Syllabus Week just ain’t the same in Germany

I’m sorry to say that Syllabus Week in Germany is not so Silly. In fact, most of the teachers here seem to have no concept of an introduction or laying out expectations for the following semester. Instead, we got a whole lot of lecture; I guess we will find out on our own who our professors are.

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A beautiful building near my residency appointment.

Monday

My Monday was mostly an errand running day. I was able to establish my residency here in Frankfurt with minimal effort although I can already foresee some problems with how it was completed. In order to establish residency, you have to bring a form from your landlord that says you live at the address listed. The problem is that because I live in a dorm, they just list the generic address of the dorm instead of my physical address. This discrepancy has already given me grief although it has yet to prove detrimental.

Tuesday

Having completed my residency, I now had all of the necessary paperwork to be able to open a bank account. This was very important because Germany (and most of the world at this point) no longer uses checks. My financial aid refund was therefore stuck at my school until I was able to get a German bank account. I also need a bank account to establish Autopay for my German health insurance. Making the account was simple and stress free except for the address discrepancy described above which I was able to adequately explain to the employee.

Before my banking appointment, a few friends and I went to the Frankfurt Zoo. Although it is a bit small, it’s definitely worth seeing. They seem to specialize in endangered species and many of the animals I saw there, I (the zoo connoisseur), had never seen in person before. Below you can see just how close to this beautiful lioness we were able to get with just an inch of glass separating us.

Wednesday

On Wednesday I had my very first class at the Frankfurt School, German B2.1. In case you are unfamiliar with language learning levels, B2 is basically the point where you leave the grammar books behind and start learning more spontaneously. It focuses heavily on speaking and learning independent subjects using the German language. Being that we are in a business school, the majority of our lessons will be spent discussing German business culture and preparing for applications and interviews.

I will not be airing my dirty laundry here but I will summarize my first day of class saying that I had mixed feelings. I know that I am not the strongest speaker in any way, shape or form. That is the weakest part of any language I have tried to learn. Where my strengths lie and what my German education thus far has emphasized is grammar and culture. That said, I still feel like I was speaking with the same relative fluency as my peers and those who were significantly better than I elected to skip to the next level. By the end of my three hour class, I felt pretty confident that I was placed in the correct class. That said (and to put it nicely), my teacher seemed to feel differently about my placement although she didn’t seem to be able to spare the time to adequately discuss it. I will be returning to her class next week but we will see if I end up staying in it.

Thursday

I had my first finance courses on Thursday. In case anyone was wondering, my courses are as follows:

  • Foundations of Finance
  • Financial Products & Modeling
  • Statistics & Econometrics
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Macro Economics

On Thursday I had Foundations and Products & Modeling. They both seemed OK but very easy. Our class schedules are very confusing. I am in the Thursday Group meaning that I will only ever have classes Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Wednesday is exclusively for German courses). Within any given day, there are three periods: morning 9-12:30, afternoon 1:15-4:30 and evening 4:45-8:00. At maximum I will only have a class on two consecutive periods of the day, many days I will only have one class and some days I don’t have class when I normally should. Similarly, which class I have during a given period is seemingly completely random. In short, I have a good idea approximately when I will be in class but which class and when exactly requires me to check my schedule.

Friday

On Friday I had the first class which I even remotely enjoyed, Financial Statement Analysis (AKA basic accounting). Even though, like all the rest of my courses, I already know the material backwards and forwards, this professor is much more engaging and prone to discussion than the others which make the class infinitely more interesting and much less hard to fall asleep during. On the complete contrary, my next course was Statistics and this professor couldn’t be engaging to save his life. Imagine Gru from Despicable Me giving a lecture on probability theories and you have my professor.

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A beautiful fountain near the Zoo.

Saturday

I had the same classes I had on Friday again on Saturday and it was much the same. However I was able to speak with an advisor over some important matters which I will try to make simple here. Because I studied finance for my Bachelors degree, I have the ability to apply for a waive on some of the courses this semester. This means that, if my waiver is accepted, I can sit in the class for lecture but I cannot participate in any graded activities, namely, the final test. Most people wouldn’t even bother to come to class though because if the class is waived, you no longer get a grade but rather a Pass which then omits the course from your GPA.

Having now attended four of my five courses, I realized that I already know EVERYTHING and then some for each of the subjects. I think I have the necessary documentation to apply to waive all but my Economics course. What was unclear to me was what happens after getting my courses waived; what am I suppose to do with my newfound time? My student advisors answer was basically, nothing. We are unable to sign up for elective courses because they are intended to be taken at the end of your studies and are, in theory, “too hard.” The entire class moves through the other classes as a group so it impossible to begin taking my concentration or other compulsory courses. Basically she suggested either signing up for intensive German courses (which sounds like hell to me) or getting a job (which is difficult because I am not a citizen of the European Union).

As a non-EU citizen, we are only allowed to work for 120 days out of the year and for a maximum of 20 hours per week (i.e. 2.5 regular working days per week). Basically, yes working would be able to take up some of my time and it would be nice to have income but it is no substitute for the 24 hours of class time per week my fellow students are completing, many of them doing so in addition to their 20 hour work week.

This dilemma is frustrating because if I had applied to waive my classes during the summer, I could have stayed home and saved money my first semester, but I also risked the chance that the courses actually did contain information that I didn’t already know. I think my solution to this problem is to remain in a couple of classes that I am sure to get an A in. That way I have a good GPA to start my next semester with and to balance my future GPA. Since I will only be staying in the easy courses, they shouldn’t require much effort outside of the course so I will be able to work/study/travel as if I wasn’t even taking classes. I still have time to make up my mind though so we shall see what I decide and then what actually gets approved.

Sunday

Sunday was not a fun-day. We had cleaning inspections so the entire flat spent the whole morning cleaning the extremely dirty kitchen. I ended up being in charge of cleaning the stove and toward the end accidentally breathed in some cleaner which made me feel ill. I spend the remainder of the day in bed and had a truly lazy Sunday.

Sorry this post was extremely late… I started writing it on Monday after feeling sick all day Sunday but didn’t finish it until today (Wednesday). I’ll try and do better from not on. 


4 thoughts on “Syllabus Week just ain’t the same in Germany

  1. Hello Heather, I have just found your blog, and first things first, let me congratulate you for the high quality of your descriptions and the free stream-of-consciousness style of everything. As an American that has just moved to Germany as well, you have been a true inspiration to create my own blog featuring my completely unfiltered judgement of this culture.

    I have seen many of my own disappointments about life here mirrored in your descriptions, my first week was as well, to say the least, a little chaotic. Let me explain.

    I arrived on Friday, after waiting for approximately 17 minutes for my luggage in a very crowded airport in Frankfurt, I finally was able to make my way out and grab a cab. That was my first mistake, as when I arrived to my destination, it turned out that the cab driver refused to be paid in dollars and demanded I paid in this weird European Schillings they use here. After a long argument I say, whatever, let me find an ATM. Second mistake, turns out credit cards are a shit-show here, and the cab driver will not take checks either. A big argument ensued until he finally was forced to take my dollars – these people, do they never get out of their small towns or what?-.

    Saturday I spent in deep meditation to recover from Fridays much disappointing argument with the culturally unaware driver.

    Sunday, much like yours, was the worst day. Are our fates aligned or what? Haha.
    I got out of the house, and feeling hungry as I was from all the meditation, I turned to the first restaurant I could find in the Hauptbahnhof neighborhood. It turned out to be one of those where hairy old school males serve meat out of a constantly turning roll. Whatever, I am culturally aware and very hungry, so I quickly go through the vegan options and point at a falafel doner. This is where things started to go south.

    As soon as I am served the “food” I quickly demand to know whether the bread is gluten-free, because it certainly does not look like it. The men, start looking confused to eachother, talking in a weird language like they dont understand. I try to reach them, I read their name plates:
    “-Ahmet, is this gluten free?” He looks confused and tries to reply in German. “IS THIS GLUTEN-FREE?” I reiterate.
    The men look at me like I am crazy, and right at the time I catch one of them peaking at my skirt. Luckily, I had done my share of blog reading and knew what to expect of European men. I was prepared for this. I pulled my double action rape-horn-and-pepperspray and perform the moves I learned in my self defense classes back at home. I press both buttons and as I scream, I turn like an unstoppable tornado of justice, spraying the pigs, their “food” murder roll, and their GMO mutant vegetables.

    Alerted by the sound of the horn, two officers show up at the scene, finally I am saved, I think. They quickly start speaking German and I do not understand a thing. The male officer, in a small act of consideration, speaks in English.
    -What happened here, miss?
    -DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER YOU CIS SCUM. I reply, triggered.
    And just like that I pepperspray the pig as well, while his partner finally tazes me. My 400lb body is too healthy to resist the shock and I pass out.

    Next thing I know, I wake up in the hospital, one hand cuffed to the bed, where a doctor is checking on me. He speaks English fairly well, perhaps finally someone that will understand.
    -You are lucky you survived that shock, perhaps we should think about getting you on a diet if you want to live longer.
    -ARE YOU FAT SHAMING ME?. I scream as I believe I am finally done with this fascist country. Incapable of defending myself because of the handcuffs, I let go of my bladder, as I was instructed in my self defense classes, and scream loudly. The pig doctor injects some substance in the IV and I pass out again.

    Monday, I wake up in the psych unit, or intensive care, I am unsure, they will not answer my questions. In fact the nurse will soon figure out I stole her phone to post this. She is coming back, please send help.

    Like

  2. Be water.My Friend.You put water in cup.It becomes the cup.You put water in a jar.It becomes the jar.You put water in a teapot. It becomes the teapot. Water can flow.Water can crash.Be water. My Friend.

    Like

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