A Trini in Germany
Enlarge image Carlana Ramlochansingh-At Dachau Volksfest in dirndl (© Carlana Ramlochansingh) I was at a point in my life where I wanted a change. Did I want to pursue study/career or interests/travel? Unchecked on my list of travel destinations was any country in the Eastern hemisphere.....oh, how I wished to go. In time, I received an acceptance letter to the Masters of Epidemiology Program at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich, Germany. It was time for this Trini girl to go to Germany.
I landed in Munich nervous and excited, and without any German language knowledge which could be intimidating. There were many documents that had to be filled out and offices to visit for completion of registration. The LMU International Office was the first visit, here I had to present my Zulassungsbescheid (Acceptance letter), Bachelor's Certificate, Bachelor's Transcript in a sealed envelope, CV, Passport and Health Insurance Certificate in Germany, all in original copy. Next, I had to register as a resident in Munich so that meant visiting the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (Department of Public Order). Here I had to show my Studienausweis (Student identity card), proof of health insurance, a bank statement and proof of housing.
After the paperwork was complete, it was time for enjoying my new life. A busy schedule of Epidemiology classes from 9 to 5 and German classes 2 evenings per week started. Thankfully, the administration was helpful and the classes were taught in English. I happily met my fellow classmates who were from different countries like Bosnia, Singapore, China, America, Canada, Bulgaria, and also from different study backgrounds including Medical, Pharmacy, Mathematics and Biotechnology which allowed for very spirited class discussions. Two challenging internships with great institutions, Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit and Helmholtz Zentrum München, classes, and thesis colloquiums have filled the time. But Munich life is not without challenges. Competition for housing in Munich is high, the wait for a student room can take up to six months. And landlords can conduct mass interviews with 12 or more people before choosing their new tenant. Also cafeteria (mensa) food mostly includes pretzels, schnitzel, käsespätzle and every type of wurst (sausage).
I still took time to explore Germany. Munich has an old charm and as I walked around the city center, Marienplatz, I fell in love with its architecture. The Town Hall or the Rathaus in the heart of Munichhouses the Glockenspiel which plays chimes and spins at 11 am every day reenacting two historical stories from the 16th century. The Siegestor is Munich's reminder of peace and it is located near the LMU.
Even more beautiful is the castle located within the city limits, Schloss Nymphenburg, which Munich's former rulers used as a summer house.
If you like beer then Munich is the place for you . They have a beer festival for every season or reason, Frühlingfest, Starkbierfest, Summer and Winter Tollwood, Dachauer Volksfest and of course Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest being the largest beer festival in the world and bringing in almost 7 million visitors to Munich every year. Most people attending these festivals dress in traditional wear (Tracht), lederhosen for men and dirndl for women. All the women looked really good so I just had to buy a dirndl .
Also, the proximity to many other European countries has facilitated my travel addiction and that checklist has been updated many times now. I have had the pleasure of seeing Amsterdam, London, Lisbon, Salzburg , Prague, Berlin and many others but as I check off places, I add more. So far a great experience and for now "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei".