The WAREM program:

  • 4 terms starting September 2015 where the first 3 terms are course based and the last term is a thesis.
  • There are 3 different specializations:
    • Groundwater Management and Geohydrology
    • Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Management
    • Sanitary Engineering and Water Quality Management

Here are the courses i’ll be taking:

001_programme_structure_WAREM_2014_09_15

The grading system is really weird too, it goes from 1.0 to 5.0 i think, and where 1.0 is the highest and best mark. And only goes in intervals of 1.0, 1.3, 1.7, 2.0, 2.3, 2.7 etc. And I think, I THINK 1 is very good, 2 is good, 3 is satisfactory and not too sure what 4 or 5 is. And i don’t really know how they correlate to Canadian grades or even their percentage.

It’s a really different spin to what I’m use to in Canada. In Canada, you had assignments, quizzes, midterms, labs, lab reports, presentations due almost just about every week and then of course a final exam. In Germany, none of this exist, just a 100% final exam. So during the term, you’re actually quite relaxed, depending on your course you may have a presentation, but you get no mark for it, it’s treated as a prerequisite for writing the final exam. For each course I take here, it’s then broken into 2 modules, so for the exam, each module is only an hour long, which is actually really nice. Also the terms are quite long. Starting in October with class ending the beginning of February and exams ending the start of March. Then classes starting in April, ending mid July and exams ending mid August. I liked the Canadian system better where I had 4 consecutive months off for working.

Overall Impression

It’s quite similar, living in Germany and Canada, but of course, I like Canada, so much better. And after my studies are done, I plan on coming back to Canada to work and to live permanently.

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