Help In English Please

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fatema | 15:56 Thu 06th Aug 2020 | Jobs & Education
13 Answers
Hello everyone! I need little help with writing an email. last month I got admission to a German university and now they have emailed me and said my first semester will be online and I will attend all my classes from my home country and 2nd semester will be in April 2021 and it will be in university. I want to ask from the university that is it possible if I don't attend my first online semester and I start my course from April 2021 and I have a few more questions to ask from them. I wrote a draft email and I would be thankful if someone can proofread this email. Thank you.

Dear Sir/Madam,
I was really excited to start my course in October in Germany but as university mentioned that my first semester will be online in October and I can attend my course from my home country and my 2nd semester will be in April 2021 and I have to be there at the beginning of April. I have a few questions regarding this which I would like to ask:
1: is it possible if I skip or don’t attend my first semester (online) in my home country and I start my first semester in April 2021 in Germany?
2: If I attend my first semester virtually, then how can I register myself in university or how to send documents to the university, through any courier service or my documents will be accepted If I send them via email.
3: Should I need to buy health insurance for the first semester which will be online?

I would be grateful if I could get a quick response.
Thanks and regards,


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I think that I can tell you the likely answers to your questions anyway!

Unless there's a VERY good reason (such as a student requiring urgent and intensive hospital treatment), no German university would be likely to allow a student to skip the Wintersemester and only to attend for the Sommersemester. Most university course are hierarchical, with the content of the Sommersemester relating back to the work that was done during the Wintersemester, so it might simply be impossible to jump in half way through the first year of the course. (It's also unlikely that any university faculty would be likely to put a candidate forward for the awarding of a degree if they've not studied for the entire duration of the course).

If you still want to ask the first of your three questions though, I suggest that you would need to include a (very good) REASON for making the request.

As the university will be receiving your coursework for any online studies by email, it's likely that they'll accept any necessary documentation to commence the course via the same means.

Your final question seems hardly worthy of consideration to me. If you're not going to be in a foreign country, you clearly don't need health insurance for being there! (However my draft email below covers the possibility of you being required to attend the university in person at some stage during the Wintersemester).

Moving on to the actual email though, although both Brits and American still tend to start snail-mailed letters with 'Dear' (as in 'Dear Mr Smith' or 'Dear Sir or Madam'), the practice is generally not used in emails. In most cases the sender simply launches straight into the main text of their message, although sometimes it's best to put an 'Fao' at the start of it. (e.g. 'Fao: Course admissions registrar).

So here's my amended version of your email. (I remind you that, unless you've got a very good REASON for seeking to skip the Wintersemester, it would probably be best to remove any reference to wishing to do so. However, for completeness, I've left that bit in for now. If you delete that paragraph, you can also delete the part I've placed within square brackets in the next paragraph too):

"Fao: Course Admissions Registrar.

I am looking forward to commencing my studies on the xxxxx course at yyyyy University in the new academic year.

I note that the Wintersemester's studies will be conducted online, with students not physically attending the university's campus until the commencement of the Sommersemester. As online study would be extremely difficult for me due to . . . REASON . . . , I wonder if it would be possible for me to delay the commencement of my studies until the start of the Sommersemester and then catch up on the missing work at a later date?

[If it is not possible for me to miss the online part of the course for the time being,] I assume that any coursework I will need to submit during the Wintersemester will be sent to my tutors by email. Can I do the same with any documentation that you might require prior to me commencing the course, such as examination certifates or proof of ID? (i.e. will scanned documents, sent by email, be acceptable or do I need to send my original documents to you via courier?)

As I will not be commencing face-to-face studies until next April, I plan to arrange my health insurance cover to start from that time. However if there will be any need for me to physically attend the campus prior to then, please let me know as soon as possible in order that I can amend my insurance cover accordingly.

I offer my thanks in advance of your anticipated response, which I look forward to receiving at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards

Congratulations Fatema on gaining University entrance.
...will be conducted online...
...will be conducted on line...

As online study would be extremely difficult...
As on-line study would be extremely difficult... miss the online part of the course for the... miss the on-line part of the course for the...

...prior to me commencing the course,
...prior to my commencing the course,


...for me to physically attend the campus prior to then,
...for me to attend the campus in person prior to that time, order that I can amend my insurance cover accordingly. that I can amend my insurance cover accordingly.
^^^ "online" is recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Further, as any communication between Turkey and Germany is likely to be based around 'international' (= US) English, it seems best to stick with what our American cousins almost universally use anyway.

Further still, it also matches the OU's usage:

"prior to my commencing the course"???
'My' is possessive, so that would have to read "prior to my commencement of the course" (and not "commencing").

The rest (other than the correction of my spelling typo) I'd regard as nit-picking, with either version being acceptable.

You're not that sports sub-editor from Sheffield Newspapers who kept changing minor little things in my text (even when his corrections made my submitted copy far less readable than it was to start with) are you, Jim?
I didn't know that you are masquerading as Buenchico when, in real life, you are Fatima Whitbread...and a second piece of advice, remember Jim now resides north of the border and they have different language and grammar dictionaries.
It is all good. Ignore anything above that says it is not. If there is anything not clear or understandable the university will tell you.
Once again Fatema, your email is fine as it is, and actually much better english than many english people can write. Just send it.
For 'commencing' to be a gerund it would have to be "my commencing of the course". It doesn't serve as a noun in my original post.

I'll stick with the OED as my source of English usage:
"Online: accessible via the internet; carried out, occurring, or used on the internet"
Just send the email.
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Thank you everyone for your answers and help.

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