Whether you want to do a full-time degree or just get out to the continent on a year abroad, Germany - named the most attractive destination for international students in a recent Study.EU survey - has everything to offer. Here's the run-down on what to expect once you're there.
Clubs and societies
Just like anywhere else, universities in Germany have a huge range of student-organised societies and activities to get involved with. Many also have an international club, which will organize events and day-trips, movie nights, dance classes or international evenings (e.g. French Night or German Stammtisch). It's usually a great way to meet other international students or German students who have been abroad and/or are interested in the international community.
Germany is well-known for its nightlife and whether you’re a party animal, barhound, or music lover, you should be well catered for. Berlin in particular is notorious for its underground clubbing scene - expect plenty of techno and industrial music, bizarre decor, long queues and 9am finishes!
Germany's cities offer plenty of historic landmarks, museums and art galleries. Very often, as a student, you'll be eligible for a discount, which is often as much as half the price of a normal tickets. The student prices are usually advertised as concession or reduced price (Ermäßigung), so don’t be worried if you don’t see the word 'student' on the price menu. Of course, you can always just ask a member of staff if there is a student discount or Studentenrabatt available.
While German universities in general do not have their own gyms, they do usually offer inexpensive sports classes of all kinds, e.g. beach volleyball, sailing or yoga, which usually take place in sports centres around the local area. These classes are offered during the semester as well as during the break (Ferienkurse).
Outdoor activities are very popular in Germany, including sports, hiking, cycling, skiing and more, and most cities have plenty of indoor swimming pools and sports clubs to get involved with.
University life in Germany can be quite different to some other countries, in that it usually requires a great deal of independence and drive. Most universities do not offer pastoral care and responsibilities such as organising accommodation, managing finances and attending lectures are usually left up to the students themselves. In addition, you’ll find that the lectures themselves are often very large, particularly through the first year of the course.
Something that international students are often attracted to is the fact that degree programmes in Germany are not linear – students have more control over what they study and when, and plenty choose to complete their degree over more than three years.
Public transport in Germany is usually efficient and punctual. Also, most universities will include a semester ticket as part of the registration fees. This ticket allows you to travel anywhere, within the city where the Uni is located, for free. This includes bus, train and or underground (U-Bahn). If for some reason your semester ticket is not included in your registration fee, you can buy monthly tickets from the local transport office.
Students in Germany either live in a student hall of residence or a private accommodation. German universities do not automatically assign rooms to students when they enrol and accommodation books up fast, so it's a good idea to find a room before you arrive.
The International Office at the university can provide advice and useful information for finding a place to live. Also, the Accommodation Finder is a very helpful tool for finding information about various student residences in your university town. With just a few clicks, you can even submit an application to the Studentenwerk for a room in a residence hall.
As well as providing accomodation, Deutsches Studentenwerk are non-profitable organisations that work on identifying common problems facing students in Germany and solving them. If you're studying in Germany as a disabled student, they should be your first port of call for information and assistance.