Discover the world, get to know other cultures, learn specialist knowledge: Studying abroad is certainly attractive. Every year, students from Stuttgart travel to other countries and even other continents; sometimes just for a semester, sometimes for a whole year. Simultaneously, students from other countries make the journey to Stuttgart to share our lecture rooms, our residence halls and our friends. Jianxuan Liu was born in Peking and is currently studying Cultures of Knowledge in Stuttgart. She tells us what it is like to study abroad.
According to university chancellor Wolfram Ressel every fifth student in Stuttgart is a foreign national. The political party SÖS/Linke plus is critical of his comments relating to a ‘ghetto culture’ and a ‘numbers problem’. We think: In order to better understand what the situation is like for foreign students, it is best to speak to them personally. Jianxuan Liu comes from China and has been living in Germany for approximately two years. In the following interview, she talks about what it is like to be a foreign student at the University of Stuttgart.
The mentoring program helps foreign students get to know German students
USUS: What helped you to get settled in Germany, and in Stuttgart in particular?
Jianxuan: To be honest, I think that most Chinese students at the University of Stuttgart receive help primarily from other Chinese students. Most ‘newbies’ don’t know anything about the university’s mentoring program when they first arrive in Stuttgart. The Chinese students have a group on QQ, that’s an app, a bit like MSN. All Chinese ‘newbies’ can join this group and can ask questions about how to register at the city hall and about matriculation. It is a good thing that there’s such a large group of Chinese students here; but there is of course also a downside. We tend to stick together. It’s not that we really even aim to do this, but there simply aren’t many chances for us to get to meet German students. Uni takes up most of our time and there simply isn’t the opportunity to take part in other social events. We also don’t really know what German students do when they are not at uni. The mentoring program has helped us a lot in that respect. The program has helped us to get to know lots of German students and now we have the chance to spend time with local people.
USUS: How did you learn German and what tips can you give to other foreign students who also want to learn the language?
Jianxuan: I took the A1 German course at the Goethe Institute and studied at home using books. I gave up learning English in order to concentrate on German. I won’t let myself read English books or watch English television programs. When I first arrived in Germany I took part in a language course and spoke German to the other students on the course. After the course ended I watched a lot of German television, which was really very helpful. My tip for other foreign students would be to watch German television programs. Start with KiKa and then maybe Phönix. The grammar is really important. You have to learn it by heart at the beginning.
“It would be great to be able to record lectures.”
USUS: What could be done to help foreign students more?
Jianxuan: It would be great to be able to record lectures. Then it would be possible to watch them again at home.
USUS: The state government in Baden Württemberg want to introduce student fees for foreign students, starting in the winter semester 2017/2018. What is your opinion on that?
Jianxuan: I think it is a good idea to increase fees to improve the situation for foreign students. I read that student fees would be used as a source of income. But why are only foreign students required to pay fees? That leads to inequality. And it would also tempt many foreign students to study in other federal states instead of Baden Württemberg.