As a young student, do you wish to experience the German student way of living? This article summarizes the things you must be aware of before starting a new student life in Germany.
Student life in Germany has much to offer and will meet your expectations whether you are fond of beautiful nature landscapes or keen on enjoying the big city life. Large cities such as Berlin – the third most visited destination in Europe – or Munich are full of interesting places to visit where you can easily spend your leisure time. Most cities enjoy great shopping, an active nightlife and plenty of leisure activities where you can spend your free time with friends. In fact, some German universities such as the Berlin University provide more than 800 out-of-school activities, many of which are organized by student associations.
Germany is known for its historical and cultural heritage, with numerous German castles and cathedrals among which several are classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Cologne Cathedral and Aachen Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in northern Europe).
It is home to many green spaces and nature parks like the Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg or Barnim nature park near Berlin, as well as numerous lakes and rivers that make a great escape for a stroll out in the fresh air after work or on weekends. There are also many theme parks such as Europapark in Rust, the world’s most visited seasonal amusement park, and Legoland Deutschland in Günzburg, amongst many others.
Good to know:
You can also meet foreign students of your age in Germany thanks to the ERASMUS Programme.
Most students in Germany live in shared flats or university halls of residence, which you can find advertised online, on student’s notice boards or through the local Studentenwerk (National Association for Student Affairs) at your university. There are many more ways to find accommodation in Germany. Read local newspapers and magazines for students to find housing ads. Ask for halls of residence (Studentenwohnheim) at your university or even contact real estate agencies. Some regional organizations provide student bursaries and student housing. Do not hesitate to contact local student associations like the Studentenwerk or foreign students’ welcome offices, which will help you to find appropriate accommodation.
Prices for university dorm rooms are usually upwards from 200 euros on a monthly basis. If you would like to live alone in a flat, monthly prices can reach between 300 and 320 euros.
Youth hostels may offer a temporary solution until you can find another type of accommodation.
In Germany, shared accomodation is very common and easily accessible for students. Rooms in a shared apartment often range between 9m² to 20m² surface at 250 - 500 euros per month.
Several real estate agencies also provide shared housing. Prices vary depending on the apartment's surface and the area in which it is located.
Good to know:
Start looking for accommodation early, since it can be difficult to find something close to semester start. – The sooner you start looking for student accommodation, the sooner you will be sure to find the appropriate housing.
Health insurance is compulsory in Germany and you cannotbe enrolled in the health care system unless you are insured.
In most cases public health insurance is more reasonably priced and many Studentenwerke offer service packages including accommodation, meals and health insurance. Ask for advice at your local Studentenwerk or Akademisches Auslandsamt.
Germany has a social security agreement with some countries, such as EU-EEA member countries. If you have public health insurance back home, you can get this insurance coverage recognized by a public health insurance company in Germany. Make sure to check in advance which documents will be needed. Usually you can simply use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get your health insurance approved and benefit from health care. However, your insurance may not cover all costs in Germany, so make sure you know what services will be included.
Sometimes your private health insurance may not be fully recognized. If so, you are advised to subscribe to complementary health insurance in case of accidents, as some situations are not covered by the basic health insurance.
Transportation in Germany
Public transport is well established in Germany with the Deutsche Bahn being the biggest railway network offering fast train connections (ICE) between big cities. Note, that the prices will be much more reasonable when booked a few weeks in advance. They also offer several promotional tickets, for example weekend tickets or Länder-Tickets that allow up to 5 people to travel at a reasonable price (from 23 EUR) as much as they like during an entire day or weekend. It’s a great way to discover the country on regional trains. Many students arrange to share these tickets to reduce their travel expenses – you will even find Facebook groups for popular lines.
Over the last few years, the long distance coach lines have been much improved, offering much better pricing, such as Flixbus (Mein Fernbus) or Eurolines.
Within most cities, tramways and buses or metro (U-Bahn) are common means of public transport.
Good to know:
Cycling is very popular in Germany. Many cycle tracks line German roads and it’s safe to cycle around most cities.
Young Germany - Student life www.young-germany.de/
Deutsches Studentenwerk DSW- German National Association for Student Affairs www.studentenwerke.de/en
Deutshcer Mieterbund - Housing in Germany www.mieterbund.de
WG.GESUCHT.de - Flat and apartment shares www.wg-gesucht.de
WG cast - Flat and apartment shares www.wg-cast.de
BMG Bundesministerium für Gesundheit - Federal Ministry of Health www.bmg.bund.de
Deutsch Bahn - Railway network in Germany http://www.bahn.com/p_en/view/index.shtml