When I got into MSc Physics (WS2018/19) in Uni Stuttgart, I was ecstatic. After having done my Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering, applying to do a Masters in Physics seemed unconventional yet daring to many. I was deeply drawn to Physics and Math from a very young age, so pursuing that made perfect sense to me, at least back then. Thus, I began my journey at Stuttgart to start a new chapter.
Although it started off well, I felt the pressure increasing with each passing day. Halfway through my first semester I realized, I was not cut out for it - and for weird reasons. The batchmates were great people and the professors were extremely competent. It’s just that I was losing interest in the subject and the pressure I went through to get myself interested took a toll on my mental and physical well-being. I was sure this wasn’t my calling and I felt that I had to another stream. That’s when I started exploring the options to do so.
Uni Stuttgart is world-renowned and it was very natural that I applied for a different program within the University while still being enrolled instead of applying somewhere else altogether. By the time I finished my first semester, I had made up my mind, applied for and was accepted into the MSc in Electrical Engineering program here. (Note: one still has to submit an application despite being enrolled in the university and wait for the result) The catch is, it was beginning only from WS2019/20 leaving a six-month gap in between.
While changing streams like that might seem like an easy task, for many international students it is more complicated. There is an obvious financial angle to consider when making such decisions. In all honesty, I was not a hundred per cent financially backed (Given that the international students pay a tuition fee and the cost of living in Stuttgart is quite high). Fortunately, Stuttgart is also an industry hub in Germany offering many part-time opportunities to students. So I applied for a six-month internship with the companies in Stuttgart and secured one.
From then on, things seemed straightforward. I took an Urlaubssemester (vacation semester). An Urlaubssemester is when an enrolled student can take a study break and resume after the semester. This has to be officially approved by the University beforehand. I completed my internship, which was a great learning experience, and then enrolled myself in the Electrical Engineering program at the beginning of WS2019. Thus, I not only shifted from one program to another within the university but also managed to gain industrial exposure. I could also save a little cash to help me with a few months’ expenses.
Most students, especially international students, are very committed and have concrete ideas about their career path. So many are unaware that they could change their study program midway. While it is always wise to make a well-informed decision before starting a program in a foreign university, one shouldn’t be compelled to “stick to it” because they think they have no other choice.
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