While Semester is Starting


Whether at the beginning or during the semester, German universities help you and offer support whenever you have questions.


Getting your life systemized isn't easy when you first arrive in a foreign country. Although you can already speak some German, everything seems to be different and so far you haven't met anyone. Many universities offer programmes which help you organize your studies and make friends.

Some of the steps to get organized are:-
  • Information Table
  • Friends
  • Night of Music
  • Second Monday

Information Table

What courses should I take and where are my classes? Can I take a university sports course? Where is the nearest copy shop or Internet cafe? The team at the Info Table in Giessen offers advice and assistance to help you take care of the most important matters on your first days at university.

You've just arrived in Germany. If finding your way around wasn't hard enough, now you have to find a place to live, too! You haven't drawn up your course timetable yet, you don't have Internet, and you ask yourself: Where do I begin? The first place you should go is the International Office at your university. At the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, for example, a team of German and international students can help you standardized your daily life and studies. In a series of events, the team of mentors aims to get you off to as good a start as possible in Giessen.


If you come from a non-EU country and need to obtain German health insurance cover, one of the mentors can take you to a representative of a health insurance provider. Or if you haven't opened a German bank account yet or haven't transferred the semester contribution, Patrycja and her team can show you what to do. After you have officially enrolled, you will receive an info bag with helpful advice and information about Internet cafes, the housing market, events offered at "Local International" and a city map. All the exchange students receive a personal advising meeting with one of the instructors of his/her degree programme. At this meeting, you'll discuss exactly which modules you could or must take and how to draw up your course timetable. And if you have questions which are too specific for the Info Table team, you can contact the International Office (AIS) whose advisors are responsible for counseling and supervising international students and university applicants. They also have advisors on hand who specialize in helping doctoral students.


The official welcoming ceremony with the university president is also a chance for you to get to know your fellow students and the structure of the university. This is where you can chat with other students about your first days in Giessen and check out the semester programme at "Local International" which includes regular theme-based events, game evenings, speed dating and film clubs.


Before the semester begins, the AIS offer new students a tour to a nearby destination. This offers you yet another opportunity to get to know your fellow students. Other trips are offered throughout the semester. If you wish to participate, simply sign up at the Student Administration Office in advance.


Tandem partners, buddies, tutors - At many German universities, experienced German students volunteer their time to help fellow international students get adjusted to university life in Germany. Whether it's only to pick you up from the train station, accompany you to the authorities, take you to information events or plan recreational activities - your "buddy" is there to help you every step of the way!


The programme in Potsdam has been running for more than five years. And the response has been very positive according to Laura Lizarazo. Among other things, she is responsible for the programme offered by the International Office. At registration, the staff tries to match candidates with similar partners. "In addition to their subject of study, we also look at their personal interests," Laura explains. "For the upcoming semester, we've already set up 220 buddy pairs."

You can improve your German together with your tandem partner. Not only that. Maybe your buddy would like to learn your native language? Then you can practice speaking it together. There are plenty of reasons why learning a foreign language in tandem makes sense. First and foremost, speaking a foreign language with a native speaker improves your language skills enormously. Alex can attest to that. The 25-year-old Sociology student has been learning Japanese for the past four years. He regularly meets with a foreign student with whom he's been able to improve his Japanese skills in a very short period of time. "It's a great opportunity to immerse oneself deeper in the language. It's not like classroom instruction with advisory and vocabulary. It's like learning the language the way people actually use it."


The International Office at your university is answerable for assigning tandem partners to international students. You generally receive information about this possibility at the beginning of your studies in Germany. If not, you can simply contact the International Office directly and sign up. "It goes fast. We only need a few bits of information about you," Laura says. Following registration, a buddy is assigned to you. Then you contact your buddy directly. Your buddy is aware that he or she will have to help you more intensively during your first few weeks at the university. After that, your buddy will still be around to offer support when needed. Participation in buddy programmes is free of charge. If it so happens that university does not have an official buddy programme, you can find a tandem partner on your own by posting a message on the Schwarzes Brett or the university's online confrence.



If you have fun making music or singing and would like to meet people, then the "International Night of Music" at the University of Hamburg is exactly the place for you.

Twice a year the house is packed at PIASTA, the Program for International Students and Alumni at the University of Hamburg. This is when a group of students holds their semi-annual "International Night of Music" - a concert of music from around the world. But by the time they finally go on stage and perform, they have travelled down an interesting, funny and occasionally difficult road. Any student enrolled at the University of Hamburg is welcome to participate. And if you do, you are guaranteed to make new friends from many countries and have lots of fun at rehearsals!


"It's not about being professional; it's about having fun making music, "explains project director Julie. And above all, it's about giving students the opportunity to get to know other people and other countries through music.

One of the main goals of the group is to provide people the chance to meet other students. But that's not where the project stops. Many band members become close friends and meet up outside of rehearsals. They often go on trips together and organize barbeques.


Of course, being in a band means making music, but in this group, the main thing is having fun. As long as you enjoy singing or can play an instrument, you're welcome to take part no matter how good you are.


The new band project runs for one semester and starts a few weeks after lectures begin. Every Sunday, you get together with the others to rehearse the songs which the group has selected. There's plenty of room for experimentation; for example, you can make a rock song into a ballad or try out new instruments. In any case, it's definitely worth participating!

Each year the project is presented at the "Piasta International Welcome Week". That's where you can find out how to sign up to participate in the group yourself.



At "Second Monday" at the TU Dortmund, students of all disciplines and from all around the world come together to cook, play games and talk together, make new friends and get to know each other's culture and traditions. And as an additional bonus, they're able to improve their German and English skills. A super antidote against loneliness and homesickness!

On this Second Monday, it's time for sport - the Summer Games! The group of international and German students in three disciplines is loosely divided up into two teams. It's a competition to test flexibility, teamwork and speed. They dance the limbo, for example, to summertime music. And when the energy level wanes, everyone helps themselves to hot sausages from the barbecue, fresh rolls and gummy bears.


Students from all around the world - Iran, Yemen, USA, Nigeria, Chile and many other countries - participate in Second Monday at the TU Dortmund. This makes it easier to find new friends in Germany. To prevent the language barrier from becoming a problem, everything is explained in English. Katrina Brown and Rhiannon Ragland - two guest students from the United States - think the concept is super. "You can feel lonesome abroad, especially if you can't speak the language. That's why Second Monday is a great way to get involved."

Every second Monday in the month (hence the name), the International Faculty Student Councils organise this multicultural event which can be anything from Indian cooking nights to theatre performances. The participants also celebrate the holidays together, like Easter, Carnival and Christmas.

But today's programme is sport. For the water game, the participants have to transport as much water as possible from one bucket to another using nothing but a little plastic cup. Fortunately the weather cooperates, because not all the water lands in the bucket.


About 40 students participate in Second Monday on average, and many of them come again and again. Students participate in the events on a regular basis because they offer them a chance to have fun and talk with other students and improve his German and English. And also learn something new. For example, at the theatre evening, play games you never heard of before.


Not only are international students big fans of the events offered on Second Monday. The faculty student council also benefits from their volunteer work. They can put their own ideas into practice while promoting qualities like teamwork and organizational skills.

The faculty student councils are supported by the International Office. It provides assistance with planning and carrying out the Second Mondays and also finances the project. The International Office regularly posts information about upcoming events on its website and prints advertising flyers, which the faculty student councils distribute throughout campus.

Perhaps you will be holding such a flyer in your hand soon. But even without a flyer, you can come to Second Monday at the International Meeting Centre at the TU Dortmund. The event is free of charge. You don't even have to register in advance. All students - international and German - are received with open arms.

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