“Dieser Weg wird kein leichter sein, dieser Weg wird steinig und schwer.
Nicht mit vielen wirst du dir einig sein, doch dieses Leben bietet so viel mehr“
(Dieser Weg – Xavier Naidoo)

“This path will not be an easy one, and this path is rocky and tough. Many people will not agree with you, but this life offers so much more.”
(Dieser Weg – Xavier Naidoo)

Part of the song from Xavier could perfectly describe one’s experience of continuing their study in Germany (either with scholarship or self-funded). Continuing your studies in Germany is not always a smooth ride; there are a lot of processes and challenges that you have to go through. These include collecting information about universities in Germany; finding the most suitable program for you; looking for a Professor who is willing to be your supervisor; completing all the required documents; making your motivation letter; and applying for a German visa.

Some say the hardest part of continuing your study in Germany is during the application stage, while others say that the real challenge begins when you are already registered as a student. Which one is true? Therefore, in this edition of the newsletter, we asked several awardees who are still pursuing their master’s/doctorate degree about their experiences. We hope their experience will motivate you further and help you in preparing your application.

Interview with Mardhatila Amalia

Why did you choose to continue your studies in Germany?
Germany is a country which has a strong economy, especially in terms of exports. Furthermore, Germany's SMEs are very strong. The government and the society can cooperate to create a supportive ecosystem to maintain the SMEs' growth and help them to expand to the next level. These reasons encouraged me to continue my studies in Germany.

Could you tell us a bit about your research project or major that you are taking?
My major is about Small Medium Enterprises Promotion and Training (SEPT). This program grants the students an introduction to Leipzig Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Academics and company visits dominate the content of the course. I have found that the program is exciting.

When did you receive your DAAD Scholarship, and which scholarship from DAAD did you receive?
I received the scholarship from 2018 until 2020 in the Aceh Excellence Scholarship program.

How long did it take you to prepare your application for the University/ prepare your research proposal/ approach the Professor and apply for the DAAD Scholarship?
I prepared the application from December 2017 to January 2018. After the result was announced all participants had to take part in a German Language course.

What did you consider the most significant challenge during the application stage?
During the application stage, we had to prepare some documents such as a health letter, a good behaviour confirmation letter from the police, etc. These processes required quite a lot of effort and time. But, thank God, everything went well.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced so far? Or, what is the most memorable moment that you have faced
Honestly, I have found this process to be a great blessing to me. Studying in Germany has granted me not only knowledge, but also self-development opportunities; I have gained skills in discipline, planning, punctuality, etc. These traits are very valuable to help us grow as individuals.

Some memorable experiences I’ve had here have included the chance to teach a German family about English as a foreign language. I loved this experience as it helped me to practice my German and contribute to society. I also joined a German course here to improve it. In the course, I met people from other countries and they helped me to enhance my mindset. I also joined an Arabic course and other training events to improve my soft skills. Overall, I have been delighted with my experience since it has been full of new experiences.

From your observations, what are the differences between the education process in Indonesia and Germany?
German education allows the students to choose what competences they need to develop themselves in to equip themselves for the future job market. In Indonesia, everything is set up quite rigidly. This system does not give a lot of room for the students to be flexible in choosing what they think is needed to be studied.

Of course, there are cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany. How do you cope with it? Do you feel homesick sometimes?
There are a lot of cultural differences between Germany and Indonesia. I found some of these very good such as punctuality, management, certainty, structure, honesty, and direct communication. I do not feel homesick because I have learnt a lot here.

Do you have any tips/suggestions/messages for those who are currently preparing to study in Germany?
Pick the right major. It is crucial to be successful in the future and will help you cope with the new academic system.

Finally, were the DAAD officers helpful during the application process?
Yes, very helpful. They gave very fast responses, had good management, and were very welcoming.

Interview Anastasia Asri Widyasari

Why did you choose to continue your studies in Germany?
I chose Germany based on the program that I took; it was a Joint Degree Program between Bogor Agricultural University and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. However, the longer I lived in Germany, especially in Göttingen, the more satisfied I felt with my option to choose Göttingen for my studies. Göttingen is a great place to live and study. It is a charming city with many international students from around the world.

Could you tell us a bit about your research project or major that you are taking?
I am studying Sustainable International Agriculture (SIA), International Agribusiness, and Rural Development. I am interested in the international relations between Germany and my country, Indonesia. My country is trying to develop its economy by, among other things, promoting international trade. I believe that international trade between the two countries is mutually beneficial. That is why, for my thesis, I am now studying the recent progress of international trade, especially in agricultural commodities.

When did you receive your DAAD Scholarship, and which scholarships from DAAD did you receive?
I received the Development-Related Postgraduate Courses (EPOS) scholarship in 2017.

How long did it take you to prepare your application for the University/ prepare your research proposal/ approach the Professor and apply for the DAAD Scholarship?
The preparation of my application took around six months. I took an IELTS preparation class to upgrade my English proficiency.

What did you consider as the most significant challenge during the application stage?
The biggest challenge for me was passing the IELTS test.

What was the biggest challenge that you had to face? Or what was the most memorable moment that you had to face?
I have to say the mathematics standard in Germany was much higher than what I had studied in Indonesia. I had to take a second econometrics exam before I passed the subject.

From your observations, what are the differences between the education process in Indonesia and Germany?
Of course, the facilities for higher education here are of a much better standard than those in most universities in my country. I also noticed that the system here is more flexible than that in my country.

Of course, there are cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany. How do you cope with it? Do you feel homesick sometimes?
I enjoy living here. Of course, I have problems because of language barriers here, but my German friends are usually very helpful. Yes, sometimes, I feel homesick. But communication technology, like WhatsApp, helps me in coping with the problem.

Do you have any tips/suggestions/messages for those who are currently preparing to study in Germany?
Take a good preparation course in English and German.

Finally, were the DAAD officers helpful during the application process?
Yes, they were, very much so. They were very professional.

Interview Sasmithaningtyas Prihasti Laraswari

Why did you choose to continue your studies in Germany?
In terms of the quality of the university, Germany is known worldwide as a great place to study. The country is also familiar with scholars. Germany has more than 1,000 international programs conducted in English. Additionally, the interdisciplinary approach that German universities put into practice is another reason why I wanted to continue my studies here. I believe it will help me to get better theoretical and methodological knowledge. Furthermore, because Germany is in Europe and part of the EU, I can easily visit other EU countries and gain more experience.

Could you tell us a bit about your research project or major that you are taking?
Currently, I am enrolled as a master’s student in the Democratic Governance and Civil Society major at Osnabrück University. This program is one of the English-taught courses that Germany has and is essential for me to comprehend the nature of the relationship between the state and society in political decision-making.

Moreover, Osnabrück University has a syllabus that suits me, which facilitates me in understanding about policy-making and problem solving that involves all kinds of civil society and state actors. It is a great opportunity for me to be able to enrich my knowledge and competence for future academic research and professional work during my studies here.

When did you receive your DAAD Scholarship, and which scholarships from DAAD did you receive?
I got my scholarship in December 2017 for enrolment in October 2018 as a master’s student in Democratic Governance and Civil Society at Osnabrück University. I got the Public Policy and Good Governance (PPGG) also known as the Helmut-Schmidt Programme Scholarship. As part of the scholarship, before starting university, I needed to take a language course for 6 months in Germany (from April-September 2018).

How long did it take you to prepare your application for the University/ prepare your research proposal/ approach the Professor and apply for the DAAD Scholarship?
It took almost 1 year for me to prepare the application for the scholarship. PPGG is a scholarship from DAAD that obliges you to apply directly to the university (not to DAAD) – If you get accepted by the university, it means you get the scholarship. All the applicants are allowed to submit to a maximum of two universities that are on the list. To be able to choose two from eight choices of universities that the scholarship program has, I did a little research regarding the courses each university offers. After I had decided on the universities that suited me, I prepared my motivation letter. It is always better when you make a tailor-made motivation letter, dedicated to a specific university. Hence, it is an important point that you have excellent knowledge about the university that you are applying to. The next step was proposing two of the professors that knew my track record very well to give me recommendations. After that, you only need to follow the requirements that each university has and the instructions given in the scholarship announcement.

What did you consider the most significant challenge during the application stage?
For me, writing the motivation letter was the most challenging part. A motivation letter is a thread that connects us to the admission board. We never meet each other nor talk to one another; they only know our faces from the picture in the CV. Nonetheless, the admission board will decide whether you will get accepted or not after reading your motivation letter. Therefore, as I said before, it is likely better for you to make a special motivation letter for each university/ scholarship you apply.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced so far? Or, what is the most memorable moment that you have faced?
The biggest challenge that I have faced so far is adapting to the academic environment and understanding completely when talking to Germans in German. They speak fast, and I am only able to grasp the general understanding, and most of the time, I always ask them to speak slowly (without being disrespectful). I started to learn German last year. Thus, it is still hard for me, but I keep on learning. There are cultural differences that I need to deal with, I am sure it will shape me into a better person (consciously or unconsciously).

One of the memorable moments in Germany was when I was finally able to experience snow and when I travelled across Niedersachsen, Bremen, and Hamburg for free with regional trains using my semester ticket – university student’s card.

From your observations, what are the differences between the education process in Indonesia and Germany?
Here in Germany, students are expected to be independent and dependable. As a student, we are not obliged to attend the class at every scheduled meeting. Attendance in class is not important here, while in my previous university, it holds 30% of the total assessment. The way of conducting the course is different than in Indonesia. Here, we always have a mandatory text to read for the next meeting. Then in the class, we discuss the text that we have read, i.e., you will not understand if you did not read. By the end of the semester, we will need to choose 4 ECTS or 6 ECTS (the courses with 6 ECTS are the ones that will be graded and impact your whole transcript). We only have the final exam, and it will be either an oral examination or writing paper. The grading system is also different here. In Germany, 1.0 is the best grade, and 5.0 is the worst. They do not use the A-F grading system as in my previous university.

Of course, there are cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany. How do you cope with it? Do you feel homesick sometimes?
Homesick; indeed, I feel it sometimes, mostly about the food. But here, there are several Asian Shops that sell Indonesian spices and Indomie. There are Indonesian restaurants as well in bigger cities; such as Bremen and Berlin.

As might be expected, it took me months to finally be able to cope with the cultural differences here in Germany. For example, Germans are straight forward people – while I grew up in a Javanese family and have always found it hard to say something bluntly. It was inevitable that at first, I felt a bit irritated by the way they talk.

Also, in two cities that I have lived in, all stores are closed on Sunday. While in Jakarta, my Sundays are the days when I spend time with my mom by going out; either to eat or just have quality time together. It took me one month to finally get used to a “peaceful Sunday.”

Do you have any tips/suggestions/messages for those who are currently preparing to study in Germany?
If you want to get a scholarship, it is not only a matter of preparing the requirements a year ahead. As a person who aims to get a scholarship in the future, he/she needs to prepare way ahead. Maintaining good grades from the beginning is another important point to get a scholarship. But other than that, as I said before, there are slight differences in how the higher educational institutions conduct their studies in Germany compared to Indonesia. So, being open-minded and adaptable are the traits that someone needs to have.

Finally, were the DAAD officers helpful during the application process?
After the announcement of the result, I had a small problem regarding my visa. I needed an acceptance letter as one of the requirements to get the visa, but I did not get any from the university, nevertheless, I had to make the visa as soon as possible. I contacted the person in charge of DAAD, and it only took 3 working days from when I reached her until I got my acceptance letter from the university. Of course, she helped me during that moment.

 

Interview with Gabriella Gita Febriana

Why did you choose to continue your studies in Germany?
Because it is only possible for me to conduct my research in Germany, my research topic is particular and requires some studies with animal models. These animal models are only available in the laboratory where I am working here in Germany.

Could you tell us a bit about your research project or major that you are taking?
I am currently researching the Biomedical Science in University Hospital Essen, which is a part of University Duisburg-Essen. I am studying the relationship between autoimmune hyperthyroidism in Graves’ disease patients with the pathogenesis of Graves’ Orbitopathy.

When did you receive your DAAD Scholarship, and which scholarships from DAAD did you receive?
I received the DAAD Research Grant – Doctoral Programmes in Germany Scholarship in 2017.

How long did it take you to prepare your application for the University/ prepare your research proposal/ approach the Professor and apply for the DAAD Scholarship?
I had prepared my research proposal long before I decided to do my Ph.D. in Germany. However, the process of my application preparation took around 1.5 years.

What did you consider the most significant challenge during the application stage?
The biggest challenge was getting the acceptance letter from the university. They asked me to provide all of the documentation from my previous studies (bachelor and master’s degree). During that time, I thought there was a lack of communication between my Professor and the university. Therefore, there were some delays in the process. It took me almost one year until I received the acceptance letter.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced so far? Or, what is the most memorable moment that you have faced?
The biggest challenge for me so far was integrating myself in the life of German people. In my opinion, most German people have a clear line between their work and personal lives. I find it challenging to mingle with them outside work.

From your observations, what are the differences between the education process in Indonesia and Germany?
The German education system is more flexible compared to the Indonesian education system. Furthermore, German students are also more independent and more confident in terms of expressing their opinions. What I like the most about their system is that they do not force students to attend every lecture and even allow students to just sit the examinations without attending the lectures. Therefore, I think the students learn to be responsible for themselves while having freedom.

Of course, there are cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany. How do you cope with it? Do you feel homesick sometimes?
I try to accept those cultural differences, taking the positive side of German culture, and just being who I am. Thankfully I have never felt homesick. Nowadays, technology allows us to live in this well-connected world. Therefore, I do not have difficulties in communicating with my family in Indonesia.

Do you have any tips/suggestions/messages for those who are currently preparing to study in Germany?
Try to fulfil all the requirements from the university and the scholarship provider. Then, just be confident in yourself. And last but not least, do not forget to pray.

Finally, were the DAAD officers helpful during the application process?
They are really helpful, not only during the application process but up until now.

 

Interview with Sibran Malisi Iskandar Putra

Why did you choose to continue your studies in Germany?
Warum nicht? Germany is one of the best countries for engineers to pursue higher education. And I have an engineering background. It was a dream for me to pursue higher education in Germany. The German education system has an excellent reputation and is located in the heart of Europe. The majors offered by Universities are diverse and focus on certain topics — a perfect place for those who want to continue their education to a more specific major.

Could you tell us a bit about your research project or major that you are taking?
As I mentioned before, the courses offered by German universities are very specific. I am currently taking a Master of Business Law program majoring in European and International Energy Law at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), a multidisciplinary course that combines engineering, law, business, and is purposed to a practitioners who have professional background/working experience in the energy field. This program provides very specific Energy Law studies in the Electricity and Gas sector. The Lecturers are mostly practitioners/experts in the related fields.

When did you receive your DAAD Scholarship, and which scholarships from DAAD did you receive?
I received the DAAD-ACEH Scholarship of Excellence Master program in 2018, a co-operation between DAAD and the Aceh Government.

How long did it take you to prepare your application for the University/ prepare your research proposal/ approach the Professor and apply for the DAAD Scholarship?
I already had a dream to pursue my studies in Germany and started to find out about the DAAD Scholarship program since I was in college about 9 years ago. And I started to seriously prepare myself to apply for the DAAD Scholarship in 2016.

Why in 2016? Because I was currently working and the company rules require at least 3 years of working to grant the study-leave Permits.

In 2016, I applied for the DAAD EPOS program. I was accepted in the Energy and Environmental Management program at Flensburg Universitat, but I had to let it go because there were other rules by the company to study only in the top 500 world ranked universities.

In 2017, I decided to re-apply for the DAAD scholarship. This time I applied to the DAAD-ACEH Excellence program and prepared not only to fulfil the scholarship and University requirements but also the company’s requirements.

What did you consider the most significant challenge during the application stage?
Every stage of the process was the biggest challenge. The DAAD Scholarship is a very prestigious program, and who doesn't want to study in Germany? For sure, we will face many challenges and compete with other Indonesian talent under time limits and feel stressed by a lot of preparation at the same time (learning Deutsch, applying for University, and improving English skills).

What we need to do is to be well-prepared. Prepare everything well, manage everything well, because sometimes a talented-person will lose out to a well-prepared person. Enjoy the process!

Now you are studying in Germany, what are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far? Or what are the memorable moments that you have faced?
This is my first time studying with colleagues from all over the world. There are 28 students in our class representing 19 countries. The class is very international. I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn and experience variety of cultures and mindsets. And I have to get used to their different accents, which are sometimes difficult to understand.

From your observations, what are the differences between the education process in Indonesia and Germany?
The education process in Germany is very different from Indonesia. In Germany, students are required to be more proactive. For example, students may not attend the class at all because only the Final Exam result counts. Here in Germany, those who enrol in university do so because they choose to; therefore, they are more proactive in the education process.

Lack of focus and self-motivation are the biggest obstacles in finishing studies in Germany.

After you get a Scholarship and are accepted by the University, the toughest struggle has just begun. You are struggling against yourself to keep focused and motivated.

Of course, there are cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany. How do you cope with it? Do you feel homesick sometimes?
Of course, there are many cultural differences between Indonesia and Germany. Moreover, I live in Berlin, a very diverse and very international city. At the beginning of my stay in Germany, I tried to be observant. Then I tried to get used to it and started to get along, of course, while keep maintaining values and self-principles.

Sometimes I feel homesick a lot! I Miss my family and Indonesian Food.

Do you have any tips/suggestions/messages for those who are currently preparing to study in Germany?
Always be well-prepared. Keep focused and motivated.

Finally, were the DAAD officers helpful during the application process?
The DAAD officers were very helpful. They were very kind and friendly. My biggest thanks are to Mrs. Muji Rahayu (DAAD Jakarta) and Ms. Henrike Schmitz (DAAD Bonn), they were very helpful not only during the application process but also during the preparation and adaptation process in Germany. They serve with their hearts.