has a high cost of living. Of course, some towns and
cities are more expensive than others. For instance,
living in Hamburg is significantly more costly than
living in East Germany or the Ruhr area. However,
there are many possibilities for students to reduce
costs: student dormitories and shared flats offer
affordable housing; cheap super markets and pubs catering
to students help some. Cultural events, sports centers
as well as public transport and even some stores offer
students discounts. Many language schools, too, have
special deals with local enterprises - it is always
worth to ask.
As a student and
as an employee finding a place to live is your job.
University or company might support you, but in the
end it depends on you. Especially in major cities
housing can be hard to find. Local newspapers
usually have a section on housing, shared flats, etc.
Local student unions are very helpful. Check university
bill-boards - they often offer places to rent
for reasonable prices!
As a student you
have the posibility to get accomodation in one of
the University´s dormitories or apartments in
the campus. This cost aprox. 200 € and
we recommend that you ask for it during the application
period, because of the restricted disponibility.
Another common option
for students are the "wohngemeinschaft"
(two or more students or young people sharing an appartment
in the city). Prices are normally between 150€
and 300€ (expenses and services included).
Renting your own apartment
or house may also be an affordable posibility, but
you have to think spending no less than 350 per month
and it may take some time to find a flat that meets
your requirements. Consider that if you live further
from the Universities, then you may need also extra
money for transportation.
As we are now talking
about Public transportation let me tell you a bit
about it. Public transportation in Germany is excellent.
Germany's rail network is comfortable, reliable and
fast. The website http://www.bahn.de/ offers loads
of information on time tables, services and discounts.
Depending on where
you live, most locations within the city are easily
reached by bike. If you decide to use the bus network
daily , as a student from the Fachchochschule or the
Uni you can buy a low price card valid for one year
(ask at the Uni). For long distance trips you will
need to use either the railway or flight. Beware that
for some destinations it may be cheaper to take a
low- fare airline http://www.tschoff.net/airlines/
than using the railway. For example, Ryan Air have
regular flights to Pisa, Milano, Stockolm and London.
The earlier you make your reservation, the lower the
Meals And Food
refectories are known as "Mensen" (the plural
of "Mensa", which is short for "Mensa
academica"). The canteens are scattered over
the whole of the university. These establishments
are much frequented by students who appreciate cheap
and tasty meals. Various university canteens offer
reasonably-priced meals (approx. € 4) you will
not find anything cheaper around! If you are feeling
a bit peckish, you might drop into one of the University's
snack bars. These establishments, which are known
as "Bistros", sell hot food, sweets, sandwiches,
soft drinks and coffee. Also buying food in Germany
is cheaper than in many other european coutries (except
perhaps Spain and Portugal). You will need aprox around
180€ per month for food expenses. On the whole
you need a minimun of 500 € per month for your
total living costs depending on where you live.
Germans do not only
eat and buy sausage. Of course, cabbage, potatoes,
dumplings, and pounds of cold meat do exist but also
much, much more. The choice of food in Germany is
so vast that you (and, indeed, many Germans, too)
can avoid traditional German fare, meat, and other
cold meats altogether. What are considerably cheaper
are discount shops but the choice is smaller, the
shops are simpler, and the people on the check-outs
are the fastest in the world.
Highly recommendable are the popular weekly markets
where you can buy fresh products from the region.
You must take a bag or basket with you as your purchases
will usually be filled into your bag loose or wrapped
up in paper which nearly always tears before you get
home. Remember Germans are very ecologically-minded.
They enthusiastically collect waste paper, bottles,
cans, corks, batteries, and everything you can collect
and recycle. Paper, glass, and cans are put in special
containers; empty re-usable bottles are taken back
to the shop where the initial deposit is refunded.
In order to reduce the number of plastic bags used,
many shops charge 10-30 cent for a plastic carrier
Knives and forks
If you are invited somewhere, however, you have to
note that homo sapiens Germanicus, like most other
Europeans, holds the fork in his left hand the knife
in his right. Hands are only used to master poultry.
If you do not need to use your left hand, you keep
it on the table beside your plate. If the food is
standing on the table or the buffet is calling you,
you have to wait until the hostess or host has given
the signal before eating. Speaking with your mouth
full is considered very vulgar.
Post and telephone
You can recognize
a post-office and letter box by the yellow sign with
a black posthorn. Within Europe you currently pay
0.55 EUR for a standard letter up to 20 grams and
0.50 EUR for a postcard.
Overseas post is sent by airmail, a standard letter
costs about 1 EUR. You can find out what other letters
and parcels cost by asking at the counter or reading
the brochures available at the post-office. The postal
code (ZIP-code) of even the smallest village can be
found in Directory of Postal Codes.
Telephones - public
You can ring any number
you like in Germany and nearly every number abroad
from any telephone box. There are only very few countries
for which you have to ring the exchange first under
0010 and ask to be connected. In most public telephone
boxes it is also possible to be rung back; there should
be a sign with the number.
Tariffs for calls within Germany and abroad vary according
to distance and time of day. Payphones have become
fairly rare; most public call boxes are card-phones.
You can buy a card at kiosks or the post-office. The
Telecom's "Weltkarte" (T-card) or the postal-bank
cards with integrated telephone chips enable you to
ring within Germany and to many other countries without
In the Yellow Pages you can find the numbers
of doctors and other occupational groups.
Emergency: 110 (policy), Fire Brigade: 112
(emergency medical services and ambulance)
Please! Thank you!
"Bitte", "Bitte sehr" is what
you say when you give something to somebody, when
you hold the door open for somebody, when you ask
for something, or make a request. But also if you
have done someone a favor and he or she thanks you,
you then say, "Bitte, gern geschehen". If
you accept something offered to you at table, "Möchten
Sie noch etwas trinken?" you do not say "danke"
(which roughly means "No, thank you"), but
If you have trodden on someone's toe or bumped into
somebody you say "Verzeihung" or "Entschuldigung".
As a general rule you can assume that it is better
to say a "please" or "thank you"
too many than to miss some out.
We hope this will
help you for the first days in Germany to settle down.
But dont forget: coming from another cultural
background you also may undergo a cultural shock
- but this is also a normal process working in the
international field. Enjoy your stay and make the
best out of it.