Getting an apartment
Germany is all about rental flats. As much as 60% of all people rent flats. Finding a flat for rent is relatively easy, there are companies in each city specializing in rental flats. They should be the first point of contact. These people may also help you with any problems regarding your flat. However, if something doesn’t work, there is another person you should speak to – the Hausmeister. This guy knows exactly who to contact for possible repairs, so don’t lose your head if your tab is leaking. When you get a contract for rental flat they will automatically book the rent from your bank account, so make sure the money is there in time – Germans are very precise when it comes to money. German neighbours may be nasty so make sure you don’t listen to music in high volumes after 10 pm. Generally, Germans are nice people but they like their order.
Another great option for students are so called WGs – Wohngemeinschaft. These are large apartments shared by two or people. Apartments like these are particularly popular among young people and students. Your college may have a board with advertisements, where people are looking for a new person to live in, so make sure to check it out.
Living among Germans
First couple of weeks may seem like living on a different planet. Especially in small towns where people know each other for years, you may feel like an alien at first. Getting to know Germans may be a challenge – they are friendly but that’s all you get. Not until you grab a beer with them and go to the football game. German lifestyle is very work and family centric. A typical German goes out strictly on Saturdays to a football game and on Sunday’s stays at home or goes to church. Young people are different, of course, although many keep the tradition and generally spend their time with families.
So how do you find new friends? By meeting other foreigners like yourself! Luckily that is really easy – there are a lot of different nationalities and many people feel the same like you. During my high school years my best friends were from Bulgaria and Colombia. This is certainly not a rule – there are Germans who are great people and great friends but they are generally difficult to find.
Being a student in Germany has many benefits. Firstly, you get to travel very cheap or for
free. In our school this meant free train rides in 200 km radius and that meant free rides to big cities like Hamburg. Having access to such freedom may open great possibilities. For instance, going to events and parties you would otherwise not have an opportunity to go to. Secondly, students have cheaper health insurance. If you are working in Germany you will be spending around 10% of your salary on insurance. For a student this fee is around 80 Euros per month. When visiting a doctor, be prepared to pay a visit fee of about 10 Euros though.
Finding student jobs may sometimes be tricky if you are studying full time. Still, there are a few positions where students can work and earn some pocket money. These are for example fast food restaurants, stadiums and big events where additional help is needed. Seasonal work – selling hot wine at Christmas markets – is often available for students and young people. Hourly wages are quite good and working part time may be just enough for some people. Still, you need to have a back-up plan in case you are going to be unemployed for a while. When applying for study permit officials will ask you about your income sources. In case you have your parents sending you money, make sure to have official letter from your country with employer confirming your parent is working with them. This will save you a lot of trouble.
Germany is a great land, it has a lot to offer but you need to be careful and understand where you would like to be. There are already a lot of foreigners so German employers are particularly selective when it comes to choosing an employee for a full time job. Having a German education will help but still there is a human factor – they will choose a local. So unless you are studying to be an engineer or some important specialist, consider moving to other countries after your studies as you might get stuck at restaurant jobs for a long time.