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Germany: finding friends ‘challenge’ for internationals

Finding new friends has become a bigger problem than government bureaucracy for students arriving in Germany, a new survey has found. 

Making new friends overtook bureaucracy as the biggest issue for arrivals in Germany. Photo: pexels

70% of Chinese students said they wanted to return home

Some 1,862 students took part in Expatrio’s 2021 survey, revealing a shift in the challenges facing international students since its last survey, largely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The language barrier continued to be a challenge for students, with 29% of respondents selecting this as their biggest issue after arrival in Germany. 

Making friends and finding accommodation were the next pressing challenges for students, with both factors mentioned by 25% of respondents. 

This marks a change from the relocation platform’s 2020 survey, which found that German bureaucracy was a greater issue than making new friends. In the 2021 survey, 12% of students cited bureaucracy as the biggest problem. 

“The best solution for international students who feel isolated or lonely upon arrival in Germany is to join a student organisation”

The results varied among the 93 nationalities surveyed, with 70% of Chinese respondents saying they wanted to return to their home country. 

“The best solution for international students who feel isolated or lonely upon arrival in Germany is to join a student organisation,” said Mika Vincheuski, president of DEGIS, the German association for international students.

“These initiatives help students socialise and can even provide them with valuable professional skills for their future. DEGIS recognises the need for universities to offer better support both to students and such projects to minimise challenges faced by internationals in Germany.”

A separate survey by DAAD, the German academic exchange program, found that poor language skills were linked to higher dropout levels among international students in Germany. 

“Policymakers should minimise bureaucratic hurdles and language barriers while fostering digitisation within the authorities,” said Tim Meyer, co-founder of Expatrio.

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