As is the case with most capital cities, Berlin is home to a sizable student population. The city has the third-highest number of students per capita in Europe, after Oxford and Cambridge. With more than 200 universities and colleges throughout the city, as well as numerous research institutes, language schools and private institutions. It’s no surprise that so many international students have chosen to study in Berlin.
Many of these institutions offer courses exclusively in English, meaning that international students can integrate into their new surroundings more easily than they might in other cities. This guide details everything you need to know about life as an international student in Berlin; from housing and work permits to the cost of living and social activities.
Living in Berlin as an international student
The cost of living in Berlin is relatively high compared to other European capitals. However, it is possible to live comfortably on a student budget. Public transport is affordable and reliable, and you can use the BVG student discount on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses and trams.
You will also have access to a variety of low-cost supermarkets. If you are under 29, you are eligible for a reduced rate for health insurance. You will also have access to the German health care system, which means you will not have to pay for treatment or prescription drugs. You will also be able to save money on your course fees.
Housing in Berlin for international students
When considering housing in Berlin as an international student, there are several factors to consider. The first is whether you want to live in a WG (German for ‘house share’) or rent a room in an apartment. WGs are popular with both German and international students, but if you’re new to the city, you might find it easier to make friends in an apartment.
Most students in Berlin live in rented shared accommodation. You can find various shared rental student apartments in Berlin. You can view these options and rent the apartment you want online. This digital process makes the renting much smoother.
Working in Berlin as an international student
Students in Germany are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term time, and full-time during holidays. Most students find part-time work in bars and restaurants, or as au pairs. If you want to find full-time work, you must obtain a work permit. A number of employment agencies offer internships and jobs in Berlin; you can find a list of them here. Alternatively, you can check the job listings on university websites.
Travelling to and from university as an international student
Public transport in Berlin is excellent, and it is relatively cheap to travel throughout the city and to neighbouring towns and cities. Berlin’s transport network includes the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses, ferries and the regional train network.
There are several ticket types; for instance, if you are a student or under the age of 25, you can apply for the reduced ‘young person’s ticket. Students from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland need a travel pass (‘Schüler-/Studienkarte’). This costs about €100 and will allow you to travel on all modes of public transport in Berlin. It is valid for six months and you can apply for it at your local Berlin Transit Authority (BVG) customer service centre.
Culture and language lessons for international students
Berlin is a melting pot of different cultures and languages, and learning the language will help you to integrate into your new surroundings more easily. There are several language schools in Berlin, and most offer courses in English.
If you are interested in learning German, you can sign up for free language courses at the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) centre. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the extensive cultural offerings in Berlin.
Some museums offer language courses, or you can sign up for academic language or culture seminars at Humboldt University. You can also join an exchange programme with a university in another country.
There are several reasons why Berlin is a popular choice among international students. The city has a low cost of living, excellent transport links, and several cultural and language courses. There are several unique experiences that you can have in a bustling city like Berlin. You can have fun getting to know the city better, and find many great opportunities as well.
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