Studying abroad in Germany is an exciting adventure, but the first days in the country are challenging for everyone who’s new in this area. There are a few things you must do before you finally start a new normal life in Germany.
It is important for you to know what are these things well in time and how to overcome them, to avoid being caught by surprise and let things slip off easily from your hands.
To make it an easy task for you, below we’ve put these things you must do as soon as you arrive in Germany in one-by-one order.
Accommodation in Germany is the primary concern for foreign students and to a large degree, it is also amongst the biggest one you’re going to have during the whole period of your stay. There are a lot of places available to accommodate, but as a student who relies on limited funds, be it from family funds, personal savings or partial third-party grants, you have to pick an apartment with affordable rent. Finding such a place is not that simple in this undiscovered area.
Usually, German public universities share a specific contingent of rooms at their dorm halls, but most often there is a disparity between the number of these rooms and the flux of incoming international students. Their private counterparts, on the other hand, don’t have individual dorm halls, although they provide some guidance on local apartments you can rent. So you will have to look out for other options.
If that occurs to you, there’s no need to worry because there are several other options still affordable for your limited budget. You just need to carry out a little research and do some minor modification on your previous lifestyle. Our advice for you is to do this research before you enter Germany because even you don’t find a proper place to rent at least you have a list of agencies and magazines where you can gain information about apartments available for rent.
Register your address
By German law, everyone residing legally in Germany, be it temporary or long-term, must register his/her address at local authorities known as Anmeldung which are responsible for registering addresses.
The registration of your address of residence at the local Anmeldung must be done within 2 weeks following your entrance in Germany. Applying by post or other sorts of means rather than appearing personally in their offices is not accepted.
Note that if you don’t respect this time limit you may end up punished and even worse, you may be deported back to your home country. That said, registering your address must be a priority to you from the first day you land in Germany.
The documents required for registering your address of residence in Germany are the followings
- Proof of Identity (ID or a valid passport)
- Residence permit or Visa
- Singed registration form
- A confirmation from the landlord
- Notarized rent contract
- Marriage certificate (if you’re married)
Open your bank account
When in Germany you’re going to need a bank account to pay for rent, utilities and other types of payments and to receive your salary if you get hired for a part-time job.
Germany is known as the country which has the highest number of banks in Europe. Surely this has its own advantages, but on the other hand, can make it difficult for you to select the best option. As a student every single cent is worthy and you have to take into account even minor details.
There’s a wide range of factors you need to take into consideration and if you’re not quite good with the banking system in Germany and its vocabulary can lead you to a bad selection.
Luckily, there are banks that can make the process of opening a bank account and the entire banking in Germany easy and fun after all. One of the banks that has emerged as a very popular option for international students is the N26 bank account.
Some of the most attractive features associated with opening a bank account in N26 include the followings
- Open your account free of charge
- No need of showing your registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung)
- App-based banking
- Mobile App
- Free of charge international transactions
- Categorize your transactions
Get your health insurance
Health insurance for foreign students in Germany is mandatory by law. As this law states explicitly, everyone in Germany regardless his/her residence (temporary or long-term) or social status (employed or not) must be health insured prior to his/her entrance into the country.
With that said, you’re also subject to such juridical acts and therefore you need to get health insurance in Germany to be permitted to stay and study here.
There are two types of health insurances in Germany:
- The compulsory health insurance (public health insurance)
- Private health insurance.
Public health insurance is mandatory, thus regardless of your income, you will be entitled to this scheme. Naturally, there is a limited set of medical needs covered by your public health insurance. If you want your health insurance to cover more medical needs you can pursue private health insurance if your earnings are above a threshold.
Most International Students in Germany Prefer Mawista Health Insurance Because of Their Great Insurance Plans for Foreign Students.
Note that depending on your nationality, your health insurance in your home country may cover your medical needs in Germany partially or completely.
Enroll at your university course
To start your studies in Germany you must first enroll in the course at which you’ve been given a place from your University.
Documents required to enroll in your course in Germany vary depending on the university, so you must them by mail or visit their website.
Collect the following documents to enroll in your course at the German university:
- Proof of Identity (ID or Passport)
- A registration form (downloaded from the university’s website or taken at the campus)
- Your previous degree
- Letter of Admission
- Proof of Language Proficiency
- Proof of semester payment
Pay attention to enrollment deadlines because delayed applications lead to an ultimate rejection and there is hardly any exemption.
Enroll at a German language course
Although your course may be taught in the English language, it is highly recommended you learn some basics German language before commencing your studies.
You will be spending a large portion of your day outside the university’s halls and out there your English, no matter how good it is, will hardly help you to communicate with locals.
The saying that Germans are nationalist is not so far from the truth. It’s hard to find an institution, a shopping center or a restaurant where your English we’ll be welcomed by the staff.
Moreover, in most banks in Germany, employees are obligated to communicate in German.
To avoid this awkward situation we suggest you enroll a German language course in the area you’re residing.
Germany hosts a lot of international students and to respond to their language needs there are many language courses on offer all over the place. Find one and learn some German for yourself.
- Find German language schools in Berlin
- Find German language schools in Munich
- Find German language schools in Hamburg
- Find German language schools in Cologne
Make an appointment for Residence Permit in Germany
Nationals of countries rather EU or EEA and Switzerland you must get a Residence permit to be allowed to stay legally in Germany for a period of time longer than 90 days.
If you’re a non-EU student and enter Germany holding a Schengen short-stay visa, you must reach the local immigration office and make an appointment to apply for a Residence permit.
Note that depending on your nationality, it may be required from you to apply for a Residence permit from your home country before entering Germany. On the other hand, some nationals are allowed to enter the country and then pursue their Residence permit.
The following documents are required to apply for a German Residence Permit
- A valid passport
- A police certificate
- German language proficiency
- Pass a health check
- Proof of financial subsistence
- A letter from your German employer (if you have a job)
- The University’s admission letter
- Marriage certificate if you want to join your woman/spouse
Get a German SIM card
As a foreign student, you will spend at least 2 to 3 years in Germany. Instead of carrying your phone number using roaming, which would count for an astronomical bill, we suggest you get a German SIM card.
Three main and largest mobile operators in Germany are
- Deutsche Telecom (formerly known as T-Mobile)
These companies offer a set of comprehensive services and telecommunication products with attractive tariffs.
You’re going to need internet access while you’re in Germany, especially in the first few weeks while you’re settling down and getting to know your city. We highly recommend you order a pre-paid SIM card, so you can start using your phone as soon as you arrive in Germany.
Also, if you’re planning to travel around Europe and want to have access to 4G internet everywhere you go and be able to make phone calls easily, we recommend you get yourself a SIM card by Orange.
After you accommodate a specific apartment you must install the required utilities, including here electricity, heating, water, and Internet if your landlord hasn’t done it for you.
Most objects in Germany are heated by oil or liquid gas, but there may be some places where electricity is the primary source of heating. Furthermore, there are some other objects who are not connected to the heating network and use individual heaters.
Usually, the cost of heating and electricity is determined using the metering system and the consumption.
When residing in a particular object you have to set up a personal electricity meter (Zahler) which ensures you pay only for the space you live at.
Note that inspection teams will come at regular basis to control if the infrastructure is within optimal conditions.