Watch how Nikita from India and Chi-Shiang from Taiwan pass their first year as international students at the University of Stuttgart and check out the other videos of the three-part movie series on our YouTube channel.

My study start in THE LÄND

The University of Stuttgart attracts students from all around the world. Each of them has a personal story of how they found, applied to, and joined the university.

Hi, my name is Nikita Smriti Lugun. I am from India and I am 23 years old. My mother tongue is Hindi, but I also speak English fluently and I am learning German as well. I am currently pursuing my master‘s from the University of Stuttgart in an English-taught program in Electrical Engineering. Before joining the master’s program I was an undergrad student in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at National Insitute of Technology, Jamshedpur, India.

Why I chose to study at the University of Stuttgart

Belonging to a small town in Eastern India, I grew up with very limited access to electricity. To this day, my home town is still devoid of continuous electric supply. Hence, it was only natural that I was determined to decipher the mysteries of this important technology and opted for a Bachelor's degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur, India.

Gradually, I developed an affinity for intelligent systems and for sustainable energy, owing to the electricity limitations, but did not consider integrating my passion for automation with my love for sustainable development until my third year of college. I was aware that gaining expertise is important to achieve my career aspirations. Thus began my search for a master’s course that would suit me. I started my search with Google, but through my college seniors I was introduced to the pages of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). My prime target was to get into a German University due to the good reputation it has my study field, its world-class academia, the work-life balance and its culture. DAAD’s website provided a more specific overview of the courses available for my profile to choose from. After shortlisting preferred courses, I looked at each university’s website to get a more detailed course description. Going through the course modules was the key factor for deciding the universities I wanted to apply to: the courses which I was already passionate about and the courses that aligned with my career goals. Moreover, availability of research projects, thesis and lab courses were a criterion for me.

The University of Stuttgart became my first choice because it was the only university that provided a combined study of intelligent system and sustainable development. Other universities offer neither of them. Moreover, I was looking for an entirely English-taught program. Both of my areas of interest, albeit evidently distinct, share a defining characteristic: they help us building a better tomorrow towards innovation without going at the expense of the environment. Since University of Stuttgart boasts of its research-based teaching, focuses on quality and holism, our visions of “Intelligent Systems for a sustainable society” aligned perfectly. I did apply to a few other universities as well, but since University of Stuttgart gives early admits, I was happy and thus ended my search.

Applying to the University of Stuttgart including tips

The application process wasn’t difficult in the end, but surely different; and anything different causes problems at first. The first problem I faced was the exams I needed to take: Is a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) mandatory as it is at many American universities? While some German universities accepted a GRE, others didn’t. Unlike in India, where an entrance exam is mandatory for all the universities. To be on the safer side I decided to do GRE. What is valid in Germany to prove your English language proficiency- TOEFL or IELTS? Apart from preparing for these exams, I thoroughly researched these queries online to not miss anything. Then, there was the issue of the format in which the documents needed to be: Do they have to be translated, should I get them notarized, do I need to send the documents by post, does a soft copy do, do all Indian documents meet the German standards? Also, coming from India, the grading system here has a completely different scale. So, the conversion caused some confusion as well. One of my undergrad college seniors who was already here in Germany pursuing his master’s helped me a lot to sail through the process and made the process very understandable for me. He provided me with the webpage called German Grade Calculator which helped him during his application.

In the end, less was needed for the application than I thought, the info can be found via https://www.uni-stuttgart.de/en/study/application/master/index.html and everything works online.
What you need is:

  • Bachelor’s degree certificate (provisional degree certificate also works during application)
  • Transcript of records including description of course modules
  • English language proficiency certificate
  • High School passing certificate
  • Motivation letter

The application deadline varies massively for each university, and one must keep track of it. The deadline for the University of Stuttgart is early on January 15 for the master’s in Electrical Engineering. I applied on January 14 and got my admission on March 3. I had begun taking German classes from December itself for a smooth integration in Germany. After sending out admissions, the university was very helpful and organised monthly online sessions to inform us about the next steps and to clear our doubts. Also, not to forget the prompt email replies to our slightest doubts. My advice is to go through course modules and study structures well, and to reach out to the university in case of any doubts.

Making Stuttgart my new home: Saying good-bye, finding accommodation, settling in

My travel to Stuttgart was a bitter-sweet experience. This was my first international flight, and I was travelling alone, so I double-checked everything: the luggage allowances, flight web check-ins, train tickets (I landed in Frankfurt). Before my departure, I had week-long farewell events. I tried doing all the things I loved to absorb all those things and take away plenty of memories to Stuttgart. I went on a two-day trip with my friends where we cherished the good old days, cracked our inside lame jokes, danced, talked endlessly, and took a lot of pictures. They gave me all the positivity and strength for my new journey ahead. And even now, despite being miles apart they have stood by the promise of being “just a call away”. I had various family get-togethers as well. The last week was an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I was excited for the opportunity that I got but had such a heavy heart of leaving my family and my comfort behind. The fact that it will be my first Christmas away from home, first birthday away from home, first international travel without my family…and so many more ‘firsts’ is still tough to absorb and makes me emotional at times. But their wishes and prayers keep me going. I got several farewell gifts from my friends and family, which now makes me feel closer to them despite the distance. The last good-bye with everyone was the toughest. You know that parting is difficult when the eye contacts are not made to hide tears, and the hugs are tighter and last longer.

But then began the adventure! A new journey, a new chapter of my life! After landing in Frankfurt, the manifestation took time and then the reality slowly sunk in that there was a new beginning! My first week was confusing trying to understand the rules, ways, and formalities. The administrative things that I did after arriving are:

  • I got my rental contract signed by my janitor, which I took with myself for the Einwohnermeldeamt at the nearest Bürgerbüro.
  • I openend my bank account from Commerzbank which serves as my current account and assists the already made Blocked Account (necessary to get the Visa).
  • I got my German Sim Card.

And then began the settling in. I created a little place of comfort in my new home, which is a shared apartment between for students (4er WG). I found accommodation thanks to the initial online sessions by the University, as they clearly made us understand the importance to apply for accommodation as soon as possible and they even provided us with the links where we needed to apply. I applied both via VSSW and Studierendenwerk around mid-March. VSSW provided a place after less than two months after application and Studierendenwerk after five months. Since I had the choice between two accommodations, I thoroughly checked them online and felt Studierendenwerk with less sharing suited me the best. I share my flat with a German, Indian and Chinese. The diversity is refreshing and over time I have learnt so much about life, culture and perspectives.

I began to understand and follow the rules here. I quickly befriended a group of Indian students. I was in talks with one of them back in India through the University WhatsApp group we created in one of the online sessions for better understanding the procedures. The others, I met here at the Introductory Welcome lecture by the dean of the faculty. Through various Freshers’ Week Social events organised by Stuvus (Student Representation University of Stuttgart), we bonded really well. We often met to get acquainted with the place and spent time together. This made things relatively easy for me as I had company to figure things out, enjoy and explore. I also reached out to Indian seniors from my course to introduce me to the German academic world. Having a good Indian community here is really helpful. My German flatmate also helped me with the integration and she still helps me out with a lot of stuff. It wasn’t really a cakewalk but I guess looking back I feel a sense of accomplishment and I also had various joyful moments during the process.

The German academic structure has confused me. During my bachelor’s we didn’t have so many courses to choose from. Basically, there wasn’t any choice. The courses were pre-defined and mandatory. So, this was something that surprised me for the good! The people around have made me the happiest. Everyone is so kind and helpful: The professors, my neighbors, or the random lady at the supermarket. Everyone has gladly helped me if I didn’t understand something. I lost my way once as I took a wrong turn from the bus stop and a German was so kind to drop me halfway. I’ve interacted with students of different nationalities here and it’s so good to know various cultures. All these talks and experiences will be cherished by me forever.

I am really looking forward to make the most of my stay and study here. Since I love to dance I have already joined the Salsa dance program at the International Office of the university (Internationales Zentrum). I want to make some quality friends here, have some memorable experiences and hope to understand the German culture better. I am trying to gather all the opportunities with open arms and absorb as much knowledge and wisdom as I can. The knowledge here is like an unending ocean with such a brilliant depth and I just hope to sail through it. I know the journey won’t be smooth but by the end of it all I want is to come out as a seasoned sailor with a lot of interesting stories.

Author: Leonie Rörich