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Freie Universitaet Berlin - Germany

As soon as you arrive in Berlin you should arrange a meeting with the project managers of the PCD network.

Professors and PostDocs will then receive a confirmation of their status as a visiting scholar at Freie Universitaet Berlin. You need this document in order to apply for a library card and Internet access. Additionally, should you wish to open a bank account without a certificate of registration, you will receive a confirmation of your address.

M.A. and PhD students will also receive a confirmation of their address, and the rest of the registration procedure will then be explained to you.

To take part in the PCD network's Mobility Program, M.A. and PhD students require an informal letter from a mentor offering to supervise their research during their stay at Freie Universitaet Berlin. A mentor should be a humanities professor at the FUB whom you choose and contact on your own before your stay. An overview of those teaching in the humanities at Freie Universitaet Berlin can be found here.

A mentor must not necessarily be a professor working in your own field. Nonetheless, you will be affiliated with the institute of your mentor during your stay.

PostDocs are asked to show that they have already established contact with researchers at Freie Universitaet Berlin (e.g., with an extract from an email).

A semester always contains a lecture period (“Vorlesungszeit”), in which tutorials, seminars and lectures take place, as well as a lecture-free period (“vorlesungsfreie Zeit”). For example, whilst the Summer Semester 2016 runs in total from April 1 to September 30, courses only take place between April 18 and July 23. Some teaching does also take place in the lecture-free period, albeit significantly less. Intensive language courses, such as “Deutsch als Fremdsprache”, often run during this period.

The opening hours of certain libraries, canteens and other institutions differ during the lecture-free period. It is also usual for professors to offer only individual appointments for consultation hours.

Further information and dates can be found here.

During your stay at Freie Universitaet Berlin you have the opportunity to take part in a series of interdisciplinary events such as lectures, workshops and conferences. Some sites offering up-to-date information are:

M.A. and PhD students staying at the FUB during the lecture period can potentially take part in taught courses. The present lecture list can be found here. If you wish to attend a course, please contact the instructor in advance.

The language centre (Sprachenzentrum) of Freie Universitaet Berlin offers free German courses during the lecture period at A2 level and above. It is also possible to attend a beginners’ German course during the lecture-free period ("vorlesungsfreie Zeit") for which there is a fee. For all courses at the language centre – even those assuming little prior knowledge – it is necessary to register and take a placement test.

Other fee-paying institutions that offer German courses are the Goethe-Institut, the Neue Schule and the Berliner Volkshochschulen.

All institutions offer German courses of every level.

For M.A. and PhD students, the student ID you will receive also works as your library card.

To receive a library card as a PostDoc or Professor, take your confirmation of your status as a visiting scholar at Freie Universitaet Berlin to the counter of the Philological Library in the Rost- und Silberlaube. They will give you an application form. It usually takes 1-2 hours to process your application. You can then collect your library card, which entitles you to borrow books from all libraries of Freie Universitaet Berlin.

  • Address: Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin
  • Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 9 am– 10 pm

                             Saturday - Sunday 10 am - 8 pm

M.A. and PhD students will automatically be provided with a personal login for the WLAN of Freie Universitaet Berlin and the computers in the PC Pool as part of their enrollment.

Professors and PostDocs will require the following documents in order to access the WLAN of Freie Universitaet Berlin:

  • Application for a project account. This should be signed and stamped by the project managers of the PCD network.
  • your confirmation of your status as a visiting scholar at Freie Universitaet Berlin
  • Personal ID or passport
  • Take all of these documents to the ZEDAT user service in room JK 27/133 (opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10 am - 4 pm). A project account will be set up for you immediately. You will receive an email address and a password that you can change yourself. With these login details you can access all the public computers and the FUB WLAN.

Instructions for logging into the WLAN with your own computer can be found here (only in German).

It is possible to print in the ZEDAT PC Pool. You can top up your print credits with the Mensa Card and access the ZEDAT printers. The computers for topping up your account are located in the ZEDAT PC Pool in front of the IT Info Service office (corridor JK 27). A pricelist is available here.

Workstations with A4 colour scanners are available in the ZEDAT PC Pool. At these workstations, scanning has priority over all other tasks: if necessary, they must be vacated for users who wish to scan something. This does not mean that you can immediately claim another workstation. Instructions for use are provided on the cover of each scanner. For text recognition you can use the program “Adobe Acrobat.” You may find further information here (only in German).

Copying can be done at the copiers in the Philological Library. The Mensa Card is also required here.

The canteens (Mensa, pl. Mensen) of Freie Universitaet Berlin do not accept cash payments. Rather, you must pay with the Mensa Card. You can obtain one at the Mensa checkouts. On receiving a card you must leave a € 1.55 deposit, which will be returned to you when you give back your card. When you request your Mensa Card, make sure you bring your confirmation of your status as a visiting scholar at Freie Universitaet Berlin, since your status will be saved on the card. Students pay less than FUB staff, who in turn pay less than guests.

The Mensa Card can be topped up with cash (coins or € 5, € 10, € 20 and € 50 notes) at the machines located next to the main entrances of the canteens.

The largest Mensa of Freie Universitaet is in the Rost- und Silberlaube and offers a vegan dish and a vegetarian dish every day, alongside several meat dishes. In addition there are four soups, sandwiches, a salad bar and various desserts. Warm dishes are available from 11 am to 2:30 pm.

There are a large number of websites that will help you find a room in a flatshare (a “WG-Zimmer”) or a whole flat for yourself. The most popular are:

Many Berliners travelling for an extended period sublet their rooms or flats. These sublets, called “Untermiete” or “Zwischenmiete,” generally offer the advantage of already being furnished. Insist in all cases on a subletting contract (“Untermietvertrag”) – do not take over as the principle leaseholder!

“WG” is an abbreviation for “Wohngemeinschaft.” Normally, one flatmate is the main leaseholder of a flat containing multiple rooms. The kitchen and bathroom are shared between all flatmates. In some WGs there is also a communal room. Usually, each flatmate has their own room and pays rent according to its size.

WGs are extremely popular amongst students since they make it possible to live relatively cheaply in trendy, central areas (eg. Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg). Furthermore, it is easy to meet other people through one’s flatmates.

In some adverts you will find the expression “Zweck-WG.” This means that the flatmates primarily live in the WG for economic reasons and are not necessarily interested in a social life together.

After your arrival in Berlin you have 14 days to register at one of the Berlin citizens’ offices (a “Bürgeramt”). There are offices located in different districts of the city and they can all be visited independently of where you live. In order to receive a certificate of registration you must first book an appointment online. Since appointments are generally fully booked long in advance, it is advisable to search for an available slot before you depart.
You will need the following documents:

  • Passport or ID    
  • Registration form    
  • Confirmation from your landlord that you have moved in

As soon as you arrive in Berlin, you should open a current account (“Girokonto”) at a bank. With this kind of account you can carry out transfers and receive payments. It is advisable to choose a bank with many branches so as to avoid charges when withdrawing cash. The most frequently used banks are:

  • Deutsche Bank
  • Sparkasse
  • Commerzbank
  • Postbank
  • Berliner Bank
  • Berliner Volksbank

To open an account you need a valid personal ID or passport as well as a confirmation of registration in Berlin ("Meldebestätigung") that should not be older than six weeks.

The Berliner Bank (Schloßstr. 114, 12163 Berlin–Steglitz) allows you to open an account without immediately providing a confirmation of registration. It is sufficient to supply a confirmation of your address via Freie Universitaet Berlin (for which you should contact the project managers of the PCD network).
Master’s and PhD students should bring their student ID, since students are frequently exempt from account management fees. These otherwise depend on the bank and the payments you receive, and can be € 5-10 per month.
After your application at a bank it usually takes about a week for your EC card to be dispatched.

German health insurance is obligatory for M.A. students coming to Berlin. All German health insurance firms charge students matriculated at a university the same rate: € 61.01 for health insurance (“Krankenversicherung”) and € 15.52 for nursing care insurance (“Pflegeversicherung”). In addition, there is a small fee of € 1-6, which differs between companies. In total, health insurance costs around € 80 per month.

Further information can be found here (only in German).

Popular German health insurance companies are:

  • Techniker Krankenkasse
  • AOK
  • Barmer Krankenkasse
  • BKK
  • IKK

Zoltan Juhasz of Freie Universitaet's Welcome Service will happily support you in selecting and applying for health insurance.

German health insurance is not obligatory for Incoming Scholars who are not M.A. students.

All means of public transport in Berlin (S-Bahn, U-Bahn, tram, bus) can be used with tickets from the BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetrieb).
The BVG provide different tickets for different zones:

  • Zone AB: Berlin city centre
  • Zone ABC: Berlin city centre + suburbs
  • A “Kurzstrecke” (short distance) costs € 1.70 and is valid for three stations (including changes) with the U- and S-Bahn, or six stations with the Tram (changes not allowed).
  • An “einfache Fahrt” (single trip) costs € 2.80 (AB) or € 3.40 (ABC).
  • A “4-Fahrten-Karte” (4-trip ticket) costs €5.60 (Kurzstrecke) or € 9.00 (Einfache Fahrt, AB) and entitles you to four trips on any day you choose.
  • “Einzelfahrscheine” (individual tickets) entitle you to a trip in one direction. After purchase and validation they are valid for 120 minutes. Within this time you can change as often as you like or interrupt your journey. You may not, however, change your direction of travel, or go in a circle.
  • A “Tageskarte” (day ticket) costs € 7.00 (AB) or € 7.70 (ABC). With a Tageskarte you can travel as often as you like during the day printed on the ticket when you validate it and up to 3am on the following day.

All tickets must be validated before beginning your trip and are only valid after this point.
If you intend to use public transport frequently, it is advisable to buy a period ticket (Abonnement). These are called “VBB-Umweltkarten” and are available in two varieties:

      • (1) as a monthly card (“Monatskarte”) valid for a particular calendar month:
        These are valid from midnight on the final day of the previous month to midnight on the final day of the month in question.
      • (2) as a monthly card valid from a particular day (sliding):
        These are valid from midnight on the first day of validity to midnight on the last day of validity (both printed on the ticket).

During the week, the U- and S-Bahn operate until around 1:30 am, depending on the station. After 1:30 am they are replaced by night busses (a “Nachtbus”). On Friday and Saturday, as well as on official public holidays, the train service runs all night. Trams always run all night.

  • Whilst citizens of Israel and the USA only require a visa if staying in Germany longer than 90 days, those from Hong Kong require one to enter the country.
  • Student visas issued by the German embassy in Hong Kong are personal and valid for at least 90 days.

A student visa can be extended at the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) at Friedrich-Krause-Ufer 24 on presentation of proof of your status as student and proof of a blocked account containing a budget of € 670 per month.