Getting settled in a new country is a challenge. Have a look below for an overview on what you need to know to make yourself at home in Germany.
Mail/Post in Germany
When it comes to sending things by mail, there are a number of options in Germany. The Deutsche Post is the most widespread post office, and its branches are recognizable throughout cities with the logo of a black horn against a yellow background. There are also mailboxes along the street where letters can be sent. Stamps cost 55 cents for a basic letter sent within Germany and 45 cents for a postcard.
Roads and rails in Germany
Getting from place to place by car is no problem thanks to a good network of streets and highways. Those who don’t want to buy a car can also take advantage of carpooling opportunities from city to city, often arranged with the help of websites like www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de.
Within cities and towns, public transportation is widely available as well. Busses and trains are generally on time and reliable, but they don’t run 24 hours a day in most cities. Traveling by taxi, however, tends to be expensive.
National and international travel is also possible by way of trains, and Germany has a strong network of regional and national railways. Deutsche Bahn is the name of the national company that operates most of the trains, but there are other options available from smaller, private companies. Depending on when and how you book a train trip, many discounts are available, so it helps to pay attention to the offers. The ICE trains run by Deutsche Bahn are typically the fastest way to travel within Germany. As such, flying within the country is generally more preferable for cities that are on opposite sides of the country. There are 40 public airports in Germany with the Frankfurt Airport being the country’s largest and the third-largest in Europe.
Religion in Germany
A majority of Germans identify themselves as Christian, with around 30 percent Protestant and 30 percent Catholic. Around 200,000 Jews live in Germany, as well as 3.5 million Muslims. Generally speaking, the adherents of various religions get along peacefully with one another. Conflicts have been known to emerge in the courts, though, primarily with respect to religious symbols. Many German states have restricted wearing head scarves in public schools, and crosses are not permitted to be hung in classrooms.
Safety in Germany
Safety in public is not a major concern in Germany, but robberies and pick-pocketing do occur. People can feel safe when out and about at night in cities, but caution is called for in more isolated areas or side streets. It’s also a good idea to pay close attention to your purse or wallet when heading to tourist sites where distractions abound. When traveling by car, parking garages often reserve spots near the entrance for women. In the case of an emergency, dial 110 to alert the police. This can be done for free from any public telephone.
Electrical devices in Germany
German power outlets use 220 volt electricity, which means that not all electrical devices purchased abroad will be compatible in Germany. Adapters and converters can be purchased for those who want to continue using appliances brought from home.
Electricity is generated from a variety of sources including coal, nuclear power and alternative energies like solar and wind power as well as biofuel. Each household can decide which electricity provider it would like to use. And it’s not always just a question of money: Politics also comes into play. Those who oppose nuclear power, for instance, may be sure to select a provider that does not use electricity generated from nuclear plants.
Mobile phones are called Handys in German, and there’s no shortage of options when it comes to finding a provider and plan. Everything from flat-rate unlimited calling to individually prepaid calling cards is available. Students may be able to take advantage of special deals or rates, so it’s worth asking around. For those from abroad who want to call home, one option are the call shops located around many cities. Call shops house a number of telephone booths, and customers can ask about the rate per minute at the cash register. Calling cards and international calling plans are available as well.
Important telephone numbers:
Fire department/police: 110
Germany’s country code is 0049. When dialing in from abroad, the country code is followed by the city’s area code and then the number itself.
A visa is required for those from outside the European Union who want to live in Germany. There are various types of visas available, and aspiring students should make sure not to enter the country on a tourist visa and then try to switch to a student visa. Student visas are generally issued in the student’s homeland by the German Consulate or Embassy before coming to Germany. Requisite documents to receive a visa generally include a passport, passport-sized photos, proof of eligibility to begin university studies and proof that financial support for at least the first year has been secured.
Image & article source: www.dw.de