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Is Germany a very good country to study physics in?

  1. Mar 30, 2010 #1
    I want to study physics, undergraduate but I dont know if the best universities are in the US, I would like to know if some of you have studied somewere else and if it is also good for my opportunities of becoming a researcher in physics if I study in Germany.

    So how is Germany for studying physics undergrad?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 30, 2010 #2
    Fantastic! Heck, you have access to the API, and are a train's ride away from CERN and so much else. It would be tough without the language however.
  4. Mar 30, 2010 #3


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    One issue with German ugrad degrees used to be that you had to sign upto a 5-7 year diploma degree if you wanted eventually to do a PhD or a 3year regular degree at the start.
    We used to have a lot of German students (in the UK) doing MSc's because it let them short-cut this.

    Of course this may be wildly out of date, and may depend on the particular instituion.
  5. Mar 30, 2010 #4
    Well thanks for answering, I don't know the language so I guess it would be though. But I can learn it i guess. thanks
  6. Mar 30, 2010 #5
    If you don't know the language it would be agonizing to live in Germany. The Germans won't dislike you for it, but you might find them distant without the ability to chat. That said, German is exceedingly easy to learn to speak and understand. As for what mgb-phys says, I don't know about that, but I can think of easier places to study for a native english speaker than Germany, including other parts of europe.
  7. Mar 30, 2010 #6

    Char. Limit

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    If you can speak English, you can learn German easily. It's so much like English in pronouns, much like English in grammar, half of the vocabulary is alike...

    Just take a Rosetta Stone for German or something. Don't miss out on a great opportunity to study in one of the best places for physics just because you don't know the language.
  8. Mar 30, 2010 #7
    My family's hosting a German foreign exchange student for the year, and every one of his friend's that I've spoken to has had at least a working knowledge of English, and he said that's pretty much the norm. So you should at least be able to get around without too much difficulty until you pick up the language. Lectures are probably going to be a completely different story, but as far as general living goes it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
  9. Mar 31, 2010 #8
    Well Im not a native english speaker, im mexican, but I wanted to know if studying physics in Germany was something recommendable speaking of the material and quality of the courses overall, comparing it with countries around the world.
  10. Mar 31, 2010 #9

    Char. Limit

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    Well, mexican or not, you can speak English. After all, you just did.

    And Germany has some of the best places to go for physics in the world. Want to go visit the LHC? Just a couple hundred miles away. What about CERN? Another couple hundred. Liked the ideas of Leibniz? His memorial is right over there. Planck? Over there.

    And so on, and so forth.
  11. Mar 31, 2010 #10
    @Carlos092: Ok, forget what I said, GO TO GERMANY man! You speak English like a native, and I assume you speak spanish. You'll find German a breeze, and being trilingual with those three languages is marketable all by itself. As Char. Limit said, you clearly speak and write and read english (better than many natives I might add).

    I should add, it is very VERY good to be a student in Europe. You get all kinds of discounts, rail-cards for travel, etc. The German people are also incredibly friendly when you make an attempt to learn their language, and doubly so to students. Jokes aside, the food is actually quite good, although the variety can be lacking.

    Germany alone is great, but remember, Europe is quite small compared to the USA or Mexico. The whole place is connected by rail, and (mostly) a common currency, which makes life for a student VERY easy. School in Germany means access to everything Europe as a whole has to offer at HUGE student discounts. It's a good thing. :smile:
  12. Mar 31, 2010 #11
    Why Germany? On the University of Groningen, The Netherlands one can get an all English course. The physics departments of that university is renowned.


    or maybe Leiden, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Delft, Enschede
  13. Mar 31, 2010 #12
    I can vouch for this being true, I'm learning German right now and yes, it is very close to English in vocabulary, the sentence structure is a bit different, but is very easy to learn, and the grammar is very easy to learn also. I would say the hardest thing to learn is the memorization needed with the different genders of nouns; male, female, and neutral.
  14. Mar 31, 2010 #13
    Why not anywhere? The answer is that for some reason (unknown to us) he asked about Germany. Being from Mexico and speaking fluent English, I assume that he isn't limited to Germany as an option, but happened to be asking about it.

    I would say, the Netherlands has the added bonus of being... more friendly than Germany, and you have the benefit of amazing museums and architecture that is utterly unique. I've been to both countries, and Nederland is much more inviting. Germany can be lovely, but it can be a little... distant. I found the Dutch to be universally friendly. The downside is you can definitely learn German... who knows if you can learn Dutch! :wink:
  15. Mar 31, 2010 #14
    The main difference between (very generalized) attitude towards aliens in Germany and the Netherlands is indeed the language. Why? Germans speak German, everybody, that includes movies and television. And if somebody on the movie or TV happens to speak another language, he is muted and somebody takes over to tell what he is telling in German. Thus Germans are not normally exposed to other languages and they do not automatically speak English. Hence they assume foreigners to speak German in Germany. So if a foreigner tries to get around in another language, he will feel the distance. Any foreigner who happens to speak German will be lauded however, and he find that the Germans are just as friendly as any other nationality.

    In The Netherlands there are no voice overs on TV and movies. Everything is subtitled and kids get exposed other languages at early age. Furthermore, historically The Netherlands are dealers who adapt to the customers. They realize that they have a lot more foreign countries around. They don't expects foreigners to speak Dutch, instead they attempt to speak the language of the guest, be it English, German or French, the languages of the neighbors. English is a mandatory language on school.

    So in the Netherlands you can get around in these languages without problems, especially English. Well French may be a bit harder. Anyway, no need to learn Dutch. You can get around in English anywhere.

    Furthermore the Dutch and German languages are rather closely related and will probably have similar barriers for learning.
  16. Mar 31, 2010 #15


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    True - Germany is the main country where English isn't automatically the language in any technical field. It's about the only language that you find translations of computer books.
    Even in France you end up doing a lot of the work in English, but Germans see no reason to swap their Eigenfunctions for an english equivalent.

    In everyday life I suppose there is less need for a German kid to learn English if they want access to TV/Music than there is for a Dutch/Scandinavian kid.
  17. Mar 31, 2010 #16
    Germany is an excellent place to study physics, if you know how to take it.
    1) Courses will often be in German or in bad English, because of the lecturers age
    2) (excellent) books and lecture notes will be in German in the first 2-3 years.
    3) German television, and German books will help you learn German and you will need it! It's a benefit in that respect.
    4) German universities don't care if you understand how to study. I cannot stress this enough. There is some help from student unions but that is not enough. You have to join a group of students, and hang out with older students to understand what courses to take when, help each other with homework, understand which professors to avoid, where to get software and such things. This is where foreigners fail. It is hard for German students to understand the university procedures and the first lectures blow everyone of their feet. If you try to do it all by yourself you are bound to fail. There is no grade for attendance and you have self motivate a lot.
    This is ultimately the German philosophy that you become a man during university and you are responsible for yourself.
    5) Go to a "Universit├Ąt" and not to a "University" a bunch of crappy colleges promoted themselves to "Universities" (the English word is not protected)
    6) German universities take about 1.5 years longer than for example British ones. You will usually get a more thorough background but it is debatable if that helps you in your career.
    7) There are fairly good experimental labs
    8) No fluff. If you study physics you'll do physics for 5 years, not one year of English history junk and such things
  18. Mar 31, 2010 #17
    @0xDEADBEEF: Leave it to a guy with a hexidecimal name to call anything but physics fluff. :wink: All kidding aside, you make good points; learning that German is a good thing to have in the back pocket for business, travel, and science!

    Still, Andre does sell The Netherlands with elan!

    Only one solution: Fight! The first person to normalize your equations wins... and.... GO! *bang*.
  19. Mar 31, 2010 #18


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    Weather better, scenery not as good - beer a tie ?
  20. Mar 31, 2010 #19

    Char. Limit

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    Germans like gummy bears.

    Gummy bears are commonly eaten at college.

    Therefore, Germans commonly go to college.

    Therefore, i like Jello.

    Therefore, Germany has a better college system with more students, better instructors, better scenery, and an easier language. And the Dutch (ditch) beer ain't got nothing on Germany's fine lager.
  21. Mar 31, 2010 #20
    I am getting the strong sense that nationalities are being represented here... Anyway, Germany is all gummyberry-juice lagers and pilsners. :rofl:

    While we're at it, as a physicist maybe the quality of intoxicants isn't a selling point? Or maybe it is... in which case I should point out that marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, which is a CLEAR win over alcohol.

    Of course, since my heritage is Vodka on one side (flavourless, odorless), and Ouzo on the other (yeah, licorice/aniseed booze, that's a great thought) which is only drinkable with LARGE quantities of good lamb... I can't really say anything. Did I mention I don't even drink? I should leave before someone hits me... :wink:
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