Enroute to Germany: Study

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No one would brief you such steps we have mentioned and elaborated in such detail so let’s see what is to-do list? What else you are expecting?

You have received a message or an email from the German embassy that you can collect your visa, and you are extremely happy? Congratulations! You are now halfway done!

Wait a minute, why halfway you would think?! Correct, you have been deemed eligible to study at a German institution, but now is the time to reach the country. Challenge number two.

I have written down the exact order of things you should follow. You can print out this checklist for yourself and go through it step by step. You will do just fine if you follow this order. If not, things can get messy.

German Student Visa: To Do Before Arrival

1. Notify your agency/school about your visa result

This way, you will receive arrival tips from the German side to help you prepare.

2. Read all emails from your agency/school

The majority of schools send you pre-arrival information warning you about different procedures. Read all these emails through and learn them by heart. Print them out if necessary, and take them with you.

3. Pay your university fees if you haven’t paid yet

Attention: the majority of universities will not let you enter the building, or register at campus if you haven’t paid your semester or annual fees (as per student contract). Many universities offer big discounts if you are paying on an annual basis or for the whole program right away. Make sure to inquire if such options exist for you. If you pay in advance, you quite often save yourself from the risk of tuition fees raising in the next years.

4. Send your agency/school a confirmation of payment and make sure to check with them if:

a) Airport pick us is provided or not

Generally, universities do not provide an airport pick up in Germany. Should it be provided, ask for the cost. It can be 20-300 Euro depending on the location. If the airport pick up is not provided, make sure to ask your agency/school how to reach the school or your accommodation with public transport or taxi, and how much it costs.

b) Accommodation is provided or not

Generally, universities do not provide accommodation in Germany. Here you will find an Accommodation Article to help you start accordingly. Move-in is restricted to a certain date. If you arrive earlier, make sure to book yourself a short-term stay in an Airbnb /hostel/hotel. Alternatively, confirm with your agency/school your arrival date & time and a possibility to check-in.

5. Buy/exchange currency to Euro

Since Germany is a heavy cash reliable country, take both credit cards, and cash with you. Do not rely only on your credit card. If you do not manage to access your bank account or credit card, you will go through some gruesome experience. Germany, most probably, has a different country’s currency. To avoid that, get up to 1000 Euro cash with you and just in case check for locations of the Western Union offices. Better safe than sorry.

6. Decide on a travel date & purchase travel insurance

In Germany, insurance is mandatory. Hence, to be able to pick up your visa, you must prove, that you have health insurance. You can choose a local insurance provider and purchase international insurance for the period of your visa (90 or 180 days) from the day you plan to fly to Germany. Generally, a visa is given from the date when your studies start, however, you can ask for an earlier entry date (2 weeks or even up to 1 month). The first insurance can come from your country, but it must be an accepted insurance provider that covers you abroad. When you arrive in Germany, you must obtain German insurance on a contract basis.

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There are a few examples of the insurances you can use:

7. Pick up your visa

8. Book your flight

2 important points:

  • Take a look at your class schedule
  • Does it make sense to arrive much earlier? I understand you can’t wait to be here, but don’t make your stay much more expensive for your parents, just because you can’t wait. Arrive right before your class starts or exactly when your accommodation starts.
  • Take a look at the public holidays in Germany
  • Is there a festivity? Or a public holiday? Or a weekend? In Germany, nothing is open on these dates, and you can trust me, no one will answer your emails or calls, because you were supposed to be aware of it.

9. Notify agency/school once you have booked your flights

Forward them to people in charge of accommodation & airport pick up (if applicable).

10. Collect all your original documents, and take them with you

All documents you used for a university application or visa appointment at the embassy – take all originals with you. You will need 65% of them on the registration day at the university. The rest might be required when you least expect it. It is easier to take them with you now instead of organizing your relatives to send an express shipment. As an example, your birth certificate (translated to German and officially certified) is needed to obtain a German passport or to marry in Germany. You will not be able to do anything unless you have these documents with you. Dig into all your old documents, and bring a big package of documents with you when initially flying to Germany.

11. Start learning German to know basic phrases

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12. Learn more about the public transportation system

Download an underground map and the applications for public transport to your phone. It is highly reliable and punctual with a possibility to commute to any point in the big cities by underground, trains, trams, buses, cars, and bicycles.

13. Research in advance about the cultural & geographical differences

How cold will it be when you plan to arrive? The perception of ‘cold’ in different countries varies. You do not want to sit in a jacket inside the classroom. The Winter temperatures may fall to -20C. In the Summer, you can enjoy up to +35C.

Read about the food and other German habits. There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan dishes and always alcohol-free options at any event, so do not be lost – simply ask. There are shops for all nationalities, including Afghani restaurants, Russian shops, Japanese bars, Indian Restaurants, etc. – if you cook at home, you can easily buy all the necessary ingredients in the shops in an indicated section.

14. Make a notarized copy of your passport

In Germany, you are obliged to have your ID with you all the time. Since you are a foreigner, you need to take your passport. Unless you make a notarized copy of your passport. If anything happens, you can call emergency numbers in the embassy or consulate of your country, as well as your agency/university.

15. Fly to Germany

Reminder – make sure to fly to Germany only after:

  • You have booked insurance
  • You have received visa stamped in your passport
  • You have secured accommodation (or at least looked into the accommodation matter)

German Student Visa: To Do After Arrival

16. Pass the passport control

Be ready for passport control. You will be asked a few questions about the duration of your stay, where you will study and what. Don’t be afraid, simply prepare your answers in advance. Have contacts of your agency/school nearby, in case you cannot answer the questions, let the officer call them (hopefully during working hours).

17. Buy yourself a transport pass

Always make sure to purchase transport tickets. In the machines, you frequently find instructions in the English language. Alternatively, ask people around for assistance. It is highly recommended not to ignore the ticket purchase. Long-term it is cheaper for you to buy the transport pass, as the fine will cost you a monthly sum in some instances. And you do want to have a clean visa history in Germany, I am sure.

18. Once you have arrived, send an email or a text to your school/agency that you have safely landed and reached your accommodation

It goes without saying, that you need to notify your relatives.

19. Respect university rules:

  • Do not come to university without a notice
  • Closer to the semester start, the admissions team of the university is very busy, and it is not easy to find time to meet you in person. University also might be closed. Come exactly when you are asked to arrive for a registration day, not earlier.
  • Arrive punctually to the Registration Day
  • In Germany, it means, you must be at the place and time before the indicated time (arrive 7:45 for 8:00 O’clock meeting). Bring all your documents in one folder (admissions representatives will take the necessary documents). Ask questions – this is one of the few opportunities where you can ask all the questions on your mind and to receive all the necessary information on the next steps. Do not be shy. Prepare the list of questions at home.

20. Enjoy the culture shock

You will have it. Everyone has it.

21. Get acquainted with bureaucracy

Until your visa expires, there are a few things you have to do, and it is highly advisable not to procrastinate. Make sure to complete all these activities outside of your class time. It is your responsibility to organize bureaucratic appointments in your free time and not to sacrifice your education time.

After you have secured a flat, these are the things you have to do (follow the order):

a. Register your address in the immigration office nearest to your flat

b. Buy books for studies (unless they were provided by the institution). Make sure your name is on the post box. Alternatively, ask your school if you can order books there

c. Notify your university on the address change and request a matriculation & transport pass discount document from university (can only be given after the full payment for semester/year/program has been done)

d. With the confirmation of the registered address, access your Blocked Account to unblock it in either of the German banks

e. Collect all the other necessary documents for visa extension apart from a) matriculation b) blocked account confirmation c) address registration and schedule an appointment with immigration office for your visa extension

f. Apply for extension and wait for a notification (when the visa or biometric card is ready) which you will receive by post

22. Learn the German post

– In Germany, things are done by post a lot. You receive your credit card by post, as well as your credit card pin code. You also receive your passport by post from the embassy if you apply for another country visa once. Do not be afraid, as the postal services in Germany are safe and fully reliable

– Once you have registered your address, you will receive a letter from the ‘radio tax’. Do not ignore it and start to pay right away (manually) unless you give them a written confirmation that it can be taken out from your bank account. Do not disregard this tax!

– If you receive letters in German and you cannot understand something, never put them aside. Always bring them to your German-speaking friends or university. They will help you translate and solve the situations

Never throw any letters until you are 100% sure you would not need it in the future (as an example proof of payment etc.)

23. Stay calm

The new chapter of your life starts now! There will be ups and downs. But you made it! Your family is very proud, and now you need to work hard graduate with distinction! Best of luck!

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