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Organizing your life in Germany - tips

How to get started: 10 questions from internationals

Ever since the Intercultural Mentoring Program exists, we have been getting a lot of questions from international students about different aspects of life in Germany. 

To help as many internationals as possible, we collected the top 10 questions that were asked most often and give answers to them here. 

1. How can I find accomodation?

Inexpensive living space is very scarce in Freiburg. To save money, students therefore typically live in either a (shared) apartment or a dorm room. Dorm rooms are provided at a lower price and usually have a communal living room, kitchen, and bathroom spaces as well as a private bedroom. 

If you are looking for a room or apartment, check out the welcome guide for international students for useful information about housing and apartment hunting. You will find further links to student residences, to the housing database, to the private rental market and to the housing for help. More places to live at can be found on the website of the Studierendenwerk.

A great way to save money on housing is to also consider renting a room in another district of the city or the surrounding communities as they are usually cheaper than rooms in the city center. The other districts of Freiburg and the surrounding communities such as Breisach or Waldkirch can be easily reached by public transport.

Good to know: If you're looking for a place to live, keep in mind that the rental system in Germany differentiates between warm rent (utilities included into the cost) and cold rent (utilities not included into the cost). Furthermore, when you are moving into a new place, you are required to place a deposit. This is usually the cost of 1-2 months of rent. When moving out of the apartment/room, you will get the deposit back if the apartment is in the same condition as when you moved in. If something is broken or damaged, money will be taken from your deposit to replace them.

2. What kind of transport is available?

Many places in Freiburg are reached easily on foot. Outside of the city center, it might be more comfortable to take the bike or tram.

Trams and buses

Freiburg's transportation company for trams and busses is called VAG. 

With the semester ticket, students can use public transportation in the city of Freiburg and the districts of Emmendingen and Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald for 6 months (except ICE and IC/EC). Learn how to use the semester ticket and get to know the area around Freiburg with our semester ticket program. Find out more about the program here.

In case you don't have a semester ticket, you can use public transport for free after 7 p.m with the so-called 7p.m. pass (19 Uhr-Nachweis). The 7p.m. pass is an online authorization for registered students of the Albert-Ludwigs-University and the University of Education (Pädagogische Hochschule). It is valid for use in all public transportation in the Regio-Verkehrsbund Freiburg after 7 p.m., on Sundays and public holidays and expires at closing time.

If you neither have a semester ticket nor a 7 p.m. pass, you have to buy a ticket for every ride. You can usually get these tickets at the tram and bus stations or, in some cases, in the respective means of transportation. You can also buy tickets via the VAG mobil app or online via their website.

Bikes and scooters

The rental bikes in Freiburg are called "Frelos". As the  university's student body (Verfasste Studierendenschaft) cooperates with the VAG for the Frelo rental bikes, you can use a Frelo for free for half an hour and afterwards you only have to pay half of the normal price. To create your Frelo account, you need to register once via the Frelo website and link your account with your university e-mail address. Afterwards, (to start cycling) you either need the app VAG mobil or nextbike, which allow you to rent and return bikes at any Frelo station. 

As an alternative to bikes, you can use Yoio e-scooters in Freiburg. The app is called Yoio E-Scooter Sharing.

Trains and long-distance buses

For mobility throughout Germany (and partly beyond) you can take Deutsche Bahn and Flixbus or Flixtrain.

The earlier you book for long distances, the cheaper the tickets (especially for ICE and IC/EC). It is very important that you purchase your tickets before you travel by train. 


With Grüne Flotte Carsharing, you can book a car at any time of the day or night and drive off spontaneously. All you need is to register as a member and to have a driver’s license.

3. How do I open a bank account?

All monthly payments (such as rent, electricity and health insurance) are being paid through bank transfer. You therefore need a bank account.

If you already have a bank account in a European country, you generally do not need to open a bank account in Germany. 

However, there are additional fees for foreign bank accounts from countries with a currency other than euro. If you have a bank account in a country with a currency other than euro, we recommend you to open a bank account at a German bank (such as Sparkasse or Postbank).

In Germany, you have to pay account fees, which can vary. Some financial institutions offer cheaper deals for students. Therefore, it is best to get individual advice from the financial institutions.

Learn more about how to open a bank account in the welcome guide for international students. If you haven't found an answer to your questions about opening a bank account yet, check out this link to find a step by step explanation on how to open a bank account in Germany.

4. How can I improve my German language skills?

Language courses

If you want to improve your language skills or even learn a new language, you can find language courses at the Language Learning Institute (= Sprachlehrinstitut / SLI). They offer semester courses and intensive courses for many different languages, as well as language certificates and a self-study area.

If you are an international, tuition fee paying student (1.500€ per semester) of the University of Freiburg, you can also benefit from courses free of charge. There are offers for courses in German, English or French (all of them are one semester long) and German intensive courses during the semester break. You can learn more about those additional offers here.

And if you're looking for language programs and courses online, those two tips might me helpful:

  • Try searching for "Deutsch als Fremdsprache" (= "German as a foreign language") or "Deutsch als Zweitsprache" (= "German as a second language"). 
  • Be aware of the varying language levels: A1, A2 (beginner), B1, B2 (intermediate), C1, C2 (proficiency).


Other ressources and ideas

  • Listen to podcasts. Here are 7 podcasts to listen to if your are learning German with varying language levels.
  • Join the Café Multilingua events offered by the Studierendendenwerk. At the events, you have to opportunity to learn German (and other languages) by chatting with native speakers.
  • Read German books, watch a TV show (with low level), put post-it notes on walls/ objects around you...
  • Check out our “Hä, was?”- series for more ideas on how to improve your German language skills and start your life in Germany.
  • Improve your language skills by participating in the various social events of the intercultural mentoring program where you can get to know other students and get in contact with German mentors as well.

And most importantly: Practice, practice, practice - wherever and whenever you can :-)

5. How do I get involved?

You are new in Freiburg and face the challenge to get adjusted to a new culture. Maybe you are unfamiliar with some things and feel lost sometimes. Make yourself aware that this is a great opportunity to think about which talents, strengths and skills you bring with you.

To make your start and stay in Freiburg as easy as possible, you can take part in the Intercultural Mentoring Program and join the ICM community. The program gives you the chance to connect, exchange and get to know other students from all over the world! Become an ICM mentee to get support from experienced German and international students. Or join as an ICM mentor to support international students with your experiences about university and community life. ICM mentees and mentors benefit from the opportunity to participate in numerous social events.

If you have just started your studies in Freiburg, we recommend to participate in the workshop successful start of studies to find out everything that is important for your studies in Freiburg! Please note: Participation is only possible for international students paying tuition fees (1.500€ per semester).

6. How can I get to know Freiburg?

Freiburg is a really nice university town in the Black Forest of south-west Germany, which is known for its mild climate and reconstructed medieval city center criss-crossed by small streams. There is a lot to discover in the city and its surroundings.

Get to know Freiburg and the area around Freiburg with our semester ticket program. Find out more about the program here.

Watch our video: 10 minutes tour through Freiburg and enjoy our beautiful city from the comfort of your own home. And why don't you take the chance to walk the tour - either alone or together with your mentor or mentee? 

The video city tour starts at the Service Center Studium, which supports you in the orientation and administration of your studies and gives you advice on all questions concerning studies and the university. The team of the Intercultural Mentoring Program is located on the third floor.

The tour then continues as we walk through the city center and get to know some of the buildings of the university as well as the mensa. We walk through lovely streets and see beautiful houses, the “Münster” (one of the landmarks of Freiburg) and the well-known “Bächle”. Finally, we hike up the Schlossberg and enjoy a romantic sunset. 

To get to know the city even better, you can also check out the instagram stories “Hä, was?” @unifreiburg and learn more about the 10 top places to hang out in and around Freiburg and about living life the Freiburg way.

7. Where can I find a scholarship?

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers many scholarships for international students to study in Germany at various degree levels. Check their website to find their database with various types of scholarships.

If you need advise on which scholarship to choose, check out this offer of the Student Service Center

8. How do I find a student job?

There are different portals, which can help you to find a student job.

You can for example have a look at the job portal of the University of Freiburg or check out the job offers of Studierendenwerk Freiburg.

In addition, there are also many cafés or shops/stores looking for support. You can usually find their offers on flyers or notices - or you can just go to your favorite café and ask if they are in need of additional support.

If you haven't found the perfect job yet, don't worry - there are plenty more offers. Sometimes it might help to just google "student jobs in Freiburg" or to check out the usual job websites.

9. How do I find a job after my studies?

You can learn how to successfully apply for a job in our workshop coaching around the topic of application and career! Please note: Participation is only possible for international students paying tuition fees (1.500€ per semester).

In addition, the Student Service Center offers personal advice for the career start. There are also different portals, which can help you to find job, for example the Bundesagentur für Arbeit.

Good to know: If you want to apply for a job after your graduation, you must follow certain rules, which may vary from employer to employer. These rules include e.g. motivation letter, CV and other documents. You can find a checklist here.

10. Where do I get help and advice?

You can find help at the International Admissions and Services (IAS). The employees are happy to help you with:


  • Application, admission and enrolment
  • Re-registration
  • Leave of absence
  • Change of subject
  • Enrolment and registration for doctoral students


You will find the IAS on the second floor of the Student Service Center, Sedanstraße 6. You can also contact the IAS by sending a mail to

If you are an international student paying tuition fees (1.500€ per semester), you can receive more information by sending a mail to

For information about the Intercultural Mentoring Program, please send an e-mail to .

German culture guide for internationals - Hä, was?

In our "Hä,was?-Series" our former team member Johanna shares her experiences as an international student living in Freiburg. 
If you want to know what tips she has for international students, what she has learned while living abroard and what surprised her during her first time in Germany, have a look at the articles below and check the Instagram account of the University of Freiburg @unifreiburg!