Medical School in Germany

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    Hi Folks! This is my first post here, so please, be gentle!:) I'm an American studying medicine in Germany, and I was wondering if any of you have had experience with visiting students from Germany before. I'm curious to know how well they do in a clinical setting in the States.

    Also, if any of you happen to know how well students from Europe in general fare in the match, I'd really appreciate any comments you could give me. Eventually, I will probably want to go home again, and I'm curious to know how horribly complicated it could be! Thanks a million!
     

    Mikado

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      Also, if any of you happen to know how well students from Europe in general fare in the match, I'd really appreciate any comments you could give me. Eventually, I will probably want to go home again, and I'm curious to know how horribly complicated it could be! Thanks a million!
       

      Mikado

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        Also, if any of you happen to know how well students from Europe in general fare in the match, I'd really appreciate any comments you could give me. Eventually, I will probably want to go home again, and I'm curious to know how horribly complicated it could be! Thanks a million!
         
        i know that german schools are well respected..they are involved in the same exchange program with harvard that my school is, but they are exempted from english exams and gladly accepted. i am in prague, and we get visits from german profs, and use many of the materials in our lecturs/labs. don't know too about the match. the results i have heard have been good, though. i would imagine, that given equal board scores, a west europe grad would be somewhere around the level of an aussie/english grad, and a bit above a carib grad. just my opinion, though!
        good luck
         

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          Sure. I'm not sure exactly what you guys would like to know about studying here. So I'll babble a bit. I guess, to make it simple, I'll start at the beginning. Medical School in Germany lasts six years, starting right after high school. I'm told, however, that German high school is a little bit more complicated than we have in the States.

          The six years are divied up into two main sections: clinical (the last 4 years) and preclinical (the first 2). So, during the first two years, we learn all of the things that are covered as premeds in the USA: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and so on. They also give us anatomy, physiology, histo, biochem, and some nifty introduction to medicine classes. After the end of the second year, we have to take a big test called the Physikum, which is roughly equivalent to Step I of the USMLE, I think, except there is no pathology on it, and I don't think there is pharmacology, either. It's also not a very clinically-oriented exam, though it is quite difficult. I think on average 20-30% of students fail it the first time around (Please don't quote me exactly on that percentage! This is what I have heard from other students, and I haven't done first hand research on the Physikum results:)). I'll comment on the first two years, because that's where I have first-hand experience first, then tell you guys what I've heard about the rest.

          The classes during the first two years, in my experience, haven't been too terribly difficult. I believe that is because I don't that much to do. I have already finished my bachelor's in Biochem in the US, so I am exempt from most of the classes that my peers are struggling though. Through the first two years, I only have to take anatomy, physiology, medical sociology, medical terminology, biochem (don't have to, though I'm reviewing it anyway...too important), neruo anatomy, and a bunch of seminars and introduction to medicine classes. Most of the exams are oral, which makes for a lot of stress. Some professors can be a bit rough. On the bright side, however, Anatomy is spread over two semesters, making it a lot easier to digest the volumes of information! :) The lectures are, of course, all in German, which is a bummer, but it's a great excuse to learn another language. It's also great from a financial standpoint, in that universities (yes, even med schools) are all free in Germany (minor exception: some private universities. There are, to the best of my knowledge, however, no private med schools here). The various schools even reserve a certain number of slots for foreign students, though they are very sought-after.

          Most students in Germany tend to receive VERY little (read: almost none) clinical experience during the first two years. At least, unless you go looking for it. If students are motivated and ask around, there are absolutely endless opportunities for clinical experience thoughout the entire course of study. For example, in my first two semesters, I've gotten to assist on a liver transplant, a couple of Whipples, several massive pelvis excentrations (sp?), and lots of other stuff, in addition to going on rounds, doing office hours with various professors, and just generally seeing everything. Even got to do some suturing! You just have to go looking for these things, and you get a chance to learn A LOT!

          Well, I guess I'll shut up for now. If anyone is interested in hearing about the clinical part of the school, let me know and I'll do that one in another post, because this one is probably already really long. Also, if anyone has questions about admissions to german med schools or anything like that, feel free to email me (in english or german) at [email protected]

          One thing I did forget to mention, is that you pretty much have to write a dissertation and do the necessary research. It's not required to practice medicine in Germany, but if you want to be "Doctor so-and-so," you do...
           

          abbeydesert

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            Wow, are you at the MHH in Hannover? Small world...I got accepted and *almost* started med school there last fall- but decided to try one last time to get into a U.S. school. I'll be an MS1 this fall in the U.S., but I did investigate the situation in Germany in some depth.
            If you want to come back to the U.S. to do a residency, here's what you need to do:
            1. Earn your medical degree in Germany, i.e., pass the 3rd Staatsexamen- they used to make you finish AiP first, but luckily that's no longer the case.
            2. Take and earn a passing score on USMLE Steps 1 and 2 (which is also given in Germany)
            3. Pass the CSA- Clinical Skills Assessment, currently given throughout the year in Philadelphia- basically, spend a day examining Standardized Patients, writing chart notes, etc. Shouldn't be too much of a problem if you're a native speaker and have U.S. clinical experience.
            If you want to come back to the U.S. for residency, it's essential to get as much clinical experience here as possible. The problem is, most of the U.S. programs won't let you do a rotation here until your final year of med school, i.e., 6th year in your case. However, if you have connections- through a Doktorvater or other professor- you *may* be able to arrange a Famulatur or at least a research fellowship in the U.S. If not, it helps if you can at least volunteer here, e.g., do a so-called "observership". It also shouldn't be too difficult to arrange to do a Famulatur in England- at least it's an English-speaking country, so you can make some connections that way.
            I'm told the quality of basic science instruction in Germany is equal to or superior to that of U.S. schools, so you should be in good shape for USMLE Step 1. I would suggest purchasing some USMLE review books and studying them as you go through your basic science courses. Mainly in the behavioral sciences, you'll find that there are some cultural differences between Germany and the U.S.-but, generally, anatomy=anatomy, biochem=biochem, etc. The best time to take Step 1 is at the same time you're studying for your 1st Staatsexamen, i.e., after third year (make sure you wait until you've finished Pharm, as it's heavily tested on Step 1).
            OTOH, I've heard that the quality of clinical instruction in Germany isn't as good as in the U.S. or England, primarily because of the large number of students and the fact that they don't let you get much hands-on experience. Hence the suggestion to do as many rotations elsewhere as possible. I would try to spend your entire 6th year in the U.S., if possible- as I recall, the MHH shouldn't have a problem with it. As a 6th year, you can usually arrange to do 4-week blocks (sometimes 8 weeks, seldom more) at different U.S. sites. Generally, you will have to shell out a hefty chunk of tuition for these programs- comparable to what a U.S. medical student would pay. I would wait to take Step 2 until after you've finished as many rotations in the U.S. as possible- ditto for CSA.
            Here's a link to a thread from a while back on a similar topic: http://www.studentdoctor.org/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=3&t=002233
            Hope this helps- good luck! And have a couple of Luettje Lagers for me at the next Schuetzenfest!
            :D :D
             

            EUROdocMOM

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              Williamburke, I have lived the past three years in Germany. Two tid bits from me...
              I shaddow a German Doc who works as a "local national" in the US Army health clinic. This tells me that Americans accept the Dr. Med from Germany as our own MD, and employ German physicians to work in the military clinics. I lived next to the Hamburg Medical School and Clinic in Eppendorf (Hamburg, Germany) and had a german doctor who spent 2 years at Stanford Medical School, so perhaps there is a German connection there.
              I as wondering how much German you knew when you started?
              I plan to e-mail you to get your "long" story and opinion of "Deutche Medizin" as an American.
               

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                Hey, thanks for the information! How did you come up with the idea to apply in Germany? There are VERY few Americans studying at my school. Only two, I think. We're both here because we were tricked by our girlfriends into coming here. That makes it actually sound like a bad thing. Although I no longer have the girlfriend, I am so incredibly happy here, that I couldn't imagine having done it any other way. I'm here by choice, not necessity! I've got less stress, more time for clinical experiences, more time for learning the core subjects thoroughly, more time for l?tje lager (Two of us split 15 of them on Saturday! :p and for great german Bier. Plus, here you get to learn another language, and get a view of the US from the OUTSIDE. It's definitely a learning experience. I wouldn't change it if I could. Where did you wind up studying at in the States?
                 

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                  EUROdocMom, that's pretty interesting. Hamburg is relatively close to Hannover (1-1 1/2 hours, I think, with the ICE). As for how much German I knew when I started, that's a long story. I started teaching myself when I was finishing up my bachelor's in the States. My girlfriend at the time was German, and she had to move back to Germany, so I visited her here a couple of times, and she started to teach me a bit, and suggested that I look into studying here. So, I started to check out the schools here, found out they were good, found out I could finance it, and decided to try to come here. The only problem was the DSH (German Equivalent of the TOEFL). So, I went back to my university in the States, took a 6 week summer class in German, sold everything I owned, and went to Germany to learn German at the Goethe Institut in Bonn for 2 months. Went back to the States after that for a couple of months, then went back to D?sseldorf for 2 months, then another vacation back home, then to Munich for a month, after which, I went to the University of Hannover for a semester and took a prep course (a free one!!) for the DSH there. I passed it, sent the results in with the rest of my materials, and got in. It was a little challenging at first. When you first start off, you really have to pay attention all the time to be able to understand. We take for granted sometimes, in English, that we can sit around and just speak and understand without really concentrating. That led to a few headaches, but it got easier. Social situations were hard at first too, specifically the MHH parties, Discos, and Kneipen (pubs), because it is so loud, there are so many people talking, and the subject can change radically without you noticing. When you lose the context of the conversation, as a beginner, it becomes really difficult to understand!!! I hope that helped a bit.
                   

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                    Hi William...

                    I had the pleasure of working and socializing with several German medical students during my 4th year electives in the US. If I had to generalize about them as a group, I would say that they were extremely good theorists, knew their basic science well, but that their clinical skills were not as advanced as those of their US counterparts. Since I suspect German teachings focus more on Herr Professor and do not allow/require as much clinical experience for undergraduates as in the US, I was not suprised.

                    As abbeydesert noted, it would be wise for you to do as many final year rotations in the US as possible. However, I had a different experience than she notes on two issues:

                    1) many US schools WILL allow you to come for up to 12 weeks and some even the full 16 weeks for one of your rotations (I forget what the 16 week term you have to do is called). It is correct that most US rotations are 4 weeks in length, but many schools will allow you to stay longer.

                    2) I never paid more than $75 for a rotation, although I am aware there are schools (ie, Stanford) which will charge you the going rate for tuition (ie, $3,000/month). Only 1 school I rotated at charged me (the $75). Perhaps this is because I was paying tuition at my home school - the applications usually ask you if you are. If your schooling is free, then maybe you are asked to pay tuition at the US school you wish to do an elective at. If this is the case, and its thousands of dollars, I might suggest thinking of some way to reasonably say "yes" to the question about whether or not you are paying fees at your German school.

                    Despite the issue with clinical skills, most of the German students I saw were really well received and did quite well on their rotations. They did have some trouble with the US system - ie, the concept of coming in at 4:30 am for rounds was foreign to them as was interacting on a social level with the attendings. However, all in all they did really well and picked up on the US practice style quite readily. :)
                     

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                      Thanks a lot for the info, Kimberli. That's pretty much what I expected. They tend to beat the theory into us pretty thoroughly, but you have to go looking for the clinical experience. Since I've got the time now, I'm trying to get as much as I can. Do you know off-hand, if students usually (have to) do research during their studies. Also, have you maybe heard if doing a research as an exchange student as US schools is useful, when it comes time for matching? Best of luck with your internship!
                       

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                        William, while there are some schools which require a research term, it is my impression that most US schools do not. Research experience is most important for competitive residencies, however, like all fields, it comes after good gpa and USMLE scores. It is not by any means required to get a US residency.

                        IMHO while a final year research elective may be helpful in getting a residency, it is not likely to be as helpful as a clinical elective. Reason being that most programs want to be able to assess your clinical skills, a difficult task if you have no patient contact. The best elective experience allows faculty to get to know you as a person, assess your clinical and intellectuall prowess (and put all those wonderful things about you in a LOR).

                        Certainly if you are considering a competitive residency, research experience will help but not without the afore-mentioned academic qualifications. Most students think they have to do research during the summer, but if there are active labs at your school you may be able to work there a few hours a week and work in the US during your vacations.

                        Hope this helps and best of luck. :D
                         

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                          Kimberli, the reason I posed the research question, is that, in Germany, we pretty much have to write a disseration, which naturally entails the research that goes along with it. That being the case, I thought maybe if I did some of the research in conjunction with a hospital/school in the States, it might give me a chance to get to know some of the people there. I understand what you mean about the clinical experience. I want to be a clinician, not spend my time in a lab all day (I have nothing against labs, or people who work in them, so please no one get the wrong idea! It's just that I enjoy clinical work more). My feeling was, if I need to do research here anyway, I could try to use it to my advantage when I go home.
                           
                          William. What an interesting life and post. Any students from Sweden? My best to you though you don't need luck. Do you have a field mapped out? I.m A PhD. , not MD who likes this BB. Disserations are my field though that may sound pompus. I published about 20 papers as a student. Get the letterhead of your University and write to editors. Well, may be not in Germany. The profs here used to take student work and palm it off as theirs. Maybe not a disseration but some light stuff, know what I mean? GB JD
                           

                          Winged Scapula

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                            Originally posted by William Burke:
                            •Kimberli, the reason I posed the research question, is that, in Germany, we pretty much have to write a disseration, which naturally entails the research that goes along with it. That being the case, I thought maybe if I did some of the research in conjunction with a hospital/school in the States, it might give me a chance to get to know some of the people there. I understand what you mean about the clinical experience. I want to be a clinician, not spend my time in a lab all day (I have nothing against labs, or people who work in them, so please no one get the wrong idea! It's just that I enjoy clinical work more). My feeling was, if I need to do research here anyway, I could try to use it to my advantage when I go home.•

                            If that is the case, then I would certainly encourage you to explore your options for doing the research here in the US. The more time you can psend here, meeting faculty, getting used to the US system, the greater the advantage to you come application time.

                            There are many schools which allow you to come for a research elective on a formal basis (ie, as an elective during 4th year) or you may do something on an informal basis, through connections your professors may have in the US or through your own hard work.

                            Good luck. :)
                             

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                              Originally posted by JD*:
                              •William. What an interesting life and post. Any students from Sweden? My best to you though you don't need luck. Do you have a field mapped out? I.m A PhD. , not MD who likes this BB. Disserations are my field though that may sound pompus. I published about 20 papers as a student. Get the letterhead of your University and write to editors. Well, may be not in Germany. The profs here used to take student work and palm it off as theirs. Maybe not a disseration but some light stuff, know what I mean? GB JD•

                              I'm not sure about in higher semesters, but in mine, I don't think there are any students from Sweeden. There are, however, twin dudes from Norway (it's great: I have somone to speak English with). We have twin students from Lithuania (I know I misspelled that), a couple from Iran, I think, and some more, too.

                              Thanks for the info on getting this stuff published! University letterhead...I like that! The prof who is my Doktorvater (something like mentor/sponsor/person who oversees your research) is pretty well known, and has been published several times, I think, so that might help too. :D I know what you are saying about profs swiping people's work. A certain to-remain-unnamed professor where I did my undergrad work got busted for that. He isn't very well liked there...

                              Are you Sweedish?
                               

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                                Thanks Kimberli! My school has a great exchange program for student doing research, called the Biomedical Sciences Exchange Program (BMEP). They have agreements with quite a few schools all around the world, including several very well known ones in the US, so it probably wouldn't be a problem at all to arrange it. I just didn't know if research exchanges were valuable for getting into residency...

                                Stephen: Thanks a lot for the encouragement! Stuff like that really makes you feel good about what you've done. Although it wasn't my idea to being with, once I decided to do it, I just dug my teeth in and wouldn't let go. This is probably the corniest stupid quote I've ever heard, but my dad had this plaque on his wall when I was really little that said: Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail. Dumb, but here, fitting. If anyone else wants to know how to do it, let me know. It is, after all, almost free medical school, and it's good.
                                 

                                Dreamer

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                                  William Burke, you did not misspeleld Lithuania. I am little bit puzzled for they have two fine (by euro standards) med. Schools. Is there anybody from otehr baltic countries?
                                  As to your motto, I personally think its great try to do it. sometimes its painful and irritates your family but its a lot of fun in retrospective.
                                  Since I personally know what hell it is to study something in your second language, I can only wish you GOOD LUCK.
                                  PS. Do they use "Gaudeamus" and the Oath of Hippocrat?
                                   

                                  jawkma

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                                    The motto is inspiring even for those of us who are not really blazing a new trail, but maybe just 'widening' the pre-existing one!

                                    And to think that some in my family considered *me* non traditional. :rolleyes:
                                    All the contacts you make here on SDN may be of some help in 3-4 years when you are looking to make US contacts for rotations... who knows.
                                     

                                    Dreamer

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                                      William Birke,
                                      I am from Estonia, 3-4 hours by car throuh Latvia from Lithuania's northern border to our Southern. Haven't been there for 5 years and I am "jealous" you are closer to my place. By the way if you have time and money go to Baltic for a couple of weeks as a US citizen you do not have to have visa. If you can stop by Stocholm. The best time is teh second part of July (weather). It is pretty mich like northen germany (architecture), except Lithuania. If you want to visit Estonia can give you some tips.
                                       
                                      Dreamer I love Estonia. We were there during the revolution and have our pictures taken in the main plaza signing the Declaration of Freedom, or something like that. Estonian flag in the center, Soviet in the subarbs. Bombs going off.
                                      I will never go back as I want to remember Estonia during those days.
                                      It was dangerous. Sad fact is our local friends were all killed on that Damn Swedish ferry accident. Great language and Tartu, wow. JD
                                       

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                                        Dreamer, I haven't made it to Estonia yet, but I am hoping to go though the region while I'm here. A girl from Lithuania lived here in my dorm, and we were pretty close. She moved back there, so it's good motivation to check out the region! ;) I would really like to check out former Yugoslavia, but I think it's probably still a little unsettled at the moment. Of course, I only know what the news tells me. Romania is on the list too.

                                        I will certainly get in touch with you when I start heading in that direction! Thanks a lot for the advice! How are you enjoying Oregon?
                                         

                                        Dreamer

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                                          William Burke, good for you when you have somebody who can show you around, I was in Lithuania in Vilnius and Kaunas, and also Truckay, highly recommend. oregon is beatiful, nature, sometimes too WET, sometimes, when I have teh time to look around its too far from NY. Since I do not have a lot of time it really doesn't bother me so much. By the way, are you from Pacific NW?


                                          JD* I am sorry for your friend, unfortunately the ferry was under Estonian flag but it was heading to Sweden. may I ask you what year you visited Estonia, teh notion about bombs little bit confused me. Another question is how did you like my U in Tartu. Have to admit taht I was really glad when my 6 years there were up and I went back to Tallinn.
                                           

                                          Djanaba

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                                            YAY! LITHUANIA!!!

                                            I am Lithuanian by blood, and want to spend some time with my family there and do a rotation there. However, I can't speak much ("toe" and "ice cream" and "thank you" aren't much help in a clinic). Dreamer et al, can you please email me to share some of your experiences? I'd be forever grateful! :D
                                             

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                                              Djanaba, the only thing I can tell you about Lithuania, is that the girls that come from there are COOL! Some of the nicest I've ever met. They are pretty too. I haven't met any guys from there. I wonder if everybody in that country is cool...
                                               

                                              commymommy

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                                                Originally posted by William Burke:
                                                • I'm curious to know how well they do in a clinical setting in the States.

                                                Also, if any of you happen to know how well students from Europe in general fare in the match, I'd really appreciate any comments you could give me.•

                                                My husband is a german who studied med school in his home country. His USMLEI and II scores were in the top 90% and he has excelled clinically. He was just voted the #2 fellow in the large hospital where he is completing his ID fellowship.

                                                We did not go through the match. We used an international residency organization to sign ourselves outside of the match to save on traveling expenses for interviews. This was much easier. The choices were more limited, of course, but my husband has done extremely well.
                                                 
                                                Dreamer My soursces in Sweden say Sweden accepted full responsibility for that "accident."There was insurance. We were on that boat during "the revolution--I am poor at dates. There were many men following us trying for?? There was a couple of bombed out buildings in the old town, where the Estonian flag was flying.
                                                When we went over, we were on the bottom deck and would have been killed.
                                                Sweden has paid out $ to families. I know that. I have pictures of the Captain of the ferry. He's a good, looking young Swede. That's two ships that Sweden talks about often: the Vassa, and the ferry.
                                                I have never seen so many Soviet troups, from Asia. And so many Soviet officiers and a Mig 29. When were you there? Nice people, that I met. Now I think the Finn's have taken pretty much over the commerece? They sovled the immigration question and who is an Estonian, flat.To be one , you must speak the language, hard for me, not Russian. The Russians never took the time to learn Estonian. It's smart to me. CU JD
                                                 

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                                                  WILL BURKE


                                                  I notice you mention that education in germany is free ? I would take it that means only german nationals ?

                                                  If not , are you part german ? sounds interesting to study medicine in germany .

                                                  Also have you seen any cool " learning to speak german " courses on cd rom , cassete , vhs ?
                                                   

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                                                    Well, it's not FREE free, but it's really heavily subsidized by the government. I think I pay about 270DM (130USD) per semester. So, I am technically paying tuition, though it's really low. :) Actually, it's not just for German students. All the universities here are comparably priced, regardless of subject. Depending on what you want to study, there can be restrictions on how many students are accepted each year. Medicine is, of course, one of those restricted-entry subjects. They do, however, reserve a certain number of those slots for foreign students. The slots are really competitive, but it's worth it if you can get in!!!

                                                    Oh yeah, no, I'm not half-German or anything like that.

                                                    There are a lot of good books out there for learning German. My favorite grammar book is "Hammer's German Grammar and Usage." If you haven't learned a foreign language before, I can highly recommend "English Grammar for Students of German." Knowing the parallels between German and English grammar helps a lot! If you already know something is the same in English, you don't have to learn it again. If you have the opportunity, and you really want to learn the language, I suggest going to www.goethe.de and finding one of the Goethe Instituts in the US and taking a course or two there. They are reasonably priced, and you learn a lot. Barring that, I'd get the standard university textbook "Wie Geht's" (or a comparable book) at your local college bookstore to learn the basics like telling time, counting, etc...

                                                    I hope that helped. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me an email.
                                                     
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