by Molly Burger & Kyu Ri Hong
An orientation week trip to Ikea is an absolute must. Sure, pretty much everything in your apartment is already from Ikea, but hey at least it all matches now. Maybe grab a carpet, some curtains, and a plant or something, and definitely don’t forget to pick up posters for your wall. I still somehow have yet to discover a store downtown that actually sells posters, so my room is basically a mini Ikea store at this point (which is awesome cause Ikea is awesome). Plus, although you’re not in Sweden, Germany is definitely a lot closer than the US, so maybe the meatballs or whatever food you like to get there is a little bit closer to the real thing (probs not but still).
Uni Orientation Events
You know all of those super random sounding activities in the orientation week that Verena told you about, like the Erasmus movie night, the city tour, and all of those bar crawls? Go to them! They’re usually super fun and are great opportunities to meet new people. You don’t have to go to all of them, but try to check out as many as possible. At the very least you’ll have a good time and get to know a new aspect of Bremen.
Explore Bremen! Now’s your chance to just walk around the city for as long as you want before classes start. The sooner you get to know the streets, restaurants, bars and museums of Bremen the better and you’ll really feel like the city is yours. And now’s the perfect time to see the sights of Bremen, like the “Stadtmusikanten”, which I actually visited twice during the orientation week. Hanging out in the city during orientation week is a good contrast to the time you’ll be spending with other students getting to know the Uni Bremen and it’s a good amount of time you can spend at museums, concerts and the theater, all of which Dickinson reimburses.
Now that you’re in Germany, you have to make sure that you have your visa. There is also something called the Meldebestätigung, which is a proof of your residence in Germany. In order to obtain these two documents, there is an office on campus called the BSU. It is only open for a certain period of time on only Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays so there’s always a line. I highly suggest that you go and wait in line at least an hour before the opening hour and wait. I got there 45 minutes before the opening hour and had to wait almost three hours just to go through a 10-minute-long process.
Life in Bremen will definitely be different from that at Dickinson. One of the biggest challenges (at least that’s how I feel about it) is having to provide your own meals. There definitely is an option to eat at the Mensa but I don’t have class every day, hence I’m not on campus every day. There are a few supermarkets nearby. For example, I mainly go to the REWE Supermarkt on Wätjenstrasse, which is two tram stops away. It’s close and convenient since it’s right by the tram stop. I also like to go to the market in the city which is open from 9:00-14:00. There’s definitely more fresh options of fruits and vegetables at the market.
A study buddy is the best way to make a German friend. The university pairs you up with a German student that probably shares the same major (not necessarily in my case) with you or the same interests with you. You have to sign up for this online. It’s nice to have someone who you can practice your German conversational skills with and to meet up regularly just to talk or to explore more of Bremen.
Opening a Bank Account
In order to receive your monthly stipend, you’ll need to have a German bank account. There’s a bank called Sparkasse on campus that you could go to. It took me two weeks just to get an appointment here, so I suggest that you go to the bank as soon as you have your Meldebestätigung, since that’s one of the documents you need when you open a new bank account. The appointment lasts only 15 minutes and you get your credit/debit card, along with the pin to your card/s, in your mailbox after about a week.