I did my bachelor study in Hong Kong. Afterwards, I worked for 2 years in Hong Kong, then headed over to Germany and finished my master degree there.
Germany is definitely not an “usual” place for Hong Kong people to go study overseas. I often got asked why I want to study in Germany.
Here is why:
(1) You don’t need to pay tuition fee in Germany
Yes! You don’t need to pay tuition fee in Germany! Even if you are a foreigner! I still remember my friend told me this at that time and I could not believe her.
One of my dreams earlier was to study abroad. The common countries to study abroad for Hong Kong people are UK, US and Australia. They all cost a whole lot of money.
As a fresh graduate from my bachelor degree, there was no way I had money to afford studying in those countries. I had an impression that going abroad to study would always cost you a fortune (like what most people in Hong Kong think) And only those who get financial support from their family would have this option of studying abroad.
But that is not true!
Germany public universities are free for all students, no matter if you are local or foreign students. You would just need to pay a small administration fee each semester.
Back then in 2010 I studied in Berlin. I paid around 250 EUR for this administration fee, and this included also my public transportation. For one whole semester, I didn’t need to care about transportation cost. This include metro and bus in the city.
In some other cities it may be a little more expensive. My friend who studied in Munich back then paid around 500 EUR per semester. Still, even comparing to Hong Kong, where my bachelor degree costed around 40,000 HKD (around 4,500 EUR) per year, the cost of studying in Germany is just ridiculously cheap.
(2) Germany has strong economy
If your aim is to find a job after graduation in Germany, studying in Germany can be a good option. Germany has one of the strongest economy among the other European countries. It means that the chance of finding a job is also higher than in other European countries.
The main drawback here is the German language. Depending on your major in University, it can be really hard to find a job if you don’t know German. It is easier for technical subjects like engineering, or any other technical fields where Germany is lacking of local expertise.
But if you are in a general field like me (business major), it can be really hard, though not impossible. (I did get a full time job without speaking any German. I wrote about my job interview in another post.)
But if you think about other English speaking countries, it may not be easier either. For example, in UK and USA, their visa process for students to get a permanent work permit is WAY more difficult than that in Germany (thanks to Brexit and Trump)
And if you are going to study in other European countries besides UK, you will need to face the same local language issue.
(3) Germany has a lot of internship opportunity
I have mentioned about this in my another article: 9 ways to earn money in Germany as a student. In the curriculum of university study, it is very common that the students will need to do a mandatory internship for one semester. Therefore, it is very common that students will have some internship experience, before they start their full time career.
Many companies offer internship opportunities for students. I did also an internship for one semester, and got paid around 1500 EUR per month net at that time in 2011. It was considered a really good pay. Most companies are paying much less, like a few hundred EUR per month net. Some may even not pay anything (they screw the students as they know the students need to do this internship to graduate anyway).
Therefore, if you study in Germany, there is a good chance that you will do an internship there during your study. If your aim is to find a job in Germany after graduation, this is also a good chance for you as many companies do hire their full time employees from the internship afterwards. I also got a job offer from the same company after doing an internship there.
(4) Germany is a good location if you love travelling
If you are not from Europe, and you love to travel, Germany is definitely one of the best geographical locations. It is more or less in the central area of Europe. So you can easier travel to other European countries by car, bus or train. There are also a lot of cheap airlines that you can fly within Europe.
Germany is also part of the Schengen zone, which means that you can travel passport free to most of the other European countries which are also in the Schengen zone.
(5) The visa process is relatively easier if you want to find a job after graduation
I wouldn’t say that it is easy to find a job. Check my other post: How to find English speaking jobs in Germany. If you do find a job, depending on your job, you may be able to get a EU Blue Card. The EU Blue Card is like a temporary residence permit. To get this, you would need to have a university degree. After graduation, if you find a job in Germany which allow you to earn at least 50,800 Euro per year in the same profession as your study, you are likely to get a EU Blue Card.
For the first 2 years with the blue card, you would have to stick with your current employer. After 2 years, you are free to change employer. And you can apply for the permanent residence after 33 months. If you know German well, you can even apply after 21 months.
Once you get the permanent residence, you are pretty much like the other German people, except that you cannot vote, and you do not have the German passport (unless you apply for one).
This process is relatively easy than other countries from what I heard. Many friends of mine who studied in USA before end up being forced to go back to their home country. Because even if they find a job, it does not mean necessarily that they can extend their visa.
There is a lottery process in USA to determine if you are allowed to extend your visa or not. I know couples in USA who broke up because one won and the other lost the lottery, meaning that one can stay in USA and the other one has to go back.
Even in Hong Kong, you would need to stay for at least 7 years to get the permanent citizenship. So I would say in Germany it is pretty favorable to foreigners who want to stay, if they are highly educated and skilled.