Sunday, 25 January 2015

5 things to do after arriving in Germany

Here are five quick pointers for students, of tasks to be done after arriving n Germany.

1. Insurance
It is highly recommended to convert your private insurance to a public one, if you are here for a longer stay.

2. Visa conversion
Students are often provided with a temporary visa of few months. Once, arriving in Germany it is very important to get this Visa converted to a student (or work) Visa, at earliest. One should also anticipate waiting period for student Visa, since there will be plenty of international students arriving at the same time.

3. City registration
After finding a place to stay one must register this address at earliest at the city registration office, failing which there is a possibility of a financial penalty.

4. Maps and GPS navigation
It is not common to ask people for address or streets. Thus, one must get equipped and acquainted in using Google maps, GPS navigation software.

5. Handful of SOS words in German
In case you can not communicate even basics in German, it is important to learn quickly few clauses in German which might help you in situation of need. A common phrase is 'Konnen Sie bitte auf English sprechen?' :D (Can you please speak in English?)

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Please, don’t feel at home!

Post for my dear Indian friends studying abroad!
However, this theory is also applicable and beneficial for students from any other country who is studying abroad.

With growing inclination towards studying in Germany these days, the number of Indian students in Germany has increased in short period. After arriving in Germany, students often try to find friends who belong to the same country as theirs, and then same state, better still from the same city! Many students arriving here consider themselves fortunate to meet Indians, especially belonging to the same caste and culture as theirs.

It is not difficult to find Indians here today, as it was just few years back. Hence, one often begins the journey of studying in Germany, by dwelling in the comfortable company of other Indians around. I myself have been fortunate enough to find many Indians; at university, hostel, work place, and practically everywhere, I walk these days!

However, I wish to bring to light, the importance of being out of our comfort zones occasionally. Here, in Aachen (North-west city in Germany), it is very much possible to make many Indian friends, and cook daily with them, have dinner parties with them, study with them in library, attend lectures with them, and have them as your neighbors. One can roll and swim so deep in this comfort zone that, sometimes one might wonder if he or she is in Germany or India. As good and pleasant this is, it is also important to occasionally step out of our comfort zones and try to explore and utilize the opportunity of meeting people from different lands and cultures.

It is not difficult to arrange dinner party where all your guests come from different countries! They are equally eager and polite. Attending international get-to-gathers and parties occasionally, even just to watch people hailing from different nationalities is a good practice (and talking to them will be a bonus ;) ) I took several opportunities to meet people from different lands. The difference of routines and customs that I find, often amaze me. The trail of thoughts and cultural values exchanged are one of the memorable times of my stay in Germany. I am fortunate to live in a hostel, where my neighbors come from Spain, Ukraine, Germany, Russia, India, etc. I also occasionally attend the international evening gatherings in the city. Living in a student city offers one, a chance to meet people not just from Germany but also from other countries around the world.

Please do not misunderstand or misinterpret my message here. I do not deny the emotional, motivational, cultural and all other unique bonds that we share with people coming from same background as ours. It definitely helps us to sail smoothly in foreign waters. Nevertheless, we must still not forget that one of the main reasons we choose to study abroad, is to get an international exposure. If we start comfortably dwelling in our Indian troops without making an effort of occasionally looking beyond, does not serve the purpose!

Just a note, from an Indian studying abroad :)

P.S. - Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on this topic as a comment to this post.

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Friday, 23 January 2015

Where's my water?!

No, this isn't about the croc game of finding water, but a real situation which many newly arrived Indians undergo in Germany.

While packing bags to come to Germany for studying or working, one often thinks about clothes, utensils, rare Indian food items one feels one can not live without and so on. However, I bet nobody thinks about packing bottles of water in the bags! (whether it is allowed or not, is a different question). Thus, a newly arrived is often surprised to see a person drinking tap water or drinking water which tastes like soda! So, here's a crisp bit of information about 'Drinking water' in Germany. 

It is very common in Germany to drink water with gas. It is like drinking soda water everyday instead of aqua-purified municipality drinking water in India! This water is often referred to as Sparkling wasser, sprudel (bubbles) wasser or wasser mit kohlensäure (with carbon dioxide) (wasser=water). The plain drinking water is available as 'Still wasser', sometimes also as 'Naturell wasser' (natural water). Another interesting fact about drinking water in Germany is that most of the tap water is drinkable, unless specified as undrinkable. Thus, drinking tap water at home is no harm at all (unless specified otherwise). Yet still, one can also buy water filter for home.

Hope this bit of information helps my fellow Indian friends who have just arrived in Germany!

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