Have you just arrived at the Bahnhof and stepped into our little town? Take it from me, you’re going to love it here! The fresh air, the old people who always smile at you, our cute city center, the sights in and around Deggendorf, Bavarian culture, the magnificent sunsets, the Donau and everything in between will be everything amazing!
But let me rewind a bit and welcome you from Munich airport.
Pro tip 1: Try not to travel and reach Germany on the weekend. Most things are shut such as groceries, your landlord’s office (where you get your keys) etc. It will be such a hassle for you to settle into your room once at Deggendorf. Reaching Deggendorf is hassle free on weekdays. The rail connectivity is really good! Just make sure you download the DB Navigator app before your arrival at Germany. Having this app makes the train switches easier for you. (I’ll explain in the following paragraph)
Once you land and finally have your luggage in hand, you have to go to the information desk at the airport and ask where you can buy a train ticket. There are machines that will let you buy a Bayern ticket which costs 25€. You can pay with money or by card at the machine. You can also buy your ticket online from the DB Navigator app. Once you have the ticket, you follow the signs for ‘S Bahn’ and take the escalator to the trains below. Let me just tell you now, the train doesn’t have wifi but the departure station at the airport has announcements in English! The app mentions the train number, timing and train switches clearly.
Our town is small and even if you’re strolling around town you will not get lost. If you walk straight from the Bahnhof (train tracks behind you) you will at some point reach the city center.
Pro tip 2: The way you know you’re at the center of a town in Germany is to look for a tall tower with a clock on it. The city center has free wifi called Bayernwlan in case you need it for google maps to find your dorm or just need internet (because 2020).
Now that you are in your room, safe and sound – get comfortable because I’m about to tell you a few more things. You might want to know where to get pillows, blankets and cutlery from. Among others, Teddy and Woolworths are stores at the center that is a one-stop-shop for all your home requirements! Sometimes, there might be free stuff left by students leaving Deggendorf at the International Office at the B building at your university.
Let me walk you through registering in the city. This is an important step and one of the first things you should do. Once you get your confirmation from the landlord (“Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”) you have to register yourself at the Rathaus. From the Rathaus you will get a gift card of 50€ that you can use at certain stores including the bookstore where you have to buy your German course book from (all levels).
Pro tip 3: Save the gift card as German books generally cost around 30€.
Next would be your bank account. With some companies you can register online and then head to them to open your account. This will help you to finally release money from your blocked account. Oh, they speak English at the offices so you do not have to worry at all!
Pro tip 4: Make sure you have enough money to survive 3-4 weeks without a bank account or at least carry a traveler’s card where you can withdraw money as the bank takes time to open your account for you.
SIDE NOTE: A major aspect that people generally get wrong is insurance. Please keep in mind, any insurance from your country that has a limit say for example 150 dollars on dental or so WILL NOT be accepted in Germany. There is no point of getting it if you’re a fulltime student or exchange student. You should get a travel insurance for the first days and I would then suggest getting your insurance sorted once you’re in Germany. However, there is a possibility of registering for free with some companies prior to coming to Germany (In case you need it for visa processing in your country). You will start paying for this insurance from the date of arrival to Germany. This can be done by contacting the International Office who will then get you in touch with the insurance.
It would be hard to explain the details of your visa process in case you require extension (it is different from different nationalities) but since it’s not an urgent necessity since you will have at least 3 months before you have to renew your visa, you can get here and ask the Landratsamt yourself (local foreigner’s office). After these steps comes insurance and registering at university. These are rather easy steps because there will always be someone to guide you.
Pro tip 5: ALWAYS check your university mails for important dates to get insurance, apply for a university card and so on.
HOWEVER, if you are an Exchange student and have booked yourself in for orientation week, you will have help to do all the above mentioned processes. Regular international students can sign up for the orientation week as well and will be guided through the necessary ‘get your life together’ processes as mentioned above. Just sign up at the international office prior to arrival in Deggendorf via email.
There are a few important things you’ll need to keep in mind. These are the things I wish I knew and didn’t have to learn the hard way:
1. All shops including groceries close at 8pm. Groceries do not function on Sunday’s so you have to prepare for the weekends here.
2. Make sure to pay your Radiotax so that you do not run into any issues. Radiotax is a must pay for each household. It is 17.50€ per month and has to be paid regardless of if you use radio and cable or not. Once registered at the Rathaus you should get your radiotax slip in the post
3. Germany functions with tipping culture. At a restaurant, you always tip the waiter.
4. Do not walk on the cycle lanes.
5. Pfand is your friend! When you buy certain bottles with a Pfand sign you have to deposit them into a Pfand station at your local grocery to get money back. Every time you buy a Pfand bottle you pay 25 cents extra (sometimes less, depends on the bottle) and get it back when you bring it back. Once the bottles are deposited into the station, you get a receipt which you can encash at the checkout counter.
6. Recycling is a huge part of German life. You have to separate your trash into paper, general waste and bio waste. (Pro tip 6: Milk cartons are not paper waste but clean pizza boxes are)
7. DO NOT JAYWALK. You get a fine of up to 60€ for crossing when the light is red for pedestrians.
8. Please always buy a ticket. The trains require tickets and if you don’t have one when they check (and they will check) you have to pay a fine of 60€ and up.
9. You can drink water from the taps. There is no need for you to buy bottled water.
10. Make sure you find a place to stay in at least a few months in advance. Deggendorf is a small town and places are hard to find especially in the winter semester. I hope this was useful. Don’t worry too much, the international office can always help you and so will everyone you meet. It’s a friendly town filled with students. You will eventually settle in and probably never want to leave!
Pro tip 7: Make sure to follow ESN Deggendorf and the International Tutor group on Facebook. You will get to know all the parties that will take place, icebreakers, BBQ’s and much more. It’s a great way to meet new people on your first days at Deggendorf. You will also meet new arrivals just like yourself.
Soon you will be handing out wisdom and helping another set of newbies settle into Deggendorf. So here, I pass to you the wisdom wand and cape! May your journey continue with kindness and love. If you ever see me around, come say hello
Much love and positivity,
Shradha Dinesh is an International Management student that has been living in Dubai until she moved to Deggendorf. She is the Communications Manager of ESN, worked for TEDxDIT and works as a student assistant with the International Office. She describes herself as the following: Plant lady. Music enthusiast. Idea junkie. Sunset capturer. Travel lover. Sucker for lyrics. Expert dessert taster.