En Everyday Student Life in Dresden
Additional Educational Opportunities and Recreational and Leisure Facilities
Welcome to an eventful and colourful Dresden student life! In the following text you can find many tips on how to organise your everyday life, on additional education, the use of libraries, job opportunities and of course on interesting leisure facilities with their cultural and sports highlights.
After having arrived in Dresden and having taken the first hurdles of organising your life and study, you will no doubt want to work on enhancing your language abilities. Visiting a language course in one of Dresdens' language schools is one possibility. Such a course would lead you to the best results with regard to your level of proficiency. Native speakers teach small groups of learners. In a successfully tested blend of classical and alternative learning methods, supported by the use of modern language learning materials, you will experience an appealing learning climate. Acquisition of language skills is not just a matter of passive or receptive learning, self-study is essential. In any case, language schools offer ideal conditions, good media facilities and professional supervision. Unfortunately, such courses come at a price. Online enrolment is possible. Find out before what the various language schools have on offer.
Libraries/ Copy Shops/ PC-Pools
Books constitute practically the most important tool for any student; that is why visits to the specialised libraries form an essential part of any study. The main library for students in Dresden is the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SLUB). It is situated in a large new building on campus and the address is: Zellescher Weg 18. The futuristic architecture is considered to be intriguing. A special characteristic of the SLUB is the fact that three levels of the building are subterranean. There one finds book collections, the reading room and working spaces. This innovative way of building allowed for the creation of free and open spaces on the ground level, where landscape architects had room to experiment. A concept that enables students to concentrate on their work inside, whereas the green outside allows for creative breaks. The "Bib-Lounge" in the SLUB, a cafeteria of the Studentenwerk, keeps body and soul together with an extensive array of snacks, drinks and small dishes.
In order to illustrate the essential meaning of books, the SLUB shows rarities from their collections in the integrated book museum. There you can find and admire the Dresden Maya manuscript, the sketchbook of Dürer and autograph musical compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Richard Wagner and others.
In the library one can find literature on a wide variety of subjects, reference books and magazines. In addition, the SLUB houses the German Photograph Library (Deutsche Fotothek), several special collections, a textbook collection, and an audio- and visual media section.
The building is equipped with state of the art working facilities, such as computer work places, internet-access, internet research facilities, subject data bases and carrels (individual study areas).
A basic tool in locating research literature is the Web-OPAC (online-catalogue of existing collections). Apart from specific searches for technical literature, one can also search by means of keywords. For magazines, please use the subject data bases or ask staff members at the information desk.
Of course, this modern library has copy machines and book scanners. To use them, one needs an AFS-copy card, obtainable against a deposit in the AFS copy-shop in the second basement floor of the SLUB.
In order to familiarise oneself with the SLUB, it is recommended to take part in a library introduction tour to gain a general orientation and introduction into the most important working methods as well as to obtain some interesting advice. Although the SLUB has elementary works on all subjects, please note that some specific subjects have additional research literature in branch libraries. This is true for the departments of civil engineering/transport and communications science, electrical engineering, geology, information technology, mechanical science, economics, law, educational science, medicine and forestry.
The Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Dresden (FH), the University of Applied Sciences, has its own freely disposable and well appointed library. Since 2006 it has been located in a new building at Friedich-List-Platz. The use of the university libaries is for all students generally free of charge. However, registration requiring your personal and student identification is necessary if you intend to use these institutions. The municipal public libraries offer an alternative as far as literature of all genres, audio-media and games are concerned. City libraries charge a yearly fee.
It is not only the various libraries that offer copying facilities. On and around campus there are numerous [Dresden Links|copy shops] where one can also buy study materials and readers for varying academic classes. There are extra services, such as for instance the printing and binding of theses etc.
In addition, you can use easily accessible copy machines throughout the university buildings that are independent from the system of the SLUB. That means that you will have to buy a Saxocom copy card, on sale against a deposit at the service point of the Studentenrat (StuRa), the Student Counsel.
Working with computer and internet will certainly be indispensable for you, for study reasons as well as for private purposes. If you reside in a university hall of residence, you will always have easy access to a fast internet connection. In case you do not have a notebook with you, the computers of the university PC-Pools are at your disposal. Independent from department, faculty or institute affiliation, the PC-pool in the Willersbau is always open for use.
In addition, every department or faculty has its own computer room, offering specific hard- and software for their subjects. In order to be able to use these facilities, your student identification card is necessary, along with your personal login and your password. You will find your entry code on the first page of the matriculation papers that form part of the "Studienbuch", which you received together with the notification of admission. In the PC-pool it is also possible to print out documents. As a matter of course, every computer room is equipped with a printer, and partly with scanner and internet access. In some cases, one needs a Saxcom copy- and print-card.
For already more than half of Dresdens' students, earning money is an integral part of their study. The reasons for that are numerous: to pay for living costs, the financing of a holiday or journey to the home country, or various additional expenditures, such as a computer or a car. The jobs of foreign students are subject to several specific regulations you should know about. Again there is a difference between citizens of EU member states and others. As this distinction is based on treaties and laws, it is binding.
Foreign students from EU member states
For students, who are citizens of EU member states, the same rights and duties apply as for students with a German nationality. Many students accept so-called mini-jobs. The salary is not subject to tax and social insurance fees, provided it does not exceed 400 EUR per month. If one earns more than 400 EUR per month or works more than 20 hours per week, pension insurance payments are due.
Foreign students from non-Eu member states
Students coming from non EU member states often have only limited opportunities to find a job. As a rule, the law allows them employment or occupation without work permit of up to 90 days or 180 half days per calendar year. This rule applies to students from non-EU member states as well as to students coming from non-EEA states (EEA=European Economic Area). If you belong to this group of people and nevertheless wish to work in excess of that number of days, you will need permission for taking up employment from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Employment Agency) (Section 284, paragraph 1). The application form needed to apply for this permission can be obtained from the authorities responsible.
The primary place to go in order to get a student job is the Studentische Arbeitsvermittlung e.V. (STAV), the Student Employment Agency. The STAV registers job offers as well as students looking for a job, listing their abilities as well as their fields of interest. If there is a match between job requirements and the activity profile of job seeking students, the STAV takes care of establishing contact between the two parties involved. In order to get into the database of STAV, one needs to be registered in the personnel pool.
Your own initiative can also lead to a job. Scanning the job advertisement sections (classified sections) of regional papers and magazines or of the independent university paper ad rem and CAZ might be fruitful. The many notice boards sometimes list job offers. From time to time, faculties employ so-called student assistants. Another job opportunity might be found at the Studentenwerk. In their catering services there are always some mini-jobs available. A last resort would be to send out open applications, where one does not react to advertised job vacancies. Of late, this has become quite a common practice in Germany. Written applications are preferable when fulltime jobs or places for practical training are concerned.
With sideline jobs personal, oral applications are acceptable as well, although it is advisable to make telephone call beforehand to ascertain whether the job vacancy still exists and if so, to inquire about the job conditions.
Leisure and Sports facilities
„Nach der Arbeit das Vergnügen.“ (German saying: Pleasure only when the work is done.)
At the end of a demanding day of studying, there is time for relaxation and personal development. You will discover that Dresden and its surroundings have much to offer. Numerous cinemas of all kinds offer a wide variety of programmes. Whereas almost all cinemas show the latest movies and blockbusters, the independent and non-mainstrain cinemas have other focal points. Explore and find your favourite cinema! There are reduced prices during so-called "cinema days" (Kinotage). Of course, there is a ticket pre-sale service (via telephone and/or internet). The cinema portal "Kinoplanet" has complete film programmes for you.
Special highlights are the summer open-air film offers. Best-known amongst those programmes are the film nights on the Elbe meadows, the "Filmnächte am Elbufer". In the months of July and August around 4,000 visitors watch movies of a variety of genres on the Elbe meadows with the world famous silhouette of the old town of Dresden in the background. An extra is the availability of gastronomic facilities. The same open space on the Elbe meadows is also used for open air concerts.
Dresdens' nightlife is vibrant and colourful. Not without reason is Dresden called the capital of student clubs. In many halls of residence one can find a student club. The variety is enormous, varying from small and easy-going clubs with chill out music to big clubs with dance floors and music.
You can also spend exciting nights in the Dresdner Neustadt (New Town; city district across the river Elbe) that is especially popular with students and young people. There are numerous bars, clubs, discos and restaurants. Even if moderate student prices are no longer typical of the Dresdner Neustadt, with a bit of patience you will be able to find the right place. The atmosphere in these localities ranges from cosy to futuristic. Dance enthusiasts can enjoy themselves in several large discos or smaller scene clubs.
During the months of summer specially created beach bars are alluring places to while away the hours, to dance or to relax. If interested, be on the look-out for occasional so-called event discos, for instance in terminal I of the Dresden airport.
The Dresdner Stadtfest (celebration festivities commemorating the foundation of Dresden) is a yearly returning event. In 2006, the 800 year jubilee was celebrated.
Great Jazz music is performed in the yearly Dixieland festival, when up to half a million Dixieland enthusiasts come to the city to experience live performances of numerous Dixieland bands from all over the world. During that festival, Dresden turns into a vibrant and exuberant jazz city. A sense of joie de vivre characterises the city.
The Bunte Republik Neustadt, multicultural festivities in city district of Neustadt that last for two days, is known for its their open and easy-going atmosphere.
After finishing their wine harvest, it is part of the tradition of the wine-growers on the slopes of the Elbe to open their wine taverns to the general public and to celebrate the well-known Weinfest (wine festival). A visit to the vineyards of the neighbouring cities of Meißen and Radebeul is also warmly recommended. The green Elbe meadows between the bridge called Blaues Wunder (blue miracle) and the palace grounds of Pillnitz, are the yearly venue of the Elbhangfest (Elbe-slopes festival). Regional traders and arts and crafts representatives use this festival as a platform to present themselves to the general public, framed by concerts and shows. During the entire time of the festival, the adjoining streets form a traffic free zone, so that the relaxed atmosphere of the Elbe meadows can be enjoyed to the full.
As far as museums are concerned, Dresden offers a rich array of choice. The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (state art collections) invite visitors to a journey of exploration. The Zwinger is a building that not only offers architectural beauty but that also harbours five museums: Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, Museum für Tierkunde, Porzellansammlung (porcelain collection), Rüstkammer (Armoury) and Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery). The Albertinum, a museum situated along the Brühlsche Terrasse, accommodates the Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister and the Skulpturensammlung. Arguably the most beautiful treasure room of Europe is the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault). Its collection has many types of jewellery and artefacts by goldsmiths as well as treasures made of ivory and amber or little statuettes made of bronze. During a longer period of renovation these art treasures were exhibited in the Albertinum. Now the Grüne Gewölbe is back in its original place, the Residenzschloss Dresden. The many other museums of Dresden are equally worthwhile a visit. A good opportunity to explore all the museums is the Museumssommernacht. One entrance ticket gives you admission to all the participating museums and includes the use of a shuttle bus. Historical streetcars also maintain a shuttle service for the guests of the Museum Summer Night.
In the field of theatre, the spectrum ranges from classical drama in modern interpretations, amateur theatre, cabaret and revue to puppet theatre. Concerts, operas and ballet performances in the world famous Semperoper – Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden – (the Semper Opera House) will give you an unforgettable cultural experience. And on top of it all: there literary readings in bookshops and cafés.
Sport is considered to be a good addition to your academic studies and cultural leisure activities. Sport is readily accessible at universities and colleges. Easily available are the courses offered by the Universitätssportzentrum (USZ), the university sports centre. Pick your choice between mountaineering and alpine sports, health-oriented forms of sport, swimming, team sports, dance, or water sports. Do not forget individual sports, such as juggling or mono-cycling. You might even discover an exciting new kind of sport.
The advantages of participating in one of these courses are self-evident. It is good for your health, it is time pleasurably spent while getting to know fellow students, and sport is a welcome change to the rigours of studying. Besides, the affordable prices are an extra enticement. The favourable conditions offered by the university sport centre depend to a large extent upon the qualified course supervisors and coaches, with their many years of experience.
Surely, you would now like to find out how to participate in and benefit from the courses of the USZ. All you need to do is register via internet. Registration is possible on the website of the university sports center (USZ) during the first week of semester. After having registrated you are required to transfer the course fee into the account of the USZ. You will receive an e-mail after your registration which will provide you with all necessary information.
Connecting with People in Student Groups and Clubs
At the university and at the colleges one can find initiatives such as faranto and the Erasmus initiative that support you in organising and pursuing your studies. In addition, there are initiatives and clubs dedicated to specific themes or fields of activity. The following section focuses exclusively on student groups, clubs and initiatives.
Student groups and clubs form an excellent opportunity to connect to people whilst pursuing your interests and hobbies. The precise meaning of the word “Verein”, (club) can be found in the previous section "First Days at the Place of Study". The various clubs and initiatives offer varying forms of activities, in accordance with their fields of interest. Students can participate in the organisation of the clubs as well as in the active realisation of concepts and ideas. The whole range of clubs, associations and initiatives is present in Dresden: sport clubs, music associations, art groups and clubs that have journalistic, economic or political focal points. To name just a few: choirs, dance groups, orchestras, the Tourismus Interessen Kreis, the LINUX User-Group Dresden and Amnesty International Dresden. In principle, paying a membership fee suffices to become a member.
A unique atmosphere can be found in the stadiums of the major sport clubs of Dresden. Special spectator magnets are the soccer club 1. FC Dynamo Dresden, the ice hockey team Dresdner Eislöwen and the American Football Team Dresden Monarchs.
Connecting with fellow students is easiest through active participation in a club, a sport course at the university sports centre or a student initiative. Another way of getting to know people is to visit a student club or to become a member of a student club. Moreover, the Studentenwerk Dresden, the Academic International Office and the Erasmus initiative Dresden offer a great variety of events and activities such as theme nights and day trips with the objective to stimulate contacts between foreign and German students. You are always invited to attend the so-called „Stammtischabende“, the International Coffee Hour, walking tours, field trips and so forth. Please also have a look at the Calendar of Cultural Events, published by the Academic International Office of the Dresden University of Technology, which provides you with information concerning the latest events. Make use of these opportunities as they will help you getting to know other people.
You can visit events (e.g. welcoming meetings, student parties, debates) on invitation of your faculty, where you will meet students with the same major subject. After a short period of acclimatisation you will find that with a bit of effort and active involvement you will make your stay a rewarding experience.