1. Thinking that it is not important to learn German
Yes, it is true that the University of Stuttgart offers international programmes entirely in English, but this should not be a motivation to think that it is not important or even necessary to learn German.
In my case, it is very important for me to be able to understand and communicate in the environment in which I find myself. So, when I got the news that I was coming to Germany, I knew that I would have to learn the language and I came with an open mind (I didn't know any German before).
So what are the reasons why it is important to learn German? Here are a few from my point of view:
A: Learning German will make it easier for you to deal with bureaucratic processes (quite numerous in Germany). Firstly, because it helps you to understand what you are doing, and secondly, and I say this only from my experience, because you get better or nicer treatment from the people dealing with your case if you speak in their language.
B: Language helps you to integrate. It's no secret that one of the greatest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to experience a new culture and interact with people from different places. So, since we are in Germany, why not give us the chance to get to know Germans? I'm not saying that it's not nice to have a diverse and international group of friends, but it's also great when the group includes people from the country you're in, you can learn a lot and make very good friendships. I would dare to say that the German language is the door or the path that leads you to get to know Germany and Germans better and to discover them for yourself rather than through what people tell you about them.
C: Language opens doors. It is no secret that a good command of the language can open up many opportunities, and in Germany this is no exception. I think I can use my case as an example that learning the language opened many doors for me. I believe that luck is when preparation and opportunity coincide and I believe that you have to be prepared for different scenarios because we don't know what life will bring us. In my particular case, German has contributed to or enhanced my openings in terms of my work and professional life, as well as my personal life and making friends.
2. Not to ask questions when in doubt
Nobody knows everything and it is normal to have doubts when you are in an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes we shy away from asking questions out of embarrassment or simply because we don't want to bother others, but as we say, "Asking the way is how we get places". There is a very special way of doing things in Germany and it is often different from what we are used to. So, it is wise to dare to ask and to consult.
And yes, there may be times when we don't get a friendly answer or feel frustrated because we don't know how to express what we had in mind, but you always learn something, and stumbling is part of the learning process.
And, while we are on the subject of daring to ask, I would like to add that it is also important to dare to express what you want. This is one of the best pieces of advice I received in Germany, and it is something that has enabled me to achieve what I have so far. You have to know how to express what you are planning and wanting (to the right people) to be able to drive its occurrence, or as I like to say, manifest it. Remember luck = preparation + opportunity? Well, opportunities are also created and expressing the desire we have can be the necessary impulse to break through.
3. Not joining or taking advantage of the opportunities offered by student support organisations and activity groups
Support associations are a great opportunity to get guidance or orientation, and to meet people. Good examples are the Buddy Program and Intercultural Mentoring Program at the university. They help you from the airport pick-up, to organising activities and providing a contact person with whom you can talk and get to know while they give you tips on how to adapt and share common interests. There are also programs with a professional focus, for example the MentoringING Program of the BW Chamber of Engineers. The good thing about those programs: you can count on a person from your field of work to guide you in what you need, according to your professional plans.
On a more recreational level, and a great way to meet people, are the courses offered by the Hochschulsport, as it is an excellent opportunity to do activities that you are interested in and at the same time meet people with whom you have something in common. In my case, since I love dancing, I took part in one of the courses that they offer, which not only gave me the opportunity to exercise and do something that I love, but also allowed me to meet a lot of wonderful people that I can now call good friends.
In general, I would like to emphasize once more that the best thing you can do to integrate and improve your academic, professional and even personal life is to dare to learn the language and try to communicate, either by asking questions or by sharing information, not forgetting the opportunity to join groups. This can be the beginning of very nice things, at least it was for me.
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