The thought of traveling out of your country for the first time can be very daunting and exhilarating at the same time because you never know how will the stay going to be.
I came to Germany in January 2017, this was the first time I was traveling out of my home country, India. Even though I was aware of the fact that life is going to be very different from India, but after coming to Germany I realized how difficult even it was to imagine what fortune has kept for me here. Let me tell you, life is indeed very different from India (As I am from India I would be comparing fundamentally from that perspective but there are many things which would be useful to people from other parts of the world). Below are various mentioned points where one can apparently notice the difference:
1.Food: food is something which is vital for survival but, unfortunately, as an Indian student we always take this for granted because until our student life ends (in most cases) we don’t need to cook and feed ourselves. Because until we graduate from school life our beloved mother prepares that for us and in colleges/universities we have the mess to feed our tummy and not to mention canteen which caters to gratifies our taste bud. But, the scenario is dramatically different Germany, yes this is the reality because even if you have mess either you won’t find food which you would like to eat or it would be costly. You may also find Subway, McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbuck’s, KFC, Pizza Hut etc. but that would burn a hole in your pocket.
So, does this mean one would die out of hunger? No, absolutely not. What most of the Indian students do is they bring spices from India or buy from the Indian store (generally found in the major cities) and cook by themselves because even though you may have “Mensa (Mess)” in your university but as I said it would not satisfy your taste buds. Even though you may eat there sometimes out of necessity but surely not by choice.
Now, as you know you will have to cook, be ready to spend 45 minutes to 1-hour ( time varies based on your expertise in cooking) in cooking every day you wish to eat Indian food (That is a reasonable period, if you are a beginner, it may take some more time). So be ready for that.
So, does this mean I have no other option? No, there is still an option. You can start eating pizza and other ready to cook foods.
Tips: Learn cooking before coming to Germany because that would be your best skill to survive. Bring some spices from India as the spices from Indian store would be costly. And while you cook try to engage yourself in something else at the same time like listening to German songs or something like that.
2.Laundry: Even though you will have a washing machine in your flat or public washing machine in some cases, it is not going to be very convenient to do it by yourself because that is not something which we are used to doing. So be prepared for it. Charges for washing the clothes vary depending on whether you are using the public washing machine or you have one in the flat.
Tips: What tips can you expect in this?
3.Cleaning: this is also something which as Indian students are not used to, therefore, learn how to clean your space. Because if you don’t want to spend a lot of money in regular cleaning at least you will have to clean your room. And as the cleaning tools are different than in India you may find it difficult to use them.
Tips: learn a bit of cleaning beforehand.
4.Commutation: Generally, we live in housing facilities near the Institute which reduces the time of travel. But, here if you are not residing in a city moving back and forth from the university can be time-consuming as buses and trains do not run so often in an hour. But, even if they do, your rented flat may not necessarily be near to the stops, so be prepared for it.
Tips: Know about the apps which can tell you about the timing of the buses and trains like DB navigator, RMV etc. Also, you can read a book or listen to an audio dictionary while commuting. The good part is you will not have much noise around, so, you can do your job peacefully.
5.Weather: It is the scariest part. If you come in winter, you will experience the freezing coldness. Less number of sunshine hours. Summer is relatively safe as you do not need to load yourself with loads of clothes but many a time temperature reaches to 35-36 degree Celsius which may be a problem without fans or air conditioners (it is rare to have fan or AC in Germany).
Tips: Bring sufficient winter clothes if you don’t want to fall ill as soon as you come. Get right winter clothes from a good brand (as they have temperature tested clothes). I bought from Decathlon but you can choose any name you like.
6.SIM cards: It is really difficult to decide which one to buy because you will get different SIM cards on their own merits and demerits. But, generally if you want to have it for official purpose (i.e. for internship/interview calls) O2 or Vodafone is recommendable but for international calls, Lebara is a good choice. Apart from the mentioned brands, you can find Rewe, Aldi etc.
Tips: Mostly you should prefer WhatsApp call or skype but should have any one of the mentioned cards for urgent calls.
7.Groceries: There are a good number of supermarkets which you might not have heard back in India like REWE, ALDI, EDEKA, NETTO, PENNY etc. You can buy you day to day stuff from these supermarkets.
Tips: First visit these stores and compare the prices of the items before buying because there is a considerable difference in the prices of the products in different supermarkets as there is no concept of maximum retail price (MRP) in Germany. Generally, Aldi and Penny is considered to be the most cost effective.
8. Language: so far the most important point, I guess. Yes, I am saying this because even though, if your course is in English but to get into the job market without German fluency, is indomitable. Knowledge of German language not only helps you to get a job but also it increases your chances drastically to gel up with the people here. Germans know that German is a very difficult language to learn therefore they appreciate if some take the pain to learn the language.
Tips: Try to learn at least basics of German before you arrive here. And keep on learning as much as possible in due course of time.
These are some of the things which I noticed based on my personal experiences so far, I will keep updating the list as and when I find something new. Do share your views in the comment section if you feel something is missing in the list.
Thank you for taking out your time to read!