Living in Oldenburg
Exchange coordination, Summer Course
Advisor for international exchange students (during their stay in Oldenburg)
Living in Oldenburg
Good to know: especially at the beginning of your exchange studies in Oldenburg, there are many new details about everyday life. Below, we have put together some helpful information. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
The Studentenwerk Oldenburg (SWO) offers affordable accommodation in student housing facilities [link leads to a German website with an overview of housing facilities in Oldenburg. Click on "mehr…" and then choose the tab "English". Or click on "Bildergalerie" for pictures]. Exchange students in need of accommodation should fill out the application for accommodation and send it directly to the International Office along with the application for registration as an exchange student.
Please do not come to Oldenburg without suitable accommodation. The University cannot support you in this matter!
In order to open a bank account, you will need the registration form of the city of Oldenburg ("Meldebescheinigung"), as well your personal ID card/passport and an enrolment certificate. Usually, bank accounts in Germany are free of charge for students up to 27 years of age, but it’s best to ask anyway. In most banks, you need an appointment to open an account.
With your EC-card, you can withdraw cash at the ATM and make cashless payments free of charge. As an EU citizen, your home bank account is usually sufficient for your stay in Germany and you do not need to open a German bank account. For non-EU citizens, the opening of a German bank account is required.
Don’t forget to terminate your account after your stay in Germany or else account maintenance fees might be demanded from you.
In Germany the broadcasting fee ("Rundfunkbeitrag") must be paid by every household. Every flat must pay a monthly amount of 17.50 EUR which can be splitted between flat mates. If you do not pay the fees you will receive a written reminder and possibly a foreclosure. This could lead to problems getting a visa/residence permit if you wish to return to Germany in the future.
A deposit of up to 25 Cents per bottle/can is charged for most carbonated beverages at supermarkets and convenience stores. When you return the bottles or cans at reverse vending machines, labelled Pfandrückgabe or Leergutannahme, you get your deposit back in the form of a coupon which you can either use to pay for your groceries at the respective supermarket or simply exchange for cash at the till.
The national electric power transmission network (grid) in Germany uses the standard electrical voltage of 230 volt AC, 50 Hz. European standard plugs, or europlugs, usually fit all sockets. However, depending on your home country, a plug adapter or transformer (voltage converter) may be needed to connect your electronic devices to German sockets.
- Police: 110
- Fire service: 112
- Ambulance: 112
- Poisoning (poisoning information centre in Göttingen): 0551 / 19 240
- Emergencies and urgent medical care services (Ärztlicher Notdienst): 116 117
The University of Oldenburg is located in Germany's Northwest, in the city of Oldenburg (Oldb). Public transport from the airports in Bremen (BRE), Hamburg (HAM) and Hannover (HAJ) is comfortable and effective.
An affordable way to get from Hamburg, Hanover or Bremen to Oldenburg is the "Niedersachsenticket" (Lower Saxony ticket). This ticket is valid in the regional trains (NOT in the IC, ICE and EC), buses, trams and subways in Lower Saxony, Hamburg and Bremen as well as in the buses in Oldenburg.
Please note: When traveling by train be sure to book the tickets to Oldenburg (Oldb), NOT Oldenburg (Holstein)!
The following bus lines run from the central train station in Oldenburg to the University:
- 306 going to "Universität"
- 310 going to "Wehnen"
- 324 going to "Infanterieweg"
In Germany, the law requires everyone to have health insurance. International students from EU countries or from countries with a social security agreement with Germany can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
International students from all other countries should find out if their health insurance from their home country covers their stay in Germany. If it does, then written proof of this is needed. If not, then a German health insurance policy is required. We strongly recommend to opt for a public health insurance (statutory health insurance). This costs about EUR 105 per month, and can be organised during the international orientation week.
Once you decide and obtain a health insurance (either private or statutory), you have to stick with it for your whole studies in Germany – even if you study at another German university. It is not possible to change from private to statutory providers later on. In the long run, private health insurance is much more expensive. Treatment is free of charge for owners of statutory health insurance; the doctor balances accounts directly with the health insurance company. If you have a private health insurance you must pay the bill yourself in advance and you will subsequently be refunded by the insurance company.
In Germany, if you fall ill, you usually go see a general practitioner („Hausarzt“). You can arrange an appointment to see the doctor or you can just drop by during their consultation hours (without an appointment you most often have to wait longer). With your German health insurance, the consultation is free of charge. If you own a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you should discuss the billing options beforehand. Some doctors require you to pay immediately for their services, but you would be refunded by the health insurance company in your home country subsequently. Many doctors, however, balance accounts directly with the health insurance company in your home country.
If you need to see a specialist, the “Hausarzt” will refer you to one. It may take some weeks to get an appointment there. If you get sick on the weekend or during public holidays, you can visit the emergency medical assistance service (“Notdienstpraxis”) in the Auguststrasse 16. It is open until 10 p.m. on a daily basis. Should you be involved in an accident or are taken severely ill, it is advised that you go to the emergency room of a hospital. If you cannot get there on your own or if it is too risky to do so, call the emergency hotline 112. The hospitals’ emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day.
All students are provided with wireless internet access in public university areas (lecture halls, seminar rooms, main library, and cafeterias) via eduroam. If your home university also provides eduroam, you can use our Wi-Fi with the login data of your home university.
In Germany it is very common to have liability insurance ("Haftpflichtversicherung"). This insurance covers the cost of damages you accidentally cause to persons and/or other persons’ belongings, this includes damages to rented accommodation. According to German law (BGB §823), you are personally liable with your entire income and savings for all damages caused by you, unless you have liability insurance. We strongly encourage all international students to take out liability insurance because otherwise they may face very large financial demands if they cause damage to anybody or anything. Such costs will not be covered by the exchange programme of the University of Oldenburg. You are personally liable.
In Germany, shops and stores are usually open from 9:30 to 20:00 Mondays to Saturdays, while shopping malls may close at 21:00 or 22:00. Supermarkets open at 7:00 or 8:00 and close between 20:00 and 24:00. Small shops may close earlier, around 18:00 or 19:00, and on Saturday afternoons. Please note that on Sundays shops and supermarkets are closed. Petrol stations, corner shops/convenience stores (Kioske) and bakeries open on Sundays and on public holidays, although bakeries generally close before noon.
The following public holidays are observed throughout Germany:
- New Year: January 1st
- Good Friday: Friday before Easter
- Easter Sunday/Easter Monday: End of March/beginning of April
- International Labor Day: May 1st
- Ascension Day: May/June (40 days after Easter)
- Pentecost: May/June (50 days after Easter)
- German Reunification Day: October 3rd
- Christmas Eve: December 24th (starting in the afternoon)
- Christmas: December 25th and 26th
- New Year's Eve: December 31st (starting in the afternoon)
You have to register with the City of Oldenburg citizens' office within a week after your arrival. This requires your passport/ ID card and a written confirmation from your landlord in Oldenburg ("Wohnungsgeberbestätigung"). Upon registration, you will receive a Certificate of Residency ("Meldebescheinigung"). Please keep it — it is important (e.g. for opening a bank account).
Proof of residential address in German ("Wohnungsgeberbestätigung")
Exchange students from non-EU member states require a residence permit for study purposes. Students need to apply for a residence permit no later than two months before the expiration of their entry visa (if needed), or otherwise one month after arrival in the country. Appointments with the Hochschulservice (Ausländerbüro) of the City of Oldenburg need to be arranged via e-mail at .
Citizens of Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea and the USA can enter Germany without a visa. However, they also need a residence permit for study purposes. A prerequisite for the issuance of a residence permit for study purposes is proof that sufficient funds are available for the stay. There are several ways to do this:
- Establish a blocked account before starting your studies in Germany A legally prescribed minimum amount must be paid into the blocked account in advance, currently EUR 861 for each month of stay in Germany. This amount remains blocked until the account holder arrives in Germany. A blocked account can be opened, for example, at Coracle, Fintiba or Expatrio.
- or: Complete a Confidential Financial Statement at home The form Confidential Financial Statement must be submitted to the University Service (Foreigners Office) of the City of Oldenburg. This office will review your details and further documents will be requested to confirm that you can cover your living expenses in Germany for the duration of your stay.
Your CampusCard can be used as public transport ticket (“SemesterTicket”) and allows you to travel freely within the region for the full six months of the semester. It is valid for all public transport in Oldenburg and Bremen as well as for regional trains all over Lower Saxony. You can even go for a trip to Oldenburg’s twin town Groningen in the Netherlands. You receive your CampusCard after enrolment.
Important: the semester ticket
- is not transferable to another user/person.
- can only be used in the 2nd train class.
- is not valid in IC/EC trains (exception: IC/EC train between Bremen Hbf – Norddeich Mole, as well as between Bremen Hbf – Emden Außenhafen).
- is not valid in ICE trains.
- is not valid in "night owl disco busses" (NachtEulen-Bus).
More specific information on semester tickets and where they are valid:
According to Germany's non-smokers protection law (Nichtraucherschutzgesetz, smoking is banned in all public places, including shops, public transport stations (where it may be allowed in designated smoking areas), airports and sports and leisure facilities. As the federal states each have their own smoking laws, smoking may be permitted in cafés, bars and restaurants. In Lower Saxony, however, smoking is usually only permitted in clearly designated separate rooms.
Tipping in Germany is slightly different to some other countries, where tipping may be higher or not common at all. Germans usually tip 10 percent, which may be rounded up to an even number. We generally give tips at restaurants, cafés, bars and hairdressers and for taxi rides or (food) deliveries. It is also very common to pay cash rather than by credit card, even at restaurants, and also to pay separately. Waiters will ask you "Zusammen oder getrennt?", which means "together or separately?", and if the answer is "separately" ("getrennt"), they will figure out the sum for each customer separately. Again, this is very common, so there is no need to feel uncomfortable about causing any inconvenience. Please note that waiters and waitresses often stay at your table while you pay.
Before your departure, you should take care of some formalities:
- Accommodation: Please arrange an appointment with the “Studentenwerk” to hand over your room keys (this should be done at least two weeks before moving out of the dormitory). The “Studentenwerk” will give you a confirmation.
- De-registering with the city of Oldenburg: You will need the confirmation of the Studentenwerk when de-registering with the city of Oldenburg. Send the confirmation, along with the de-registration form (“Abmeldung bei der Meldebehörde”), to the residents’ registration office.
- Bank account: If you opened a German bank account, do not forget to close it. Else, account maintenance fees might be demanded from you.
Germans attach great importance to environmental protection. We separate and recycle waste using a waste separation system that includes different coloured bins: blue for paper, yellow for plastic, black for general waste and green for organic waste. Waste separation is a serious issue in Germany, so please be careful about what you put in which bin. Plastic and packaging materials are also collected in yellow recycling bags(Gelber Sack). You can get these recycling bags for free at some supermarkets or city authorities. Sometimes, however, it is required to use coupons (vouchers) for the exchange of bags. You can order these coupons either by phone via 0800 - 4842900 (free of charge) or online. You can then exchange the coupons for the bags at a supermarket, for example. Supermarkets often provide small boxes for the disposal of packaging materials and non-rechargeable batteries. Public containers for the disposal of waste glass and old clothes can be found at various locations in Oldenburg, as well as recycling depots for harmful substances, garden waste or electronic waste. The City of Oldenburg provides information on waste separation at „What to do with the waste?“ (also in Turkish, Russian and Arabic).
Waste Collection Calendar for the City of Oldenburg - enter the name of the street you live on (do not remove the ticks) and click on "Weiter". The Waste Collection Calendar will be displayed and can be downloaded. You might have heard about waste separation in Germany. Each waste bin has its own colour: paper - blue, plastic - yellow, general waste - black, organic waste - green). Waste separation is a serious issue in Germany, so please be careful about what to put in which bin.
Oldenburg has a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. The climate is humid, temperatures reach up to 25 degrees Celsius in summer, sometimes even higher. Winters can be cold, it rarely snows. Rain falls all year round, in February and in autumn there can be heavy storms.
Students are permitted to work alongside their studies. If you are a student from a non-EU country, you are allowed to work 120 full (8 hours) or 240 half (4 hours) workdays per year. Prerequisite for this is a valid residence permit. This regulation does not apply to contracts with the university. Students from EU member states have no restrictions regarding working periods.