En First Days at the Place of Studying

Aus Study in Dresden

First Questions After Arrival

You have already successfully mastered the first steps from your home country. You received notification of admission to university, you went through all necessary formalities and have finally traveled to Germany.

Yet, for all foreign students who have recently arrived to stay for a few semesters or a complete degree course, the first few days pose once more a big and exciting challenge. Many questions come up such as: How do I find my accommodation from the railway station or the airport? Are there still some formalities to go through? How and where do I get my student identification card? How about public transport facilities? Many things still have to be taken care of and some of them might be a bit confusing at first.

The following information aim at answering the most important questions, hopefully helping you plan the first days at your new place of study.

Securing Accommodation First

After having arrived in Dresden, Zittau or Görlitz, you probably like to move into your room first. If you have been allocated a room in a university hall of residence, the first thing you have to do is go to the Studentenwerk and find the respective contact person of the accommodation department to conclude your tenancy agreement. 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 email or per post after having applied for a room in a student hall of residence.

In order to conclude your tenancy agreement, you will have to present your passport, the notification of admission and you need to pay the deposit as 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 your arrival you can buy the starter kits "Sleeping" and "Living" at the Studentenwerk Dresden at a moderate price. In your student hall special tutors will serve as contact persons to assists you whenever you are in need of help.

Even if you failed to apply for a place at a hall of residence, you may of course still come to the Studentenwerk to apply for a room. However, for the time being you need to find alternative accommodation. Our International Guest House or youth hostels offer affordable accommodation.

International Office and Registration Office

The Academic International Office should be your next stop (as student of the University of Applied Sciences please turn to the registry). This is where you will receive an entry form and a payment form for the semester fee. Payment of the semester fee is a requirement for matriculation. Depending on the university, the amount of the semester fee may vary.

Afterwards please turn up at the municipal Registration Office where your new address has to be registered. Therefore, you can also use registration points in your district of town or the Citizens' Bureaus with much more customer-friendly office hours. Registration at the Registration Office has to be realized within two weeks after your 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 a bank account

At next please go to a bank and open a bank account. Most banks offer fee-free accounts for students. Please have your passport, application confirmation and notification of admission at hand. After you have opened your account, please use the payment form, provided by the International Office for the payment of the semester fee. Do not forget to bring a copy of the payment form as confirmation of payment to the International Office. Please transfer enough money into your new bank account to cover the monthly health insurance payments and your monthly rent for your student hall room. At your bank you can of course change foreign currencies into EUR.

Taking out a Health Insurance

After you have mastered all these steps, please turn to a German health insurance company. International students coming from EU countries can usually apply for the so-called International Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in their home countries. This card will be accepted by the German health insurance system. Please present your Health Insurance Card at the Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK), the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) or any other compulsory health insurance company. You will then receive a confirmation form concerning your health insurance needed for the Academic International Office.

International students from non-EU countries should take out a new obligatory health insurance in Germany. Do not forget to have your passport and notification of admission at hand. 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 for approximately 60 euros per month. Again, you will get a confirmation form which has to be handed 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 effect a “private Krankenvollversicherung für Studenten“, a private complete health insurance for students. You may of course also voluntarily contract a health insurance with a statutory health insurance company - a solution which in most cases is more expensive than the aforementioned.

Further places to go to

After having settled these issues, please go back to the International Office and hand in the registration form, the confirmation of payment of the semester fee as well as 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 commuter railway system, so that you can use all public transport facilities in Dresden and its environs for 6 months. Please inquire about the area of validity of the semester ticket if you wish to travel beyond the city limits of Dresden. Moreover, you will need your student identity card to register at the university and college libraries, to get various price reductions and to receive the MensaCard “Emeal”.

Now please return to the accommodation department of the Studentenwerk Dresden and hand in your confirmation of matriculation to prove your right of abode (required at the start of every semester). In addition, you should leave your bank account data and give permission for payment by standing order so that the Studentenwerk is authorized to debit the monthly rent for your student hall room from your bank account.

There is yet another bureaucratic obligation: you will have to go to the municipal International Office for a residence permit. Registration is obligatory for all foreign citizens staying longer than three months in Germany. Therefore, you had better register as soon as possible after your arrival in Germany. The following documents are required at the municipal International Office:

  • A filled out application form (provided by the municipal International Office or the Academic International Office).
  • Passport
  • 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 your health insurance policy
  • Financial certificate (if existent)

Please have enough money at hand for the payment of fees accruing.

On a checklist we have compiled all important offices that you might have to deal with. You can print out the list to use it for your orientation.

Public Transport System in Dresden

In order to reach the above mentioned contact points, you might sometimes wish to use the public transport facilities. This can be easily done as your student identity card also serves as a ticket (semester ticket) in trams, buses and certain trains. The Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe (DVB), the Dresden transport services, service several tram and bus lines. In addition, there are a suspension railway, a cable railway and several ferries across the river Elbe. All railway stations and the Dresden Airport are connected to the tram and bus lines. Please inform yourself about the public transport system before coming to Dresden. On the internet you can find survey maps of the public transport lines. Either use the provided maps or ask the service staff at the service points to make sure that you 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 local buses, maintained by the Verkehrsverbund Oberelbe (VVO), the transportation authority upper Elbe, can also be used with your semester ticket. Several interurban trains of the Deutsche Bahn (the German national railway company) stop in Dresden, an important connection is the airport shuttle commuting between the airport and the Dresden railway stations. This route as well as some other interurban train connections in the Dresden region fall within the range of validity of the semester ticket.

Students in Zittau and Görlitz do not have a semester ticket as every facility can easily be reached.

Of course, destinations in Dresden, Zittau and Görlitz can also 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 in public parks). You will be surprised how many beautiful "spots" still await discovery.

Aid and Assistance for the Duration of Your Studies

As already mentioned on this website, several of our partners/institutions offer help and assistance to students with regard to the preparation and realization of their study stay in Germany. We distinguish between institutional facilities, clubs and initiatives.

Institutional facilities have a clearly defined task profile and special staff members. To this category belong all Academic International Offices, the Studentenwerk, the municipal International Office, the civil servants responsible for foreigners and all organisations working for the Free State of Saxony or the city of Dresden. The Academic International Offices, for instance, offer tutor programs and organize various events. Contact your International Office if you are interested. The staff will provide you with detailed brochures, dates and program information. For bundled information on all events, organized by the Dresden University of Technology, please have a look at the „Kulturkalender“ (TU-Dresden Cultural Events Calendar) which is available in the foyer of the Academic International Office.

The Academic International Offices as well as the Studentenwerk Dresden organize excursions, too. We recommend not to miss out these opportunities of getting to know other people, customs and culture to very reasonable prices. The FiF-Programme brings you into contact with German families for the purpose of language and cultural exchange. The International Coffee Hour, organized by the Studentenwerk Dresden, too, is moreover a very popular event, highly frequented by German and foreign students alike for entertainment and socializing.

A club consists of a group of persons associating with a specific common objective, such as the cultivation of common interests. In order to be officially recognized in Germany, a club needs rules or statutes listing the purpose of the club and the committee members; moreover, the club must be registered in the Registry of Clubs. A registered club can be recognized through the ending e.V., meaning "eingetragener Verein", registered club. You may have heard that Germans love their clubs. Although perhaps a slight exaggeration, Germany is characterized by a lively club culture. Indeed, clubs form a part of the German culture; they have objectives ranging from organization of leisure time to citizens' commitment to causes on various levels. Best known and loved are sport and music clubs, however, there is also a multitude of clubs dealing with intercultural issues or other causes. The diversity of the German club culture allows everyone to find a club of his/her own taste. In a club you may 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 as well as the club members' sense of unity. Many clubs organize events, lectures, performances, workshops etc. which 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 of special relevance for you. This initiative organizes theme nights, parties, excursions and helps foreign students settle into their new surrounding.

Worth mentioning here is also the Linkpartner programme. It offers the excellent opportunity of getting into contact with German students before travelling to Germany, thus, profiting from their experiences and their knowledge of the locality.

Summing up, the following has to be re-emphasized: the members or the staff of the various facilities mentioned are always willing to help and inform you. Please visit the respective websites as well. No matter if it concerns the preparation or the arrangement of your studies or student life in general, there are manifold offers for you to choose from. As international students in Dresden, Zittau and Görlitz you are not left alone. A multitude of initiatives, clubs and organizations commit themselves to supporting foreign students with great personal care and competence.

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