Studienforum Berlin e.V.









Studienforum Berlin

Practical Information 

Before leaving for Berlin: Pre-departure guidelines

Here you will find some hints and tips which come out of STUDIENFORUM BERLIN's experiences with frequently asked questions (FAQ) and which will help you avoid trouble during your study in Berlin.

After the September 11, 2001, events, security and safety abroad have become a major concern to most students, faculty, and parents. To be appropriately prepared for Germany and Europe you should visit the respective website of the U.S. State Department. Terrorist activities in Paris 2015 and Brussels and Berlin 2016 have confirmed the necessity to be aware of the risks when studying abroad.

Before you board an airplane to Berlin and head for an academic and cultural experience full of new and exciting impressions and adventures you should also take into account some important advice which can prepare you for an enjoyable stay.

Re-enrollment Procedures

In spite of all your excitement to go to Berlin: Don't forget to check the rules and deadlines for re-enrollment procedures and for housing back home following your study abroad stay.

Passport & Visa

Check your passport far in advance that it is valid at least six months after your study abroad program ends. U.S. citizens don't need a visa for Germany when they stay for three months or less.

  • If, however, they will stay in Berlin for a semester they have to be prepared to apply for a residency permit ("Aufenthaltsgenehmigung"). 
  • Students with different citizenships should check with the German embassy or German consulates before coming to Berlin whether they need any. 
  • Pack a photocopy of the first page of your passport (and also the receipts for traveller's checks, see below) in your checked luggage. They should always remain separate from the original documents!
  • More visa info you get here.

Student ID

Bring an International Student ID for taking advantage of student discounts for trips, tickets for theatres, movies, museums, etc.

Practical Information

  • Make sure that your health insurance covers your costs in case you will get ill during your stay abroad. STUDIENFORUM BERLIN requires a proof of health insurance. Bring a copy of the policy or the insurance card. 
  • Or buy an affordable insurance package (including health, accident and liability insurance) at STUDIENFORUM BERLIN.
  • To participate in a STUDIENFORUM BERLIN internship program, liability insurance is mandatory.

Prescription Drugs

Bring the supply of the prescription drugs (in the original containers!) you need to last your entire stay. Bring a doctor's prescription or note for any prescription drugs you are bringing with you (copies!) to ensure a smooth custom inspection. Bring vitamins if you believe in them. In Germany vitamins are very expensive. If you wear contact lenses bring your brand of cleaning supply to which you are used to.

Luggage Insurance

Think about insurance for your luggage (lost and theft).

Berlin Address

Leave your Berlin address (c/o STUDIENFORUM BERLIN, Hauptstraße 74, D-12159 Berlin, Germany) and e-mail address  with your study abroad administrators for important messages. Leave them also with your family and friends.

Group Flights

STUDIENFORUM BERLIN does not make travel arrangements, so check with your home institution or travel agent for inexpensive (group) flights.

Early Arrivals and Late Departures

STUDIENFORUM BERLIN is not able to accommodate early arrivals or late departures. You may arrive early on your own but you must check in where you will stay during your time in Berlin on the first day of the program. If you notify your travel and arrival plans well ahead prior to your arrival STUDIENFORUM BERLIN's staff will pick you up at the airport or trainstation. This service is included in the fees. BUT: In any case you must notify STUDIENFORUM BERLIN or the accompanying faculty member of the program of your arrival and departure plans.

Luggage Transportation

Follow the general airlines guidelines for luggage transportation. Each piece of luggage should get your name and address. Important items (money, medicine, anything that is valuable or irreplacable) belong in your carry-on bag! Remember that you will be responsible for carrying your own bags for quite some distance. If you cannot carry your bags, they are obviously too heavy! Check with the airlines how heavy your luggage ought to be! Usually you are allowed one piece of luggage at 23 kg (or 50.6 lbs) and one hand piece of luggage. Excess kilograms are expensive and may end up in several hundreds of US$. Often a large backpack is more convenient than a suitcase, especially when you plan to travel before, during and/or after the program.

Sending Packages

You should be aware that sending packages to (and from) Germany are not only expensive but also take quite a long time (up to six weeks by surface mail). So we urge you to pack as lightly as you can. If you need to send packages, list the components of packages as "used personal belongings". This will save you from extra duty charges.

Carry-on Luggage

Keep one change of clothing and a toiletry kit in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage does not arrive with your flight.

Eurorailpass/Eurail Youthpass

If you plan to travel before, during or after your program, it might be a good idea to purchase either a Eurorailpass or a Eurail Youthpass. These passes must be purchased in the U.S.! Check with your local or university travel agent what will be the best for you!

Money: Cash and Traveller's Checks

Do not bring too much money in cash and not too many traveller's checks in small denominations because you have to take into account that many banks and exchange bureaus charge exchange fees for each check. Important: Contact your bank if you are able to use your ATM card oversees resp. in Germany. In Germany, major credit cards are accepted in most shops, but not, e.g., in smaller restaurants.

Time Differences

Be aware of the time difference between your home state and Berlin (at least six hours). Remember also that Europeans write times and dates differently to Americans (e.g. 18:00 hours instead of 6pm; 11. September 2001 or 11.09.01 instead of September 11, 2001 or 09/11/01).

Jet Lag

You might also need a period of adjustment to the "new" time, overcoming the "jet lag". But don't worry: These symptoms are normal and you will have much time left for your big adventure, Berlin!

Goods in Berlin

You can get almost everything (even American goods) money can buy in Berlin. Often prices are not higher but lower than in the U.S. (fluctuations may however occur, depending on the exchange rate). This is especially true for films including development and prints.

Converter/Adapter

Have in mind that the electrical current and plug-ins are different from the American system, so you will need a converter (to 220 V) and/or an adapter for your hair dryer, electrical toothbrush etc. This is also true if you want to bring your laptop. A pocket calculator and a travel alarm clock might be helpful, too.

Formal Attire

Please note that for some occasions (theatres, concerts, receptions) it is appropiate for "her" to wear a shirt or dress or dressy pants, for "him" to wear dressy pants, a jacket and a tie. Although Berlin is a city where almost "anything goes", especially interns should bring formal attire.

Small Photos

Bring about four small photos of you (rules for photos have been tightened recently) and have one available electronically. You will be surprised how often you will need a photo when staying abroad.

Books in English

Bring some paperbacks for pleasure reading because books in English are quite expensive in Germany - unless you look for some used ones on flea markets, e.g. at the market near the Technical University or the one close to the Berliner Dom.

Gifts from Back Home

If you will stay with a host family it would be a nice gesture to bring a gift from back home (e.g. a small picture book of your town or state, a college T- or Sweat-Shirt, a bottle of California wine). Bring also some photos of your own family, city, campus etc. as well as some of your favorite recipes of American dishes.

Cosmetics and Toiletries

Women will find almost all cosmetics and toiletries they normally use at home but prices for American or French brands may be higher than in the U.S. So bring your own supply!

Information in Advance

To get the most out of your stay in Berlin, we recommend that you do a little reading in advance about Germany and Berlin, its history and people. For information and assistance U.S. citizens can contact:

Overseas citizens from Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand and other English speaking countries, please contact STUDIENFORUM BERLIN for further information.

Learning German in Advance, Free and Online

It is a good idea to have some proficiency in the German language before you actually arrive in Berlin. For getting to know some basic German there exist two excellent sources you may check: (1) Deutsche Welle (supported by the German government, it is free!); (2) Babbel (supported by the European Union).

File-Sharing

In Germany, you may not copy, retain, or distribute copyrighted or proprietary material without written consent of the copyright holder. This applies to computer software, documentation, music and video files, and other tangible assets protected under German, other European Union and U.S. copyright and patent laws. This includes the use of Studienforum Berlin's as well as the host families' network as a vehicle for copyright infringement, regardless of ownership of the computer or storage medium involved. Regardless of whether any profit is made from copyrighted material, it is illegal to provide uncontrolled access to such material (as would usually be the case in peer-to-peer file sharing programs).

Violation of this policy can result in loss of computer privileges, academic suspension, or other disciplinary action, or action by outside law enforcement agencies both in Germany as well as in your home country.

Illegal Drugs

Last but not least, please be aware: STUDIENFORUM BERLIN will NOT tolerate the use or possession of illegal drugs!

When you are in Berlin . . .

During your stay in Berlin STUDIENFORUM BERLIN's staff will assist you in getting answers to any questions which may come up. Because the staff members have been living in foreign cultures they all have firsthand experience about any problems that may arise. We encourage you to seek our help and assistance to make the adjustment to Berlin as easy as possible.

On your arrival STUDIENFORUM BERLIN will provide you with a Welcome Package which comprises a city map of Berlin, a cell phone (including a pre-paid card of 15 EUR) for the duration of your stay, a book "Berlin for Young People" and many brochures about city life. It also contains the STUDIENFORUM BERLIN's student handbook "Discover Berlin" which is full of information about living in the big city of Berlin. This handbook will be updated every few months.

For more information please send us an email.









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