Germany was incredible; my academic experience was not. Past Review

By (Baylor Business Fellows, Baylor University) - abroad from 01/23/2015 to 05/29/2015 with

Cologne Business School: Cologne - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a much more intimate knowledge of German culture, language, and everyday life, and I got to travel around the country and see things I'd dreamed of for years. It's an wonderful country filled with wonderful people, wonderful food, and wonderful sports. The environment nearly made up for a dismal educational experience in which I was often the only student, foreign or otherwise, to show up to class. It'll be worthwhile if my scholarship survives the overly bureaucratic nature of the German examination office.

Review Photos

Cologne Business School: Cologne - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Cologne Business School: Cologne - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were easy and the teachers were pretty good, but the bureaucracy and hazy grading system make me fear for what my GPA could look like when I get home, despite putting in plenty of work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I didn't hear anything from the foreign students office after I arrived, so I pretty much winged it the entire semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a dormitory with 32 students managed by the school. There were no quiet hours and regular parties that left the kitchen and yard trashed and the entire ground floor covered in a layer of broken glass. I would find my own apartment if I was doing this again.

* Food:

German food and drink is delicious. There's a food truck near the school that serves amazing roasted bratwurst and several fantastic burger joints. The local Kölsch beer is sweet, light, and delicious.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I speak reasonably good German and my time in Cologne expanded my vocabulary and provided context that a classroom lacks. I went to several matches for the local soccer club, 1. FC Köln, and was embraced by the fans there. I love the German people, and they liked me, so long as I was making at least somewhat of an effort to integrate.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I can't really comment, as I didn't even have a mild need for healthcare during my stay.

* Safety:

I regularly went on nighttime walks in different neighborhoods. The red light district can be a bit sketchy, but I only wandered into it once on accident. The rest of the city is remarkably safe and the police, while stoic, are free of corruption and helpful.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Germany is more expensive than some places, but once you develop a schedule and figure out where to shop it's very manageable. My expenses included souvenirs and social outings as well. I lived comfortably on $450 a month plus rent.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Between $25 and $50 depending on how hungry I was.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Limit your social outings and how often you eat out, it'll save you tons of money. Three days of groceries cost the same as a nice meal in a restaurant.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

My German class only met once a week (for three and a half hours, which was exhausting) so my knowledge of the language didn't advance greatly, but I did learn how to use the German that I already knew in context, which was extremely valuable.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Third semester.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Learn about your region's accent. People in Cologne, Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg all have distinct accents. While it's rare for them to deviate too much from a standard German, they all have their idiosyncrasies. If you dress the part, the natives won't assume you're from abroad, so if you're not fluent don't be afraid to ask them to speak slowly- they'll almost always comply. Expand your vocabulary- you can say almost anything you want with very simple grammar, but having a large vocabulary is invaluable.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • City of Cologne
  • Sports tourism
  • Language experience
* What could be improved?
  • Housemates
  • Clarity of grading system
  • Communication
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I'd known to find my own apartment instead of trusting the random draw of the dormitory. I wish I'd known to study the idiosyncrasies of the Kölsch accent. I wish I'd known how to use mass transit.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.