First of all, mathematics are currently only taught in German at our faculty. The only international maths degree is the masters’ degree in Scientific Computing. So, if you plan on studying at Heidelberg University, you’ll have to consider learning at least enough German to understand spoken word lectures on mathematics. However, we’ll be happy to help you with the formalities of German beaurocracy to the best of our abilities. But please consider that we are representing the student body in our free time and thus will have limited capabilities on those matters.
Our Faculty holds useful information in their guidelines on the faculty website.
Are mathematics too hard for me?
Well, you’ll probably find it to be hard. At first, at least. A maths course demands a lot of your time and the ability to figuratively torture yourself a bit with mathematical problems. In many cases you’ll not understand everything right away, sometimes it’ll take you weeks or months to fully understand a mathematical construction. This is a characteristic to be encountered more likely in maths than in social sciences or linguistics. But if you’re the kind of person who was always better at abstracting a problem and sticking with it, mathematical problems will most certainly be the ones you’re good at solving. If you also bring a certain talent in that department, studying maths at our university will come easier to you. If you don’t bring that talent, then hard work will be necessary but make it possible for you to succeed, anyway.
However, you don’t have to be “that genius” to be able to make it through your math courses. Most likely there have been people not as smart as you, who got their maths degree anyway. Some of them pulled through, despite their problems with the subject, and many of them made it despite lacking knowledge of every little nook and cranny of their subject. In those cases it may not have gotten them a career as a scientist but many of them still left with a decent degree.
In preparation for exams you’ll have to practice on problem sets and hand in exercise sheets weekly. Those are usually a little harder than the exam problems, so you’ll be able to handle those – with the right amount of preparation during the weeks in advance of an exam, of course.
First of all: You probably don’t know much about maths from school. Schools are usually going way deeper into calculations of exemplary problems than into actual mathematics, being the science of defining and modeling logical problems and analyzing abstract structures for their properties and patterns.
Characteristics of our Faculty
Generally, maths bachelors’ degree courses at German universities don’t differ too much from each other. Currently, Numerics and Arithemtic/Algebraic Geometry are the strong suits here, while we’re a bit thin on Probability and Stochastic Theories. Since we’re situated together with our Computer Science students, who belong to the same faculty, there is a lively network between the students of the two subjects. You’ll have plenty of choices for specialization here, in Theoretical as well as Applied Mathematics.
You’ll start from scratch. While school knowledge may help you in some (rather few) cases, you won’t have too much of an advantage by preparing all summer for your university courses. We rather recommend to handle your personal circumstances like your living and job situation during the summer, so you will able to focus on your studies right from the beginning of your first semester.
Do I have to buy any books?
Frankly, no. You will get all necessary materials from your professor or the university library (in many cases online). Your professors will also give you suggestions for further reading at the beginning of each semester.