Everyday life abroad - further planning notes
In addition to planning where to go and which courses to take, there are a number of day-to-day matters that you need to keep in mind when organising your stay! Some of these are discussed here.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list; instead, it discusses some of the common problems that can arise. Your fellow students are the best source of information - they've been through it all already!
As things stand, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen with Brexit and Britain's likely departure from the EU at the end of October 2019. Given the current situation, students planning to work or study in any part of the United Kingdom after 2020 should be cautious about which options will still be available! The department is not able to make any predictions!
- To be ‘beurlaubt’ or not? Many students apply for an 'Urlaubsemester' [see: Beurlaubung], but this is not always a practical option if you need to complete assessments after you return, or if you still want to take advantage of the Semesterticket. Further advice on this can be found here.
- Assessments in Oldenburg: if you leave for a stay abroad in January you may still need to submit work here - please arrange for any extensions etc IN ADVANCE! Equally, if you head off for a semester abroad in late September, you may have to reschedule your ASP/FP. Contact the DIZ in plenty of time if this applies to you.
- Student card: if you are studying abroad, your university will generally supply you with one. However, if you are working (or even if you are studying), it can be useful to apply for an international student ID card, as this entitles you to a number of discounts while travelling!
- Criminal records check/Führungszeugnis: if your internship abroad involves working with children, you may need to apply for a criminal records check (each country uses a slightly different term) both in Germany and at your destination (even if you've never been there before!) If you need a German document, check in advance if it needs to be translated - the English department does not offer a translation service!
- Health insurance while abroad: this varies greatly depending on whether you will be in the EU or not - contact your Krankenkasse to find out exactly what is required! (Within Europe you will need an EHIC.) In many cases you will need to register with a doctor at your new location - find out how this works BEFORE you get sick! In the UK, for example, you do not have a free choice of GP - you need to see the local doctor. Particularly if you're travelling to the US, additional travel and health insurance is a must to avoid extremely high bills in an emergency.
- Accessing funds: it is not always possible to open a bank account abroad, although it makes sense to do this if you will be away for a longer period. If you will be withdrawing money from your German account, check if you will be charged excessive fees for this and if necessary open an alternative account in Germany. Credit cards are also used much more widely in the UK, Ireland, the US and Australia - it is helpful to have one. Finally, whichever card(s) you take, make sure they have a PIN - signature-only cards are not always recognised overseas!
- It can also be a good idea to notify your bank that you are travelling, otherwise they may wonder why money is being withdrawn in strange locations and block your card!
- Visas: make sure you have the appropriate documents for the country in which you will spend time. German citizens do not require entry permits or visas for EU countries, but there may be other necessary paperwork. For example, if you are working in the UK and will be paid a British wage, you need to apply for a National Insurance number.
- Please be aware that the English department cannot provide visa advice!
- Accommodation: look into this well in advance. Unlike in Germany, rental flats will usually have basic furniture, but you may need to bring/buy basic cooking equipment, sheets, towels and so on. If you are studying in the UK/Ireland, it is MUCH easier to get on-campus accommodation if you travel in Semester 2 rather than in winter - you may want to keep this in mind with your planning!
- Local transport: discount rates available to students on public transport vary dramatically from country to country, and are in no way equivalent to a semester ticket. Look into whether you will need a car at your destination (this can be the case in the US and South Africa), or whether there are special offers you can apply for - the 16-25 Railcard in the UK is also open to older students studying full time and provides useful discounts; the 18+ Student Oyster Photocard is an option if you will be in London for at least 14 weeks.
- If you're planning to drive overseas, an international driver's license may also come in handy, particularly outside the EU.
- Weather: If you are in Canada in December-January, it will be extremely cold. If you are in rural NSW in Australia in June, it will not be freezing, but it is winter there! This sounds obvious, but every year there are students who are unprepared for the weather conditions at their destination and experience an unpleasant surprise.