Studying in Seattle and Germany

Joe attending a Husky football game with FIUTS in the fall.

Joe attending a Husky football game with FIUTS in the fall.

Guest Post by Joe Enssle

I am a student from Germany participating in a double degree program in real estate, studying one year in Germany and one year at the University of Washington. People in Germany and here in Seattle often ask me: what are the differences?

In my German real estate class are about 100 students; here in Seattle I have only 20 classmates. In Germany there is only one final exam at the end of the semester and the exam counts for 100% of the grade. The pressure in the time before the final’s month is high but on the bright side during the semester there is no requirement for attendance. It is not recommended but every student enjoys once in a while an extended holiday or weekend. At UW I have to attend class, I get a participation grade, nearly every week an assignment is due, there is a mid-term and a final. Because of the small class, professors directly ask you questions and therefore, you have to prepare for classes. It is quite the opposite to Germany, since during the quarter the workload is high but the pressure for finals week is almost relaxing. To be fair, not so relaxing for international students are presentations instead of written tests because it is really scary to present in a foreign language.

Real estate is a local discipline and the University of Washington´s real estate program is particularly strong in real estate development. Seattle is the city with the highest crane count in the country and it seems Amazon and Microsoft have unlimited demand for real estate. In addition to real estate development there is a corporate real estate track where you learn how to manage Jeff´s and Bill´s real estate and a specialization in real estate finance and investment. The German university is located in a small city and there is no large real estate market. That´s why students are prepared for more disciplines with a broader focus.

One of the coolest things at UW´s department of real estate is the fantastic advisory board. Besides advising the faculty, students can connect with very, very experienced professionals. Most people outside of the real estate world are not even aware this exists but the advisory board is the who´s who of Seattle´s real estate industry. Students have the opportunity to meet the board members at the first year´s student reception or the annual Runstad leadership dinner. In addition, students can contact the industry veterans and ask to meet for a coffee which in my case turned into a pleasant lunch (thanks again Don and Steve!).

Not very cool and maybe the biggest difference between my German and American education are tuition fees. In Germany education is free and I did not pay a single dollar (or €) in contrast to the international student tuition fee at the University of Washington. At this point Americans wish they were studying in Germany and Germans think I am crazy to go to the U.S. But it is worth it, and I am glad to be here! My studies have given me the opportunity to experience the American education which focuses more on practical skills and the German education which is more about theoretical. English is super important because even in Germany real estate contracts are in English. The United States are the largest real estate market in the world with the most important real estate companies. To learn and study here and get an American degree is a great advantage for a successful career. And finally, it is a great personal experience to live in another culture and country.  

Guest posts on the FIUTS blog represent the experiences and views of individual writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of FIUTS or any organizations or institutions affiliated with our programs.

Ellen Frierson