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Living cost

Germany 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.

Public 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 fare.

Meals And Food

German university 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 bag.

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 call-boxes

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 using coins.
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! Excuse me!"
"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 "Ja, bitte".
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 don’t 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.

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