Why you should go abroad
5 good reasons for a stay abroad
Your studies may be the only opportunity you ever get to travel abroad for a long period of time. Eventually you will find a job and career, and start a family*. Take this opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn about new cultures.
There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself while gaining clarity about where you are heading to after graduation.
*If you have a family already, there are special scholarships available, e.g. through Erasmus.
Studying abroad grants you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new language, and there is no better way to learn than to dive right in.
Speaking several languages always means being able to communicate with more people. Your time abroad and the many contacts with people from all over the world will also strengthen your intercultural competence. A quality that you will need later in your professional life.
Another reason you might consider studying abroad is for the chance to experience different styles of education. By enrolling in a study abroad program, you will have the chance to see a side of your major that you may not have been exposed to at home.
One of the biggest benefits of going abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. When studying abroad you may meet many locals as well as other exchange students. These friendships that you make – also thanks to social networks – can turn into lifelong relationships.
In addition to rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important networking tools later down the road.
Whatever your plans for your stay abroad are – international experience is more than just a plus in your CV. It represents an enrichment on the professional level in itself and it speaks volumes about your personality. This shows that you are mobile, open-minded, that change does not scare you. Qualities highly sought after by recruiters.
Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve. It also demonstrates skills such as planning, organisation, budgeting and communication. These are all things that are usually indispensable in everyday working life, but which you will also absolutely need in your private life.
Going abroad - How does it work?
At the University of Kassel, you can choose from a wide range of different stays abroad. If you are unsure, you can also take our self-test (only in German).
You can study for one or two semesters at a university abroad. You do not have to pay tuition fees at partner universities. As a rule, you can have courses from abroad recognised at the University of Kassel.
You also have the opportunity to complete voluntary or compulsory internships abroad. Internships after graduation are also possible. You can choose the internship yourself.
Summer Schools are short study programs offered by many universities abroad. International experience, contacts and the opportunity to earn credits come together here.
Study trips are offered as part of a seminar. These are excursions abroad that supplement the theoretical content of the seminar with practical experience.
You can improve your language skills during a language course abroad.
If you are doing your doctorate, you can take part in various stays abroad such as congress and lecture trips, professional training, teaching stays or international internships.
First consider which countries and regions are of interest to you. For inspiration, we recommend reading the experience reports of other students. Also, consider which languages you speak. English is sufficient in most cases.
You have several options for choosing a university:
(1) You can go to a partner university of your department, for example through Erasmus. You can find exchange places under the link.
(2) As a student at the University of Kassel, you can also study in the USA or Australia for a semester without tuition fees via the Hessen programs.
(3) If you cannot find a suitable partner university, you can apply independently as a freemover to your chosen university.
In principle, you can do your international internship anywhere you find a study-relevant internship. It is up to you whether you want to limit your search to a specific country/region or whether you want to search for a specific area of work regardless of the country. Here, too, we recommend that you read the experience reports of other students for inspiration.
For summer schools, the venue decides where to go. First, look for Summer Schools that interest you thematically and then see where they are taking place.
The destination is usually determined by the teacher who plans the study trip.
We recommend taking the language course in a country where the language is spoken.
Yes, that is possible.
You can go through another department if your chosen university cooperates with another department at the University of Kassel. The prerequisite for this is that the university of your choice offers courses according to your subject profile. Contact the responsible departmental coordinator to find out whether you can apply for the agreed places outside your subject area. If the partner university also agrees, you are good to go.
If you do not go through another department, you can alternatively apply independently as a freemover at the university of your choice.
You can go abroad in the semester, during the semester break or even after graduation. This depends on the type of stay you would like to complete.
Many faculties provide a so-called mobility window for stays abroad in a particular semester. So inform yourself in good time in your department and take the requirements of your examination or study regulations into account.
If you already complete your stay abroad at the beginning of your studies, you have the opportunity to integrate your intercultural experience into your further studies.
That depends on the type of stay you are taking:
As a rule, a semester abroad lasts 4-6 months.
An internship abroad can last 1-12 months.
Short stays such as summer schools or study trips usually take 1-2 weeks.
Language courses can be supported by us within a time frame of 1-4 weeks.
Your studies are not necessarily slowed down by a stay abroad. Shorter stays such as internships or summer schools can be completed during the semester break. Longer stays such as semesters abroad can be integrated into the course of studies, as courses completed abroad are generally recognized at the University of Kassel.
It may also be possible for you to take a leave of absence during your stay abroad. Please contact your examination office for more information.
Costs and funding
If you go abroad via a partner university, you do not have to pay any tuition fees.
The cost of living in most countries is comparable to that in Germany. Experience has shown, however, that travel costs and the new environment generate additional costs.
Only within the framework of the Erasmus programme do you automatically receive a monthly scholarship once you have been accepted. Other study stays can be financed by a wide variety of scholarship programmes. Depending on the type and duration, you will receive travel expenses and/or monthly grants.
The University of Kassel supports the international exchanges of its students in every respect. The chances of completing a study-related stay abroad are therefore very good. For example, the funding rate for the Promos and Shosta scholarship programmes is over 90% of all applicants.
Academic performance is no longer the only criterion. On the contrary, grades tend to play a subordinate role. Commitment, motivation and the biography of students are far more important these days. When making their selection, the scholarship providers take into account the respective profile of the applicants.
Take advantage of our consulting services to optimize your application. For example, the International Office of the University of Kassel regularly offers workshops for writing letters of motivation.
Should your desired exchange still not be feasible, we will be happy to advise you on possible alternatives.
If you are a foreign national, please enquire at the Student Services Organisation (Studierendenwerk) whether you are entitled to federal financial aid (BAföG).
BAföG is an excellent financing option for stays abroad during your studies. If you are entitled to domestic BAföG in Germany you can usually also receive BAföG for an educational stay abroad.
In addition, foreign BAföG is also interesting for those who are regarded as borderline cases and do not receive domestic BAföG. Since the assessment thresholds for studying abroad are set differently, such students often have the opportunity to receive grants adapted to their studies abroad.
Both semesters abroad and compulsory internships are financed. Subsidies are available for living expenses and travel expenses. If tuition fees are incurred, they are paid up to a certain amount.
BAföG for stays abroad can also be combined with many scholarships such as Erasmus or Promos.
Knowledge of the national language will make your stay abroad easier. In many cases, however, knowledge of English is sufficient.
Most universities offer a sufficient number of courses in English. English is often the working language for internships abroad, as well.
Do not let language challenges put you off. Rather see it as an opportunity to improve your language skills.
At the University of Kassel you have the opportunity to prepare yourself linguistically very well with many offers. Language courses can also be taken in advance as part of the Erasmus programme.
For individual exchange programmes, language skills at a certain level must be proven.
Learning languages at the University of Kassel
International Study Centre/Language Centre
A good and relatively inexpensive way to prepare yourself linguistically is to take part in language courses at the Language Centre at the International Study Centre of the University of Kassel. Each semester the Language Centre offers a wide range of language courses for many languages and different levels.
Practicing foreign languages
The Language Centre also offers other, mostly free, opportunities to use and practice the foreign language you have learnt, such as the Tandem-Initiative, the "Treffpunkt Deutsch" or the Media Library. You can find out more about the offers on the homepage of the Language Centre.
Learning languages in the region
The Community College in Kassel also offers a large selection of language courses (normally taught in German). Addresses and programmes of the Community Colleges in North Hesse can be found under the link.
To apply for a study place at a foreign university or a scholarship, language skills often have to be proven or recorded by a language certificate or language test. Please refer to the applications documents to find out which proof is required.
For most scholarship programs, you will need a language certificate. You can have your knowledge of the language of instruction/language of the country certified using a standardised form. This usually involves an assessment of listening, speaking, writing and reading comprehension in the foreign language.
At the University of Kassel you can take the test for this language certificate at the International Study Centre/Language Centre.
Please ask for dates in the office of the Language Centre (Mon-Fri 9-11 h; Tel. +49 561-804 3689). If you are a student of Department 02 (Linguistics and Literature), you can contact one of the lecturers of Department 02.
Many universities abroad require language skills to be proven by a recognised language test. These tests are offered by various institutions in Germany and are subject to a fee.
You can find out which test you have to take from the application documents or on the website of the host university.
The language test can be one of the following:
What else do I need to take care of?
Each participant is obliged to take care of sufficient insurance coverage on his/her own. Neither the EU nor the DAAD or the University of Kassel are liable for damages resulting from illness, death, accident, injury to people, loss or damage of property in connection with your stay abroad.
It is therefore essential that you think about sufficient insurance coverage abroad. The following insurances should be in place:
- travel insurance (including return transport)
- liability insurance (professional and personal liability, if applicable)
- Insurance for accidents and serious illnesses (including full or partial incapacity to work)
People on statutory insurance: All participants should be in possession of an "European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)". With the EHIC, the national health insurance generally also provides basic insurance cover for the stay in another EU country. However, the coverage provided by the EHIC or private insurance may be insufficient, especially if the return transport or special medical procedures are needed. For such cases, an additional private insurance may be useful. For stays in Turkey, a private health insurance is usually obligatory.
Especially for stays in non-EU countries, it is important to take care of an additional private insurance. Often, the statutory health insurance does not cover you or only to a limited extent. Please contact your health insurance company for more information.
Please note: It is possible to participate in the DAAD's group insurance at one’s own expense. For further information, please contact the DAAD Insurance Office (Tel.: 0228/882-294).
If you spend a semester abroad at a foreign university, you will receive information about potential housing for students after registering at the university.
For other study-related stays: Please start looking for accommodation in your host country in good time. You will often find tips and hints in the experience reports of other students.
Whether a visa is required depends on the host country.
In most cases (except for EU citizens in the EU) a student or trainee visa is required. The visa is usually applied for at the respective embassy. You should make sure you get your visa in time.