Guten Appetit! Top Must-try Food in Germany

One of the most exciting things to look forward to as an exchange student in Germany, aside from drinking the night away with liters of beer in hand, is trying the authentic German cuisine. Although international restaurants have been sprouting in many cities and countries offering most popular dishes, they still could not compete with the real deal – the one complete with perfect German ambiance and merry, but not always drunk, people.

I believe that to learn more about a country, one must be able to immerse into the foreign culture. Food is a great part of history and culture anyway. When it comes to trying new adventures through food while studying abroad, here is my list of must-try food to eat in Germany to have a well rounded and delicious study abroad experience. Do note though that this list is based on my preference (and some of my friends’ as well) and you should not limit yourself to the food mentioned in this article.

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The Land of the Wurst

Whenever I ask friends, the first thing that pops in their minds when asked for any German food they would like to try is (drum roll please) sausage! Well, it is truth universally acknowledged that aside from beer, Germany is known for its sausages or Wurst.

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Meat everywhere. Location: München

Now, there are hundreds of sausages you can get in Germany. I am no expert, but below are some of the most common varieties that my friends and I like to order (with or without beer).

Currywurst 

This is a typical sausage fare with either ketchup and curry powder or a homemade tomato curry sauce, usually with side of fries.

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It is the land of the wurst! Location: Frankfurt

Käse Krainer 

I admit I normally eat this in Austria than Germany, but since the food is almost the same in these two countries, I put this in the list. Käse Krainer is a delicious combination of cheese, usually Emmentaler, and sausage. This is my favorite and I love getting it in a Wurstelstand. Pair it with a dark bread and a can of beer for perfection.

Weißwurst

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Wurst and Bier. You can get rid of stress with these. The best match in the world!” – Jeong Ju, South Korea

A specialty of Bavaria, Weißwurst is simply white sausage. Sounds strange at first, but tastes heavenly. Traditionally, Weißwurst is eaten only during breakfast or as a snack before lunch because it is not preserved or smoked, and thus perishable. Eat it with a warm Brezel, mustard and Weissbier for a very Bavarian meal.

Döner

Next to Wurst, I believe that Döner is another German version of fast food. With Turkish influence, Döner is basically a kebab sandwich, filled with thin slices of meat, usually beef though chicken is also available, topped with various vegetables – lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and yogurt sauce.

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Döner stands can be found literally everywhere in Germany and since it is open until late at night and usually near bahnhof, it is also very convenient. I think I should note it here that one serving is huge and I have never finished one order of Döner. Maybe I just don’t eat a lot?

Auflauf

Nope, not that Olaf from Frozen. Auflauf literally means “casserole” and I think that is simply what it is. It has different versions though – potato auflauf, maultaschen auflauf, Spätzle auflauf, etc.

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“We simply love auflauf!” – Valentina, Lucia, and Federica from Italy

Maultaschen 

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Maultaschen literaly means mouth bags. I find them similar to the Italian ravioli. They are usually square or rectangular in shape. They traditionally filled with minced meat, eggs, spinach, and some spices. You can buy a ready-made maultaschen and simply boil it whenever you want to taste some.

Brezel

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“I will recommend German Original Prezel, which can be a main snack or meal for everyone almost everyday!” – Dongha from South Korea

Bakeshops abound everywhere in Germany and I haven’t seen one that has not offered Brezel. It is loved being eaten throughout Germany. In Bavaria, this is usually paired with Weißwurst and washed down with a white beer. But for a normal fare, you can find Brezel cut with butter, jams, or even Nutella.

Schweinshaxe

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It is roasted pork knuckle, especially popular in Bavaria. We paired it with beer! Don’t be fooled. It may look small in the photo, but my friend and I struggled to finish the entire thing. It is too heavy for my small stomach!

Käsespätzle

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Käsespätzle and Maultaschen

Spätzle is like a noodle or dumpling made of flour, eggs, and salt. As most German cuisine is heavy on the meat, Spätzle usually accompanies a meaty dish. Thankfully, there is also a Käsespätzle which can be a stand alone dish served with lots of grated Emmentaler cheese and fried onions on top. I have tasted the best one in Stuttgart.

There is in fact a wide variety of food to try in Germany though those listed here are my favorite and can really recommend. I hope this list offers an insider’s view on what food to try when studying or traveling in Germany. Don’t limit yourself to this list though. Be curious and try everything. That’s what immersing in food culture is all about! So what are you waiting for? Get that chance to travel in Germany or visit a nearby German restaurant and have a taste. Guten appetit!

Come back here for more lists of what to do, where to go, and what to eat and drink in Germany and other countries. Don’t forget to follow Where Monica Goes, too! 

 

Change The Way You See Friendship

How do you define friendship? Over the years, my concept of friendship is that of a relationship between people who care and nurture each other to be the best of what they can be. I believe that friends are those who immediately notice that you are not okay even before you utter a single word of complaint. Friends are those who celebrate with you in times of success and cry with you when the going gets rough. I believe in the existence of this ideal friendship. I just wished I didn’t take that too literally and narrow-minded as before.

This year, a lot of great things happened that made me changed the way I see friendship. And I am very glad it did.

ME BEFORE THEM

Some millenials see my lifestyle as one mirroring their current dreams – living independently from my parents before I reach my mid-twenties, continuing my graduate studies in a top university, staying in a nice condo all by myself, traveling around the Philippines and 23 other countries so far, and having full autonomy of my life.

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Location: Tour Eiffel, France
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Location: Jardin du Luxembourg, France

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Location: Venice, Italy
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Location: Vienna, Austria
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Location: Titlis Alps, Switzerland
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Location: Hallstatt, Austria

However, breaking the beautiful façade one can see the lonely truth of this lifestyle. When the excitement of having my own space started dying, I began feeling lonely – trapped in a box on the 29th floor, watching the world goes by with only my furniture and gadgets with me. I started actively seeking company– going out almost everyday to meet friends, asking people to visit me often, offering to swim with me in the pool, among others. But life happens and I get disappointed when I wanted to hangout but friends have school, work, family and love obligations, etc. I started questioning whether they are really my friends. Why can’t they sense that I am lonely? That I need company? Is the horrendous traffic really a strong deterrent for meeting me?

DAWN OF A NEW DAY

It started early January of 2016. As a frequent traveler, I have heard about several apps for travelers, one of those is Couchsurfing. Basically, Couchsurfing is a global community of travelers that believes in the idea of a paying-it-forward hospitality. Members are encouraged to host other members traveling in their country or hometown and provide them free accommodation and opportunity to know a local and understand the culture from within.

One day, I was chatting with this Swiss national who was in New Zealand at that time. He asked if I could host him in my flat in Manila. I had Couchsurfing hosting experience before, but only for females so I was a bit wary offering my home to a complete male stranger. He fully understood where I was coming from and we both agreed that I could at least meet him first and decide from there.

However, I totally forgot the date of his arrival and it was only two days after when he also messaged me and said that he had found a male host. I was both happy and relieved. Later that day, as I was eating lunch prepared by my new Korean neighbor, I spontaneously invited her and a Filipino friend to come over for dinner at my place. As an afterthought, I also sent an invitation to the Couchsurfer.

The Fateful Day: 11 January 2016

On that momentous day, I hosted a simple dinner for my Korean neighbor, fellow Filipina blogger friend, and the Swiss traveler. It was love at first sight, if there is even that occurrence for friendship. From 8 PM of that day, we talked nonstop until 2 AM when I finally voiced my concern of the lateness of the hour. It seemed no one wanted to leave. The company was simply that great, conversation easily flowing, atmosphere friendly and uplifting.

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L-R: Sunny (Korean), Eyah (Filipina), Me, Marcel (Swiss)

Sometimes, we meet people who we feel very good instantly with – from the very beginning of meeting each other. There is this lightness in the feeling that you can trust this person. That you can see yourself being friends for so long. That just upon that meeting, you see this person can be part of your future.

On that day, the Stinky Project was born. Well, our group didn’t have that name until a weekend after when we went for our Banaue-Sagada trip and were followed by stinkiness in the air. Long story, but filled with fun memories.

TRAVELERS BOUND FRIENDSHIP BY TRAVELING TOGETHER

Below would be several photos taken during our travels around the Philippines together. Sometimes, I would bring my Canon DSLR to our trips to come up with better quality images. However, I often complain on its weight and bulkiness. Besides, I want to be a traveler and not a tourist and the DSLR screams very touristy for me. I mostly prefer using a smartphone because it’s lightweight and handy. However, it sometimes cannot produce high quality photos especially when zoomed and the battery won’t last an entire day especially while I am wandering around and snapping photos of beautiful landscapes.

Recently, Huawei partnered with German brand Leica for its newest and top of the line model. I was like, Leica, really? I am an exchange student in Germany and know very well that Leica is a household name for classic cameras. For me, Leica is the Rolex of all cameras. Having a Leica lens in a smartphone could definitely Change the Way You See Mobile Photography! Producing high quality images in a very light, beautiful, fashionable and portable device is a dream for many travelers and photography enthusiasts. Not only that, I heard that Huawei P9 has dual lenses and can produce amazing effects like monochrome, slow-mo, colored, light painting, among others. Why oh why was it not released sooner? I could have left my bulky DSLR and traveled around Europe with only the Huawei P9 in my pocket.

For now, let me share some memories of the friendship captured in these photos. Most of the time there were only three of us because Sunny’s school schedule couldn’t match our free time. However, we try our best to spend time together whenever we were in Manila. She’s my neighbor anyway.🙂

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Location: Batad
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Location: Sagada

The weekend after our first meeting, we had a spontaneous trip to Banaue and Sagada. It was a litmus test for the newly formed friendship. Will we return to Manila as friends or enemies? That was a senseless question. We had so much fun like old souls who have known each other for so long!

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Location: Pico de Loro, Batangas

Our first climb together. Due to Sunny’s school schedule, she couldn’t join.

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Location: Chocolate Hills, Bohol

For our first flight, I was very excited to show them Cebu and Bohol. Both Eyah and Marcel had never been to these islands which happened to be two of my favorites in the country. We keep on remembering how Marcel, being a Swiss with four official languages, keep on pronouncing tarsier as /tar-syee-yay/ with a French accent. Haha!

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Location: Kawasan Falls, Cebu
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Location: Osmena Peak, Cebu

Cebu captured our hearts. It was simply beautiful. We did not want to leave. As I look back, perhaps I can blame that statement for what happened later. We arrived in the airport few minutes after the boarding gate closed and the final call was announced. We missed our flight. I expected this would ruin the mood we were in, but boy I was so wrong. I think we only got disappointed in less than five minutes! Can you believe that? No complaining, blaming, or finger pointing. We were all chill and even laughed at the situation we were in. Friendship tested during stressful times!

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Location: Legaspi, Bicol. Sorry, Sunny. I really like this photo!

These photos and videos are testaments that we really met in this space in the world and had forged friendship which I hope would stand the test of time. The proof that my friends, no matter where they are in the world right now, exist and I was lucky enough to meet them. In these digital files, I tried to capture those moments when friendship and companionship are in the air, when we were all strangers in foreign places and have only each other to rely on.

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE?

However, Marcel’s journey had come to an end. With a heavy heart, we said our goodbyes along with tearful messages of gratitude for a wonderful and intense friendship. We hugged each other tightly, not wanting to let go for fear of being forgotten as we slowly put distance from each other. Promises were made, future plans and hopes of meeting again were said. On the 16th of February, The Stinky Project bid farewell to one of our friends.

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Location: Maginhawa, Quezon City

Do all good things really have to end? What about those promises? Are those simply empty words to console those who would be left behind? Despite the intense friendship, I had a moment to doubt him. I had many foreign friends who simply forgot about the Philippines and me as soon as they arrived back in their countries. Will Marcel be different?

ONLY TO MEET AGAIN TWO MONTHS LATER

Exactly two months since Marcel flew back home, I found myself in his homeland – Switzerland. I am taking my exchange program in Germany and was traveling around Europe with a friend when this happened.

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Location: Lag la Cauma, Chur, Switzerland

Just look at our goofy faces! Finally reunited. Half of the Stinky Project was in Europe, while the other half was in Philippines. Talk about balancing.🙂

Even before this day arrived, The Stinky Project made true to its promise. We keep in touch. Our group chat remains active and loud. We do Skype video calls despite the wonky Internet connection wherever we are. Whenever we are free, we try to check on everyone and see if all is well. I am very touched. I honestly did not expect the friendship to come this far.

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Location: Zurich, Switzerland. I bought him a belated birthday present!

It’s as if nothing happened. Nothing changed. It didn’t feel like we were separated for two months already. I didn’t feel that he was only friendly to me because he was in a foreign land with no one to depend on. No. Marcel is the same person. Our friendship stands. The bind of friendship still holds. I was surprised with this. I didn’t know before that this can really happen. Like Charles Dickens once said, “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

skype call_edited

After that trip to Switzerland, I continued with my journey. On the 11th of June, to mark our sixth month of friendship, we had a video call via Skype. Marcel was in Zurich, I was in Vienna, Sunny was in Quezon City, while Eyah was in Pasig City. We were all over the place. It was loud, we were talking at the same time, someone got disconnected sometimes, Internet connection got sloppy. It was very funny!

CHANGING THE WAY I SEE FRIENDSHIP

How can one define friendship? Well, I still hold to the ideal friendship I have formed in my head. However, I found out this year that it is possible to find wonderful people in the most unexpected ways. Moreover, I realized that friendship does not have to be about consistent presence and proximity. That friendship is not measured by how often you see each other or how near one person lives next to you. Daily conversation is not a validation of true friendship. The Stinky Project is a group of four people from three different countries, living from different sides of the world, who bind themselves in a friendship no matter the distance.

I am grateful that in 2016, the way I see friendship was changed. That no matter where I go, how long I haven’t seen and meet my friends, nothing will change between us. That the next time we will meet, we would still be the same crazy and loving souls we were from the beginning. I learned that to keep the friendship alive, we need to hang on, to stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for us. To value a friend, we should not give up. Do not be too busy or tired. Do not take them for granted.

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The Stinky Project

Friends, they say, are the families you choose for yourself. I am glad I chose well. I am more grateful that they chose me. And I am beyond appreciation that we choose to be friends despite of everything – country borders, distance, colors, races, gender, languages, culture, and religion. I am confident that wherever we are in the world, the Stinky Project will keep the friendship alive no matter how busy we will be. And with us being avid travelers, I know it won’t be far before we find ourselves in one place in this world again.

How to Get a German National Student Visa for Filipinos in 10 Days

 

Have you ever dreamed of pursuing your studies outside of the Philippines, in Europe in general? To be specific, have you fancied yourself studying in Germany, watching your favorite football team in the bundesliga matches, munching your delicious currywurst, downing a Maß of dunkel beer while biting your huge schweinshaxe, getting drunk in Oktoberfest, and salivating over those beautiful Benz, Audi, BMW, VW and Porsche cars?

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Are you dreaming of visiting the inspiration of Disney Castle?

If you keep on nodding while reading this and have other fantasies to add, then you indeed are dreaming and very excited to study in Germany. Read: Top Reasons Why You Must Study Abroad.

Especially now that most German public educational institutions are tuition-free, there are more and more international students flocking Deutschland in search of a better educational system and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But first things first: if you are a Filipino passport holder, you must apply for a visa to be able to study and stay in Germany for the duration of your studies. In this post, I would help you know how you can perhaps possibly also get your German student visa within ten working days.

Who wants to study in Germany? Say, Ja!

I get several emails and private messages with inquiries on how I successfully managed to get a student visa in Germany. Many of them are afraid to apply in that country as Germany is known for being a stickler for rules. To help others know the process as well as not to repeat myself over and over again to my friends, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for national student visa in Germany for Filipino passport holders and hopefully get it within 10 WORKING DAYS, like how I did it.

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Generally, Filipinos are required to get a visa before entering Germany. Last year, I have written about the process on how to successfully secure a Schengen Visa for Filipino Tourists. However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, the rule of thumb is for you to apply for a national visa.

What is a National Visa?

A national visa is a long-term visa issued by Germany to those who are planning to stay longer than the 90-day tourist Schengen visa offers. Unlike the Schengen Visa, the national visa has different and more sets of requirements. Also, national visas can only be issued after the approval of responsible Aliens’ Office in Germany. Therefore, processing time of several weeks to months must be expected and visa application should be done at an early date.

The embassy generally issues national visa for specific purposes: study, marriage, family reunion, employment, au pair, etc. Maximum validity is 90 days with multiple entries. Shortly after arrival in Germany, visa holders should visit the responsible Alien’s Office and apply to get a residence permit.

Who can apply for German national student visa?

To apply for a German national student visa, you must be a prospective student, student applicant, or long-term language course student in Germany.

What are the requirements?
  • Valid passport
  • Two copies of your application forms completely filled
  • Three identical and current passport photos. Check the embassy’s photo requirement.
  • Two declarations signed. Get this form in the website.
  • Certificate of admission (for students) or proof of standard matriculation (for student applicants)
  • CV in tabular form including your education background without a gap. My CV was in EuroPass format. Just Google it and you will be safe.
  • Motivation letter and study plan essay. Just write clearly, briefly, and honestly. Remember what you have written as this may be asked in the interview.
  • Proof of finance of at least €659/month or €7908 per year.
  • Depositing the required sum in a special savings account in Germany (Sperrkonto) with Deutsche Bank
  • Letter of award of an official scholarship
  • Formal obligation of a person who will take over the cost (original with two copies)
  • Confirmation of and registration with the language school if taking a German preparatory course
When to apply

The important thing is to apply as early as possible. Based on what I have read online, many people follow the three months rule. I have never done this, as my national student visa and even Schengen visa (for tourist) applications were never sent more than three weeks before my flight. But that’s just me. Haha! Still, it is better to apply early so if the embassy requires further documents from you, you can still have time to prepare and send them.

However, it is necessary to note here that you must have your school application settled beforehand. If possible, you must already have a Letter of Acceptance, or better, Letter of Matriculation or Enrolment as these documents will greater support your claim to get a visa. The embassy will confirm your application to your selected university and when you have these documents, your chance of getting your passport back with a visa stamp increases.

Where to apply?

Since you are applying for a student visa to study in Germany, then you must apply at the German embassy. In Manila, it is located at:

German Embassy Manila:  25/F Tower 2, RCBC Plaza  6819 Ayala Ave (cor Sen. Gil Puyat Ave)  Makati City  Metro Manila, Philippines

Office Hours:

Monday to Thursday from 7:30 to 15:30 hours | Fridays from 7:30 to 13:30 hours.

Visiting Hours:

Our general visiting hours are Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 11.30 hours. Please note that an appointment is necessary for passport applications and civil status matters.

Contact the visa section:

Phone: (0063 2) 702 3001 | Fax no.:(0063 2) 702 3045 | E-Mail: visa@mani.diplo.de

How much does it cost?

The application fee costs €60 but must be payable in Philippines Pesos at the current exchange rate. There is no refund if the application is rejected.

However, in my experience last February, I was first asked to ready my payment but after answering questions whether I have been to Germany before or if I had Schengen visas prior to the application, the staff suddenly told me that I no longer need to pay. I forgot to ask her why so up to this day, I still do not know.

STEP-BY-STEP APPLICATION GUIDE TO GERMAN NATIONAL STUDENT VISA APPLICATION FOR FILIPINOS

Here, I am now giving you a step-by-step guide on how to prepare and apply for your German national student visa based on the German embassy website’s instructions and my experience.

Prior to Application

  • Get the list of all required documents mentioned above and prepare them. Also fill-up the student visa application form found here: http://www.manila.diplo.de/contentblob/3618550/Daten/6193697/MB_student_jan13.pdf
  • If you are a self-supported student (does not have a scholarship), you must open a Sperrkonto at the Deutsche Bank. Download the form in its website and answer as many items relevant to you.

A note of advice here: you can only apply for your account in the main Deutsche Bank located in Hamburg and for you to do this, you need to present your application form in the embassy and have it signed. Then, have your entire bank application mailed to Germany. I used FedEx in Zuellig Building, Makati for this. When you are finally advised that your account is active, you should start depositing the required amount for you – a semester, year, or two year’s worth of required money. You can also deposit an amount higher than what is required. When you finally reach the minimum amount required, Deustche Bank will inform the embassy that you fulfilled the necessary application requirement, and therefore your visa application will proceed. The amount deposited in your account can only be withdrawn in Germany and only at maximum of €659 per month or a specific amount you may have mentioned if you have deposited higher than what is required.

When you already prepared the required documents or can already estimate when the rest of your papers will arrive, book for an appointment in the embassy for your visa application. It is better to regularly check the appointment database as slots can be easily filled.

Application of National Student Visa at the German Embassy

  • Bring all your documents – application forms, photos, supporting documents and exact cash. Do not forget a printed copy of your appointment schedule. Ensure that you have every forms filled completely and double check the information you have provided.
  • Arrive on time
  • Have yourself checked by the security team then hand in your mobile phones, tablets, and other gadgets in a locker provided for you by one of the guards.
  • Get your queue number. An embassy staff will ask for your application purpose and will then give you a color-coded card number.
  • Proceed to the waiting area and wait for your number to be called.
  • When it is your turn, give your application forms and required documents.
  • Please answer all the interview questions given to you clearly and honestly! If you do not understand, do not hesitate to ask. Your interview will be done right there and then at the waiting area in front of the consular staff.
  • Follow instructions when you are directed to the digital fingerprint machine.
  • Submit your request to open a Deustsche Bank account to a separate counter mentioned by your interviewer.
  • When all of your application documents have been submitted, your interviewer will return your passport and say that you will be contacted when your application for national student visa has been pre-approved.
  • If you need the national student visa in a specific time, inform your interviewer about it so he/she can note it down.
  • When you finally get an e-mail notification from the embassy (or maybe a phone call), go to the embassy and hand in your passport. If there are additional or supporting documents requested from you, give these to the staff as well.
  • You will be given a slip of paper with a schedule on when your passport will be released. Go to that specific date and time. Never be late.
  • When you finally received your passport, and hopefully with a national visa stamp, the consular staff will read the details in your visa to check if everything is correct.
  • Double check this, especially the spelling of your name and travel dates.
  • The consular staff may or may not give you instructions on what to do after arrival in Germany, i.e., visit the Alien Office to register your address and get your residence permit.

Too many things to prepare and keep in mind, right? Here are also 10 Tips on Preparing for Your Student Exchange Program. I know it is a lot to take in now and it can be overwhelming, but just imagine yourself being here.

If you keep on nodding while reading this and have other fantasies to add, then you indeed are dreaming and very excited to study in Germany.

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TIMELINE ON MY GERMAN NATIONAL STUDENT VISA APPLICATION

Long term visas, including those for students, can only be issued after the approval of responsible Aliens’ Office in Germany. Therefore, processing time of several weeks must be expected and visa application should be done at an early date.

I. PREPARATION

13 January – Request for documents from home and German universities, Philippine banks, and health insurance provider. Download and filled up the application forms. Took passport photos, etc.

14 January – first attempt to set an appointment schedule. All slots full. Earliest at mid-February. Contacted my German university and informed them about my situation

15 January – German university directly requested the German embassy Manila for a special appointment slot for me

18 January – reserved for the earliest slot given to me

II. APPLICATION TIME

26 January– Appointment schedule -> application and interview (window 5)

1 February – Received a phone call from the German Embassy. My visa has already been pre-approved after only 4 working days! Consular staff informed me to submit my passport, travel date information, and travel insurance.

4 February – Submitted required documents. Consular staff told me to return after two working days to get my passport and visa.

8 February – Chinese New Year holiday

10 February – Went to the embassy and got my passport with a German national student visa stamp. Yay!

TOTAL DAYS OF PREPARATION – 9 working days

TOTAL DAYS OF VISA PROCESS IN THE EMBASSY – six working days for the process, ten working days including time to submit supporting documents

TOTAL DAYS USED – 15 working days

Notes: I only counted embassy working days (Mon-Fri) and excluded counting 8 February as it is a national holiday.

HOW I GOT MY GERMAN NATIONAL STUDENT VISA IN 10 DAYS

First, let me begin by saying that what I had is a special case and perhaps won’t happen again the next time I apply for a national visa. The result was probably mainly due to the circumstances I had that time which the embassy recognized and therefore tried its duty to serve me as fast as they can. Normally, friends and people I met along the way told me that national student visa application normally takes more than one month of just embassy processing, so not including the preparation process. As seen in my timeline above, my entire visa processing took only 10 working days while with preparation is only 15 working days.

So how did I successfully manage to get it so fast? Here are my tips – none of them is illegal, by the way! J

  • Gather as much information as you can about the embassy, its office and visa hours, address, etc. You do not want to waste precious days and hours going there when you are not even allowed to.
  • Read, read, and read. Anticipate what you will need in the application. Always go to the embassy website for its updated requirements for the national student visa.
  • Always duplicate or triplicate printing and copying of your documents. Some items in the requirements must be in twos or threes, so always ensure that you have enough copies done. My rule is to always have the required number of copies, one copy for myself, and at least one extra copy for emergencies.
  • Try to book an appointment as early as you can.
  • While waiting for your appointment, try to finish collecting all the required documents and forms.
  • If you are running out of time, i.e., your semester will start soon, ask your German university coordinator if he/she can contact the embassy and inform your situation while asking the possibility to expedite your visa application process.
  • Write in your application form how soon you need the visa or when you must fly to Germany.
  • During the interview, inform your interviewer about your circumstances. Mention your situation so the consular staff can at least note the urgency of your application

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There you go. I hope this post help current applicants and aspiring students to apply for German national student visa. Everything that I wrote here is based from my experience and information from the embassy. Things may changed without notice, so I highly recommend that you still check the German embassy’s website for updated requirements. Again, this is simply a guide to help out fellow Filipinos who would like to pursue their education in Germany. Let me know if this helps. Good luck and pursue your dream to study in Germany!

Welcome to Philipps Universität Marburg, Germany

In the About Page of Where Monica Goes, I have mentioned that I am currently an overseas graduate student in Germany and this new website would be an online chronicle of my life abroad as well as my travels around the world. After my previous entries about the Top Reasons Why You Must Study Abroad and 10 Tips on Preparing for your Student Exchange Program, I believe now is the perfect time to share information about my host university. As it is my first time participating in a student exchange program, I am very excited with this new experience and would like others to understand my happiness in being here. I am studying here for five months now and I can confidently say that I love every minute of the program.

Whether you are an existing student or an excited overseas exchange who is digging the Internet for more information about your future university, this website is for you! Without further ado, let me introduce my host university, Philipps Universität Marburg.

marburg cover

Welcome to my university!

Philipps Universität Marburg: An Introduction

Established in 1512 by the Magnanimous Landgrave Philipp I, the Philipps Universität Marburg is the oldest Protestant university in the world and one of the oldest educational institutions in Germany as well. That is how old the university is! Overtime, it has become a non-secular state university.

For more than five centuries, the institution was proudly a place for research, teaching and learning. A variety of academic disciplines are represented in the university, except engineering. Before, only Medicine, Philosophy, Theology, and Law were offered, but this has expanded to 17 departments encompassing physical and social sciences. The university is especially known for its scientific fields and is home to the country’s traditional medical faculties.

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Elisabethkirche, one of the earliest purely Gothic churches in Germany

Location: Where is Philipps Universität Marburg?

The university is located in Marburg, in the state of Hessen, 100 km north of Frankfurt, heart of Germany. Marburg is a small, charming medieval town popular for its gothic churches and castle. Adding to its enchanting appeal are the cobblestreets, 17th and 18th century timber houses, and Elisabethkirche, one of the first purely Gothic churches ever built.

How to get to Marburg?

From Frankfurt Central Train Station (Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof), take a train in the direction of Kassel and alight at Marburg Main Train Station (Marburg Hauptbahnhof). The ride takes roughly one to one and half hour depending on which train you get – ICE, RE or HLB.

Student body

Marburg has 86, 000 residents, 25 000 of them are students. The majority of the student body comes from all over Germany. Among these, more than 12% are from all over the world, making the university the institution that has the largest foreign students in the entire Hessen state.

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School cafeteria

It is common to see and hear a saying here that goes, “Other towns have a university, but Marburg is a university”. Wherever you are in the town, you are part of a vibrant academic community. Therefore, Marburg is the proverbial “university town” or Universitätsstadt in German

School Fees

Like many German public educational institutions, studying in Philipps Universität Marburg will not require a matriculation or tuition fee. Instead of paying for a lofty sum, the university only requires students to pay for the semester ticket (semestertiket), a student contribution. It costs €150 for Erasmus students and €250 for exchange and free-mover students. The semester ticket enables students entirely free transportation service within the semester ticket area of Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund – RMV whether buses, trains and even IC / EC trains of DB Fernverkehr within the semester and is valid for full seven months. So if you like traveling, this is perfect for you!

Noted alumni

T.S. Eliot, Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob Grimm, Hermann Cohen, Christian Wolff, etc. The list is actually long, but based on my experience here, Marburg is exclusively the Grimm brothers’ town. If you are a fan of their wonderful stories, then you are in for delightful fairytale walks around here!

How is the weather in Marburg?

spring, germany, marburg, meme, weather

This, I believe, is especially true in Marburg. It is normally colder in Marburg due to its location. Especially when you live in Studentendorf where you are surrounded by woods and forest, temperature can drop quickly. Even in summer, temperature can sometimes be as cool as 17 degrees. How can my friends in warm Vienna do sunbathing while my fellow exchange students still wear cardigans? Haha!

Where to stay in Marburg?

As a student, there are many options for accommodation in Marburg. If you are an exchange or overseas student, Studentenwerk Marburg offers affordable student dormitories and flats. In my experience, the university searched and assigned a room for me in a WG or Wohngemeinschaft (shared flat) so I didn’t have the hassle to do it for myself.

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My room in Studentendorf

Aside from this, private accommodation and homestays are also available. I will share more about this in my future posts.

Philipps Universität Marburg is a wonderful and charming university to attend to and if you are considering to take your overseas program here, then you are in for a treat!

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The ball has just started rolling for this blog and this is simply a short overview about Philipps Universität Marburg. More information on Marburg, its town highlights, and overseas students’ survival guides and tips will be uploaded regularly on Where Monica Goes. Stay tuned!

 

Where have you been? | Travel World Map Generator

Ever wondered how many countries in the world have you visited so far? If you are as addicted to traveling as me, chances are you have a fair amount of numbers to share. Today I stumbled upon this travel world map generator and it made me so giddy to input and color places I have been. 

As May is about to close and soon half of the year is already over, I think it is a good time to evaluate how far I have been in my mid-twenties. I only discovered my passion to travel last year and know that I have places to catch on. As of 30th of May, Where Monica Goes has visited 20 countries in the world. I know it isn’t much and I probably covered less than 10% of the globe. Still, as Susan Sontag says, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.

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Where Monica Goes has been to:

Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates.

So where have you been? Feel free to list your countries here or share a blogpost of your own travel world map! I got mine  generated for free from Matador Network.

My 2016 Travel Bucket List

This year, I am very excited to achieve more of the things I have only dreamed of before. As I travel more and get addicted to moving from one place to another, I become bolder with my ever growing to-dos and must list. Without further ado, here is my 2016 travel bucket list.

Go in a tripoint and be in three countries at once.

There is something novel in standing in a place where the borders of three countries lie. Though most of the tripoints I have seen are really not so spectacular, even some are in the middle of lakes or rivers, I think it would be fun to put each foot and a hand in three different countries. Just imagine the idea!

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Austria, Slovakia and Hungary tripoint. Photo credit to Corinna Back.

Go skiing in the Alps.

My first experience in the Alps will always stay with me, but now I am upping the ante. I am most likely the least sporty person you could ever meet and I know nothing next to skiing, but this sounds fun!

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Salzburg, Austria. Photo credit to skiingthealps.

Ride a hot air balloon in Turkey.

I once watched a TV series where the characters went to Turkey and witnessed the sun set while up in the sky in a hot air balloon. Since then, it has stayed in my mind.

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Hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey. Photo credit to Meanwhile in Rotterdam

 Visit ten countries.

I was able to achieve this last 2015 and plan to do so again this year.

travel around
Photo credit to NoGarlicNoOnion

See the northern lights.

It is in my list for years now and I hope to be able to see the auroras this 2016.

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Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland. Photo credit to discover the world uk.

Attend a traditional festival in a foreign country.

The last time I was able to attend was in 2009 in Japan and I would like to witness and participate in one again. I feel more attached when I celebrate a festival along the locals – it makes me feel like I’m one of them.

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Lantern Festival, Thailand. Photo credit to Justin Ng.

Walk along roads lined with cherry blossom trees during Spring.

My homeland does not have these trees and I do not have the opportunity to gaze up and admire these beautiful blooms.

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Photo Credit to Dallas Nagata White.

Try to be a guest of a Couchsurfer.

I am a member of Couchsurfing for two years now yet I haven’t tried being hosted. It was only in mid-January when I had my first guest and I hope I can avail the hospitality of others when I travel around and be hosted.

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Couchsurfing. Photo credit to welovewonderlust

Go backpacking abroad.

I am known by my friends as the overpacker and suitcase girl. I used to prepare at least two days’ worth of emergency clothes and pack my full skincare regimen. However, I somehow broke this routine and had tried traveling to some provinces in my country for three days with only a backpack! It was a very unique and freeing experience that I would like to do again.

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These are my travel bucket list this 2016. I hope to accomplish at least half of it. How about you? What are you looking forward to do this year?

Dreaming of becoming a Foreign Service Officer

Few weeks ago, I celebrated my 11th year of being twelve. There will only be two years left for me to prepare for the Philippine Foreign Service Officer Exam. Graduated with a degree in International Relations, I dream to be a diplomat in the future. Since I entered the halls of my university to learn about international affairs, I knew that the path I’d like to take would not be easy. In fact, the road to being a diplomat was seldom taken by others due to its nature.

I am not sure with other countries’ FSO exam, but in here the test takes almost a year to finish. For the past years, it was reported to have a 1% passing rate. Just last year, 9 out of 534 passed the five-level, elimination tests. There was even a year that no one passed. Some said it is the most grueling government exam and others even went as far as to say that it is harder than the bar. From blogs and testimonies of those who attempted to be a career diplomat, I assumed that being included in the most elite department in the government will take a lot of guts and effort.

DFA

The FSO Exam: An intellectual version of Survivor reality game

I. Qualifying test. According to DFA and from previous examinees, this is like a college entrance test with logic, grammar, and math. The questions are pretty easy, but time-pressured. Others say this is a degree higher than Civil Service Examination. Good thing I passed the professional level of CSE three years ago!

II. Preliminary Interview. This seems like a job interview. Three panelists will be there to question the examinee about his current work, his plans of joining DFA, etc. The main tip is to be honest and clear of your goal. I got an advice to link my answers to the three main pillars of Philippines’ foreign policy and to always cite examples and cases to support my statements.

III. Written Test. Alas. This is the make or break point of the entire exam. 600 examinees can be easily put down to 20 because of this. It is a three-day essay type test. I found sample questions from a blogger and new FSO IV on this level. Please check his examples below:

 

  • English (20%)

A Filipino citizen was sentenced to receive the death penalty in China for acting as a drug-mule. As Secretary of Foreign Affairs, propose a plan which outlines the courses of action the President may undertake.

  • Filipino (5%)

Towards the end of El Filibusterismo, a priest in the novel discussed the idea of freedom. Describe what the priest said and relate it to how Philippine society understands freedom today.

  • Philippine Political, Economic, and Cultural Conditions (30%)

Give five examples of the government’s proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP)projects and give explanation for each.

Explain how the Conditional Cash Transfer program will alleviate poverty.

Name a National Artist and describe the significance of his/her work.

  • International Affairs (20%)

What are the benefits of forging an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015?

  • World History (20%)

Compare and contrast the Spanish colonization experience of Latin America and the Philippines

  • Foreign Language (5%)

You can choose from Mandarin, Japanese, French, Spanish, and Arabic. The entire test will be in the selected language and questions include basic greetings and expressions as well as grammar.

credits to: Rafael Ignacio, FSOE passer

IV. Psychological Test. One must be proud after passing the third level. However, this test must also not be taken for granted. A series of questions plus an interview with a shrink will assess one’s mental capability of working in the Foreign Service.

V. Oral Test. This level has two sessions. The first day is a 20-minute panel interview consisting of ten people from the academe and DFA. Like the preliminary interview, they might ask anything under the sun. One example of a question I found is: What do you think about the President’s appointment of Domingo Lee as the ambassador to China?

The second day is a debate/group dynamics and formal dinner. In the debate, just freely express your opinion on the subject matter. For the dinner, ensure that you know or have read about proper dining etiquette. Then later, there will be an impromptu speech where examinees will only have a minute to prepare for his/her three-minute speech.

After that last hurdle, there will be few months to kill and when you are lucky, you will be notified as one of the passers of the FSO Exam!

Thoughts

I hope that after a few more years, I will be able to pass those five tests. In the end, I would see myself applying what I’ve learned in my university’s simulation test/diplomatic dinner in my senior year. It was such a good practice to be able to dine and chat with real diplomats. I remember the experience. Fancy location, delectable food, intelligent people, good atmosphere, and gorgeous clothes!