UK and German students participating in an exchange program not only have to adjust to a foreign country and language but also to the college campus culture that differs between American and German universities.
The German-American Fulbright Commission’s program “Discover Germany- Discover USA” allows American and German students the opportunity to experience life in a different country. Students from UK visited Germany this past summer and currently a group of German students are at UK, attending classes and touring the area.
Two members of the German group include Ilya Lukin,21, of Kiel, Germanyand Viktor Ayzenshtadt, 24, of Hannover, Germany. They said universities in Germany are mostly based around professions.
“You have to know what you want to do before entering the university,” Lukin said.
In German universities, students do not take general education classes; they only take courses that are required for their area of study.
Other than academics, Ayzenshtadt said campus life is different at UK than German universities because it has more clubs and other activities for students to participate in. He said he especially enjoyed K Week and events like K Week are uncommon in Germany.
“I have the feeling that [UK] really cares about you,” Ayzenshtadt said on his overall impression of the K Week events. He also said that in Germany, students really only have one day to learn about the university and how to get around.
Lukin agreed with Ayzenshtadt and said K Week “was a very nice experience.” He said he liked it because “you have from the beginning this feeling to be a part of the university.”
From the American perspective, Elisa Underwood, a UK sophomore who traveled to Germany with the program this past summer, said one of the major differences she noticed was that the lack of community among students at the German university.
“Home and school were two separate entities, unlike here where you intermingle the two because it’s your life,” Underwood said.
Kayla Scalf, a UK senior and another member of the trip to Germany, said she also noticed that personal life and college life are not connected at German universities.
“We consider UK a community we invest ourselves in,” Scalf said, “while college for them is just going to school to get an education.”
As the college community varies from Germany to America, higher education as a system does too. German higher education is less expensive than it is in America, dormitories are not common on campuses and students are generally on their own for housing and food.
While the campus community of German and American universities is not the same, Lukin said the structure and schedule of classes at UK are similar to those of German institutions.
The daily life of German students might vary from American students, but Lukin said they do have similar schedules in the way they walk to class, get coffee and socialize with one another.
And as the customs of college students differ from Germany to America, so do the actual college students.
“It’s more easy going here,” Ayzenshtadt stated. “We Germans are used to taking things more seriously.