Berlin is a place where you’ll definitely find something to do. It’s a city with a great cultural and historical heritage, a bridge between West and East and one of the key cities of Europe. The capital of Germany reunites a great number of cultures and if you got a possibility to go there for your studies, don’t miss this unique experience!
Interested in doing studies?
German universities have a great reputation all over the world thanks to an almost free education. Also home to great opportunities for scientists,this country becomes more popular every year. Now it’s the third most thought-after destination for studies after the US and the UK!
Capital cities are usually the most attractive for students because they have the greatest number of universities and educational institutions. This is why we’ve decided to ask two students, Dasha Anisimova from Russia and Suga Raytila from Indonesia, about their life as foreigner students in Germany.
Suga is sure that studying abroad has its advantages over staying in his home country:
“Yes, for architecture it’s better in Germany than in Indonesia and I could get a great job with my German degree.
I’ve decided to leave my country because I’m fed up with its educational system and the atmosphere there. I wanted to have something new, meet new people and learn other cultures. That’s why I’ve chosen Germany”
Universities of Berlin
Berlin is a very attractive destination for studies nowadays and it’s known for its public universities (by the way 2 of them are considered as elite universities) as well as for private institutions. There is also a number of universities of applied sciences recognised all over the world.
- Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin)
- Humboldt University of Berlin (HU Berlin)
- Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin)
- Berlin University of the Arts (UdK)
- ESCP Europe, Campus Berlin
- Hertie School of Governance
- Steinbeis-Hochschule Berlin
- ESMT European School of Management and Technology
- Touro College Berlin
According to Dasha, student of the Free University of Berlin (one out of two Berlin elite universities), German education will have a strong impact on her future professional life:
“Regarding my future career perspectives, I think that studies in Germany are a great advantage for me: I’ve improved my German and English and learned many other things”
She took a decision to go study abroad together with her parents:
“They wanted a better future for me and I wanted to experience something new, in addition, my brother is also doing his studies here”
Price of studies
One of the most attractive aspects of German education is its price: one semester at a public university will cost you from 70€ to 340€ depending on the university and the city where you want to study. In Berlin, you have to expect about 310€. Pretty often you’ll have transport costs included in this price, sometimes (e.g. North-Rhine Westphalia and Hesse) you’ll have almost all kinds of transport in the region at your disposition which makes traveling very cost-effective.
“I pay 270€ for a semester card and I can use it for public transport in Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, and I even get discounts in clothing stores or in restaurants. I recommend Berlin to all students, almost all of my friends that live outside of it want to move here”
In general prices in Berlin are lower than in Western Germany which makes it pretty affordable, especially comparing with other big cities such as Munich, Hamburg or Cologne, which are known for overpriced housing.
“It’s simpler to find accommodation here than in Munich, but it’s still a real struggle. It doesn’t take too much time to get a room in a students hall, but it’s pretty difficult to find a good flatshare”
“The price depends on the flat: if it’s in the middle of the city, it’s gonna be more expensive, but if it’s on the city’s outskirt it’s gonna be cheaper. I pay 255€, it’s a flatshare in a students hall and it includes utility bills. So I would say the flats in Berlin are affordable. One of my friends lives in a normal flat and she has to pay about 370€”
In Germany, flatshare is a national sport. To simplify this there are websites dedicated to finding students flatshare, where you can find a room in a shared flat from 150€ to 600€ per month. As opposed to Paris or London, where it’s nearly impossible to find an affordable housing for a student, Berlin offers nice and cheap accommodation.
“Personally, I don’t consider Berlin as expensive. As they say “Berlin is poor, but sexy”
Don’t be afraid of going to Germany because of language, it’s possible to find courses in other languages, especially at the master or doctoral level where a big part of programmes are in English. And if you don’t speak German but you want to follow courses in this language, at every university you can find language and orientation courses that will help you not to get lost in this country.
“I’ve faced the language barrier when I moved to Germany and I was trying to speak German as often as possible. At first, I was speaking with foreigners and then I was comfortable with Germans as well”
German won’t be a problem in everyday life either: the majority of Germans speak English and it’s completely possible to have a conversation in English with nearly everybody.
Also, if you speak English you’ll recognize a lot of words just because they are from the same language group, which makes learning German way simpler for English speakers.
“English helps me sometimes although German and English are compeletely different languages but if I forget a word in German and I say it in English, people understand what I mean”
Easy access to the information
If you decide to study in Germany, you’ll always be able to find information about your university, courses and formalities on the Internet, a lot of official formalities can be also done online since Germany emphasizes the use of digital media in everyday life.
As a student, you will have an easy access to class, library databases and to all the lecture materials. This is where you’re going to make your timetable and if you have any query just ask your student advisor.
If you want to study in Germany outside of an academic exchange programme, in most cases you’ll have to send your documents to an organisation called uni-assist which will transfer your documents to the universities of your choice.
Fees for the handling of documents: 75€ for the 1st university and 15€ for every other application for the same semester.
Nowadays almost all the universities work with uni-assist. There are just a few exceptions but you will always find all information needed on the university’s site or on uni-assist.
Germany Visa Requirements
If you’re an EU citizen, you don’t need any visa all you need is a valid identity card. The same goes for Island, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
Citizens from other countries need a visa, but requirements depend on the country you come from and the length of your stay. For some countries, a visa is obligatory if you stay for more than 90 days, but there are also a lot of countries, whose citizens need a visa even for a short stay.
If you come from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the USA and you plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you may apply for your visa before or after your arrival in Germany.
You don’t need a visa for a short stay (less than 3 months) if you’re from Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Vatican City, Chile, South Korea, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, USA, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Macao, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Panama, Paraguay, Seychelles, Singapore, Uruguay or Venezuela (complete listing here).
For citizens from other countries it is necessary to apply for the visa before coming to Germany. After coming to Germany if you want to stay there for more than 3 months, you’ll have to apply for a resident permit.
For more information we recommend you to visit the web page of the German embassy in your country. You may also find some useful information at your university’s site.
International students in Germany can count on great support from both their university and foreign student organisations creating meetings and trips to other cities and even countries. In every city you will find numerous institutions from student organisations to expat networks. So you’ll definitely not end up alone. Moreover, it’s one of the most energetic cities in the world, so it’s going to be difficult to get lonely.
“I cannot recommend Berlin to everyone, it’s a matter of taste, but those who like big cities, parties and weirdos are welcomed here”
So even if you’re not a fan of noisy streets and huge parties, Germany is above all a great opportunity for you and your future.
Written by Olga Spivak