Dr. sc hum. = PhD. in Medicine Department—University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany!
Yeaah!! You got selected to do a PhD in the AWESOME University of Heidelberg. Not just that, you will be affiliated to the Medicine Department which offers this Dr. sc hum. title equivalent to a PhD but has a rather ritzy ring to it. On top of that, you get a chance to work in the state-of-art hospital facility, which in turn will open several paths of translational research for you.
WOW! Could it get any more exciting? Oh Yes! it can. The beautiful Neckar, the winding Philosophian weg, the bird’s eye view of the city from Königstuhl, the scenic Schloss (castle). I know, I know, it’s in shambles, but one absolutely cannot deny its grandiose appeal and the quintessential presence in this tiny city’s comforting atmosphere. Screech…Pulling the breaks on the fun for now; let’s not get carried away! Back to the campus on the plains of Neuenheim & Altstadt. Let me tell you some interesting facts about the Hospital and University symbiosis here:
- The University of Heidelberg and University Hospital Heidelberg are two standalone units. Don’t mix them up! Especially as a doctoral student affiliated only to the Medicine Department.
The University of Heidelberg is not directly concerned with the doctoral students affiliated to the Medicine Department at the University Hospital, Heidelberg. So, in principle one can graduate from the Medicine Department without ever going through the process of enrolling as a student in the University of Heidelberg. Whaaaat!!? Confused? Haha 🙂 Don’t be.
The takeaway message is that as a doctoral student with a working contract you will be employed by the department as a hospital personnel. You will be treated as a staff member and get all the benefits that come with. However, you won’t enjoy any of the student benefits. So, in case you want a student discount at the campus cafeteria, museums and zoos, you will need to register with the University and get a Student ID. Once registered in the Medicine Dept. the process is relatively easy ass you have already done half the job. The office for this is in the Altstadt (https://www.uni-heidelberg.de/de/studium/service-und-beratung/offene-sprechstunde-der-studien-und-lehramtsberatung). Easily reachable by Bus 32 >> Last Stop>> Altstadt>> 3 min. walk.
- I didn’t forget about travel ticket discount because you are covered for that in both cases be it as a Hospital employee or University Student.
- As an employee: you get a Job Ticket for which you pay @present rate: ~40 Euro/month. Link: https://www.rnv-online.de/tickets/weitere-angebote/job-ticket/ Benefits: you can use any form of transportation i.e. bus, tram, even regional trains. On the weekends and on weekdays after 7 pm you can have 4 people with you for no extra charge!
- As a student: with valid Student ID you get a Semester ticket for six months which allows you to take all modes of transportation but that will be valid just for you. Check the current rates at the student center next to Café Botanik in Neuenheim. For other offices check the Studierendenwerk Heidelberg (uni-heidelberg.de)
HD is small city with mostly flat terrain and most locations are accessible by bike rides! Go green 🙂
If you are an international student, don’t be shy and write tons of email to your official contact and try to clarify all the points you are struggling with. At the end of the day you are the only one who can save your time and relax on the Neckar banks rather than running in circles doing paper-work.
Umm.. What should I ask them? You say. Let me give you a quick list of things you should know or ask around:
I won’t preface on the visa requisites here as it’s a heavily covered topic and needs no introduction. However, if you want me to write something about it let me know in the comments.
Housing: This is quite a painstaking task in the current housing market of Heidelberg. It’s literally a battle to get an affordable roof in this city bustling with tourists/students. Start preparing in advance! Here is a link to a reliable site with minimum number of spams (I didn’t say spam-free so, beware!), with customizable filters to find a house of your dreams: https://www.immobilienscout24.de
In case you have friends, you can consider bunking with them for a while and look for places after coming here. For people with no prior contacts, you can request for guest housing from your official contact in the hospital. Occupancy relies heavily on the availability and stay duration can vary from 6 months-1 year. This will give you a window in which you can physically go and search for the apartments rather than finalizing something simply based on the pictures #Nofilter.
Phone Contracts: are relatively tricky in Germany. You can find many articles on this issue on Google. In short, I will say be careful before signing the contract, as cancellation before term is almost impossible and must be done three months before the end date or else will continue for the next full term. Personally, I would steer clear of O2, But Hey! that’s just me. Let me know if you have questions in the comments.
Incoming: After getting your visa, tickets and other paperwork you are finally here! Congratulations 🙂 ! In case you know where to head, skip this section. For those newcomers who are wondering where is Neuenheimer Feld with their heavy baggage; take the exit to the Hbf West and take Bus 32 bound to Neuenheimer Feld. I think you will need some inquiring with the bus driver or locals or google map navigation and you will reach your destination in no time.
During the first week in the office you will sign lots of different papers, probably visit the medicine department registration office at somepoint.
Here, you will be asked to go to the city municipal office to get a registration certificate, which will authorize you as a citizen of Heidelberg and also check your criminal record. It’s quite easy and quick and they will charge you something for the certificate. Remember to take cash money for the fees!! It’s still not so common to have card payments everywhere in HD. There are many branches of this office, the one I visited was here: Bürgeramt Neuenheim, Rahmengasse 21.
The other thing you will do if you are on a working contract that you will be paying taxes. How cool is that! Welcome to adulthood! New taxpaying, responsible adult, You. In order for the Uni. to be able to do that you will be asked to get a Tax ID. That is also relatively straight forward. Take your contract and other forms you received with you. The office is here: https://fa-heidelberg.fv-bwl.de/pb/,Lde/Startseite
Insurance: AOK is the most famous insurance provider here. I am not well versed with insurance talk so don’t know the technicalities, but they are quick to respond and helpful in case of queries. I have had no problems so far.
Bank Account: One can choose from wide varieties of German Banks, for ex: Deutsche Bank, Sparkasse etc. Deutsche bank also provides online banking in English whereas other banks didn’t or at least till 2017. For current details please check their websites or call.
Note: Collect all the papers you receive in a folder and in case of doubt take them all when visiting these offices. I also had some extra passport photos of me, in case need be 🙂 . It just saves you time as might have to go their again if you miss something.
If I missed something or you would like me to write about something in more detail let me know in the comments 🙂 and by the way,
!! Herzlich Willkommen in Heidelberg !!