Masters in Berlin: Rachel’s story
Rachel studied a two year Masters course in English Literature at the Freie Universitat in Berlin. The Gap Year Travel Guide spoke to Rachel about her experiences.
What made you consider postgraduate study abroad?
I had studied French and German at A-level, so I thought it might be interesting to do my Masters in English Literature abroad, rather than in the UK.
Why did you choose your course?
My initial choice was France, but because of the high level of French you needed for all the courses, I decided to go for Germany instead, where a lot of courses are offered in English, or with a large English-language contingent. My course was all taught in English.
How did apply for your visa?
I didn’t have to apply for any visas, because of the EU. The application process was really easy, and in English.
What did your course consist of?
The course offers a mixture of English language, literature and cultural studies-focused modules and seminar topics which dealt with English speaking countries (excluding North America), with a particular emphasis on Britain and Australia.
How many hours of contact time were there and how many extra hours of work were required?
The course was probably less intensive than my BA degree, because it was over two years, but the essays (around 25 pages) were longer, and the thesis was massive. I had a lot of reading to do in my own time, but the seminar-load wasn’t too heavy, probably about 15 hours a week normally.
What did you like about studying abroad?
I really enjoyed my time studying in Germany – the course was very modern, and it was really interesting to have seminars with people from all over the world. Obviously, it has been great to live in Berlin as well, and I would really recommend the city to anyone thinking of studying in Europe.
What is the worst bit about studying abroad?
The worst part is probably the German bureaucracy, which can be a nightmare, but you get used to it (just make sure you have all documents and certificates you have ever received on you at all times).
What were the living costs like and did you work whilst studying?
Generally living costs in Berlin are still very low compared to the UK, and rent particularly is very cheap (rooms are about 250-300 euros a month). I got a part-time job working for a charity alongside studying, and got a scholarship from the DAAD (the German Academic Exchange service).
Do you think you have benefitted in terms of getting a job from doing international postgraduate studies?
Regarding job prospects, I think moving abroad gives you time to think about career paths that you might not have considered. People often talk about studying abroad only in terms of how it improves your chances within the UK. This is probably true, but I think the more important benefit is that it allows you to apply for jobs abroad as well as in the UK. Lots of British people I have met here have gone on to find jobs in Berlin or other parts of Germany, and many others have moved on to work in other European countries.
What advice can you give to third year students who are considering international postgraduate study?
I would advise anyone thinking of doing a Masters to consider studying outside the UK. Aside from the obvious benefits of learning a foreign language and avoiding the debt left by UK tuition fees, it’s really interesting to see how a foreign university works, particularly if you’re planning to go on to doctoral study. Plus you get the opportunity to travel, and to get to know a foreign country in a way that isn’t possible if you just pass through as a tourist.