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Life in Berlin
- Where can I get further information about Berlin?
- How high are the living costs in Berlin?
- Is Berlin a safe city?
- How do I get around Berlin using public transportation?
- How can I protect myself against theft and robbery?
- What should I do in case of emergency?
- What should I do if I get sick during FUBiS?
- What should I keep in mind if I need to bring medication with me?
- How do I find an English-speaking doctor in Berlin?
- What should I keep in mind if I have a disability?
Berlin is a very big, complex and culturally interesting city. It contains not only a great number of museums, theaters and opera houses, but also many interesting bars and cafés. You can find current information about Berlin on the city’s official website or on the tourist information website.
The cost of living is relatively cheap in Berlin compared to other German and European cities. However, how much money you need depends on your personal life style. According to a study of the German student unions, German students spend on average 170 euro per month on food (basic groceries, i.e. not including eating out). In addition to the 170 euro, it is advisable to include enough money for cultural events, transportation and going out in your budget.
For more information on housing costs, please refer to the section on Accommodation.
You will find valuable tips about student life in Germany here.
Berlin is a very safe city. Moreover, the FUBiS program is located on the campus of Freie Universität Berlin which lies in a very quiet residential area. Still, you should take certain general precautions, especially in new or unfamiliar places:
- Avoid parks and woods as well as dark, desolate streets and places at night.
- Do not get involved in arguments/disputes.
- Do not take any drugs and do not drink more alcohol than you can tolerate.
- Do not leave your drink unattended in clubs and bars.
- Do not get into a car with strangers.
Berlin has a very well structured public transportation network, for which you will need a transportation pass (depending on the term, a monthly pass (4-week term) or a monthly pass and two weekly passes (6-week term). For the 3-week term in January it is cheaper to get a monthly pass than 3 weekly passes.You will be informed before the beginning of the FUBiS program about the current prices of this transportation pass.
Please note that there are no discounts on Berlin public transportation tickets/passes for short-term students.
The public transportation system is run by the BVG and is comprised of city trains (the S-Bahn), the metro (the U-Bahn), buses, and trams (Straßenbahn oder Tram). You can also ride regional trains within Berlin with your public transportation pass. On buses you should always show your pass to the bus driver; for the other means of public transportation, just make sure to have your pass on you in case you are asked to show it by a ticker inspector.
You can look up how to get from one place to another using the “Journey Planner” on the public transportation website www.bvg.de.
Berlin has a 24h public transport system. The main S-Bahn and U-Bahn lines run all night on weekends (i.e. including Friday and Saturday night; Sunday night adheres to the weeknight schedule). On weeknights a night bus system replaces many of the S- und U-Bahn lines. There is always a way to get home using public transportation, even late at night. It might take you an hour longer than usual, but you can save the cab fare. However, taking a cab in Berlin is safe, so don’t be afraid to do so.
In Berlin, as in any other city, there are pickpockets and trick swindlers near tourist attractions. To protect yourself, you should:
- always have an eye on your things and always put your purse in a secure place.
- never get involved in bets or games with strangers where you can supposedly win money.
In addition, FUBiS recommends the following precautions:
- Always carry important telephone numbers with you.
- Only take as much cash with you as you need.
- If you lose your credit cards, have them blocked immediately.
- Take your passport with you only when you need it urgently and keep copies of your passport and travel documents in a secure place.
- Keep your valuable articles in separate places.
The emergency telephone numbers in Germany are:
112 – Fire-fighters/ Ambulance
110 - Police
FUBiS has an emergency phone which students can call at night and on the weekends. You will be given this number at the orientation meeting. During office hours the FUBiS team will also gladly help you in the office (Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m – 4:30 p.m. in room L111, Otto-von-Simson-Str. 26, 14195 Berlin).
If you have health problems during your stay in Berlin, you will quickly find a suitable doctor or specialist who can help you. It is very important that you have an international health insurance during your stay in Germany so that any doctor fees are covered. FUBiS offers an insurance package which includes an international health, accident and liability insurance. You will find further information here.
If you regularly take a specific medication, it is advisable to bring it in sufficient amount with you.
If you have a medical condition that requires you to travel with medication, you should have your physician write a letter describing your condition and prescription medications, along with a list of any generic names of the prescribed medication. You should leave your medications in their original containers.
You may want to check if your medication is considered a narcotic drug in Germany. A list of substances subject to special regulations can be found on this website.
If your medication is on this list, you will have to fill out a special form, which can be found on the same page (direct link to the form). This form has to be filled out by the doctor and signed/authorized by a public health authority. It should be presented at customs.
You should avoid carrying large amounts of non-prescription medication with you while travelling.
In the FUBiS student guide, which will be sent to you approximately four weeks before the program begins, you will find the contact information and office hours of different doctors near the university campus who speak English.
Please bring your insurance documents with you to every consultation!
Consultation fee: In Germany a practice fee of 10 euro must be paid once every three month when going to the doctor. Please keep this in mind and bring the money in cash because not all medical practices accept credit cards.
If you have a disability, FUBiS recommends that you visit the website of Berlin’s tourism organization VisitBerlin or the online database for accessibility of institutions in Berlin, Mobidat. Here you can find tips and information about the public transportation network, places of interest, event locations etc. for wheel chair users, the visually impaired, and for people with other disabilities. Freie Universität Berlin’s main building is also designed to accommodate people with disabilities.
If you have a disability and would like to take part in FUBiS, please contact the FUBiS team. We will do our best to accommodate your special needs.