About Me

I came to Germany for love but stayed for so much more! I'm Danielle, a 20-something from the United States, and for the past three years I've been living the German life. I started my journey as an au pair in Karlsruhe, took a quick Eurotrip with my sister, and then decided to take the plunge and start the next chapter of my life as a university student in Hildesheim. Amidst the occasional struggles that accompany life as an expat (looking at you, visa appointments!), I'm enjoying everything Germany has to offer, from foodcoffee and beer to the great public transportation and the great outdoors.

If you like what you see and want to be kept updated on my latest adventures, head over to the the sidebar on the right and follow me on Bloglovin', Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to receive new posts by email.

10 comments :

  1. Hey! I stumbled across your blog and my mind was blown because I recently returned to the states after my time as an AU PAIR IN HILDESHEIM!!!! I still have two more years at university here but would love to go back to Germany once I'm done. I'm a fellow blogger over at passportsandpaintbrushes.com :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey! That's so cool! How did you like Hildesheim? Any must-visit places you can recommend for me? I still haven't explored the city as much as I would like and am always open to suggestions.

      Delete
  2. Hey! I found your website when I was looking at an article on technical writing jobs in Germany. I'm interested in being a technical writer and expatriating to Germany. Do you have any advice? Right now I'm an undergrad and focusing on English & technical writing with a minor in German.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, thanks for your message! The advice I share with you depends heavily on what exactly you want advice about. Are you planning to continue your education in Germany or go directly to the job market? Or do you want advice about which one of those you should do?

      In general, what I've heard (and what I'm counting on!) is that Germany needs technical writers. Talk around the university is that most graduates from my masters program graduate with jobs or find them quickly. So in terms of what you are studying you are on track. You will also need to make sure your German is excellent (probably at least C1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which is the second highest level, highest being C2, or native-like ability). Some universities and employers might require that you take a German language exam such as the TestDaF (www.testdaf.de), so looking into that early can't hurt. (Your minor in German might be accepted as sufficient proof of language skill, but I wouldn't count on that everywhere.)

      Also, as a techincal writer with English as a native language, there's a good chance that a future employer will ask you to translate technical texts from German to English or vice versa. With that in mind it also couldn't hurt to take some translation classes, if those are available to you, or to look into the masters program that I'm doing (https://www.uni-hildesheim.de/studiumundlehre/studienangebot/masterstudium/internationale-fachkommunikation-sprachen-und-technik-master-of-arts-ma/).

      If I say too much more this message will get out of control, so if you have more specific questions feel free to message back!

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I'll check out the link you provided. Yes, I am interested in continuing my education in Germany. That is probably best anyway, isn't it?

      Will that language exam be needed before applying to the Masters program or be administered after finishing? Or does that depend on which university one attends? I have heard that some universities offer an intensive German language class in the summer semester before the regular year begins.

      Also, I really appreciate your blog. I had this idea and didn't know if anyone out there had the same one! There isn't much information on Google (that I've found) about the same pathway that you have gone. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. I found some articles by people seeking to be translators only, but never technical writing combined with translation.

      Please keep the blog updated. :) It's great to read!

      Delete
    3. I would say if you want to work in Germany studying here first is probably your best bet.
      The language exam will most likely need to be done before applying to the university, and at the very latest before the first semester. In addition to the TestDaF, which is a standardized German exam administered all over the world, some universities offer a different, non-standardized test called the DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für Hochschulzugang), which is what I took. It is true that some universities offer language classes for one or two semesters before the start of the "real" studies. This is often called a Studienkolleg and the goal is usually to take and pass the DSH at the end. The availability and title of these classes varies by university, so you will have to do some research about the individual universities regarding these classes. Alternately, you can enroll in language classes at the local Volkshochschule (sort of like a community college). These classes tend to be more expensive than the university classes, though.

      I'm glad you've enjoyed my blog and found it helpful! I had an advantage when figuring all this stuff out that my boyfriend is German so I had some help, and I am very happy to help others who want to follow the same path. I will keep the blog updated as often as I can, although my course load this semester is a little crazy so guarantees of post frequency!

      Delete
    4. Another quick thing: a site like this could be helpful for you: http://www.studienwahl.de. You can search for majors or keywords and it will bring up a list of matching university programs. This isn't the only site of its kind but it is from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (the German employment agency) so the info should be reliable. I used a different but similar site when I was narrowing down which universities to apply to and it was very helpful.

      Delete
    5. It's strange that one or two semesters of study might be enough to pass the DSH. So does this mean that I can probably enter a Masters program without years upon years of study to learn the language? If so, that's wonderful. I realize that there is a time commitment -- I'm just not sure how extreme it is before I'd be able to pass a test like the DSH or TestDaF. From reading your comment, I am guessing that a passing score on either would be sufficient to enter an MA in the program you mentioned being in yourself? My plan is to take at least 4 semesters of German in undergraduate, perhaps 5 if my schedule allows. That should give me 20 months of experience with German at the collegiate level. What was your experience? What kinds of classes did you take in undergraduate, if any, to learn German? Or was it all personal study?

      (P.S. I'm sorry about all the delete notifications. I placed my comment in the wrong reply area at first, and then noticed that I'd misread something the second time. I wish Google would just get rid of the comment and let it be lol.)

      Delete
    6. Those one or two semesters I mentioned are aimed mostly at prepping for that specific exam (the DSH) and require at least an intermediate level of existing German ability. You certainly don't need years of study, but I will qualify that by saying that it depends on how rigorously you study. The DSH prep class I took was five days a week, four hours a day for three months, and I had already had five months of classes and two months of self-study before that in a total immersion environment. (I didn't take any German in college, I actually majored in Spanish, and I only started learning German after I moved to Germany.) I should say that by the time I took the DSH I was over-prepared, so you can certainly pass the exam with less training than I had.

      For most German universities a passing score is enough for admission, but for my program and for any program that includes translation (as well as some others) you will be required to get the highest score on the DSH (which is a 3 out of 3), or a 4 on all four sections of the TestDaF. A DSH 2 is also passing and many universities and programs will accept that, but it depends on the program and you will simply have to find out each program's requirements.

      My suggestion is to take as many German classes as possible in college, and make sure that those classes teach you ALL the grammar and give you experience with speaking and structured writing. I think the number of classes you take, as long as you learn all the grammar in those classes, is less important than the consistent effort you put into cultivating your German skills. If possible, I would try to find a native German speaker to practice with, and if your university offers any extra language assistance or conversation opportunities I would definitely take advantage of that.

      I hope this information has been helpful and organized well enough to give you a good idea of what your next steps might be. To summarize: to study in German at a German university you will have to prove you can speak German. To do this you can either take the TestDaF (if you go this route I would take it in the US before you apply) or the DSH. The DSH is only offered in Germany at certain (most) German universities, so to go this route the best option is to apply and be provisionally accepted to a German university and take their language class. The best advice I can give you moving forward from this point is to contact the universities you are considering and ask them what their procedure for international students is. All universities will have an International Office and they can help you figure out the best approach.

      (Don't worry about the deletions. I can permanently delete those notifications from my end.)

      Delete
  3. Hey Danielle,

    (Apologies for the slightly random method of communication)

    ExpatFocus.com recently included your fab blog in an article recommending expat blogs for our readers moving to or living in Germany (the article is online at http://www.expatfocus.com/c/aid=2736/articles/germany/germany---recommended-blogs/).

    In addition to letting you know about the above I also thought you might be interested in completing one of our short "expat experience" interviews (by email) for publication at the site (previous examples can be found at
    http://www.expatfocus.com/expat-experiences-latest). These are a great way of introducing yourself to our membership and in addition to promoting them via the usual social media channels of Twitter, Facebook etc. we also include them in our monthly email newsletter. If the above sounds of interest please let me know and I'll be very happy to send the
    questions through.

    Kind regards,
    Emma

    emma.creese@expatfocus.com

    ReplyDelete