Arabian Campus


 Study in Germany

STUDY IN GERMANY - LIVing in germany


Social Scene     |    Customs and Culture    |    Transportation

Accommodation    |    Health Care    |    Emergency Contacts

Social Scene

Social Conventions: Handshaking is customary. Normal courtesies should be observed and it is common to be offered food and refreshments when visiting someone’s home. Before eating, it is normal to say Guten Appetit to the other people at the table to which the correct reply is Ebenfalls. It is customary to present the hostess with unwrapped flowers (according to tradition, one should always give an uneven number and it is worth noting that red roses are exclusively a lover’s gift). Courtesy dictates that when entering a shop, restaurant or similar venue, visitors should utter a greeting such as Guten Tag (or Grüss Gott in Bavaria) before saying what it is that they want; to leave without saying Auf Wiedersehen can also cause offence. Similarly, when making a telephone call, asking for the person you want to speak to without stating first who you are is considered rude. Casual wear is widely acceptable, but more formal dress is required for some restaurants, the opera, theatre, casinos and important social functions. Evening wear is worn when requested. Smoking is prohibited where notified and on public transport and in some public buildings. Visitors should be prepared for an early start to the day with businesses, schools, etc opening at 0800 or earlier. It is very common practice to take a mid-afternoon stroll on Sunday; town and city centres at this time are often very animated places, in stark comparison with Saturday afternoons when, owing to the early closing of shops, town centres can seem almost deserted. Tipping: It is customary to tip taxi drivers, hairdressers, cloakroom attendants and in bars, and a 10 per cent tip in restaurants.

Local Customs & Culture

Food & Drink: The main meal of the day in Germany tends to be lunch with a light snack eaten at about 1900 in the evening. Breakfast served in homes and hotels usually consists of a boiled egg, bread rolls with jam, honey, cold cuts and cheese slices. Available from snack bars, butcher shops, bakers and cafes are grilled, fried or boiled sausages (Wurst) with a crusty bread roll or potato salad. There are also bread rolls filled with all kinds of sausage slices, hot meat filling (such as Leberkäse), pickled herring, gherkins and onion rings or cheese. In bakeries, Strudel with the traditional apple filling, a variety of fruits and fromage frais is available. There is also an astonishingly wide variety of breads. A set menu meal in a simple Gasthof or cafe usually includes three courses: soup is the most popular starter. The main meal consists of vegetables or a salad, potatoes, meat and gravy. For pudding, there is often a sweet such as a blancmange, fruit or ice cream. Restaurants often serve either beer or wine. Cakes and pastries are normally reserved for the afternoon with Kaffee und Kuchen (‘coffee and cakes’) taken at home or in a cafe. Cafes serving Kaffee und Kuchen are not only to be found in cities, towns and villages but also at or near popular excursion and tourist spots. International speciality restaurants, such as Chinese, Greek, Turkish and others, can be found everywhere in the western part of the country. Waiter or waitress service is normal although self-service restaurants are available. Bakeries and dairy shops specialise in lighter meals if preferred. Local regional specialities cover an enormous range:

Frankfurt and Hesse: Rippchen mit Sauerkraut (spare ribs) and of course Frankfurter sausages and Ochsenbrust with green sauce, Zwiebelkuchen (onion flan) and Frankfurter Kranz cream cake.

Westphalia and Northern Rhineland: Rheinischer Sauerbraten (beef marinaded in onions, sultanas, pimento, etc), Reibekuchen (potato fritters), Pfeffer-Potthast (spiced beef with bay leaves) and Moselhecht (Moselle pike with creamy cheese sauce). Westphalia is also famous for its smoked ham, sausages and bread such as Pumpernickel.

Nightlife: In all larger towns and cities in western Germany and also in the major eastern cities visitors will have the choice between theatre, opera (Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin and the National Theatre in Munich are some of the most famous names), nightclubs, bars with live music and discos catering for all tastes. Berlin, in particular, is famous for its large selection of after-hours venues. Traditional folk music is found mostly in rural areas. There are Bierkellers in the south and wine is drunk in small wine cellars in the Rhineland Palatinate, Franconia and Baden region.

Shopping: Special purchases include precision optical equipment such as binoculars and cameras, porcelain, handmade crystal, silver, steelware, Solingen knives, leatherwear, sports equipment, toys from Nuremberg and Bavarian Loden cloth. Special purchases in eastern Germany include musical instruments, wooden carved toys from the Erzgebirge Mountains, and Meissen china (the workshops in Meissen are open to the public). Shopping hours: Shops can regulate their own opening hours within these times Mon-Fri 0600-2000, Sat 0600-1600. Smaller shops may close 1300-1500 for lunch. All shops, except a few bakeries, are closed on Sunday.



RAIL: Several InterCity and ICE connections are on offer running every 1-2 hours on the following routes: Berlin–Frankfurt/M–Karlsruhe, Berlin–Cologne–Basel, Munich–Frankfurt/M–Berlin and Hamburg–Berlin–Dresden with direct links to Prague. The ICE-Business-Sprinter runs non-stop on the following routes: Frankfurt/M–Hannover, Wiesbaden–Hannover, Frankfurt/M–Hamburg, Wiesbaden–Hamburg, Mannheim–Hamburg, Karlsruhe–Hamburg and Frankfurt/M–Munich. Seats on these services have to be booked in advance; yearly ticket holders can use the Sprinters without surcharge. Generally, reservations are advised on all services. Children under six years of age travel free of charge; those aged six to 11 pay half fare; young people aged 12-26 pay 75 per cent of the standard fare. For latest information leaflets, contact German Rail in the UK.

German National Railways (Deutsche Bahn) operates some 32,684 passenger trains each day over a 40,800km (25,500-mile) network and many international through services. Work on the 3200km (2000-mile) fast-train network has already started and should be completed by 2010. The network does not radiate around the capital as the federal structure provides an integrated system to serve the many regional centres. InterCity Express, InterCity, EuroCity and InterRegio departure and arrival times are co-ordinated with each other. More than 50 cities, including Berlin, Leipzig, Erfurt and Dresden, are served hourly by InterCity trains – and increasingly by InterCity Express trains; regional centres are connected every two hours (west Germany), or every 2-4 hours in the eastern part of the country, through the InterRegio system. Details of up-to-date prices, and where tickets can be bought, are available from German Rail (website: or the Tourist Office.

Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa introduced an innovative project from March 2001 aimed at replacing internal German flights with more environmentally friendly rail transport. For travellers using Frankfurt airport wanting to transfer to or from Stuttgart, train and flight timetables will be coordinated; one ticket will cover the whole journey and check in/check out will take place at Stuttgart Station. Boarding the train with just hand luggage, the travellers can pick up their suitcases at the flight destination or Stuttgart Station. This offer is currently available for every airport Lufthansa flies to from Frankfurt (except Tel Aviv).

Facilities and services: Buffet cars with some seating for light refreshments and drinks are provided on InterRegio (IR) trains. Most InterCity and EuroCity trains carry a 48-seat restaurant, offering a menu and drinks throughout the journey. The newer generation InterCity Express trains combine both of the above-mentioned facilities, offering a selection of snacks and menu in their restaurant cars. First-class passengers are provided with ‘at-your-seat’ service. The InterCity Express also provides a service car with conference compartment, card telephones and fully equipped office (photocopier, fax, etc). Sleeping cars: Many have showers, and air-conditioning is provided on most long-distance overnight trains. Beds can be booked in advance. Some trains provide couchettes instead. Sleeping-car attendants serve refreshments. Seat reservations should be made for all long-distance trains well in advance. When reserving a seat on InterCity, EuroCity and InterCity Express trains, specify Grossraumwagen, which is a carriage with adjustable seats and without compartments, or Abteilwagen, which is made up of compartments. Bicycle hire: At approximately 260 stations in areas suited for cycle tours, the DB operates a bicycle hire service (ticket holders have special reduced rates). Mountain railways: Cable cars, chairlifts or cogwheel railways serve all popular mountain sites.

Rail passes: The following is a selection of rail passes available on German railways. Details may change and travellers are advised to check with Deutsche Bahn. Some passes can only be purchased outside Germany (see Note below).

Saverticket: Available for a return journey on 1 weekend or within 1 month.

Supersaverticket: Available for a return journey on a Saturday or within 1 month (not valid Friday, Sunday and during peak days).

Twenticket: Available for second-class single or return journeys for regional and long-distance travel between the ages of 12 and 25. Valid for up to 2 months, the ticket gives up to 20 per cent discount on the regular fare.

Happy Weekend Ticket: Available for up to 5 persons travelling together at a weekend, from Sat-Mon (0200). Valid on all local trains, second-class only.

Inter-Rail: Available to all, but for those aged over 26, tickets are approximately 40 per cent more expensive. 4 different tickets are available. Europe is split into 8 zones (A-H) and the pass is valid for an unlimited number of train journeys in the zones chosen, which now include Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Serbia and Montenegro. The Global Pass is valid for 1 month in all 8 zones (32 countries, including Morocco, Turkey and the ferry connection Brindisi–Patras). Other tickets cover just 1 zone (2-7 countries, 15 days validity), 2 zones (6-10 countries, 1 month validity) and 3 zones (9-15 countries, 1 month validity). Reductions of 50 per cent are offered in the country of residence for travel to the border and back as well as transit journeys. The Inter-Rail ticket is only available for second-class travel and does not include the use of certain services such as the X2000 in Sweden, the Pendolino in Italy or the AVE in Spain. Certain other trains incur supplements.

BahnCard: The BahnCard ticket offers half-price rail travel with a choice of first- or second-class travel and is valid for 1 year. In addition, there are reduced versions for married couples, families, senior citizens, young people and children.

Good Evening Ticket: This ticket is available only in Germany. It offers travel on nearly all routes within Germany for a flat fare between 1900-0300 daily except Christmas, Easter and other major travelling dates. The ticket has to be bought at the station of departure.

Motorail: The German Railway has a fully integrated motorail network, connecting with the rest of the European motorail network. Trains run mostly during the summer and at other holiday periods; most have sleeper, couchette and restaurant/buffet cars (for details see the website:

ROAD: Traffic drives on the right. The Federal Republic of Germany is covered by a modern network of motorways (Autobahnen). There are over 487,000km (303,000 miles) of roads in all, and every part of the country can be reached by motorists. Use of the network is free at present, but the introduction of a road toll is being discussed. Lead-free petrol is obtainable everywhere. The breakdown service of the German Automobile Association (ADAC) is available throughout the country, though in the eastern part of the country, the Auto Club Europa (ACE) and the Allgemeiner Deutscher Motorsportverband (ADMV) also provide a service. Help is given free of charge to members of affiliated motoring organisations, such as the AA, and only parts have to be paid for. Breakdown services, including a helicopter rescue service, are operated by the ADAC. In the event of a breakdown, use emergency telephones located along the motorway. When using these telephones, ask expressly for road service assistance (‘Strassenwachthilfe’). In almost all cases, the number to dial for emergency services is 110; if in doubt, dial the fire brigade, 112. Although motorways in eastern Germany are of a reasonable standard, many secondary roads are still being improved to match West German standards. Bus: Buses serve villages and small towns, especially those without railway stations. Operated by the Post, German Railways or private firms, they only tend to run between or to small places and there are few long-distance services. Europabus/Deutsche Touring runs services on special scenic routes such as the Romantic Road (Wiesbaden/Frankfurt to Munich/Füssen) and the Castle Road between Mannheim/Heidelberg to Rothenburg and Nuremberg.

Taxi: These are available everywhere. Visitors should watch out for waiting-period charges and surcharges. All taxis are metered.

Car hire: Self-drive cars (companies include Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt) are available at most towns and at over 40 railway stations. Chauffeur-driven cars are available in all large towns. Rates depend on the type of car. Some firms offer weekly rates including unlimited mileage. VAT at 16 per cent is payable on all rental charges. On request, cars will be supplied at airports, stations and hotels. Several airlines, including Lufthansa, offer ‘Fly-drive’. Contact the National Tourist Office for details.

Motoring organisations: The Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club (ADAC) (website: based in Munich and the Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD) (website: based in Frankfurt/M have offices at all major frontier crossings and in the larger towns. They will be able to assist foreign motorists, particularly those belonging to affiliated motoring organisations. They also publish maps and guidebooks, which are available at their offices. German Automobile Association (ADAC) operates an emergency service to relay radio messages to motorists. In both winter and summer, there are constant radio reports on road conditions and traffic.

Documentation: Foreign travellers may drive their cars for up to one year if in possession of a national licence or International Driving Permit and car registration papers. Insurance is legally required. EU nationals taking their own cars are strongly advised to obtain a Green Card. Without it, insurance cover is limited to the minimum legal cover; the Green Card tops this up to the level of cover provided by the car owner’s domestic policy.


HOTELS: There is a good selection of hotels in the Federal Republic of Germany and comprehensive guides can be found at the German National Tourist Office. They can also provide the German Hotel Association Guide, published by the Deutscher Hotel- und Gaststättenverband (DEHOGA), Am Weidendamm 1A, 10873 Berlin (tel: (30) 726 252/0; fax: (30) 726 252/42; e-mail:; website: Approximately 50 per cent of establishments offering accommodation in Germany belong to the association, which can supply further information on accommodation in Germany.

A special accommodation guide for the disabled Hilfe für Behinderte is available through Bundesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter e.V (BSK), Altkrautheimer Strasse 20, 74238 Krautheim (tel: (6294) 42810; fax: (6294) 428179; website: Some hotels are situated in old castles, palaces and monasteries. Alongside these are modern, comfortable hotels on well-planned and purpose-built premises. Examples of accommodation for a family on holiday is a country inn offering bed, breakfast and meals. More demanding visitors are also well catered for with medium to luxury hotels. The German hotel trade is extremely well equipped with facilities from swimming pools and saunas to exercise gyms. When touring the country with no fixed itinerary, it is obviously often difficult to make reservations in advance. Watch out for Zimmer frei (vacancies) notices by the roadside, or go to the local Tourist Office (usually called Verkehrsamt). Visitors should try to get to the town where they want to stay the night by 1600, particularly in summer. Grading: DEHOGA (website: introduced hotel grading in 1996. This follows the usual grading of 1-5 stars.

Gasthof: A ‘Gasthof’ (inn) must provide the same facilities as a hotel except for the common rooms such as a lounge, etc. 30 per cent of establishments fall into this category.

Pension: A ‘Pension’ must provide accommodation and food only for guests. It does not have to provide a restaurant for non-residents nor does it have to provide any common rooms. 16 per cent of establishments fall into this category.

Hotel Garni: Provides accommodation and breakfast only for guests. 27 cent of establishments fall into this category.

HISTORIC HOLIDAYS: Information about holidays in castles, stately mansions and historic hostelries may be obtained by contacting the National Tourist Office.

SELF-CATERING: All-in self-catering deals are available that include sea travel to a German or other Channel port, and accommodation at the resort. The latter might be in anything from a farmhouse to a castle. Details are available from the German National Tourist Office.

YOUTH HOSTELS: There are 640 youth hostels throughout both eastern and western Germany. They are open to members of any Youth Hostel Association affiliated to the International Youth Hostel Association. Membership can be obtained from the YHA or Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk (German Youth Hostel Organisation), Bismarckstrasse 8, 32756 Detmold (tel: (5231) 74010; fax: (5231) 740 149; e-mail:; website: Reservation is advised during the high season (and throughout the year in major cities).

CAMPING/CARAVANNING: There are well over 2500 campsites in the Federal Republic of Germany. They are generally open from April to October, but 400 sites, mostly in winter sports areas, stay open in the winter and have all necessary facilities. (Campsites in the eastern part of the country are of a very basic standard.) The permission of the proprietor and/or the local police must always be sought before camp is pitched anywhere other than a recognised campsite. It is not normally possible to make advance reservations on campsites. A free map/folder giving details of several hundred selected campsites throughout the country is available from the German National Tourist Board. The German Camping Club publishes a camping guide of the best sites in Germany; contact Deutscher Camping-Club (DCC), Mandlstrasse 28, 80802 Munich (tel: (89) 380 1420; fax: (89) 334 737; e-mail:; website: The AA Guide to Camping and Caravanning on the Continent lists nearly 2000 European campsites, including a large section on Germany.

Health Care

There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK. On presentation of the form E111 (obtainable from post offices in the UK), UK citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment. Prescribed medicines may, in some cases, have to be paid for. The cost of treatment in public hospitals (on referral from a doctor, unless in emergencies) is covered by public health authorities, except for a small daily charge from the start of hospital treatment up to a maximum of 14 days. Private insurance is recommended for specialist medical treatment outside the German National Health Service, which can be very expensive. Surgery hours are generally 1000-1200 and 1600-1800 (not Wednesday afternoon, Saturday or Sunday). ; additionally, there is an emergency call-out service out of surgery hours (1800-0700). Chemists are open Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat 0900-1200. All chemists give alternative addresses of services available outside the normal opening hours. There are 350 officially recognised medical spas and watering places with modern equipment providing therapeutic treatment and recreational facilities for visitors seeking rest and relaxation. A list of the spas and health resorts and various treatments can be ordered from the German National Tourist Office, or directly from Deutscher Heilbäderverband e.V. (German Spas Association), Schumannstrasse 111, 53113 Bonn (tel: (228) 201 200; fax: (228) 201 2041; e-mail:; website:

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