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Studying Abroad in Cologne: PhD Student Profile

Meytal Sandler, from Israel, is working towards a PhD at the University of Cologne’s department of linguistics, where she started studying in 2005. She recalls her motivations for studying in Germany, her first impressions of Cologne and the university – and explains why she’d recommend all of the above!

After finishing high school in 1999 I was recruited to the military, which is compulsory in Israel. After that I wanted to see the world.

Normally young Israeli people go on a world tour to South America or the Far East, but then I met my German partner and heard about the possibility of studying, as a foreigner, at low tuition fees in Cologne.

For me this was a chance to see the world, learn a new language and earn my education all at once.

Choosing a university

While comparing universities and programs, I visited a few lectures at the University of Cologne and was enthusiastic about the possibilities it had to offer. I liked the direct contact with professors, collaboration with other students – German and international – and the city life, as well as the emphasis on self-study and one’s own rhythm of learning.

In addition, the linguistics department has a good reputation in fields I’m interested in, such as language documentation, typology, universals and intercultural studies.

I also met several students of Jewish Studies at the university’s Martin-Buber-Institut für Judaistik. I loved the atmosphere there and the wide and profound horizon they were exposed to.

I decided to study General Linguistics as a major, with two minors: Jewish Studies and Oriental Philology/Islamic Studies. This way I got to learn a discipline and a science, and to apply and deepen it within my two chosen fields of interest.

A nice kind of culture shock

I started studying in the winter semester of 2005/6, and arrived just before 11 November – the start of the carnival season. I learned carnival songs in the local dialect (Kölsch) and went with my German-language classmates to a bar, where students from different nationalities were singing and dancing together.

This was a really nice kind of culture shock, and by then I felt I was also a part of this city.

My first impressions of the university were that it was big, but not impossible to get around, and there were many welcoming events for us “firsties”. There was a breakfast event where I got to meet other new students and get tips from older students, and more official assemblies where the course requirements were explained and university facilities presented.

The library training session, where I learned how to get around and find what I needed for future research, was especially helpful.

Collaboration and individual development

Studying here means access to state-of-the-art research methods, knowledge and initiatives, and cooperation with many institutes and associations.

At the same time it’s where the ‘mensch’ – the person as individual – is put at the center and has the opportunity to unfold and develop his/her own expertise and ideas.

I enjoyed the mix of theory and practice, opportunities to learn and discuss in small groups, the inter-disciplinarily of the subjects and the attention from lecturers – who push you forward as long as you show your motivation and commitment.

Available Tourguide, wants only to travel cheap

by Wittytraveler

I've lived in Europe and worked in several countries there: Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovakia and Switzerland. Mostly, I worked at universities abroad, teaching international buiness. I also tour guided for 'Top Tours' showing American military members around Europe (England, France, Italy, Germany), and Kuoni (the 'Cook's Travel' of Europe), showing Americans Switzerland, Germany, Itly and France.
I tour guided Europeans around the US ('New Orleans Travel'), and I've also tourguided American on their own, around Europe, etc

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