A new country, a new city, a new university, and hardly any familiar faces... Going abroad can be a challenge. In order to facilitate the beginning of your study stay we have organized an orientation programme with an intensive German language course. It takes part before the lecture period begins, helps to settle in more easily, and gives opportunity to get to know fellow international students. This is - amongst other events - part of the programme:
It is possible to receive 4 - 5 credit points for the intensive language course, if students take part regularly and sit the final exam.
It is very much recommended that you take part in the orientation programme with intensive German language course as it is the best start for your study period in Bielefeld and offers ample opportunity to get to know fellow students. It also guarantees an early and speedy issuing of your student card, including the combined access to the internet and electronic information system of Bielefeld University and of the Semester-Ticket for free public transport in Bielefeld and the surroundings.
It is mandatory to have a health insurance policy in order to be enrolled at Bielefeld University and you should check whether the health insurance in your home country is sufficient.
You have to take this written confirmation to one of the statutory health insurance providers in Germany. They will then issue a written exemption from compulsory insurance (called a "Befreiung") and you will need to show this to enroll at the university. If you have a private health insurance, you will have to pay for any necessary health treatment yourself and then claim the money back from the health insurance provider in your home country.
Please note that your health insurance might only reimburse the costs according to common treatment rates in your home country. In that case, if the treatment is more expensive in Germany, you will have to pay the difference yourself.
Register at the city's registration office
Residence permit (only for students who require a visa)
Current bank account ("Girokonto")
A current account is the most convenient way of dealing with money transactions:
Your salary or scholarship will be paid into it.
You can set up a standing order ("Dauerauftrag") for regular payments with fixed sums (such as your rent), so that the money is paid automatically on specific dates.
You can transfer money to other bank accounts by filling out a form ("Überweisungsformular").
You can give somebody else a direct debit authorization ("Einzugsermächtigung") which will allow them to book sums of money from your current account. This procedure, which is called "Lastschriftverfahren," is useful if you have to make regular payments of varying sums to utility providers like a telephone or electricity company. You sign an "Einzugsermächtigung" allowing the company to bill you directly.
Although banks hardly differ in the services they provide, their fees vary considerably, so it is worthwhile comparing several banks before making your choice.
A list with a selection of banks can be obtained at the Welcome Centre.
To open a bank account, you have to present your passport and your address. You will then receive a debit card ("EC-Karte") and a secret PIN number that you should memorize as you will need it when you use your card. The card can then be used to withdraw cash from your bank's cash dispensers. Please note that you will have to pay a fee if you withdraw money from cash dispensers of other banks.
Banks are generally open Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 to 16:00. Access to cash dispensers is usually 24 hours a day.
Most banks offer so-called "Homebanking," "Online-Banking," or "Telebanking". These services can be very convenient if you work late hours because you can manage your accounts and transactions online or by telephone. Just ask your bank for more information.
Shopping with a debit card
Most shops and petrol stations accept debit and credit cards but amounts under 10 Euros are usually paid in cash.
German courses for non-degree students
Every semester during the lecture period Bielefeld University offers German language courses for cooperation students. These courses are not suitable for absolute beginners. In addition, intensive German language courses combined with an orientation program are offered before the semester starts in September/October resp. March.
Bielefeld University offers German summer courses in August.
In addition, many German higher education institutions offer summer language courses. You can find them on the DAAD website.
The enrolment takes place at the beginning of the orientation programme offered for ERASMUS/cooperation students every term. For enrolment students need to present a valid health insurance.
About a week after registration you will receive a datasheet, the socalled "Leporello" with certificates of admission ("Immatrikulationsbescheinigungen") and your personal email-password. With an "Immatrikulationsbescheinigung" you can apply for your matriculation card ("Studentenausweis") at the "Zentrale Leihstelle". The Studentenausweis is also for use of the library and the "Semesterticket" for public transport. You will also need it to obtain an International Students Identity Card (ISIC), and apart from this, it is also valid for a number of reductions f.ex. for cinema and theatre tickets.
Please note: Exchange/Cooperation students who decide to prolong their stay and take the final exams at Bielefeld University are obliged to re-apply as degree students and then have to provide TestDaF or pass the DSH.