There are a number of mobile phone providers whose offers differ in price and extent. Most of them offer flat rates for SMS, calls and mobile data, the volume of which depends on how much you can/are willing to spend monthly.
Some providers offer “Prepaid”-tariffs which do not bind you to a contract but are terminable monthly. If you are willing to enter into a contract you can often choose between different contract periods, ranging from 0 to 24 months, which will usually have an influence on the monthly fee. Generally, calls within the EU are free of charge. However, please be aware of the fact that some providers will charge you if you call numbers outside of the EU. It might be a good idea to use your mobile data (or the wifi in Uni or your home) and apps to make calls to other countries.
Some inexpensive Prepaid tariffs can be found at Lidl Talk, Aldi Talk,smartmobil or Vodafone. You can find information online by using Google, and in some cases there is information material in the supermarkets (for example with Aldi or Lidl talk).
Opening times in supermarkets are usually from Monday to Friday, ranging between 7am and 10pm, although some supermarkets might be open a bit longer. You can easily look up the opening times on the internet. Generally, in Germany all shops are closed on Sundays and on national holidays!
However, Berlin “Spätis” (small kiosks that are open during the night) are usually opened on Sundays but usually also a little more expensive than normal supermarkets. There are some shops, for example the REWE in Ostbahnhof train station, which are opened on Sundays but you should take your time going there as it is always packed with people.
Some supermarkets such as Rewe, Edeka or Bio Company are generally more expensive than discount stores, e.g. Kaufland, Lidl, Aldi or Netto, even with offering the exact same product. However, often they have a wider range of products. Qualitatively the products are (nearly) all the same.
Be aware that card payments are not possible everywhere; Germans cling to their cash.
Your student ID functions as your train ticket for all modes of public transport in Potsdam, Berlin and the rest of Brandenburg (bus, tram, S-Bahn, U-Bahn and Regionalbahnen). Similar to other big cities, Berlin’s transportation system is divided into different zones -- A, B and C, going from the city center outwards. If you arrive at a Berlin airport and want to go to Potsdam before you have your student ID, you can buy an “ABC-Ticket” for your train journey, since Potsdam belongs to zone C.
When taking the bus, people usually use the first door and show their ticket when passing the bus driver. In other means of transportation, for example in the U-Bahn, as well as in Regionalbahnen, you only have to show your ticket when asked by a ticket inspector.
The easiest option to find your way and train connections in Berlin and Potsdam is by using apps, such as “DB-Bahn or VBB Routenplaner“. These will show you the fastest connections and can also tell you whether a train will be late, early or cancelled altogether. It is also possible to use Google Maps as it is synchronized with the railway connections.
In case you don’t have mobile data on your phone upon arrival, you can plan your journey from the airport to Potsdam before arriving in Germany. You can use the public transport feature on Google Maps, DB or VBB-Routenplaner, fill in your date and time of arrival, the station of departure and your destination and it will give you your best travel option. You can also print out the journey. It might be best to have a few alternative routes with different departures at hand, just in case your flight/train/bus is delayed.
To open a German bank account you will be asked for a form of identification; usually your identity card or passport. Some banks will also want to see your registration card (“Meldebescheinigung”) from the registration office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”), and maybe your residence permit. In any case, the bank needs an official document that confirms your name, current address, nationality and age.
Some banks offer free or discounted accounts for students, so make sure to bring your certificate of enrolment.
For students who had to open a Sperrkonto at your home country, please be aware that you can often not use the account upon arrival immediately after opening. As you probably have to pay quite a lot at the beginning of your stay (deposit for apartment, health insurance, furniture, household appliances etc.), make sure you have an alternative method at hand (e.g. withdrawing money from your home bank account at German ATMs). Additionally, you might want to take some Euro-cash with you on arrival, for example to pay for train tickets. As mentioned before, it is not always possible to pay by card in Germany.
For International Program and Exchange Students:
When you apply to Uni Potsdam via UPrepare, You’ll find detailed information on how to apply for a dorm room. Please read UPrepare carefully before filling out the online form. No documents have to be handed in as an exchange student! Of course, you can also try and find housing on your own, but please be aware that it is rather difficult to find a flat in the area in and around Potsdam and Berlin.
For Degree Students (Bachelor and Master)
For some information on how to find housing, click here.
For International Program and Exchange Students: Please follow the instructions from the International Office and attend the “Welcome Week” in order to get all your files, such as your student ID card. You will also get information on German language courses, how to enroll into university courses and tips for upcoming university events. You can find more information on the language courses here.
For Degree Students (Bachelor and Master):
After your enrollment and the payment of your semester fee, you will receive your student ID by postal mail. Click here for more information on all official University matters.
For general enquiries, you need to go to a general practitioner (Allgemeinarzt, or Hausarzt), who often works in a private practice. You should make an appointment by telephone beforehand, as some doctors only have limited capacities; however, sometimes it is possible to go there early in the morning (minimum 15 minutes before office hours) for urgent matters. Sometimes, private practices work on a “first come first serve” basis.
If necessary, the Hausarzt will recommend a specialist for you, too. In some cases, for example if you need a dentist, you don’t have to go to a general practitioner beforehand, but instead you will need to make an appointment with a dentist directly.
Usually, the office hours are strictly limited from Monday to Friday but you can look them up on the internet beforehand. Moreover, you can look in the local newspaper for “Notdienste”, where you can find numbers of the following doctors: Ärzte (doctors), Krankentransporte (ambulance service), Zahnärzte (dentists), Augenärzte (eye specialists), Tierärzte (veterinarians), Apotheken (pharmacies).
You can use the “Arztsuche”-tool to find specific doctors for your needs on the KVBB website. You can also select filters to find doctors who speak different languages.
Always bring your health insurance card when you visit a physician!
Outside office hours:
At the weekend or in emergency cases, you can go to the hospital or to the emergency room and they will send you to a specialist in the building.
To get an ambulance, you call the “Notdienst” with the nationwide number “110”.
In addition, you can call the “Ärztlicher Notdienst” with the number “116 117”, which will guide you to a doctor in your area.
For more information and links, you can visit the Welcome Center for International Researchers' Website.
There are several internet cafés in Potsdam, but it’s easier to go to the computer pools at the Uni campuses because you can use them for free, even if you don’t have your student ID yet. However, if you want to copy or print something, you need to use your charged student ID card.
If you need a bicycle but don’t want to buy one, you can have a look on Nextbike's Website.
What's best: Uni Potsdam has a cooperation with Nextbike which provides bicycles all around Potsdam. If you register with your Uni Potsdam mail account, you can borrow their bikes for free: in Potsdam for 3 hours, in Berlin for 1 hour per day.
Fancy any sport? The “Hochschulsport” of Uni Potsdam provides cheap sport courses from which you can choose as many as you want each semester. For more information on when and how to enrol, please visit their Website.
Since Potsdam is a university city there are also several student clubs and pubs you can visit. Prices are low and each club/bar organizes parties and different themed evenings.
The Nil is the student’s club of the University of Potsdam. Each Thursday there is the famous student party, but at all other week days, they provide different events like cinema on Mondays, “Metal Keller” on Fridays or once a month a Karaoke night, respectively. For more information, please visit their Facebook Page.
Pub à la Pub
The Pub is a student’s bar in the city centre. For more information on their many events, please visit their Facebook Page.
The Casino is the student’s club of the “Fachhochschule Potsdam”. You can find more information on their Facebook Page.
The Erasmus Student Network of Uni Potsdam is the organisation which plans and organises events for international students. Especially in the first weeks of each semester, they offer a broad program for you to settle in smoothly. Also, if you have any questions about life around Potsdam and free-time activities, you can always send them an email.
The AStA (Allgemeine Studierendenvertetung) is the Uni Potsdam’s student union. They are here to represent the students’ interests and concerns towards the university administration, but also to the public. Furthermore, they offer free consultations on various matters. For example, if you have issues concerning your courses and/or professors that cannot be easily solved, the AStA offers to help you. The same goes for legal matters and issues with your semester ticket.
For more information and their office hours, you can check their Website.