By Aminu Mohammed
I nurtured my desire to study abroad during my undergraduate days at the Department of Political Science and International Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It was the era when ABU was the hotbed of Marxism and radical thinking in the North, led by the late Marxist historian Dr Bala Usman and others like Dr Bako, Prof. Sadiq and Prof. Ayo Dunmoye. I was fascinated by the writings of Karl Marx and Max Weber, which prompted my desire to study in Germany.
Germany is the wealthiest country in Europe and a global leader in education and research. It is the land of scientists like Albert Einstein, Max Plank and philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Goethe, among others. The education in Germany is top-notch, especially in medical sciences, natural science and engineering. Studying in Germany is also cheaper and more cost-effective compared to other countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Many of you may wonder why I choose to write on this topic, considering the high cost of studying abroad. Many of you may still think that only the elite can afford to send their children to foreign universities and others from a humble background are not capable of doing so, probably due to their circumstances.
I want to tell you today that you should perish such thoughts that have limited our people, especially in the northern part of the country, making them doubt their abilities. I want to tell you that there are no limits to where you can go and what you can achieve if you believe in your dreams and work towards them. We live in an era of information technology where you can use your smartphone to search for information that will aid you in improving your life and career. There are many Nigerian students from the Southern part of the country; most do not have wealthy parents and are thriving in this environment.
Studying in German universities is tuition-free for both local and international students. There are two options: you can either study through scholarship or self-sponsorship by taking care of your living expenses on your own through a system called blocked account. The first option is highly competitive and more tedious than the second one. Therefore, I suggest that people without solid financial capacity focus on the first option by applying for a scholarship. You can check the universities’ websites offering your courses and see the requirements for obtaining the scholarship.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) currently offers scholarships to students from developing countries for the 2023 academic session. The scholarship covers everything, including a monthly stipend of 861 euros for master’s students and 1200 euros for doctorate students. So, you should apply as soon as possible before the deadline. It would help if you had an outstanding grade in your first degree, a minimum of two years of work experience, a good motivation letter, and volunteering experience, among others, to be accepted for the scholarship programme.
The second option, through a blocked account, requires a lot of money, which means that you are on self- sponsorship, hence will cater for your living expenses which include payment for accommodation, health insurance and other costs in Germany. This option is for those who can afford the blocked account stipulated by the German authorities, which is currently 10,332 euros approximately (N6.7 million). You must deposit this money in a German bank after getting admission before securing a study visa. Most students who arrived in Germany for studies used Fintiba bank, a financial institution based in Frankfurt, Germany.
Once you get admission, you can check the website of the German embassy in Abuja or Lagos, look for the requirements for the study visa, and then apply for a visa appointment. I will advise that after getting admission, you check the official website of the German embassy in Nigeria or visit the embassy in Abuja or Lagos to get information on how to deposit the money in Fintiba bank. Don’t give your money to anybody.
You can go to any Nigerian bank to do the international transfer to Fintiba bank once you get the details on how to go about it from the German embassy. The money belongs to you and is for your living expenses here. Once you arrive in Germany and go through a system referred to as legitimization at the bank, Fintiba bank will then transfer 848 Euro monthly to your account for 12 months. The money will not be transferred in bulk to your account but bit by bit.
.Of course, you can work here and earn money to support your living expenses. Students are entitled to 20 hours per week and can work more than 20 hours during holidays, especially when the university is on break. Most international students work here and earn good money. An hourly wage depends on cities, but it is mainly between 10.45 to 16 Euro per hour (N6, 500 to N10, 000) depending on the city and company you work for. Wages in bigger cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Dusseldorf are higher than in smaller cities like Kiel, Flensburg, Cottbus, Magdeburg, etc.
Public universities do not charge tuition fees in Germany. Depending on the University, you only pay a semester fee (alias social fee) ranging from 200 euros to 380 euros per semester. For instance, students in my university pay 264 Euros per semester. This covers dues for the student union and transportation. In other words, students do not pay whenever they board a bus or train, as the semester ticket covers the fare for buses and trains within the city of Kiel and up to Hamburg. So, our semester ticket covers movement throughout the state of Schleswig Holstein and Hamburg.
Most Nigerian and international students I have met here are on self-sponsorship. Theystudy and also work to take care of their living expenses. There is always a part-time job available for students, especially in big and smaller cities, and you can take advantage of that to earn money for your upkeep. Some students focus on studies only during the semester and only work during holidays, while some attend lectures on weekdays and only work part-time during the weekend. The choice is yours.
I must emphasize that studying in Germany is tough, and you must put much effort to succeed. People fail here quickly, especially students who focus on work without paying much attention to their studies. But the main thing is to strike a balance between your studies and part-time work, if you want to achieve your goals. Of course, many students have been able to secure jobs after their studies here. A lot of Nigerians that I know here work after completing their studies.
Moreover, for those apprehensive about their religion, there is a large population of Muslims in Germany, mainly from Turkey, Syria, and Egypt, among others. There are mosques everywhere. At least we have six mosques in my city, with even a mosque mainly for Africans to perform their prayer.
I still reiterate that you can do everything independently with your computer or laptop. You do not need the help of anybody or an agent to assist you in applying for admission, scholarship or the visa process. Don’t fall for any scammer. You can do this from beginning to end on your own until you find yourself in Germany. You don’t need to know anybody to be able to secure admission, scholarship or visa to Germany. I arrived in Germany in 2018 without knowing anybody or even a friend. My communication was with the University strictly. If I can do it, you too can do it. So, believe in your abilities and go after your goals. I wish you all the best in your endeavour.
Aminu Mohammed is at the School of Sustainability, Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel, Schleswig Holstein, Germany. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.