Student life in Darmstadt, Germany 2015 - 2016
I am presenting my experience of studying abroad at Darmstadt University of Science and Technology based on my own experiences and subjective opinions. I hope you will find it useful.
Study Period: One year (September 2015 – July 2016)
Affiliation/Grade at the start of studying abroad: Graduate School of Design, Department of Design, 1st year Master Program, Content Creation Course
Reasons for the Choice of University
The reason why I decided to study abroad in the first place was that I had never experienced seeing and living abroad, despite my dream of working and living abroad in the future. I chose Darmstadt University of Science and Technology as my study abroad destination because, compared to other options, I thought I would be able to study product design in a different environment from Japan. That would allow me to design a more tangible product, rather than service or business design. Of course, I can also do soft design, but I think one of the features of this university is that it has a curriculum that allows students to learn not only software design but also hardware design.
What can you do while studying abroad?
Many people are thinking about the meaning of studying abroad, but taking classes is not the only thing you can do while you study abroad. You can “see” many things such as the world’s biggest motor shows, or various exhibitions, museums, and art galleries that you can only visit in Europe. You can also travel to other countries that are reasonably priced and very accessible and interact with people in their daily lives and learn their culture. There are a variety of opportunities. You may not grow up dramatically as a result of studying abroad. However, I believe that what you see and feel during your study abroad will be enough of an opportunity to change and expand your viewpoints and mindset and the way you think about design. In addition, the friends you will meet from around the world will also provide you with valuable inspiration. These encounters will be an invaluable asset in your life. If you are wondering whether or not to study abroad, I would definitely recommend you do it.
About the Classes
Regarding the design classes, I mainly took classes from the Department of Industrial Design. At the Darmstadt University of Science and Technology, School of Design, there is also a Communication Design (Graphic Design) department, and we can take classes from both departments. All classes are taught in German, so I only took practical classes due to the language barrier. During the semester, I took a volume project class like an undergraduate thesis, a couple of CAD-related software classes, and a photography class. The lessons are conducted in a project style where we have to show our thoughts to the professor every week. The final proposal consisted of a full-scale model, a poster and a portfolio, which we presented in English in an exhibition-style venue. Many of the classes at the university require students to make models in preparation for the final presentation, and German students are very skilled at making models. There are workshops for design work. The environment is excellent, and there are teachers to guide you in making models.
Students can take language classes in addition to design classes. As part of the study abroad program, I took German classes during the month before the classes started and continued to take classes after the semester started. There are also English classes and physical education classes. If you pass the exam in the language classes, you will receive a certificate, such as the German Language Proficiency Test, of your level of proficiency.
Things to do before studying abroad
I would recommend studying the language before you study abroad. This is something I very much regret. Not to mention English, but if possible, I think it would be more fruitful for your study abroad experience if you can speak some German as well. Of course, some people may want to improve their English skills by studying abroad. However, you will enjoy your study abroad experience more if you have reached a certain level of English before the start of the exchange (imagine all students from other countries can speak English more fluently than you). Also, at Darmstadt University of Science and Technology, all classes are taught in German. Your friends around you are always discussing things in German. I thought it was a shame not to be able to understand them. When it comes to design, there is a vocabulary and expressions that are unique to each country. I think studying German will be even more fruitful if you can learn them.
Information about Daily Life
Darmstadt University of Science and Technology Darmstadt is in Darmstadt, a city very close to Frankfurt. It is a small city in Germany. As it is small, it is easy to get a lot of things. I think that 600 euros a month are enough for living expenses. You can live in a student dormitory for the same period as your study abroad. There are people from many different countries living in the dormitories, and we don’t have any major problems. Also, there are international students who go to the same university, and we have good relationships. There are several school-sponsored welcome events called the Orientation Program, and you can make many friends right away by attending them. In terms of food, students generally prepare their own meals, but it is also possible to eat out in restaurants. Germany embraces immigrants, so the streets are full of people from many different countries, and you can find restaurants from many different countries. You can also buy Japanese food at the Asian markets. Security in Darmstadt is generally good, and you will not feel unsafe, but you should be aware that some of the larger cities, such as Frankfurt, are notoriously unsafe.