Around a thousand international students from 110 nations are currently enrolled at the University of Oldenburg, most of them in one of the 25 international degree courses it offers. Tash Motsi from Zimbabwe is one of them. He is currently doing his Bachelor’s degree in the international study programme Engineering Physics, and feels very much at home at the university. Here he talks about his experiences.
When Tash Motsi finished his school education he knew exactly what he wanted to do: study engineering and specialise in renewable energies. “In Zimbabwe there is a big problem with energy,” the 22-year-old student explains. Electricity is not something that can be taken for granted in his home country. The power supply is frequently breaking down and sometimes people are left without electricity for hours at a time. Tash was convinced: “We have to sort this out ourselves. No one is going to do it for us.” But where should he do his chosen degree? Canada, the US and the UK were at the top of the list – mainly because English, which is an official language in Zimbabwe, is spoken there.
It was thanks to an uncle who lives in Stuttgart that he ended up in Oldenburg. His uncle advised Tash to study in Germany. And they soon found the right study programme: the international Bachelor’s degree programme Engineering Physics, with the specialisation Renewable Energies.
A brief culture shock
Tash arrived in Germany in October 2015. He experienced a little bit of a culture shock upon his arrival: tired, alone, carrying a big suitcase and with very limited knowledge of German, the 19-year-old had no idea how to get from the airport in Bremen to Oldenburg. It was only after several detours that he finally found the right tram to take him to the train station – and then the right train.
But Tash soon got over the initial shock when he arrived at the youth hostel and met other young people from all over the world who, like him, wanted to study Engineering Physics. “One of them explained to me for example how the semester travel card works and what bus to take to get to the university,” he recounts.
Tash has now spent six semesters studying in Oldenburg and plans to stay here to do his Master’s once he has completed his Bachelor’s degree. “I think this is a really great city,” he says. “It’s not too big and not too small, the people are really nice and it’s awesome to chill out on the Dobbenwiese when the weather is fine. You can do so many things outdoors!”
Contact point: the International Student Office
Particularly in the beginning, the International Student Office (ISO) was an important contact point for Tash: “I often went to the Games Nights and the International Dinners and met many people there,” the aspiring engineer recounts. Taking part in University Sports also helped him to settle in: Tash has been to dancing and salsa courses and played volleyball, basketball and football. He visits his uncle in Stuttgart and a sister who studies in Vienna on a regular basis.
There are just a few things he doesn’t like so much about Germany: the way people are glued to their mobile phones, for example, and that strangers rarely talk to each other on the bus. But he sees the honesty of the northern Germans and their relaxed way of interacting as positive traits.
Obstacles to learning German
Initially the language posed a bit of a hurdle for Tash. Although he shares a flat with others and has many friends, in the beginning he rarely got to speak German. His flatmates and many other people he knows are all too happy to switch to English when they’re with a native speaker like Tash. Nowadays, however, he feels quite comfortable talking German. This is also because he now has to cram in German – his course of studies is taught in English only during the first three semesters.
Upcoming events for international students at the Interkulturelle Treff:
22 August 2018: 20:00 - 21:30 International Movie Night
25 August 2018: Trip for international PhDs: Klimahaus Bremerhaven
27 August 2018: 20:00 - 23:30 International Games Night
3 September 2018: 13:00 - 15:00 International Coffee Hour