Do You Want to Study in Germany?

Many people have been asking me; how can I afford to study here in Europe? Do I have a scholarship or how did I ever  begin the whole application process? To answer all these questions, I’ve decided to write this article.

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Honestly, studying in Europe is like a roller coaster ride. Of course, there are a lot of paperworks and aside from that, you also need to be emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, and mentally prepared. Here are some information that might guide you throughout your decision making process.

  • Do you really need or want to study a Master’s degree program abroad?

Do you feel jaded in your current work? Do you want to learn more because you feel that you don’t have any career growth?

Yes, it is the reality of being a yuppie (young professional), but you really need to make sure whether studying a master’s program is the solution to your current dilemma.  I put need and want in the question because there are a lot of motivations for needing and wanting the specific program.   There are some people who apply for a job right after their undergraduate program so that they can have enough work experience, and they can also earn money. However, some professions entail a good salary package if you have a higher educational degree. So by having a Master’s diploma, this gives you enough leverage to compete in the job market. For others, they continue taking the Masters program right after their Bachelor’s because they still want to figure out what they will do after their studies. It’s like strengthening their skills set before plunging to the real world.

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Studying a Masters program is like a commitment. It is demanding in terms of readings, presentations, and papers.  As an Asian studying in Europe, it is far more challenging since foreign students should also learn the  language of the country where they want to study. It might not be needed in English courses, but it is recommended so you can communicate with the people around you.

If you are 100% sure that you’re up to the challenge, then here’s the next step.

  • What is your target program and where?

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I suggest to make a list of possible Master’s degree programs which spark your interest. As you go through this list, try to search on Google which universities offer these programs. In this way, you can get an idea about where you will study, the requirements needed for your application, and the cost of your tuition fee.

There are a lot of news articles about Germany stating that all universities don’t ask for any tuition fees. I would just clarify that this does not mean that you will not have to pay anything for your studies.

There are still some private universities that asks for tuition fees. However, most of the universities in Germany only ask for “a semester contribution,” which includes the transportation ticket for the whole semester.  In the university website, you can also see the breakdown of this cost and the amount may vary depending where you will study in Germany.

There are also some regions which don’t recognized some of Asian diplomas. I experienced that the head of the program already had accepted me, but the International Office rejected my application.

Remember! This is not the end of the world if ever you experience this, even though we cannot escape the fact that it is really tough to look for a region or a university who will credit your Bachelor’s degree as a Bachelor’s degree and not a High School diploma.

Aside from that, you also need to look at your Transcript of Records. Some universities also verify if you took a certain number of units to be considered in your desired Master’s program. This means that if ever you graduated with a Bachelor of Science and you want to have a Master’s in Humanities it might be difficult to get a spot.

This is just my experience and I don’t want to generalize. So what I can suggest is  contact the University directly if you’re interested to apply.  It wouldn’t harm if you send an email directly to the program coordinator and ask whether you are qualified to apply for their Master’s program.

  • Uni-Assist to the rescue!

Some of the universities in Germany use Uni-Assist to handle all applications. This means that you can’t submit all your documents to the University directly, instead they will refer you to Uni-Assist.  You need to sign up in their system and look for the program that you want to apply for. You can also see in their website; how much you need to pay for the processing.  What I like about Uni-Assist is that, they also convert your grades based on the German system.

  • Scholarship

DAAD and Erasmus Mundus are the two famous scholarship institutions that you can look up to.  They also offer specific programs from specific Universities. It means that you need to choose from their list.  They also have specific guidelines or rules based on your nationality or region.

 I’ve tried to apply for Erasmus, but the application is really competitive. If ever, you did not make it for the scholarship program, then you can also ask whether they can still consider your application without the scholarship. This means that you need to pay for your tuition fee or look for sponsors.

  • Wait for your Acceptance Letter 

Once you have submitted all the requirements to the University or other institutions such as Uni-Assist etc., you need to wait for the acceptance or rejection letter. If you are accepted, then they will give you all the necessary information on how to process your visa so you don’t need to worry about that.

One thing that I’ve learned from this experience is to do your own research. What I’ve experienced might be different compared to what you will experience in the future. Rules change and you can’t always expect that the results will always be the same. Second, apply for more than one university. As what we always say in any raffle draws- the more entries you send the more chances of winning. It goes the same with University applications. I think it is necessary to have one or two options or fallback. Third, pray! It works 🙂

Do you have any similar experience in Germany? Let me know what you think!

Gymnastics in Germany

Before, I used to associate Gymnastics to a girl performing some stunts with ribbons. However, my experiences in Germany widen my knowledge about this sport, thus it offers a lot more than what I knew.

Just last Saturday, Novermber 21, I witnessed how TV Herbolzheim beat TSV Buttenwiesen. This last competition for the season placed them on the second place out of 8 teams from Germany. The categories involved floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar. What is inspiring about being a spectator of this event is that you can really see how disciplined, dedicated, and committed the gymnasts are. Although most of them are students and professionals, they still find time to train every week and compete mostly on weekends.

Here are some  of the highlights of  the said event.

 

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Aside from competitions and weekly trainings, they also perform in private and public events. Last February 2014, I  had the privilege to perform with TVH in Herbolzheim’s Prunk und Narrensitzung- a celebration related to Fasnacht or more popularly known as Carnival. Here is the video.

 

TapSiLog: Tapa. Sinangag. Itlog.

Usually, we have cold cuts, marmalade, and bread for breakfast here in Germany. If I have an examination or I have an important event in the morning, I would still cook this meal that I’ll be going to share in this article. Warm breakfast enables me to function well and I don’t know- it’s give me  enough energy to survive all activities within a day. I can have  late lunch at 3 or 4pm or I may even skip dinner once I have this hearty breakfast.

What is TapSiLog?

It is a short term for Tapa (beef), Sinangag (fried garlic rice), and Itlog (egg). I started to become a fan of this meal when me and my family lived in Tondo. We were there for about 8 years. The place might be known because of  the squatters’ area or the smokey mountain,  but I tasted the most delicious and affordable meals there. I recalled that we just needed to pay 20 pesos (0.40 Euros) for this meal.

Let me share to you my recipe on how I recreate the taste of Tondo’s TapSiLog that I experienced.

TapSiLog

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1/2 kilo                  beef steak
2 tablespoons       soy sauce
1 tablespoon         sugar
1 clove                  garlic
1 piece                  egg
1 cup                    rice
oil
salt
pepper
*oyster sauce (optional)
Tapa
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Sauté garlic until golden brown. Then, cut the beef into strips and add it in the pan. Wait until the flesh is cooked from the outside. Add water. Put the soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and oyster sauce (adjust based on your preference). I recommend to boil it for 2 hours until  the beef is really soft and all the flavors are in the meat.
Fried Rice
You have two options for the fried rice. My mother would usually, take out the beef from the pan. While it is hot, she will put the rice in the same pan.
Or you can use a clean pan. Put oil, sauté garlic until golden brown then add rice. Put a little bit of salt to taste.
Plating
 Put the fried rice, beef, and fried egg on the plate. Served the dish with vinegar as a condiment.

Tracks: Decision. Journey. Destination.

My friend Argel asked me to watch the trailer of Tracks, a 2013 film based on the desert trek of Robyn Davidson or more popularly known as the “Camel Lady.” After watching the entire movie, here are some quotations from the film and the takeaways that I’ve learned:

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Robyn Davidson’s journey. Photo by Rick Smolan

“The decision to act is… the beginning of the journey.”

We are sometimes too afraid to decide and most specially to begin. Whether it’s a long journey or not, there are still some sacrifices to be considered. It might be time, money, health, and other factors. What I’ve learned about the film is once you decide to go for it (just the mere thought that you’ve committed to make one journey possible) – that is a powerful starting point of your adventure.

“I just want to be by myself.”

In this world, where technology dominates our daily routine, it’s definitely hard to drop everything and to reflect on what you’ve done, who you are, and who do you want to be.

“I’d like to think an ordinary person is capable of anything.”

Finding yourself might involve a leap of faith, which might result to a lot of criticisms, specially if you want to do something extraordinary. Davidson’s story pushes its viewers out of our comfortable bubble and inspires us to do something that we’ve been wanting to do for so long.

“If you get into trouble, there’s no shame in turning back.”

And if ever we fail, yes, there would be a lot of people who would say that “I told you.” However, there will still be people who would welcome us with open arms and tell us that “it is okay.” The quotation above is stated by her sister, before she begins her journey.

Robyn Davidson: “I’m so alone”
Rick Smolan: “We all are”

Once we start our journey, there will always be some ups and downs and somethings in-between. Fortunately or unfortunately, there will be nobody who will be there for us. There might be strangers who can lend a helping hand and pets to comfort us, but,in the end, we are alone- to decide, to continue, or to quit.

“I want to finish, what I’ve started.”

When things get really tough, people would just blurt out to stop. But I am really one with Davidson in making a stand that once you commit and give everything you have, there’s completely no point to stop.

I might have some decisions or promises in the past that I’ve never fulfilled  or continued, but I always see to it that when I embark on a journey, I will ensure that I reach my destination.

New York, New York!

Thomas Wolfe states that “one belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

Diversity and Immigration are just parts of its history and as a tourist, one feels that New York is not selfish in terms of sharing its culture. From the sparkling lights in Times Square to the Statue of Liberty’s welcoming torch, the city just proves its warmth and openness.

Going to New York has been always my life-long dream. People always asks me why I don’t shop a lot or eat in fancy restaurants, and now this is the answer! All the savings and frugality are for New York. Nothing is impossible if you dream and do something towards it, right?

Now,let me share my wonderful experience in this city that never sleeps!

Times Square

I can just sit here the whole day just to observe all people. Times Square’s loudness, and artistry (street artists and performers) enrich all New Yorkers or even tourists’ own personality. This place gives people a certain type of character- something that is bold and adventurous.

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Central Park

However, if you don’t like the sound of the city, then you could just relax in Central Park.

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Do you want to feel royal or are you just lazy to walk around the park?  If your answer is yes, you may also try riding a carriage. As of September 2015, its rate is $50 for the first 20 minutes or fraction there of and $20 each additional 10 mins. These rates are per trip and not per person.

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Are you familiar with this bridge? Bow Bridge rings a bell, especially when we talk about  proposals, or even wedding photoshoots. I can say that being here is really romantic.

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For me, a day is not enough to enjoy Central Park. It’s really big and you can have a lot of things to do here. I also admire Americans who always jog or ride a bike here. Say yes to fitness!

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This photo was taken on the top of Rockefeller Center.

Washington Square

If you really like parks, there are a lot of parks that you can visit in NYC. I find Washington Square cool because it is near NYU and there are a lot of artists here. They share their current projects or they just simply perform.

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City Hall

City Hall is nice because there’s also a park here and there are also a lot of  entertaining street performers. They will ask everyone to gather around them.Then, before they do their final stunt they will ask for a donation.

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Brooklyn Bridge

From City Hall, you can just walk in order to reach Brooklyn Bridge.

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Ground Zero, 9/11 Memorial

The building below is One World Trade Center, which is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. You can also see Ground Zero here, where the Old World Trade Center were located.

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Flat Iron Building

Fascinated with buildings? You can also visit the Flat Iron building, which can be found at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway.

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Wall Street

Have you watched the film The Wolf of Wallstreet? If yes, then this street is indeed familiar to you. As what a New Yorker told us upon alighting at the station, take care of your money specially your bank accounts. This is Wall Street!

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Charging Bull

When you walk along the street, you will notice a lot of people around a sculpture. That’s when you’ll know that you’ve arrived at this famous sculpture made by Arturo Di Modica. The Bull symbolizes the “can do” spirit of America. As what Obama also affirms “Yes, we can!”

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Empire State Building

Once you are in New York, you will never miss a chance to take a photo of this building. Going near the building may not be a good option. In order to have a perfect view of this building, we went to Rockefeller Center.

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Rockefeller Center

For just $32 (as of  September 2015), you can visit the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  How I wish that it’s already Winter, because they also open their ice skating rink during that period. Remember the film Serendipity?

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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MoMA, Museum of Modern Art

I like the ambiance of this museum. MoMA’s Sculpture Garden is the perfect place to enjoy art and relax.

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My main agenda in MoMA was to see Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. We’ve discussed his story back in high school and here’s Don McLean’s song to better contextualize Van Gogh’s art and his life.

“And now I understand what you tried to say to me how you suffered for your sanity; how you tried to set them free.Perhaps they’ll listen now, for they could not love you, but still your love was true. And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do.”

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Andy Warhol has been famous because of pop art. He used mediated representation of images which allow the people to decode or interpret in various ways. Warhol states that “the more  you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel.”

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Staten Island

There’s a free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island. However, you can just see the statue from a far because the ferry wouldn’t go that near.

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Statue of Liberty

The best way to have  a good picture with the statue is to avail the paid trip. You need to be early if you want to buy the ticket for the museum inside, or if you’re lucky, you can also go up all the way to the Statue’s crown.

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Last Semester, I presented about Emma Lazarus poem The New Colossus. It was nice to see it in front of the Statue.

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Ellis Island

There’s a ferry trip from the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island. I did a lot of research about immigration in the United States and it is quite helpful and interesting to visit the museum there.

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Broadway

I watched Book of Mormon and the experience was really great! Dreams do really come true! I got a seat near the stage and I had a good view of the actors’ movement and acting. I also like how humble they are. After the show, we got the chance to ask for their autograph on the souvenir program. They were really nice.You can also ask them a lot of questions and they were happy to answer them. Once they were finished, they just walked  home. No limo and no VIP treatment.

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Food!!!

I wouldn’t end this blog without writing about what I’ve eaten in the big apple! One of the things that I find really different is that customers need to give a tip in a resto. It is difficult because sometimes the tip is so high that its worth is like a burger meal or more than that (student problems). Anyway, here are my recommendations that you wouldn’t think twice to splurge.

Bubba Gump

Actually, you can also find this restaurant outside NYC. My first try was in Santa Monica but I love my experience in NYC. The waitress was really nice, energetic, and helpful. We also played a game in German. Most of the questions were about the film Forrest Gump.

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Shake Shack

If West Coast has In ‘N Out Burger, East has Shake Shack. Their burgers and fries are really recommended.

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Wafels & Dinges

Their food trucks are almost all over the place. It’s nice to chill in the park eating waffles and drinking a hot coffee. Priceless!

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Halal Guys

If there’s an award for the best food that you can ever eat in NYC, I’ll give it to the Halal Guys. Their Beef Gyros tastes really good! One rice meal is really affordable and for me, it’s good for two persons or meals already.

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I will definitely miss Manhattan’s skyline, NYC’s food, and all the things or activities that I’ve done. This is just the first!

New York, see you soon!

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