The current coronavirus situation has made it difficult for everyone, including students, to carry on with their plans. Surveys show that the plans of a majority of current and potential international students in Germany have been affected due to the pandemic. As the rate of infection has been decreasing in many countries of the world, currently, the pandemic is still among us. Nevertheless, students have already started thinking about their semesters abroad.
Many students are worried about how the pandemic is going to alter the world as we know it, even after it is gone. Well, chances are that the world will not be the same, but many things will return to their original shape. This will probably also include your university. Students will still gather in their campuses, and classes (once largely digitalized) will likely still proceed their conventional course.
If you are one of the students who will soon be travelling to Germany to study, below we have listed a few things you should keep in mind in a post-coronavirus world.
1. Do Not Forget the Safety Measures
Even when a vaccine is available, it will still take time for the virus to be completely eradicated from our surroundings. If the rate of infection has decreased significantly by the time you get to Germany, it means that the rate of transmission will also be smaller. Despite the hypothetical decreased risk, you should still not forget to practice the safety measures as advised by the authorities. Even after the coronavirus pandemic is no longer a threat, you should ensure you are keeping proper respiratory and hand hygiene, as well as cleaning frequently touched objects before using them.
2. Keep Hand Sanitizer With You
You are not always going to have access to soap and water if you are away from campus. Keeping hand sanitizer with you at all times can do no harm and there are hand sanitizer bottles that are practical to carry around. If you have been on public transport, the classroom, coffee shops, or the likes, it is always good to have something with which you can disinfect your hands before eating or touching your face. Of course, it would be ideal to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible, but when all else fails, practical bottles of hand sanitizer are there to save the day.
3. Do Not Be Afraid to Make Friends
An important part of the university experience is making friends and socializing with fellow students. It is what helps you have a good time, stay updated, and enjoy your time in a foreign country. By making friends at the campus as an international student, you will be exposed to different cultures and experiences, learn a lot from them, and have fun while at it.
The social distancing measures and the threat of the coronavirus have made us all a bit hesitant when it comes to socializing or hanging out in large groups of people. If you are back to campus, and classes are no longer being conducted online, it means that the health officials have thought it safe to be around people. Just make sure to always keep in mind the safety measures.
4. Learn (At Least) a Little German
Numerous international students are part of English-taught programmes or courses, that is why knowledge of the German language is rarely required. If you are part of an international programme, you are advised to learn at least a little bit of German for your own comfort. It is always nicer not to have to worry about buying something at the grocery store or asking for directions due to language barriers.
Although there are people who can speak English in Germany, knowing the basics of the German language is always a plus and it adds to the experience. There are German universities that offer German courses free of charge, so once you get there, you should not ignore such offers. Besides, during a time when the majority will have already experienced the challenges and the efficiency of online classes, you might even find something free (or affordable) online, so you can already speak the basics of German before you get there.
5. Explore While Studying
Do not be afraid to explore the city (or certain parts of the country). Of course, if the authorities and health officials advise it, then you should not ignore the possibility of exploring the country you are studying in. If you will still be sceptical about using public transport, then walk around and see the beauty of your town. It is quite predictable that people will tend to be more doubtful and hesitant to do the things they would normally do before the coronavirus pandemic, however, evaluate the situation and make sure you are not missing out on your university experience.
It is still uncertain when we will be completely safe from the pandemic. Maybe a vaccine will still not be available once your first semester in Germany is about to begin. Right now, it is best to consult your university about any questions you might have about starting university during coronavirus and see how they have assessed the situation. Different universities are taking different approaches to the upcoming semesters and whether in-person attendance is mandatory or not.
Find more information for international students in Germany during coronavirus and take a look at our FAQs section here.
Always make sure you are updated with coronavirus news from agencies responsible for international public health like the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the advice of the health officials and The Federal Government.
The article aims to give tips on how your first semester in Germany should be handled in a world when the threat of the coronavirus pandemic has (almost) been eradicated. It does not advise on how you should handle the situation in Germany at the time when coronavirus is still an obvious threat.
Before you make any decision on whether you should go on with your plans or cancel them, make sure you consult your university in Germany and ask them how they are handling the situation and what their advice would be.
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