“Studying in Germany – an experience unlike any other” - Natalie Ng, graduated from NUS High School and studied Medicine at the University of Heidelberg
Most of the pre-university students I’ve met for a brief Q&A session begin our conversation with the same concern: How is it possible to study a course in a foreign country without any prior knowledge of the native language itself? I usually flash a grin and counter with the reply, “Well, you understand ‘Kindergarten’, ‘Strudel’, ‘Kaputt’, right? Then you speak more German than you already know.”
This definitely does not mean you will only encounter words like “Bratwurst” and “Autobahn” in every university lecture in Germany. It does mean, however, that the prospect of
studying a course in German is not impossible. In fact, from my own personal experience, it’s highly achievable. The strongest piece of advice I offer to worried juniors is an old german adage that I’ve occasionally found to be very useful: “Augen zu und durch”. This maxim, loosely translated, means that sometimes the best way to
immerse yourself in a foreign language is to simply dive right in.
Apart from honing your foreign language skills, studying in Germany has opened my eyes to many beautiful aspects of studying abroad.
Since I’ve begun studying medicine in Germany 5 years ago, I’ve learned to appreciate the exciting benefits of studying abroad - experiencing a foreign country with new outlooks,
customs, and traditions. Personally, I’ve been constantly fascinated by different cultural perspectives and their impact in various social settings. Studying abroad is truly a gateway to experiencing seeing the world from a fresh perspective- it has taught me to be more effective, assertive and respectful of other cultures, political and economic systems other than my own nation.
Ironically, studying abroad has also led me to discovering and understanding myself better. While exploring a new environment elicits curiosity and excitement, it has also tested my
ability to adapt to diverse situations at unexpected times. Although this can be overwhelming initially, I’ve learned to break free from the “kiasu” frame of mind, embrace new challenges and stop avoiding difficult situations on purpose.
To say that studying medicine in Germany was a good experience is an understatement. It has moulded and taught me many important values that I will treasure and bring home with me. As a physician, it has trained me to work efficiently, and communicate effectively with my patients, even in a foreign language when necessary. It has helped me develop interpersonal and intercultural skills that I believe will continue to influence my career path unequivocally. It has given me lifelong friends from different backgrounds, each unique to me in a special way.
It has impacted my personal, professional and academic life, and given me a fresh outlook on life that I probably would not have attained had I chosen to study locally. Pursuing your studies abroad is undoubtedly eye-opening, but in my personal opinion, studying in Germany is an experience unlike any other.