What are my accommodation options in Germany?
1. Halls of Residence (Student Dormitories)
Accommodation provided by the Studentenwerk is usually the best and the cheapest option for international students in Germany.
Usually the rooms are furnished and with your own bathroom and kitchen whereas sometimes depending upon the setting of the building, you may need to share the bath and the kitchen with other international students. You can quickly make new friends if you live in the halls of residence. The rooms in halls of residence or students’ halls are often in high demand and can be very difficult to get especially in large cities.
In big cities like Munich and Frankfurt am Main, the waiting time can be around a year or so before you can get a room in the such an accommodation. However, international students are prioritised to a certain degree and the chances of finding an accommodation is good if you make an early application.
2. WG (Wohngemeinschaft)
You are very likely to come across the term “WG” which means shared accommodation. WGs are usually private flats or houses that are shared between two or more people. They are a popular choice for students as they are relatively cheap compared to private accommodation. You usually have your own room in a WG but kitchen and bathroom are shared. Make sure you enquire regarding the facilities before you move in.
Living in WG has also its own benefits like you making new friends, hanging out with people like yourself in free time which can also lead to improved language proficiency in addition to learning about cultures of other countries.
3. Private accommodation
Private accommodation usually means your own flat or your room which you rent from the landlord like in Nepal. In most of the cases, the flats are usually unfurnished and you can arrange to buy kitchen fittings and furniture off previous tenants or ask the landlord to get them set up if he agrees.
It can be slightly more costly compared to Students’ Halls of Residence and WGs but it is a good option unless you find something cheaper and you can move out later.
In any case, it is always a good idea to look for accommodation in advance while you are still in Nepal. People in Germany, often sign contracts on apartments sometimes several months in advance before their move-in dates.
How to open a Bank Account in Germany?
Usually students have a blocked account (Sperrkonto) from Fintiba or other providers before they travel to Germany for their studies. You must note that you cannot directly withdraw money from your blocked account. In order to withdraw money from your blocked account, you will need to verify your address and send it to Fintiba followed by opening up Girokonto (current account) and updating your Girokonto details in your Fintiba account upon arrival in Germany.
With a current account, you can withdraw money, arrange direct debit payments for rent and utilities with other service providers. Most banks give students free current accounts or better interest rates. You can also receive an EC debit card which will allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs and pay for items in shop.
Sparkonto (Savings account)
If you want to save some money for emergency situation, opening a “Sparkonto” is a very good idea. These accounts are usually free and provide better interest rates than current accounts.
Whether you want to open a current or a savings account, it is recommended that you phone your local bank in advance and arrange an appointment. You should also enquire which documents you need to bring along to complete the account opening process (usually a passport and proof of address in Germany is required).
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Making new friends
You can feel a bit lonely once you have arrived in Germany which is perfectly normal. Many students who have moved to Germany for their studies also feel the same. There are plenty of opportunities to make new friends !
Many universities offer orientation weeks with special programmes for international students. These often include organised activities such as sightseeing tours, daytrips and parties. Sometimes you can even sign up for free language classes. It is a perfect opportunity to get to know your new surroundings and meet lots of other students from around the world. Check your university website or contact the university’s international office for more information.
Sports is a great way to connect with new people. Football is very popular in Germany. And joining a sports team can be a great way to meet new people as well. Many universities have sports facilities and run fitness programs on campus. You can also join gyms or exercise classes for reasonable fees. If you are interested in sports, check your university sports facilities and sign up once you arrive.
Join a club or Society
There are plenty of clubs and societies within the universities catering to interests of students. Such clubs are usually run by individual students or groups rather than the universities. You can find information about clubs and societies on the universities’ webpages.