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Bachelorette of Arts

I’m am now (almost) officially “adastra.me, B.A.”. After 3 years of studying English Studies and Linguistics, I have finished all exams and handed in my bachelor’s thesis, therefore I earned the title “Bachelor of Arts”. And now?

Germany has only adopted the Bachelor / Master concept about 10 years ago, and is currently in the process of adapting to this from the previous Diploma / Magister system. However, it appears that having a Bachelor’s degree renders you somewhat worthless to German employers. I have been to many workshops on what to do after finishing your degree, and pretty much all the people there reported that in order to successfully get a good job, you will need a master’s degree. Bachelor students are often seen as dropouts who do not have the nerve to continue studying. So yeah, my “B.A.” is currently worthless unless I continue studying to pursue a “M.A.”.

And I will. But here’s another thing that is incredibly annoying about the bachelor / master system: once you’ve chosen your subject, you won’t get out of it. As a student of English Studies and Linguistics, I can do a master’s degree in either English Studies or Linguistics. I cannot, as some might think, chose a completely different subject, or even a subject that is closely related. I have seriously considered to do my master’s degree in Media Studies, Television Studies or Information Studies. The latter one has a lot of subjects in common with Linguistics, while the first two are somewhat similar to what we learn in English Literature Studies. My friendly e-mails to the people in charge of the master’s degree in those subjects, enquiring whether I could do a qualification test, where all answered with “Sorry, you need 20 credits for this subject, 20 for that, 50 for that, so no, get outta here and stop bothering me.” The same applies to the master’s degree in Adult Education which I was interested in, which compared to English Studies would actually be useful for the future… but no chance. This system is useless if it doesn’t allow for more flexibility. I wonder if it’s just German universities which are so narrow-minded about their master’s degrees.

I have actually considered doing my master’s degree outside of Germany, but that plan failed epically last year, when I was invited for a scholarship interview to study in Canada, but could not attend because I was in Australia. They wouldn’t even do Skype interviews. What a bunch of unaccommodating, selfish assholes these German bureaucrats are… Nope, I’m not bitter at all. My backup plan of studying elsewhere in Europe where there’s no tuition also didn’t work out, because currently there’s no way I can afford that. I’m still financially recovering from Australia, and on top of that I have only just found a new part-time job this week after half a year of job-seeking.

I did however get Bafög so far, which is partially a student loan, partially a government scholarship. I’m not sure if I will still get it throughout my master’s degree but I sure hope so—even though the prospect of having to someday pay back student loans is daunting. The payback is capped at 10.000 EUR, therefore I will never have to pay back more than that, but if I continue to receive Bafög until I finish my master’s degree, I’m pretty sure I’ll hit that cap. Now, students in other countries will probably laugh at that, where 10.000 EUR can’t even get you through one semester… but then again, the quality of studying is so much better there compared to my terrible university.

That’s because my university, like many in Germany, is completely overcrowded. Free education is an incentive for many young people to go to university instead of learning a trade. We also have many international students from other countries who come here for the free education. Over-crowding is in particular a problem if a university, like mine, is literally falling apart. PCB-contamination caused the closure of entire buildings, leaving us with fewer seminar rooms and more construction sites. Really a terrible atmosphere for learning.

Anyway, I’m confident that I will successfully complete my master’s degree two years from now, despite crumbling buildings and daunting student loans. I just wish I would have had more options for choosing a subject, even though I’m very happy with English Studies so far.

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