Oldenburg Summer German Language Program
For those looking to improve on their German language skills and immerse themselves into the culture and history of Germany, Oldenburg offers a program incorporating all of these elements.
Focusing on improving spoken and written German skills, as well as the cultural features of modern German society, students can expect to enjoy weekly excursions to areas around Northern Germany and regular "Stammtisch" gatherings. Residing in one of the few German cities to escape WW2 relatively unscathed, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg has become reknowned for its environmental focus, top-ranked and affordable organic canteens (cafeterias), and it's cycle-friendly culture.
Students on the summer program will be participating in 100 hours of intensive German language study in a small-group setting over 4 weeks. The course focuses on the standard use of German (both written and spoken), and on the cultural highlights of modern German society. The program is modeled around the development of 4 skills - speaking, writing, reading, and listening and offers a sample of life in Germany for students thinking about doing a semester or year-long exchange to Germany.
The summer program will include weekly local excursions, including a city tour of Oldenburg and Bremen, a visit to the North Sea coastline, and to nearby towns. Typical hours of study are between 9am - 3pm each day. Participants should gain a deeper understanding not only of German culture and language, but of the Northern German region. All students will be matched with a local "buddy" to support you during your time in Oldenburg and introduce you to German student life.
The course is worth 6 ECTS, so students will bring back 1 UCalgary half-course. Accreditation must be arranged through your academic advisor.
Student Tips: "Each Wednesday one of the instructors would take all of the students on excursions to local towns in order to give us a break from studying. Additionally, every Tuesday evening a 'Stammtisch' was organized. This was a meetup of the students in the class, some of their buddies, and one or two instructors, where everyone would practice speaking German together. Also, the library was a great resource and there was a paper shop just outside of the library/mensa building that sold all kinds of school supplies. I didn't need to acquire my own books but I heard a couple of my classmates were able to purchase the textbook for themselves at the campus book sale that seemed to be running every day outside the library. [The most rewarding part of my exchange] was the immersion in the language and culture of Oldenburg. Seeing everything written in German and speaking German with locals on a regular basis really challenged my German skills beneficially."
The program runs for a month from mid-July to late August. For more specific details click here. on their passport, students may be able to travel before and after their exchange (up to 90 days total stay in Germany).
For students that would like to return and further improve their German, there are semester and year-length exchange options available at Oldenburg.
Exchange students on this program pay for one summer course in UCalgary tuition and academic fees to the University of Calgary. Other expenses are paid directly to the service provider. Also, remember to include things like visas, insurance, vaccinations, etc. in your budget planning.
Accommodation in residence costs approximately 300 euros per month for a single furnished dorm room (see "Accommodation" section). Students will be assessed for 1 summer course at UCalgary but will have a significant amount of excursion costs covered by Oldenburg. Additional costs include insurance, food, and any additional travel expenses including flights.
Oldenburg cost comparison vs Calgary: Click Here
Student Tips: "Food [in Oldenburg] was much cheaper. A trip to the grocery store in Germany cost me less than half than it would in Canada! It's also convenient and cheap to simply buy a short-term/temporary SIM card for [your] cellphone that is pre-loaded with data. It can also be difficult to find Canadian peanut butter in Germany, so if you like it, make sure to bring a big jar from home."
Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange?
Since you remain a degree seeking student at UCalgary while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.
UCI administers the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved UCalgary study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page for more information.
Dormitory-style residences are available for students participating in the summer program. Students will be assigned a single furnished room in one of the university dormitories for the length of the program.
There will be cooking facilities, washing machines and tumble dryers in the dorms. Students that prefer not to cook can eat very inexpensively in the university cafeteria (full lunch from €2-3).
Student Tips: "My room in the Johann Justus Weg Studentenwerk was clean and cozy. The dormitory was a 25 minute walk away from the campus, but only a 10 minute bike ride. The accommodations were spacious and I liked living with other students in one large flat rather than sharing amenities with a whole floor or wing of one building. Students were expected to provide their own bedsheets and towels (my buddy let me borrow hers), otherwise everything else was available for use in the flat (kitchen supplies, dishes)." (Note: if in doubt, bring a "pocket router" for wi-fi. You can find them for less than $50)
This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in any faculty at the UCalgary, who will have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level before departure, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-).
For studies students should have a minimum of German 204 (A2 CEFR level) or equivalent to participate in this exchange. The course is designed for students who are at an advanced beginners/lower intermediate level at the time of the exchange.
An academic reference is required for a complete application.
Is there a buddy program?
Yes, even for the short term program there is a buddy program, where you are matched with a local student that will help you settle in to life in Oldenburg.
Student Tips: "The buddy program was a great way to socialize outside of the circle of classmates in one's program. The buddies often would invite their assigned student out to meet their friends too! I would suggest visiting the students' pub to meet new people from the University of Oldenburg. [Before my exchange] I think that I was very worried about traveling to Europe on my own. It seemed like a scary place where anything bad could happen. In reality it is not difficult to stay safe. One must just stay alert and try to stick together with friends. Furthermore my first trip to Europe made me realize how people all around the world are the same [in many ways], regardless of what languages they speak".
"The Buddy program consisted of Oldenburg University students who volunteered to aid the international exchange students during their 4-week stay. My Buddy assisted me with how to rent a bike at the university, getting situated into my student residence, or where some of the good places to eat were in town, etc. She also provided me information about the university and the city of Oldenburg. At the end of my 4-week term, she walked me to the main train station, provided me some helpful tips on train travel, and ensured I boarded the correct train to travel from Oldenburg to Frankfurt."
Do I need to speak German?
For the summer program it is required that you have at least a low-intermediate knowledge (second year or above). However most English, non-German speakers are able to function fairly well in German society with a limited knowledge of the language for shopping and eating out, etc.
What's so special about Oldenburg?
Oldenburg not only offers multiple top-ranked and very affordable canteens (cafeterias), but they also offer both a highly recommended buddy program. The program and excursions are also partly funded by the university and offer a wonderful sample of German life.
Student Tips: "The University of Oldenburg had fast, campus-wide wifi. It also had an expansive library with a computer lab, an amazing food court with very cheap, delicious food, and convenient access to international student advisors for any questions one might have about their exchange. Also, the Fußgangerzone in downtown Oldenburg is the best place to find anything you need to buy, or to go out with friends to dinner!"
"Oldenburg is a very small city consisting of approximately 160,000 people. It seemed quite safe. I was alone a lot and felt quite comfortable riding my bicycle throughout the city to run errands, etc. Safety is a huge factor for me when I travel, especially if I’m alone."
What supports are available at Oldenburg?
The University of Oldenburg, Student Administration and Studentenwerk office offer a wealth of support services and assistance for students with accessibility or accommodation requirements. This includes but is not limited to legal advice for students with disabilities, practical assistance and services, representatives to help with general questions, peer supports, counselling services, and disability advice service.
For information on accessibility of campuses across Europe, ESN has created "MappEd!" which allows you to check the accessibility of universities and cities across Europe. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.
Study Abroad 101
Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.
Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).
After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.
Study Abroad Advising
If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below.
1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.
How to Apply
Download the application guide
This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.
Identify three programs of interest
We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.
Check requirements and deadlines
These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.
Start your application
Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!
Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.
International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.
For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.
Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.