How to Prepare for Studying in Germany – An Indian shares his Experience

27-year old Shyam M. Ramaprasad from Mysore, India, is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management  at the Kühne Logistics University (KLU) in Hamburg. In this interview, he shares how he prepped and how he applied for studying in Germany. 

Employland: Shyam, thank you for taking the time to give us an interview. We would like you to share your experiences with the aim of giving readers advice and tips for managing the application process and preparing for studying in Germany. When did you come to Germany and why did you decide to come to Germany?

Shyam Ramaprasad: I arrived in Hamburg on August 17th, 2016. I had been working as an IT professional for the past three years back in India and felt the need to explore and challenge myself both on personal and professional fronts. I was interested in learning about trade and pursuing my career at the international marketplace. The Logistics and Supply Chain sector was something that I was drawn towards naturally since these sectors essentially play the most vital role in the development of trade and in the growth of an enterprise or even an entire nation.

I decided to move to Germany because of the high standard of education

I decided to move to Germany and to be a part of the Kühne Logistics University (KLU) because of the high standard of education, expert faculty and the wonderful city of Hamburg, which exemplified and embodied every aspect of international trade and logistics. Unsurprisingly, the students at the KLU have been one of the best aspects of my time. So far it has been a great experience involving people from different walks and parts of the world. To say the least, it was an easy decision to pick Hamburg and especially the KLU.

Employland: Can you explain for those considering studying in Germany how the procedure was: What did you have to do for applying in a university in Germany? Was it easy – if not: What was difficult?

Shyam Ramaprasad: As an applicant, I was interested in applying to several universities in different countries. For various reasons, I decided to focus on applying to european universities.

It helps to work on the application on a daily basis

Finding the right university undoubtedly takes time and effort. I would like to say that it would certainly help if a person starts early and is dedicated toward a particular course or a university and works on her/his applications on a daily basis.

For example, it could mean researching the courses offered, trying to contact the alumni/admission boards, working on letters and recommendations, developing documentation checklists, organizing finances, taking note of application deadlines, applying to scholarships, meeting deadlines, the payment of fees, etc. Universities have varied requirements, hence it would be helpful if each application is handled separately to avoid confusion, the same goes for the process of applying for a visa.

It is strictly necessary to read the application procedures and rules

Some of the universities in Germany might require translation of documents to German, conversion of grades, certifications, German language proficiency, etc. depending on the course/university. It is also strictly necessary to read the application procedures and rules before applying to the universities, rules might specify the order and format in which the documents are to be submitted, and there may be different application procedures for courses in the same university. Failure to follow these can result in immediate disqualification or rejection. My application to the KLU went without a hitch thanks to the cooperation of the international office through emails and the KLU website which has all the necessary information regarding the entire application process.

Having said that, selections by universities are indeed highly ambiguous at times and might often yield surprising results – because of this, I would like to suggest having appropriate back-up plans and being ready to handle last minute changes or rejections. The entire process requires a lot of time, money and effort, hence it helps to have a structured definitive approach.

Researching and learning about the city, its culture and languages will be helpful to manage your travel and accommodation

I would also like to place a lot of emphasis on researching and learning about the city, its culture and languages as you go about your applications since it will be helpful to manage your travel and accommodation. For example, you might have a hard time if you arrive in Germany on a Sunday without the necessary arrangements since most of the commercial facilities here, including restaurants and stores, remain closed on Sundays.

I had applied to universities in Germany, Austria, Italy and Sweden; the question that plagued me the most was having to choose between learning German, Italian or Swedish since I had not yet received a response from any of the universities and it felt like I could have invested my valuable time towards learning a new language… You might face a similar challenge if you have applied to multiple countries and are interested in learning the language beforehand. This issue would indeed be sorted out if you start early and are planning to apply only to a particular country/university.

Employland: Can you also explain what you had to do in order to obtain the visa? How long did that process take?

Shyam Ramaprasad: Kindly note that I can only speak on behalf of Indian citizens. My visa process was handled entirely online through the German Consulate Website.
The following is what I would suggest:
The first step would be to recognize the consulate in charge of handling your visa application based on its jurisdiction and your registered address and city of residence. I had to approach the Bengaluru Consulate General since I resided in Mysore. All the necessary details are put up on the website.

It took approximately one month to get a response from the consulate after the submission of my visa application

It took approximately one month for me to get a response from the consulate after the submission of my application, the waiting period might vary for certain cases/applications.

At the time of my application, the VFS Global group could only process the temporary Schengen Visas and was not in charge of processing long-term student visas, hence I had to contact the Consulate General directly to apply for the long-term student visa aka the German National Visa. I am not sure if the VFS is authorized to process the German National Visa currently.

As soon as I received a confirmation from the KLU, I began learning the German language

It was also only possible to contact the respective personnel at the Consulate General during the open hours in-person. The applicants may visit the Consulate General during the open hours to clarify doubts. I would like to urge the applicants to take care regarding these processes since there could be new rules and/or changes to previously existing procedures and any last-minute modifications or errors with regards to visa applications might prove to be very costly and might sabotage the start of your studies if not done correctly.

Employland: How did you prepare for your stay in Germany? Did you read blogs or websites to get to know something about life and culture in Germany?

Shyam Ramaprasad: As soon as I received a confirmation from the KLU, I began learning the German language and tried to find out details regarding the weather, accommodation, food and other basic arrangements. There are several sources and avenues which provide information on the internet, including websites such as the DAAD, video logs (VLOGS) from several individuals on YouTube, etc. I was also fortunate enough to have friends who were already in Europe pursuing their studies and careers.

Employland: Let’s give an impression to people who are about to come and live in Germany: How did you manage all the bureaucracy after arriving in Germany? What exactly did you have to do? Did you need help, and if so, who helped you?

Shyam Ramaprasad: If you are a person planning to live in Hamburg, one of the primary tasks that you will need to take up as soon as you arrive here would be to request the landlord of your permanent residence for a residence letter (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) and visiting the Hamburg Welcome Center to register your name and address in order to receive your personal identification number (persönliche Identifikationsnummer).

Obtaining the personal identification number is crucial since it is a mandatory document needed to pursue a job/internship/work student position in Germany

Obtaining the personal identification number is crucial since it is a mandatory document needed to pursue a job/internship/work student position in Germany. When I tried to get this done there were no available appointments at the Hamburg Welcome Center until the next 4 months! I was not able to do much about it. I was later informed by some of my friends that it was possible to book an appointment at welcome centers located in other areas in Hamburg.
I was also informed that the registration personnel at the other centers only interacted German. I eventually managed to obtain the personal identification number in the weeks that followed. Though it is a simple procedure, it initially feels disconcerting due to the unavailability of appointments and the uncertainty in the reactions of the registrations personnel, however creating a list and setting small targets ultimately helps in getting it all done in time.

Employland: Thank you very much for the interview! We hope your tips will prove helpful for many others planning on studying in Germany.

Coming soon:
After describing what steps it takes to get ready for studying in Germany, in the next interview Shyam Ramprasad will share with you how he found a place to live in Hamburg in order to provide you with helpful information for your relocation to Germany.

Also in our blog: Also on our blog: Living the Indian way in Eastern Germany – Dinesh Kumar Kodavali from India shares his experiences of living and studying Engineering in Magdeburg. Also interesting for you: Beer is cheaper than water, people are coconuts, and don’t expect to practice your language skills – that’s what Mikayla Posey learned during her stay as an English teaching assistant in Germany. Or read about the intercultural experiences of an Indian engineer living in Germany, or what a Spanish Engineer thinks about the Germans.

Main picture: Shyam M. Ramprasad

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