So you have finally gone through the most hurdling processes of attaining an admission in your dream German university, and were also successful in getting the German student visa. Now this is just the beginning of everything. There are couple of steps you would then need to follow and some general information you should be aware of upon arrival in Germany to ensure the transition process is as smooth as possible. These include:

  1. Look for affordable flight ticket. There are many price comparison websites that one can use to see the cheapest flight. One of the sites is google flights that would enable one choose the cheapest option. Also keep an eye for the days with cheapest price option, like in the middle of the week. Otherwise you can just go through the classical route of booking flight through a travel agent or directly to the airlines, which may cost a bit more.
  2. Currency exchange before arriving in Germany: Obviously if you have travelled anywhere before, you need to have some money on you for unseen miscellaneous expenses. So if you are travelling internationally to Germany, you need to have some Euros. Ensure you do the currency exchange of your local currency to euros while still in your home country. Some advantages on this, you will get a better rate in your home country, upon arrival depending on which country you come from, some currencies can be easily found for exchange like US Dollars. For currency like Kenya shillings, you might have to go to particular Forex bureaus. So to avoid the hustle, best to do it in your home country.
  3. Look for Accommodation before arrival in Germany. Believe it or not, getting accommodation in Germany at the moment is even harder than getting a German visa. However without accommodation, you cannot get a majority of things done in Germany. So this should be at the top of your priority list upon arrival. You can start looking into student accommodation provided by the university you intend to study in. However since a majority are fully booked and waiting period can be as long as 6 months, you can also look into other alternatives. Some of the popular sites to start searching is WG Gesucht, Immobilien Scout, eBay and Facebook market. If you cant find anything, then you can also book hotel or Airbnb for a temporary stay. Best option would also be to look for somebody who knows somebody in the intended city to help you look for accommodation before your arrival.
  4. Ensure to pay for local transportation upon arrival. Upon arrival in the airport, you may have a load of suitcases and bags. Best to take a taxi from the airport to your intended accommodation. It might cost upto 50€ depending on distance when one uses taxi. If you don’t have too much luggage, then you can take a bus, might cost upto 4€. However you would need to know how to get around with the bus and train transportation.
  5. Report to the University admission office. Once you drop off your luggage, then first destination would be university admission office to inform them of your arrival. Keep in mind office hours. So if you arrive over the weekend, you would need to wait till weekdays. Ensure you are in constant communication with the admission office to update them on your situation of travel. Otherwise if the admission office does not hear from you in time, they would automatically cancel your enrollment as they would assume attendance absence. So if you are not able to arrive by your set date of enrollment, then inform the admission office and keep them up to date. On the enrollment day, ensure you bring along all your original documents from school certificates and required identification documens to present. The admission office will then officially enroll you as a student in their university. You will receive all documents you need as a student, like Student ID, matriculation certificate, semester ticket, student contract, university rules and regulation etc.
  6. Register your house address in the city registration office. This type of registration is called a ‘Wohnung Anmeldung’ in German, and would be done in the Rathaus / Burgeamt. This house registration is important as it would be required in subsequent registration of other things like Banking, Health insurance, car, internet etc. Normally getting an appointment for house registration can also take time, especially in bigger cities like Berlin. So its also best to start looking for an appointment as early as when you are still back in your home country. Otherwise, you would not be able to access your blocked bank account upon arrival and would need to survive on the cash you carried from home. On the day you go for your registration, carry necessary documents such as passport, house rental contract, landlord certification to show you can be registered in that house, visa etc. On the main entrance door and mail box, ensure you have your surname written on it, so as to receive all letters sent to you.
  7. Make an appointment for Residence permit extension. Normally in your home country, you would be given a 3 month visa for entry into Germany. Upon arrival, once you have your house registered, you can go ahead and make an appointment at the immigration office to be given a German residence permit card. This is done at the ‘Auslanderbehorde’. This will be valid as long as your course duration. Even if you have not managed to register your house, just ensure you have an appointment for your residence permit done before the 3 month visa expires, otherwise you will be deemed to be in the country illegally.
  8. Set up a Bank Account and take up Public Health Insurance. After registering your house, next step would be opening up a Bank account. If you already set up a blocked account, then you would need to go to the bank and present yourself there physically with the necessary documents like your house registration, passport and blocked account documentation details. With this information, you will be able to unblock your account and have access to the money. Your Debit card and passwords will be sent over via mail to your residential area. For the health insurance, it’s advisable to go for a public health insurance, however once you go for a private health insurance, you would not be able to switch to a public health insurance in future. Carry the required documentation for registration, such as house registration, banking details, passport. You might also need to fill out a SEPA form to give the bank mandate to automatically deduct the insurance premium from your account, or you can also opt to do the transfer of the monthly premium directly to the insurance company.
  9. Download some applications that would be useful for your daily activities. Since German language us predominantly spoken in Germany, and you may not be so fluent in the language, it’s always good to have the Google translate application in your phone. You can use this to translate texts and audios. Also have the google maps app in your phone as well for easier use of local transportation.
  10. Get a local phone sim card and know the nearest supermarket and local mall. Obviously you would need to make phone calls and have internet connection while outside the house to look at your train connections. Of course you also need to know where to buy food and other basic supplies from the mall and supermarket.
  11. Start networking from the get go and enroll in a German class: If you intend to stay in Germany for the long term, best to start the preparation phase as early as you arrive. Create a network of friends and associates that add value in your stay in the country. Know people who are well informed in travel around Europe, Student issues, administrative issues and job related issues. Also make an effort to learn the German language to increase your chances to get better job opportunities during your stay.

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