Student life in Berlin

student life in Berlin
Updated 2022-11-09 16:58

Living in Berlin as a student will probably be one of your most rewarding life experiences, as the city offers endless learning and career opportunities, as well as an excellent lifestyle. Every academic year, thousands of international students arrive at Berlin's top universities to obtain expertise, connect with people from all over the world, and enjoy Berlin's diversity.

Nevertheless, student life abroad can become overwhelming, especially if this is your first time away from home. We recommend that you embrace all aspects of the experience, including feelings of homesickness, as you create your routine and adapt to the new norms. Eventually, Berlin will become your home and, most likely, a place that will stay in your heart forever.   

Universities in Berlin

Top universities in Berlin include the Humbolt University of Berlin, the Technological University of Berlin, and the Berlin University of Arts. Depending on what you wish to study and in which field you want to establish your career, you will have to do thorough research on each university's different departments and connect with alums to collect information about career prospects and employability after the completion of your degree. Getting a student visa for studies in Germany is straightforward as long as you have the required documents, which you will obtain under the guidance of the university in Berlin that has offered you a place. Public universities in Germany offer free education for European Union citizens. However, there are always some study costs to consider besides your living costs, which are relatively reasonable compared to other big cities in Europe.    


Some degrees may be of high quality and demand; however, the teaching language is German.  

Student housing in Berlin

Most students live in shared flats or student housing, which you can find advertised online, on student notice boards, or through the local Studentenwerk (National Association for Student Affairs) at your university. Student dormitories are much cheaper, though chances are the official student housing units are neither the most attractive flats nor your best chance of building a great social life, and you're probably better off choosing your own flatshare, known as a WG, or Wohngemeinschaft. Finding roommates in Berlin will help you adjust and improve your German and make it so much easier to meet locals and make friends. Apartments and shared flats in trendy and vibrant Berlin neighborhoods such as Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Mitte, Kreuzberg, and Neukölln are the most popular among students. However, if you are looking for more space per square meter, you should look around Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, Wedding, Moabit, and Tiergarten. Berlin City West is also up and coming and may be worth considering. Regarding student residences, priority is often given to international students, and most residences are small and unfurnished, and they have shared bathrooms and kitchens. 

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Housing in Germany

The cost of living in Berlin

Berlin is known for its relatively low cost of living, especially when compared to other big cities in Germany, such as Frankfurt. Rent is students' biggest monthly expense (i.e., between 400 and 800 euros per month), but if you give yourself enough time to search for accommodation and accept to make compromises (e.g., share accommodation, live further away from the hustle and bustle), you should be able to find a place that is in agreement with your budget. Remember to check your rental contract thoroughly before signing it, and establish at the beginning whether your contract is what the Germans call warm (i.e., rent includes bills) or cold (i.e., bills such as internet, electricity, water, etc. are charged separately). Other expenses such as food, transportation, and leisure depend on your lifestyle, but it is possible to stay within budget as Berlin has shops and activities for all budget brackets. At the same time, at the beginning of each academic year, there are plenty of student jobs being advertised, particularly in the hospitality industry, offering flexible hours and sufficient income to help you focus on your studies.   

Good to know: 

Scholarships for international students are usually given by the student's country of origin. European Union students can apply for social security, but they should keep in mind that the rules around financial assistance are strict and determined by your monthly.   

Student discounts in Berlin  

Student discounts are very common in Berlin's retail shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes. However, not all shops advertise these discounts, so as a student, you shouldn't feel shy asking whether there's a student discount and on which purchases. Hostels, museums, and events do a better job at officially announcing student discounts, which on some occasions, may reach up to 50 percent. Many universities in Berlin offer a discounted travel ticket that allows you to travel in the city and around Germany using public transport. This is a great opportunity to explore the country on a budget during your holidays. Otherwise, consider the BVG App to buy discounted tickets for anywhere in Germany — it's quick and easy, and you will never lose your ticket, even if you lose your phone. ISIC (i.e., International Student Identity Card), is a student card holders which secures discounts in sports, travel, entertainment, culture, and food and drink categories in and outside Germany. Through ISISC, you can also purchase travel insurance.  

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BVG tickets app

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

Leisure in Berlin

Budgets aside, there are plenty of free things to do in Berlin, including walks in parks, visits to the public libraries, and sightseeing — many outdoor monuments and art such as the Brandenburg Gate and Check-Point Charlie can be seen free of charge. During spring and summer, Berliners spend less time indoors as they wish to make the most out of the sunny weather. You should join the wave and head to a park or garden with some food, a beverage, and your book — Tiergarten, Tempelhof, and Schlossgarten are all open to the public. If you don't mind some music, find a spot near a group of people with instruments or a speaker, which is quite common. In the summer, Berlin hosts a wide range of events attracting international attention and a very active cultural scene with plenty of concerts, theatres, and cinemas. Some of the most well-known annual events are the Berlin Fashion Week, its film festivals, and the International Green Week. 

The cuisine in Berlin

The Berlin cuisine may strike you as somewhat simple. Apart from the ingredients traditionally used in Brandenburg, it is characterized by the cooking traditions of the immigrants from Silesia, Bohemia, East Prussia, Pomerania, and Mecklenburg, as well as the Huguenots from France. Berlin is known for its fast food Curry Wurst or Boulette and Kartoffelsalat and, of course, Spreewälder Gurken. Turkish food, such as Döner Kebab, has long made its way into German cuisine.

Navigating the city

Travelling by bike is the best way to explore Berlin, as there is an extensive network of bike lanes and car drivers are familiar and careful with cyclists. If you don't have a bike, you can use a bike share service such as Lime, which allows you to find a nearby bike on your phone and unlock it via your phone. Some bikes are even electric for those who are in a rush or want to peddle with ease in the otherwise flat capital city.

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