Rena Walton is a relocation expert and the founder of Across the Pond. Starting in the spring of 2016, she will be working with the Eight Hours and Change team to help students move to Germany and adjust to their new lives here.
Many of you might have told your friends and family that you are planning to move "across the pond“ next year. But you should know that actually moving here is not as simple as the expression suggests. Here are a few things you need to know when moving to Germany.
In Germany, you need to get registered with your local government. In order to do so, you need to visit the Einwohnermeldeamt, a government office servicing you with all the little things you need like applying for a drivers license or getting your German ID. All you need for your registration is your new permanent address. But be careful, by law you have to get this process done within 10 days of arriving at your new permanent address. And every time you move, even if it is within the same city, you need to register again.
Transfer your driver’s license!
One perk of moving to Germany is that you can use your US drivers license for 6 months after arriving in Germany. Once the time is up, you need to get a German driver’s license. Some US states have signed a reciprocal agreement with Germany, meaning that you can transfer your US driver’s license for a German one. This depends on which state you’re from. For instance, if you have a driver’s license from the State of Virginia, your license transfers completely. If you have a Florida driver’s license, you only need to pass the written test. Unfortunately, people with a license from California or New York both have to take a written and driving test.
Learn to Recycle!
What is one of the most important things about the German lifestyle? Recycling! Germans just seem to love it so much that they separate their trash 4 different ways. That means you will have 4 different waste bins in your kitchen: one for plastic, one for paper, one for mulch (such as banana skins or egg shells, basically anything that can go back to mother earth), and one for anything else. Glass is separately collected as well. Sound complicated? Even after being raised in Germany and living back in the country for a good year, I still find myself pondering which trash goes where. So no worries, you will get used to it. And just think about how beneficial the recycling system is for our environment.
Remember your ID!
As a student, you will receive what’s called a Studienausweis (Study ID) for every semester you attend class. This ID is not only important around campus, but you can also use your local public transportation for free. This includes busses and subways in your town as well as regional trains in your state. For instance, if you attend the University of Hannover, you can travel around Hannover as well as the state of Lower Saxony for free. Unfortunately, the ticket does not grant access to the high-speed trains, for which you will need to purchase an additional ticket. This is however unnecessary unless traveling longer distances throughout the country. Also, the Studienausweis grants you discounts at several other places such as the cinema. Just remember to ask for it.
Get ready to eat!
Another perk students in Germany really seem to enjoy is the Mensa, which is the food hall on campus. In the Mensa, universities offer meals for those on a low budget, meaning that you can purchase a warm lunch or even dinner for around 3€. Considering that a foot long at Subway in Germany costs around 6€ and a meal at McDonalds even more, this is a really good deal. Additionally, the portions are very generous and you can choose between several different meals that change every day. Just another way to save some bucks!
These five things to know about relocating are important to remember, however, as someone who is new to Europe this list goes on and on. There are many great and wonderful new things to learn. Germany will surely welcome you with open arms! As a German relocation specialist, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to contact us and ask away. Auf Wiedersehen, Rena
If you are planning to move to Germany in the next year and would like assistance with your relocation, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or setting up an appointment by going to www.eighthoursandchange.setmore.com. If you make an appointment, be sure to note that you are interested in discussing relocation services.