Monday, October 12, 2009

Am Anfang des Semesters

Today marked the first day of classes here at the Universität Rostock and despite all the confusion and lack of clarity about virtually everything, I attended my first class, History of the German Language. The way the university functions as a whole here is very different than it is in the United States. The main difference, which may be at the core of everything, is that you go to a university to study one thing, for example physics, and you study ONLY physics. There are no general education requirements and very few interdisciplinary courses offered because when you go to study at a university here, you go to further your education only in your selected field.

Since the various fields of study are so isolated and separate, it only makes sense that the requirement of interdepartmental communication is minimal. For all the normal going-ons within the university, this usually isn't a cause for concern, however for the international student "fresh off the boat" so to speak, this translates into nobody knowing anything about anything going on anywhere else within the university. Communication is clearly lacking and it's effect on disorganization is very evident.

After a 4 days of new international student orientation, there had still been no mentioning of any scheduling or any mentioning of classes at all. After looking more in depth into it we found out that registration for regular German students closed way back in August. We then went in search of answers as to how we were to get classes and have a schedule, but due to the lack of communication we received conflicting information from several different sources. The simple answer to everything is that there is no way for international student to get classes and nobody seems to know this.

That being said, after practically begging for someone to help us, we finally got someone from the international office to show us the course listings and we just have to go in on the first class and hope that there's a spot open for us. After this week I'm beginning to understand why I was told that I would have to be proficient in German to be able to come here because at times even for me, the German system and processes involved were a little frustrating and I could speak the language.

All in all I would say that after all of this I'm not discouraged at all. I knew that it would be a very different experience and that I would have to be independent in many of the things I did here. I would say that I definitely didn't realize the extent that I would have to be self-reliant, but it's all part of the experience of coming here. I've not always been the most patient person ever and when I was growing up, my dad was a big fan of the phrase "proceed as the way opens." As much as it pains me to say, The only way to go through an experience like this, enjoy it, and make it a positive experience is to "proceed as the way opens."

On a completely different note, here are a few extra pictures that don't really have anything to do with the post. Just pictures I've been meaning to put up. The first one is another view of my bedroom here in Rostock, the second is the Reichstag in Berlin, the next one from inside Heathrow in London, and the last one is a picture of my girlfriend and I before I left the states.

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