Today’s post is all about new students in Germany. Every semester new students come to Germany, with so many questions in their heads. So I thought why not create a simple first day guide for new students.
Most of you might be waiting for your Visa or maybe you already got it. Now you are preparing for Germany. Like Shopping, meeting friends and some important relatives.
I would suggest If you are a foodie then try all your favorite dishes in your country because you might not find that taste here in Germany.
So what I will be sharing in this blog. I will guide you through all the steps from booking your flight till your visa extension in Germany.
Bring your money
Before I start, one of the most important things is to bring some Euro with you.
It can take up to 2 to 3 weeks before you can access your block account. But till then you might need to pay your university fee or some other daily expenses. e.g transportation. I will mention it later in this blog and you will definitely need it for food and other stuff.
I would suggest, bring at least 600-700 euros with you. If you want to bring more it is up to you. I will share some of my personal tips at the end of the Blog. Now Let’s get started.
Booking your flight
Well for some it’s an easy step but for some it’s not. Why is that so?
Because some of you might be travelling for the first time to an international destination. You can book any flight according to your preference; Turkish, Emirates or whatever airline you like. Usually all these airlines have layovers.
I would suggest your layover should be at least 2-3 hours long.
Why am I recommending this? Because I came to know that some students missed their connection. Because they don’t even know how to navigate at the airport. Yes guys! Believe me I heard this as well.
It is always better to have a bit longer layover. So you have enough time to navigate yourself at the airport. And enough time to reach your gate for the next flight connection.
Reaching your city
If you are travelling to the same destination as your destination airport. For example; you got admission to Berlin university and your travel destination is also Berlin. Then you only have to worry about; How you will reach your accommodation?
I will come to this point later, but first I want to explain how you will reach your city. If your destination is different from the airport where you are landing.
3 Ways to travel within Germany
In Germany there are 3 ways to reach your city.
You can take a train.
In Germany, Deutsch bahn is operating all over Germany and you can reach from point A to B using their trains or busses network.
You can go to Bahn.de and look for the connections to your destination and the prices. If you want to save some money then you can book it online. But for this, you need a credit card.
Otherwise you can come here and buy it from the Station or from the Detuschbahn Machines.
I would suggest please have at least 2 hours difference between your flight arrival and your train departure.
You take a bus which is a bit cheaper than the train.
There are a couple of bus services operating in Germany but the biggest and most trusted one is called Flixbus.
You can go to their website and book online. Or At some airports they have their offices from where you can buy bus tickets. Or at least get information about timings and prices.
I would suggest if you have not booked the train ticket online then first look for the bus. It might be a cheaper option for you.
Usually, some universities have this buddy program where seniors receive new students. But this is not the case with all the universities.
Maybe they can pick you from your city’s main station but not from the airport. It also doesn’t make sense if the airport is two hours away from your destination city.
Like in the University of Freiburg there is no such thing. You have to reach Freiburg on your own.
Reaching your accommodation
If you have found a room then you probably know what will be your address or at least from where you will get your key.
If you haven’t found a room then I have made a video on how to find accommodation in Germany.
But suppose your last date of matriculation is near and you still haven’t found a room then don’t worry that much. You can still come to Germany.
Sometimes Student union (Studentenwerk) has emergency housing where you can stay in your initial days. And during that time you can look for accommodation.
Now let’s suppose you already found a room. And you don’t know how you can reach your accommodation.
For this step, the google map is your best friend. Suppose you will arrive at the main station (In German main station is called Hauptbahnhof).
Use google and find the connections which you can take to reach your accommodation. You can also select the timing if you want. Because if you are arriving late at night then it could happen there will be no public transport available and you have to take a taxi.
You should do this step before taking off and write everything down on a piece of paper or print it whatever you prefer because you might not find Wi-Fi everywhere
One tip for this step. I would suggest trying to find a Facebook student group from that city. Either international student groups or maybe you will find your nationality group.
For example “Pakistani students in Berlin” or “PSA berlin”. You can request in that group if somebody is willing to help you in your new city. In return, you can offer them food or whatever you prefer.
Some students are very active and voluntarily sign up for such stuff. Maybe you might find somebody. If you have a friend in Germany then you ask them for help.
After reaching Germany
After reaching Germany the first thing you need to do is to register yourself in the city. For this, you need an accommodation contract and your passport.
If you don’t have any accommodation then sometimes university or Studentenwerk have some addresses. You can use it to register yourself and all the important documents will arrive at that address. And after that, you can pick it from there…
Now, where do you register yourself?
Each city has a Burgeramt or Rathaus where you can register yourself.
Sometimes it is like a walk-in registration thing where you just go there. Take a token number and wait for your turn. And then register yourself.
But sometimes they have an appointment system and you have to book it in advance (Especially nowadays, due to corona).
This can be done either using an online platform or via phone call. Usually, your university will provide you a document with all the important addresses from your city. And there you can find how and where you can register yourself.
After registering yourself get a confirmation letter. You need this letter for the next steps.
Why this step is important?
Because now when you register for your health insurance, Bank, and your university. They will send you your health card, university card, and bank ATM card, and its pin, etc to the address which you mentioned during city registration.
After this step, you can either go to your Bank to unblock your account or you can go for Health insurance.
I have written a complete guide about Insurances in Germany. It will help you learn about mandatory insurances that you must have in Germany.
In Germany, there are private health insurance and then public health insurance. There are two major differences between these two.
- Private insurance is cheaper than Public insurance.
In public insurance, if you go to a doctor then you don’t have to pay anything upfront. Everything will be deducted from your insurance card.
But in private you will pay first and then your private insurance company will reimburse you after you send them receipts.
So if you want to go for private insurance then I know just one company called “Mawista”.
And if you want to go for public insurance then I just know two names one is “TK” and another one is “AOK”.
In order to register at Health insurance, you need your passport, biometric picture, city registration, and your bank IBAN number. Your insurance will be deducted automatically at the end of each month from your bank account.
I think for private insurance you have to register online. But for public insurance, you will find their offices somewhere around the university. Else you can always google them.
Unblock your bank account
Nowadays there are so many different option coracles, Finitiba so follows the unblocking steps that they have mentioned on their website.
I can tell you about Deutsche bank. You can go to any physical branch of Deutsche Bank with your passport, city registration, and bank document (whatever you got from the bank until now). There you have to fill out some forms and after that, your bank account will be unblocked in a few days.
And you will receive your ATM, ATM pin, online pin, and TAN list everything via post. That is why your address is very important.
This bank unblocking thing you can also do after your university matriculation. If you want because you don’t need any bank details for your matriculation
Now you have everything to matriculate yourself in the university.
The first thing you have to do is to pay the university registration and/or semester fee.
Where you have to pay this fee?
University will give you the address. Once your fees are paid then you will take all your educational documents, passport, biometric picture, city registration, health insurance confirmation letter and if the university mentions any other document then those documents as well.
You probably fill out some forms and after that, you are matriculated. University will send your University card either via Post or you can pick it from the university. It all depends on how that university functions and how they are operating in corona time.
A small tip, sometimes your university card is your semester ticket. But sometimes you have to buy it separately from your city’s transportation authority.
As for us in Freiburg, it was not included in our university’s registration fee. We have to buy them separately.
As a student, you get only a 3 or 6-month visa from your country. After your city registration and matriculation, you can extend this visa. For this, you have to go to the Foreign Office (Ausländerbehörde).
Mostly you need an appointment for it. It also depends on how Auslanderbehörde functions in your city. Maybe you get an appointment online. Maybe you have to go there to get an appointment. So see whatever options are available to you. You can check on their website.
Useful tips from my side
- Bring some Coins with you as well, because at the airport you need if you want to use the Trolley
- You should have a copy of your admission letter in your wallet, sometime at the immigration they can ask for it.
- Do not come on weekends because it could happen that you can not get your room’s key or you have to pay extra to get a key on the weekend.
- One more thing, on Sunday everything is closed so might not find a place to eat or buy groceries. I would suggest bringing some noodles and ready-to-eat stuff with you. So even if you weren’t able to find anything to eat you will still have something to survive.
- Take good care of your educational documents, there was once a student who lost all his educational documents at the airport.
- Ask your program coordinator if you can send an email list of all the students who are coming to that program. In this way, you will have somebody with whom you can do all this registration stuff.
- Some universities have these orientation weeks. Try to attend those because here you learn a lot about the university and you can meet all the new students.
Now If you know somebody who is coming to Germany then you can share the link of this video or blog with them.
Good luck with your new life in Germany. If I miss anything or If you have any questions then feel free to write in the comment section below.