En First Days at the Place of Studying
First Questions After Arrival
While you were still at home you successfully mastered the first steps, you received the notification of admission, you went through all the necessary formalities and you have travelled to Germany.
For all newly arrived foreign students, whether they have come for a few semesters or a complete degree course, the first few days pose once more a big and exciting challenge.
How to find your place of accommodation from the railway station or the airport? Are there still some formalities to go through? How and where does one get one's student identification card? How about public transport facilities? These and other questions pose themselves to the newly arrived foreign student. Many things still have to be taken care of and some of them might be a bit confusing at the start.
The following information aims at answering the most important questions, hopefully helping you in planning the first days in your new city of residence.
Securing Accommodation First
After arriving in Dresden, Zittau or Görlitz, you surely would like to move into your room first. If you have been given a place in a university hall of residence, the first thing to do is to go to the Studentenwerk und find the contact person responsible for the division "Residential Life". Please keep in mind the office hours about which you have previously received information. All relevant contact information can be found in the confirmation notification you received via e-mail or through the post, provided you applied for a place in a student hall of residence. At the Studentenwerk you can choose your accommodation from a specifically reserved contingent for foreign applicants. As far as possible, your wishes will be taken into consideration.
For this, you will need to produce your passport, the notification of admission and the deposit mentioned in the confirmation notification. Please note that the rooms in the student halls of residence do not come with blankets, linen, towels and kitchen utensils. On the day of arrival you can buy the starter kits "Sleeping" and "Living" at the Studentenwerk Dresden at a moderate price. If you failed to apply for a place at a hall of residence, you can of course still go to the Studentenwerk and then and there apply for a place. However, for the time being you would have to find alternative accommodation. The cheapest would be youth hostels or boarding houses.
International Office and Registration Office
The International Office of your university or college is your next stop. There you will receive an entry form and a payment form for the semester fee. Payment of the semester fee is a requirement for matriculation. The semester fee for the current winter semester (2005/2006) at the TUD is 136 EUR (90 EUR for the semester ticket, 44 EUR for the Studentenwerk and 2 EUR for the TU-Studentenrat, the student representation). Dresden's colleges of higher education may have slightly differing semester fees.
Next stop is the municipal Registration Office, where your new address has to be registered. You can also do that at the registration points in your district of town or the Citizens' Bureaus. They have more customer-friendly office hours. Registration at the Registration Office has to take place within two weeks after arrival in Dresden. Since you need a confirmation of registration to be able to open a bank account in Germany, you should register as soon as possible. In order to register you need your passport and a copy of the lease. At the Registration Office you will fill out a registration form to get your confirmation of registration.
Opening an Account
Next you should go to a bank to open an account. Most banks offer accounts for students that are without a fee. Yet again, please have your passport, application confirmation and notification of admission ready. After an account has been opened, please use the payment form from the International Office to pay the semester fee. Please do not forget to take along a copy of the payment form because you will have to show a confirmation of payment at the International Office. Please transfer enough money to your new bank account to cover the monthly health insurance payments and the rent for the lease of the hall of residence. At your bank you can of course change foreign currencies into EUR.
Taking out a Health Insurance
Next step: going to the office of a German health insurance company. As a rule, international students from EU countries get health insurance certificates called E 128 or E 111 that are acknowledged in Germany. Please show your health insurance certificate at the Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK) or the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK). There you will receive a confirmation form concerning your health insurance for the Academic International Office.
International students from non-EU countries should take out a new obligatory health insurance in Germany. Once more, please have your passport and notification of admission ready. If you wish to pay your monthly health insurance payments by standing order, please submit your account data as well. Health insurance companies have student package deals that cost approximately 55 EUR. Again, there will get a confirmation form to be shown in at the International Office.
There is a special stipulation for international students over 30 years of age. They are obliged to take out a private health insurance in Germany. It is important to take out a “private Krankenvollversicherung für Studenten“, a private complete health insurance for students. In Dresden two private health insurance companies offer such a health insurance. If this applies to you either go to the Deutsche Krankenversicherung AG or the AXA Colonia, Generalvertretung (general agency) Weber & Partner.
The Next Steps
After completing these steps, please return to your International Office and hand in the registration form, the confirmation of payment of the semester fee and the confirmation about your health insurance. A few days later, you will receive your confirmation of matriculation and your student identity card. The latter serves as semester ticket for tram, bus and S-Bahn, a type a train in urban agglomerations. For the duration of six months you can then use the public transport facilities of the Dresden region. Inquire as to the area of validity of the semester ticket, in case you travel outside of the city limits of Dresden. In addition you will need your student identification card to register at the university and college libraries, to get price reductions in several fields and to receive the university cafeteria key, the Emeal.
Now, please return to the Studentenwerk Dresden and hand in your confirmation of matriculation with the division "Residential Life" to confirm that you have a right to stay in a hall of residence (a procedure that needs to be repeated at the start of every semester). In addition, you should leave your bank account data and give permission for payment by standing order for the monthly payments of the rent for your room in a hall of residence.
There is yet another bureaucratic obligation: you will have to go to the municipal International Office for a residence permit (non EU citizens) or a freedom of movement confirmation (EU citizens). This registration is obligatory for all foreign citizens staying longer than three months in Germany. Therefore this visit to the municipal International Office had better take place as soon as possible after entry into Germany. The following documents are required at the municipal International Office:
- A filled out application form (obtainable directly at the municipal International Office or at the Academic International Office).
- Visa (if applicable)
- Notification of admission
- Confirmation of matriculation
- A copy of the lease
- A copy of the registration confirmation of the Registration Office
- A copy of the confirmation of the health insurance policy
- Financial certificate
In addition you will need money for the obligatory charge or fee.
On a checklist, we have put together all the important offices that you might have to deal with. You can print the list and use it for your orientation.
Public Transport System in Dresden
In order to get around in Dresden, e.g., to some of the municipal offices mentioned above, you might wish to use the public transport facilities. This can be easily done, since your student identity card is also a ticket (semester ticket) in trams, buses and certain trains. The Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe (DVB), the local transport authorities, service twelve tram lines and many bus lines. In addition, there are a suspension railway, a cable railway and several ferries across the river Elbe. All the railway stations and Dresden Airport are connected to the tram and bus lines. It is advisable to obtain information about the public transport system before coming to Dresden. On the Internet you can find survey maps of the transport lines. Either use those maps or ask the service staff at the service points, to find the right connections to your destinations. The time tables with the departure times are to be found at any of the stops and, of course, on the website. The regional buses, maintained by the Verkehrsverbund Oberelbe (VVO), the transportation authority Upper Elbe, can also be used with your semester ticket. Several S-Bahnen of the Deutsche Bahn (the German national railway company) have stops in Dresden. The airport shuttle connecting the airport to the railway stations of Dresden is an important one. This line as well as some other S-Bahn connections in the Dresden region are included within the range of validity of the semester ticket.
In Zittau and Görlitz there is no semester ticket for students as every facility is easily accessible.
Of course, destinations in Dresden, Zittau and Görlitz can be reached by bicycle or on foot. Especially when the weather is fine, it is worthwhile to avoid the main traffic arteries and stick to less frequented streets and footpaths (along the river Elbe) or to go through parks. You will be surprised how many beautiful "spots" still await discovery. In order to do this, you will need a map. We have prepared a marked map for you to download here, containing all the important destinations in Dresden. On the internet you can find several varying online maps that allow searching for addresses.
Aid and Assistance for the Duration of Your Studies
On this website the offers of assistance of several partners/facilities have already been mentioned. Most of these facilities offer help in the preparation and continuation of your stay in Germany. There is a distinction between institutional facilities, clubs and initiatives.
Institutional facilities have a clearly defined task profile and staff members to carry out those tasks. In this category belong all the Academic International Offices, the Studentenwerk, the municipal International Office, the civil servants responsible for foreigners and all organisations working for the state of Saxony or the city of Dresden. The Academic International Offices, for instance, offer tutor programmes and organise various events. Your International Office will keep you informed. They also organise excursions. Please use their offers because of their very moderate prices and because of the chances of meeting and getting to know people. The Studentenwerk offers you the FiF-Programme, bringing you into contact with German families for the purpose of language and cultural exchange.
A club consists of a group of persons associating with a specific common objective, such as the cultivation of common interests. To be officially recognised, in Germany a club needs rules or statutes, listing the purpose of the club and the committee members; further, the club must be entered in the Registry of Clubs. When entry has taken place, one can see the ending e.V., meaning "eingetragener Verein", registered club. You may have heard that the Germans love their clubs. Although perhaps a slight exaggeration, Germany is characterised by a lively club culture. Clubs form part of the German culture; they have objectives ranging from organisation of leisure time to citizens' commitment to causes on various levels. Best known and loved are sport and music clubs, but clubs dealing with intercultural issues or other causes equally abound. The diversity of the German club culture allows everyone to find a club to their taste. In a club, you can share your interests with other enthusiasts, make contacts and find friends. At the same time you get to know a part of the "German tradition", an active club life and the so-called Wir-Gefühl ("us-feeling") of the club members. Many clubs organise events, lectures, performances, workshops etc. that are also open to non-members.
In addition, there are initiatives by volunteers, concerning themselves with intercultural issues. Initiatives of universities and colleges such as the Erasmus initiative are especially relevant for you. This initiative organises theme nights, parties, excursions, contacts and aids and assists foreign students settling down in their new country.
Worth mentioning here is also the Linkpartner programme. This offers the excellent opportunity of getting into contact with German students before travelling to Germany, thus profiting from their experiences and the fact that they know their way around campus and city.
In summary, the following should be stressed: members or staff members of the various facilities are always willing to help and inform you. Please consult their websites as well. Whether it is about the preparation or arrangement of your studies or about student life in general, there are many and varied offers to choose from. International students in Dresden, Zittau and Görlitz are not left to their own devices. A large number of initiatives, clubs and organisations take it upon themselves to support foreign students friendly and competently.