We visited the Technical University of Munich (TUM) Downtown Campus and Garching Campus. We went on a tour of both campuses and the TUM International Center Staff gave a presentation about their university to us.
We learned a lot about university life in TUM. Unlike in America, it is extremely hard to change majors in German universities. If a student did change majors, he/she would have to start from the first year of their new major, losing all the time he/she has invested in his/her previous major. Furthermore, classes in TUM are never graded on attendance, which is different from American universities where you could get in trouble or suffer repercussions if you skipped certain classes, depending on your professor. TUM also hosts a welcoming party to first year students, in which the President of TUM will serve and drink beer with the freshmen. Beer is a very integral part of German culture. This is very different from the strict policies American universities have about alcohol. We would never see a picture of our President Pinto drinking alcohol with freshmen.
In addition to school life in TUM, we also learned a lot about the education system in Germany. There is a huge emphasis and priority on STEM majors in Germany. People who have STEM majors and jobs are highly respected in society. The fact that Germany is known for its achievements in Science and Engineering could have added to this. Furthermore, the educational opportunities that a student has depends on how he/she performed as a ten-year-old. Based on their academic results in elementary school, students are placed in three different tracks for students headed for college, average or better white-collar positions, and trades and blue-collar jobs. Although it is possible to switch tracks, it is not very common. This is very different from America’s education system where students are not placed in different categories based on their performance when they were young.
Other students should have this experience because it is a great opportunity to discuss and learn about education in another country, as well as be more aware of the education we have in America.
By Ilma Alfadila