PhD Student: Sakina Gröppmaier
Sakina Gröppmaier did her Master’s degree in American Studies at LMU Munich from 2016-2018. She received her Bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto with a double major in English Literature and History in 2009, after which she worked in the fields of writing and editing. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Amerika-Institut at LMU Munich.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
Why did you choose to study abroad in Germany, and why did you choose LMU Munich? I chose to study in Germany because I was based here. I’m originally from Canada and always assumed I would do my graduate studies there, but once I started researching I found some great Master’s programs at German universities that I would be able to do primarily in English. The financial aspect was also important, as the cost of university studies in Germany pales in comparison to Canada or the United States. I chose LMU Munich because I found the Master’s program offered by the Amerika-Institut really interesting. I had also heard great things about the university from others who had studied there, and Munich is a great city to live in!
How did you learn about study and research opportunities for international students at LMU Munich? Word of mouth! I met another international student at LMU by chance and she suggested I check out the website. I also looked at the websites of the institutes at LMU I was interested in studying at and took it from there.
LIFE IN MUNICH/GERMANY
How would you describe student life at LMU Munich? Student life at LMU is great once you get used to how things work. At first it was difficult to navigate the bureaucratic procedures, but being persistent really helped. The university is in the center of Munich and it’s a great area of the city to study in. In our program the class sizes were relatively small and very discussion-oriented, which was a great way to get to know other students and build friendships that go beyond the classroom. Also, the professors I had were great and very supportive of their students.
What did you find the most rewarding and challenging about your time in Germany? The most rewarding thing is the standard of life here. The city infrastructure makes it really easy to get around by underground or by bike. It’s very green with large parks in nearly every neighborhood, and the lovely Isar river that is great for picnicking and swimming in the summer. The most challenging is the language. Although it’s really easy to get around with just English, for job interviews and connecting with Germans it is necessary to attain an adequate level of spoken German. I also found that, work-wise, most people prefer to correspond in German rather than English. Moreover, speaking German gives you a definite leg-up when dealing with all the bureaucratic procedures, such as getting a tax number or sorting out visa issues.
What was, as you remember it, your most “German” experience? Probably going some of the Volksfeste out in Bavarian countryside. Oktoberfest is the big one and although it is traditional it feels very international, but there are some great festivals outside of Munich that felt a lot more traditional, largely due to the smaller size and the local attendees. But this is strictly a Bavarian experience and not German, as I have often been told!
Tips and Advice
What advice do you have for prospective students considering studying abroad in Munich/Germany? Definitely do it! But I would recommend taking some German courses alongside the studies and starting the apartment search before arriving (if you will not be living in a student residence).
Have you already gained work experience during your studies in Munich? Do you already have professional plans after finishing your degree? I worked as a corporate editor throughout my studies, but I also got a job as a research assistant at my institute during my Master’s program which encouraged me to progress to doctoral studies. I am currently in the very (very) early stages of my PhD.