Canadian Summer School in Germany
- Living with a host family
- Student Loans
- What to bring
- Transportation to the university campus
- Computer and Internet access
- Safety issues
- Culture shock
As a general suggestion, we recommend that whenever you have questions or need to clarify something, you talk to your families directly. In fact, that is part of the program. It is from figuring out misunderstandings that we learn to cross cultures appropriately. Our experience has shown us that one area for misunderstandings is about food. Surprisingly enough not all Germans eat sausages. On the other hand, their definition of vegetarian food might not be very strict. Some families eat their main meal at lunchtime, which is when we are at school. In the evening they eat bread and cheese and cold cuts. In any event, if you are not sure what to expect, ask your family what is for dinner.
Another area of misunderstanding is about using the telephone. If you want to call someone in Canada, the best way is to get a telephone card. But make sure you explain to your host family that there is no charge to their telephone.
Laundry can also be a lot of fun. Some German washing machines takes about 2.5 hours to wash your clothes. Your clothes will be cleaner than the day you bought them. However, they will also need 2.5 days to dry because hardly anyone uses a drier in Germany. So plan ahead unless you want to go "commando."
We encourage you spend time with your host family, but do not feel pressed to participate in all activities organized by the host families. Please feel free to decline any activities you might not want to participate in. German host families will not be offended if you politely decline to participate in an activity. Be direct and polite.
If there is any problem with your host family, please contact the Director as soon as possible.
Students can apply for student loans for this program. You are a full time student for the 6 ½ weeks.
Scholarships are available for students enrolled in the CSSG program (Scholarships and Funding Opportunities).
Please check with your university and your German Department for funding possibilities. If you are successful, please let us know so we can add your university to our list.
Dictionary or be prepared to buy one in Kassel. A German-German dictionary is preferred, especially for the advanced courses.
- some students find it helpful to bring their German textbook from home for reference
- flip-flops for youth hostel showers
- towel for youth hostels
- good walking shoes (Germans love to walk!)
- rain gear and a warm sweater or jacket (the weather in Kassel is unpredictable and variable, from very cool and rainy to very hot)
- medication (it is advisable to bring medication you are used to, especially in case of allergies)
We will provide you with a transit pass (which includes streetcar and bus) for Kassel for the duration of the CSSG program. You will also get a transit pass for Berlin (which includes streetcar, subway, and bus) for the duration of the Berlin trip.
There are buses and street cars in Kassel that will take you to most places. Some of you will live close to the city centre, some are in the suburbs. In some cases, it can take about one hour from your host family's home to the university. If you study in a bigger city in Canada, you are probably used to that. For example, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver some students commute up to 2 hours one way to come to class.
Most buses and street cars stop running around midnight. On weekends, sometimes they stop running around 8:00 pm. Further information can be found on the website of the Uni Kassel. You can also have a look at an online map of Kassel.
Our classrooms are in a community centre/church school next to the campus of Kassel University. This has the great advantage that we have all classes in the same building and are able to enjoy all of the university's facilities, e.g., the Mensa (lunches are good and cheap) and the Rechenzentrum (computer facility with email access).
Please note that although there is WiFi available on the university campus, there is no Internet in the church school.
The address is:
Evangelische Freikirchliche Gemeinde
Internet access is available in the computer lab of the Universität Kassel campus. Internet time may also be purchased at internet cafés throughout Kassel. WiFi is also available on campus if you would like to bring a laptop or tablet.
Kassel has about 200,000 inhabitants. As in any city of that size, be aware of your belongings. If you leave your bag on a bus, chances are it will be gone by the time you realize that you left it. If someone asks you for small change, don't show that person your wallet. If you are on a bus or street car in the evening, don't go alone. If you live in larger city in Canada, these things are pretty obvious to you. However, if you are from a smaller city and have never been to a city of that size, simply use common sense.
Living in another country is a most rewarding experience. However, it depends on you what you make of your stay. Although Germany is a very developed country and traveling there does not pose the same difficulties as if you would go to a remote, isolated place, customs and daily life can be very different from what you are used to at home. It is helpful to keep an open mind and try to understand those differences. Some of those differences are practical (yes, if your host family tells you dinner is at 19 Uhr, it is at 19 Uhr, not 19.30 Uhr). Some are emotional if this is the first time you are away from home for six weeks or longer. Interestingly enough, upon your return to Canada, you might start wondering why you do things at home in a certain way. All of this is part of the experience of learning as much as possible about the people, history, geography, literature, arts, and so forth of Germany, as well as about yourself and your home.
During the two-day orientation in Hann. Münden you will learn how to deal with culture shock and to make the best of your time in Germany. However, do not hesitate to talk to your professor or the CSSG Director if you are experiencing culture shock.