So you’ve just settled down in Germany for study and the new semester is about to kick off in October, you feel excited yet still don’t have a clue about what to do? No worries, we’ve listed the most important things in terms of getting started in a German University that might help you out.
It all starts with the Immatrikulation!
Enrolled as a student (Uni.Bochum)
After you accept a Zulassung (offer) from a University, you should do the Immatrikulation (Enrolment) by paying the semester fee. We all know that public universities in most states in Germany are tuition-free, however each university charges a certain amount of money for offering management services and cheap semester transport ticket. Therefore only after you pay off this fee, you’ll be enrolled as an official student.
The proof of Immatrikulation is very important during your study. It’s required for signing student housing contract, getting insurance, as well as applying for a student job. We highly recommend you transfer the semester fee as soon as possible, since you might need to pay a late fee if you miss the due. Also, don’t forget to sign up online, because you need to get access to your University mailbox, which will keep you updated on any important news.
Schedule your classes in advance
(Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
There are 2 types of classes in German Univeristies: Vorlesung and Seminar. A Vorlesung takes place in the lecture hall and has many audience, while a Seminar happens in a small room where students are able to discuss in small groups. You should schedule your Syllabus according to the Studienverlaufplan (recommended study plan) for your major and based upon which classes are mandatory. Besides, you can find tutoring sessions for some classes, which aim to help the student to solve problems.
For each university, the syllabus system will only open in a limited time, so students should choose their classes and set up the time table ahead of time. Since some popular seminars can go full pretty quickly and if you miss the date, you probably will lose the chance to get in.
Enjoy your student privilege outside the University
Semester ticket in Germany (Gunnar A. Pier / wn.de)
Once you are enrolled in your University, you’ll get your semester ticket and student card. With them you can enjoy your privilege as being a student. Prices for meals in Mensa are way much cheaper than the market price and you can travel throughout the city (or even the entire state) with your semester ticket. There are also special offers for students in retailers, online shops, cinemas and museums, where you can always get a student discount and save your daily expenses. Just bring your student ID and semester ticket anytime, and you’ll find out the advantages to be a student in Germany.
Short on cash?
As a student, living on a budget could be challenging, therefore many students choose to have a part time job or mini job during their study. If you haven’t had any working experience before, you can simply pay attention to the recruitment ads on the campus billboard. There are already many positions that offered by the university, for example, Student Assistant in your faculty or services department.
Working on-campus seems to be the best option for students since it saves the time for commute. However, if you want to work somewhere else, you can also find jobs off-campus, and there are actually more possibilities. As a student, you don’t need to pay tax for a mini job (no more than 450 Euro per month) and if you earn more than that (up to 850 Euro) you just need to pay a less amount of tax.
Don’t miss the Orientierungstag!
Orientierungsveranstaltung (FU Berlin)
Normally in the beginning of the first semester, there will be a first day event called Orientierungstag and you shouldn’t miss it. On this day tutors will show new enrolled students the campus, and help them get familiar with the infrastructure and services there. You’ll get a chance to meet some new fellows on the campus during the route: People you meet on that day, could be your best friends forever! This is somehow true. Moreover, you’ll get access to the exclusive welcome party and of course enjoy the special offers there for newbies. If you are a party-person, then the first day event should definitely be on your schedule.
Klausur? Don’t be afraid!
Let’s say you finally go through one semester and will face the Klausur(exam) soon. The first thing you should do is registering all the exams in advance. During the so called vorlesungsfreie Zeit there are no classes to attend anymore, so you can start reviewing your study for the exams. For some important exams there will be tutoring to help people with the preparing. Even if you really screw up one exam, no worries, you can always register for a second try before the next semester starts. Many students in Germany already have the experience for not passing at the first try, so it is quite normal. What you need to do, is to concentrate on the reviewing and take it easy!
Those are just the basic tips for starting the first semester in Germany, and there are more aspects about the University waiting for you to explore. Besides, you can also check out our guides for Anmeldung and opening blocked account, if you are still struggling with these problems. If you still haven’t found a place to stay before your semester starts, we also help you by aggregating the best student accommodations in the major German cities like Berlin, Munich and Cologne.
Hopefully you’ll have a good start in the Uni and we wish you all the best!