Candice from Singapore
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Starting the Semester

Hey guys,

this is my first blog post on the DAAD blog, and I just thought I’d introduce myself and what I’ve been doing so far.

I’m from Singapore, a tiny island city in South East Asia, where the weather there is the complete opposite of Berlin’s icy cold temperatures (It is getting better now, and I honestly cannot wait for more sunny weather!). In the next few months, I will be attending FU Berlin for an exchange semester. I major in Communications and minor in European studies. Social Science is one of FU’s niche subjects, so I am excited to be studying here.

While I first stepped foot into Berlin on 7th March, I did leave again on the 13th to travel around some European countries as well as Morocco. Before that though, there was much administrative stuff to settle. Being a direct exchange student, the process of enrollment is much more tedious than that of an ERASMUS student, as I soon came to learn from those who stayed at the dormitory I am in. Here are some tips I hope can be helpful for you, if you are a direct exchange student:

The first would be to ensure that your health insurance is valid. My home university had one that covered us, however, in Germany, the requirement is that there be unlimited medical coverage. As such, mine was rejected, and I had to apply for another during the orientation. That aside, if yours is a foreign health insurance that satisfies the requirements, before enrolling, do make sure to get it validated so you don’t have to worry about being unable to enroll when you go down to your university’s administrative building!

The second would be opening a bank account in Germany. From my understanding, a blocked account is required for those on direct exchange, and in order to get a monthly payout, a current account has to be opened upon arriving in Germany. Also important would be to apply for the Resident’sPermit at a Bügeramt before heading down to the bank, or they won’t let you open the account!

Basically, the moral of the story is… Allow yourself sufficient time to settle in Germany before moving on to wherever you would like to visit before school starts (or you could stay in whichever city you’re going to call home for the next few months, dorm life is pretty fun and you get to meet plenty of people from all over the world! (: ). It is a long process, but the staff around are very helpful, so if you’re unsure, just ask! Live and learn, ja?

Administrative stuff aside, Berlin has been great. It’s really nice to immerse yourself in the multi-cultural and hippy aspect of the city – the art is amazing, the architecture is amazing, AND goodness, Döner Kebab is a definite MUST TRY. Being on exchange (and staying in the Studentenwohnheim!) allows you to meet people from all walk’s of life, both international and local alike. I can’t wait for school to start because that would mean getting into a routine, and for now, routine sounds pretty good to me.

Will definitely write more about Berlin when I’ve had time to wander around the city even more. For now, if anyone is in Berlin, do visit Gemeindepark Lankwitz if you’d a relaxing place to wander about or even picnic. Heads up, there are deer there 😉

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