September 25th, 2015
In the words of JFK, soon I too will be commiserating alongside other acquainted European peers as I venture forth into the red taped lined world of international student admission in Deutschland.
It wasn’t long ago, that after dropping out of one of the world’s and certainly the United States’ most prestigious art school, that my 23 year old self decided to continue my education elsewhere; however, “Wo konnte ich gehen?” (where could I go ?)
As a privileged child, I’ve visited Europe with my family, more than once. Germany was the home country of my step father, so it was naturally the country we most frequented. As I grew older I began to take interest in modern German culture specifically in how they approached education. German men and women my age that I came across or got to know, all seemed to display such remarkable intelligence and demonstrated a natural sociable aptitude when it came to having a discussion (regardless of personal opinions). These interactions shocked me, for back home many of my peers, even those who were private schooled or cum-laude grads showed the complete opposite; or were completely inept to the art of discussion. Perhaps this could be blamed on the lack of interest on the subject that most of my peers in US seem to have when it comes to any subject not directly related to media supplied entertainment. Maybe this is not a disinterest but, just really an inability to combine or blend different ideas together during conversation. Usually when this problem arises, it prompts one word retorts, shrugging off a particular question or worse, the immediate loss of attention followed by a blank stare into the netherworld. This incapacity and lack of conversational skill may be due to another reason all together; being that the ability to converse is not one reinforced or mandated to any level or degree of significance throughout one’s education in the U.S, beyond basic collegiate graduate requirements per the major or avenue of study.
It seems as though our German counter parts have been ingrained with this art of discussion. In Germany, the art of exchanging of ideas if you will has been preserved, supported and nurtured throughout the years of early childhood — university education. I became intrigued and concluded should I continue my schooling, that it take place in an environment founded on the basis of exchanging ideas, in all its forms. I mean, that is the basis of learning is it not?
After years of debating on which road to take and which study paths I should venture down, I settled on applying to a small university of fine arts in northern Germany. Now as many of you may know, that getting an education in Europe or acquiring healthcare is free right? Wrong. Educational institutions operated and overseen by the state or federal government in Germany, for the most part cost German nationals $0.00. However private schools, just as in the USA, have the right to charge students how they want to, so long as those prices fall under the strict regulations set in place by the German Federal Government. Luckily for me this fine art university, however miniscule its fame or how peacefully quiet the campus may be at any given time, is not a private but a public university (funded by the state). Check out this link for more information International Students in Germany (scroll down to #4).
During my initial research into the institution I was startled to discover that the price per semester for international students was under $200. I was astonished. Previously, here in the U.S. I started to pursue my education in the arts and not even 2 years into the university’s program I was already over $30,000 in debt. Seeing the cost of this tiny fine-arts school in Germany, you can imagine that I was quite cynical and I must have overlooked the fine print. To my amazement, there was no fine print! I was now entirely motivated to get the ball rolling and get a head start in the application process.
October 2014, I contacted the university and followed their online instructions for the application process. After a month and some weeks, post application submission and not hearing back from the school I sent an email to the head of international admissions office regarding confirmation of my application. Within a week I got a response and it was brought to my attention that the university did not offer application process so far in advanced. “What?” I exclaimed. I was amazed. For have you know, the higher-education system’s admission process in the United States is an arduous, pre-planned, year in advanced procedure filled with back and forth emails, letters and phone calls (often started during high school). I then entered into a more detailed dialogue with the international office and they further explained that they only accept applications and transcripts for admission two months prior to the beginning of the scheduled semester date. TWO MONTHS PRIOR! Are you joking!? When asked about my recent application submission, the university said that their online system did not have the 2015 school year application available as the Spring semester was too far off in the future.
Well now it’s September 2015, I sit here before you readers finishing this entry. I have my flight ticket to Germany, all of my educational documentation in order and quite the portfolio to boot, I can sincerely say I’m looking forward to applying this spring.
I will keep you posted as the process continues!
Clayton Johans – When Clayton is not at his desk drawing and painting, he assumes his alter ego as a Barbarian Philosopher who enjoys researching historical events, reading comic books, pumping iron and hiking the hills and valleys of southern California. firstname.lastname@example.org