Life in Germany
Most students on all 3 campuses live in shared houses/flats. Rents vary between approximately €200 and €300 depending on location and what is included in the rent. Laundry facilities, phone, internet and TV may all be payable on top of the rent. Rents for private accommodation vary depending on location and facilities, but usually cost more than Halls of Residence.
Help for international students:
- students who are taking part in an exchange programme at Furtwangen University will be assisted in finding accommodation by the International Center.
- students in a Master's programme or the International Business Management Bachelor's programme will receive assistance in finding accommodation from the relevant programme coordinator in the faculty.
Halls of Residence
There are Halls of Residence in Furtwangen and Schwenningen run by Student Services Freiburg and by private companies.
|Halls of Residence||Operated by Student Services|
230 flats (approx 15m²), 36 shared 2/3 bedroom flats, furnished /internet and cable incl./suitable for families/ all rooms equipped with basic kitchen and bathroom facilities/rent c. €240/mth
|Albert-Schweizer-Kolleg||76 individual rooms, approx. 11- 16m²/furnished/internet and cable included/shared kitchen and bathroom facilities/rent c. €240/mth||website||Furtwangen|
|Schramberger Strasse||29 rooms with sink in shared house, approx. 13m², furnished, WLAN included, approx. €185/month||Schwenningen|
|Halls of Residence||Operated Privately in Furtwangen|
|9 flats with 4-6 rooms (19-26m²), each with 2 bathrooms, a shared kitchen and a common room, €240-275 incl. utilities, furnished flats - €10 extra||website||Furtwangen|
|26 rooms w/ bath or shower, kitchen|
or some as shared flats.
furnished / incl. cable and internet
|Shared Student Flats Marktplatz||10 flats (2-5 rooms) directly next to auditorium, fitted kitchen and shower/bath, internet, almost completely furnished, 42 rooms in total, rent including utilities €220-250/mth||website||Furtwangen|
|Studentenwohnheim Unterallmendstraße (at I-Building)||3 flats, 5 room sizes, w/bath, washing machine, kitchen, dishwasher, incl. cable and internet||website||Furtwangen|
|Wohngemeinschaft-Wohnheim WG-Aral||3 flats, ten minutes walking distance from uni||website||Furtwangen|
|DreiGe-Wohnheim (former hospital)||58 rooms (9 x 2 sharing a 2-bedroom flat / 10 x 4 sharing a 4-bedroom flat), partially-furnished, laundrette in basement, incl. satellite TV and internet||website||Furtwangen|
|Integrative Shared Flat||Rooms for disabled and non-disabled students, close to campus, organised by Bruderhaus-Diakonie||email|
Tel. 07657 910730
|Shared Student Flats Marktplatz 12||11 flats, unfurnished rooms in 2 shared flats with kitchen, dishwasher, bathroom, washing machine and dryer, internet.||website||Furtwangen|
|Halls of Residence||Operated Privately in Schwenningen|
|Student housing in Austraße 8||27 individual flats, rent incl. utilities: €255-355/mth, laundry facilities, dryer, parking and bikestand, furnished, phone, internet and TV connection||Schwenningen|
|Student housing in Bürkstraße 39||30 x individual flats, 3 x 5-bedroom shared flat, 3 x 4-bedroom shared flat, rent incl. utilities: €175-230/mth, furnished, phone, internet||website||Schwenningen|
|Neckar apartments Bergstraße 6+8||Single and double flats, furnished, for 79 people in total, €250-410/mth plus utilities of €83-100/mth, cable TV and internet||website||Schwenningen|
|Students Lake House|
|Single and shared flats, furnished, from 20m², from €350/mth including utilities, internet, washing machine, dryer, bikestand, TV connection||website||Schwenningen|
Student Services Freiburg (Studierendenwerk Freiburg - SWFR) will help you find private accommodation in Furtwangen and Villingen-Schwenningen. In Tuttlingen there is an Accommodation search internet site set up by the town especially for students. There are also advertisements in the local newspapers, the Südkurier and the Schwarzwälder Bote. Many students live in shared accommodation. Rents vary between €200 and €300 depending on location and what is included in the rent.
SWFR Private Accommodation Service
Contact for Furtwangen
Schreiberstr. 12 - 16
Telephone: 0761 2101-204
Contact for Villingen-Schwenningen
Telephone: 07720 9932245
Accommodation is rented for a minimum of one entire semester (six months) only. The length of occupancy for the spring semester is March to August, for the winter semester September to February. Rent must be paid for the entire length of the contract. When you first arrive in Germany, you must register your address with the local town hall and they must also be informed of a change of address within 10 days if you change flats even if the move is within the same town.
Everyday German Customs
Like any other nation, the Germans have their own way of doing things which may sometimes seem rather strange to newcomers. Here are some of the everyday German customs that you will encounter fairly quickly when you arrive in Germany. For a fun look at how Germans "tick", take a look at this website. General information about life in Germany can be found here.
Shaking hands is the normal way to greet both friends and strangers in Germany. Younger people are also likely to greet friends with a hug.
Don't be surprised if you are out for a walk or a bike ride and complete strangers say hello to you. This is a very common thing to do, as is saying hello to everyone as a general greeting when you enter lifts, train compartments, doctors' waiting rooms or small restaurants, cafés and shops.
Germans are relatively formal in their relationships with people they don't know or don't know well, and in these situations will normally use the polite "Sie" form. The Sie form will be used for your landlady, your lecturers or members of university staff, but the informal "Du" form is normal among students. First names are normally only used with people you say "Du" to.
Knocking instead of clapping
In schools and universities it is the custom for students to knock on their desks to show their appreciation, for example at the end of a lecture or after a presentation, instead of clapping.
Living with other people
If you live in an apartment building with other residents, there will be some rules you will be expected to follow, for example regarding making noise after a certain time at night and disposing of your rubbish. Although many apartments have a person to look after the building, a Hausmeister, depending on where you live, you may also be expected to take turns in cleaning the stairs of the apartment building. This is the so-called Kehrwoche.
Sorting your rubbish and recycling
Germans are very environmentally-conscious and as a result have a strict system of sorting rubbish and disposing of it. Most rubbish can be recycled in some way and it is important to understand the system and to follow the guidelines to facilitate recycling. If this is not done, it will cause problems with your landlord and the other residents of the building, and you may even be fined or asked to leave.
Rubbish is sorted into 4 main categories: paper, glass, plastics and metals, and compost. You are expected to follow this system, using the containers provided, both at home, at the university and in public places. With the exception of glass, which you should either return to a shop to get your deposit back, or take to bottle banks to recycle, your rubbish at home will be collected from your apartment building on a regular basis.
Even items which are difficult to recycle, such as chemicals, batteries or old furniture, can and should be recycled, although there is a different system to dispose of such items.
Please note that a deposit is charged on most glass and plastic bottles and many tin cans to encourage recycling. All supermarkets have recycling areas where these deposits can be recovered.
Tipping in cafés, restaurants and bars
Service charge is actually included in the price in cafés, restaurants and bars. Nevertheless, it is the custom to round up the amount to be paid by a small amount. This is done by telling the waiter or waitress the amount that you want to pay. For example, if the bill is €2.90, you willl tell the waiter "€3.00" and he or she will keep the extra 10 cents.
Germans consider it bad luck to congratulate someone on their birthday before the actual day. For this reason they tend to celebrate their birthdays on the day of their birthday, even if it is during the working week, rather than moving it to a more convenient day. They are also more likely to call a friend to congratulate them personally, rather than to just send a birthday card, as is common in the English-speaking world. Germans also usually pay for their own birthday party rather than be treated by their friends and family. This is probably one reason why their celebrations tend to be intimate affairs, often celebrated at home, with only close friends and family. Don't forget, when drinking to someone's health, it is very important to look at each other in the eyes.
Opening hours are regulated by law but can vary widely depending on the type of shop and from place to place. On weekdays, Monday to Friday, most stores are open from about 8.00am until 8.00pm but many clothing stores do not open until 10.00am. In smaller towns, however, such as Furtwangen and Villingen-Schwenningen, most stores open between 8.30 or 9.00am and close again between 6.00 and 6.30pm. A few larger grocery stores are open from 8.00am until 8.00 or 9.00pm on weekdays.
On Saturdays, many shops in smaller towns close between 1.00pm and 2.00pm. In larger cities such as Stuttgart, stores stay open until about 6.00pm.
On Sundays, only convenience stores located in railway stations, airports and service stations are allowed to sell groceries. Some bakeries are open in the morning and cafes and restaurants are open in the afternoon.
German Food and Drink
Typical German Food
Each region of Germany has its own traditional delicacies, but there are some products which are found throughout the nation:
- Sausages: Bratwurst (grilled sausage) and Bockwurst (boiled sausage) are sold in every city at street stands and restaurants. They are best eaten with mustard (Senf) and a bread roll (Brötchen)
- Bread rolls: Brötchen come in all shapes and sizes, from wholegrain, mixed seed, and pumpkin seed to cheese, raisin or sesame. Fresh bakeries are in most residential areas and main shopping districts
- Bread: Brot is also readily available. Fresh bread from the local bakery or organic food store comes in all shapes and sizes, from the classic baguette, to pumpkin seed bread, rye bread (Schwarzbrot) and the white loaf (Weissbrot)
- Cabbage: Kraut is eaten in many different forms: boiled with vinegar, Sauerkraut is a common accompaniment to meat and potatoes, green cabbage (Grünkkohl) is traditionally eaten with Pinkel sausages (Pinkelwurst) at Christmas and stuffed cabbage (Kohlroulade) consists of pork mince and herbs rolled up in cabbage leaves and boiled
- Asparagus: Spargel is eaten throughout the country when it is in season, often with hollandaise sauce and potatoes
- Schnitzel: Veal or pork steak hammered thin, dipped in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried in oil is another German speciality eaten with potatoes or as a snack in a sandwich
The Germans are early risers and many people start work at 7.00 or 7.30am. At the university, the first classes start at 7.45am. For this reason the bakeries open very early to provide coffee and filled rolls or "Butterpretzeln", soft buttered pretzels, for the workers. At home Germans like a light breakfast of bread or rolls with butter and jam, and coffee or tea. But since that first meal of the day is served before the real German appetite has fully awakened, most people take a few sandwiches of meat or cheese to work or school (Vesper), to be eaten around ten o'clock as the second breakfast.
Traditionally the midday meal is the largest of the day, sometimes with a three-course-meal of soup, meat and vegetables, and a dessert. In the past businesses closed at lunchtime and people went home to eat with their families and this is still often the case in the Black Forest area where Furtwangen University is located. Lunch hours here are often longer than an hour to allow people to have a quick snooze before they go back to work. Students at HFU can eat filling, inexpensive meals in the student cafeterias and dining halls.
After the large midday meal, the evening meal, (also called Vesper in the Black Forest area), is often quite light consisting of bread or rolls eaten with a selection of cold meats, sausages and cheese and perhaps a salad. Germany is famous for the huge variety of bread and cold meats it produces - more than any other country in the world.
As the evening meal is not usually eaten until around 7.30pm, an afternoon snack of "coffee and cake" is popular, especially at weekends. Germans take their "coffee and cake" very seriously and the many cafés offer a mouthwatering variety of homemade cakes and tarts. A recipe for the world-famous Black Forest gateau (Schwarzwälderkirschtorte) can be found here.
Eating out is popular and relatively inexpensive and portions are usually generous. Traditional German food is very filling, often consisting of beef, pork and fish dishes with potatoes or German noodles and a side salad. Swabian specialities in the Black forest area are spätzle (a kind of short noodle) and maultaschen (a large pasta pocket filled with meat). There are also many ethnic restaurants serving Turkish, Italian, Greek, Chinese and Balkan food for example.
Although the tapwater is safe to drink in Germany, most Germans drink bottled water. The most popular drink to accompany a meal in Germany is, of course, beer. Germans are very proud of the high quality of their beer which is still brewed according to traditional quality laws.
Banking and Payments
To open a bank account you need to bring your passport or national identity card and your student ID card to get a bank account free of charge. More information about the banking system in Germany can be found here.
In Germany, direct debit cards are usually used to pay for purchases in stores and for larger items. Direct money transfers (Überweisung) are also very common. For recurring payments, such as rent or electricity, you may set up standing orders for automatic payment transfers (Dauerauftrag), or else authorize the creditor to draw the amount owed directly out of your account (Einzugsermächtigung).
If you pay with your direct debit card (EC-Karte) in a store, or set up a standing order with, for example, your landlord to withdraw the amount owed directly from your account, you must authorize the transaction in writing (in a store, you may do this by signing a receipt or else by using your personal identification number). This direct debit transaction is known as a Lastschrift.
Credit cards will be accepted in most larger stores and many service companies, but are not as widely accepted as in other countries, such as the United States. Most locals pay with their direct debit card (EC-Karte) instead.
Mobile and smartphones
Almost every student in Germany has a mobile or smartphone. Some even prefer to use their mobiles from home instead of a landline. For most international students, it makes sense to purchase a mobile phone card from a German provider. Keeping in contact with friends and acquaintances in Germany is easier and less expensive that way. If you use a foreign mobile phone card in Germany, you will have to pay much higher rates for texting and making calls.
There are basically two ways to get a mobile or smartphone in Germany. You can either sign up for a mobile phone contract or purchase a prepaid card. With a contract, you agree to become a customer for a certain period of time. Make sure you know how long the contract runs. Usually such contracts come with a monthly base fee. In return, the provider supplies you with the latest smartphone for a small fee. And if you wish to extend the contract, you can replace your old phone with a new model. If you decide to sign a mobile phone contract, make sure you understand the conditions and rates – and do not forget to read the small print. It can be worth looking into special rates for students.
With prepaid cards, on the other hand, you have no contractual obligations and much more flexibility. You can buy them with or without a mobile. When you buy a prepaid card, you receive a certain amount of credit which is debited every time you phone, text or surf the Internet. When your card is empty, you can either purchase more credit online or buy another card at a supermarket, drugstore or kiosk.
If you phone or surf the web frequently, you should think about getting a flat rate – a fixed price per month which is usually cheaper than paying for each call separately. There are several websites that can help you compare offers, e.g. phone-guide-Germany.com. You can obtain further information from your student council, or simply ask other foreign students who also make lots of international calls.
Use of the internet in the university PC halls is free of charge and students have campus wide WIFI with their student login.
If you don’t want to rely solely on your mobile or smartphone, you can get your own landline connection at home. Landline service is offered by numerous phone companies at various prices. If you decide to get a landline, you have no choice but to sign a contract with the phone company. Most landlines come with an Internet connection and a flat rate. However, international calls are usually not included in this fixed rate. There are special plans which include service to specific countries. In any case, you should carefully compare prices and offers. Several websites exist which can help you find the best offers, such as Angloinfo.
In addition to video calls via Internet, a very simple way to save money on international calls is to use call-by-call numbers. These are dialling codes which allow you to take advantage of especially inexpensive providers even when you have a telephone contract with another company. Before making a call, you simply choose the least expensive provider and dial its code. However, not every telephone company recognises call-by-call numbers. Before registering for a landline, ask the telephone company whether call-by-call is possible.
Public telephones are getting harder to find in Germany. Coin-operated phones still exist, as well as phones which accept credit cards – usually at airports. Keep in mind that public telephones are quite expensive. If you don’t have your own phone and need to make longer calls or international calls, we recommend going to a telephone café. There are many telephone cafés in every German city. There you can purchase phone cards or take advantage of special rates when making international calls.
Electricity and electrical appliances
Information about the electricity supply and electrical appliances such as televisions and washing machines can be found here.
German Road Safety - The Rules of the Road
Where am I allowed to ride my bike? And who actually has the right of way? These are some of the questions you will need to have answers to if you are out and about on foot, by bike or by car. Click on German Road Safety for information in English, German and Arabic. There is also a free app - an animated Compact Guide that provides a good overview of the most important rules of the road in Germany – and can help you find your way safely. Once installed, German Road Safety is available even when you are offline!
Free brochures about the rules of the road and rules for cyclists are available in German, English, Arabic and French. Contact: germanroadsafety(at)dvr.de.
Information for cyclists is also available as a YouTube video in German, English, Arabic or French.
Germany has a good public transportation network of buses and trains, meaning easy accessibility to other towns and major cities even without a car. All three of our university campuses have good bus connections. In Villingen-Schwenningen and Tuttlingen there are also rail connections.
The closest railway station to Furtwangen is Triberg, accessible by a frequent bus service between the two towns.
Schwenningen has a good rail service and lies directly on the line running between Constance to the south and Offenburg-Karlsruhe to the north. The easy rail access to Stuttgart via the nearby town of Rottweil means you can be in Stuttgart in only an hour and a half.
Tuttlingen lies on the same railway line as Schwenningen between Constance to the south and Offenburg-Karlsruhe to the north. It also has easy rail access to Stuttgart via Rottweil.
VSB Semester Ticket - Student Travel Card
The VSB Semester Ticket for various tarif zones can be bought directly at the university in the university stores. With this card you can travel inexpensively (for 6 months for the price of 4 months) with the bus or train in the VSB network. At weekends and on public holidays from 2.00pm on, you can also travel on the routes of the partner networks in all buses, local and regional trains of the German Rail Company (Deutsche Bahn) with the exception of the IC, EC and ICE trains. The VSB Student Travel Card is valid for one semester. Further information can be found here: www.v-s-b.de.
- Verkehrsverbund Schwarzwald-Baar
- Bürgerbus Furtwangen
- long distance buses: www.fernbusse.de
Bus & Rail
If you own your own vehicle, it is much easier to get about in the Black Forest region. In winter, however, driving conditions may be difficult, and snow tyres are a necessity.
You are allowed to drive with a valid driving licence in Germany for 6 months. After 6 months you will have to apply to have your licence converted into a German licence at the local road traffic licencing office (Straßenverkehrsamt). This is not necessary for valid licences from European Union or European Economic Region countries. To find out whether your driving licence is valid in Germany, check with the Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
If you have to have your licence converted to a German licence, you have to resit the driving test (both theory and practice). In some cases it will entail having to take several lessons from a German driving school.
For all driving licences, it is important to remember to apply for the exchange of your licence for a German one within the validity period of your existing licence. If necessary, translations of driver‘s licences can be carried out by the German automobile association (ADAC) or by German diplomatic missions abroad. In any case an international driving licence is recommended.
Car licensing and insurance
If you choose to purchase a vehicle in Germany, you are legally required to license and insure it. Licensing is done by the licensing department of the Landratsamt in Villingen. Every vehicle is required by law to have periodic safety inspections by the technical control board (TÜV). If you buy a used vehicle, you should check when the last inspection of this sort was carried out and when the next one is due. Please be aware that fees are charged for all these services.
Many different insurance companies offer vehicle liability insurance, but prices can vary widely so comparing policies and fees is recommended.
Carsharing and Ridesharing
An environmentally conscious and convenient way to get around is by carsharing or ridesharing. HFU has organized both carsharing and ridesharing services for our students. More information can be found under Campus Facilities and Services.
Faith - Church on Campus
The Church at Campus welcomes all students and staff of Furtwangen University. They offer regular meetings to discuss life and faith, to celebrate religious services and to sing and pray together. They also offer a variety of activities from Qi Gong to international barbecues and excursions.
Catholic Student Congregation on Furtwangen campus
Contact: Mr. Michael Schlegel
If enough people are interested, services in English may be provided.
Protestant:Ms Märit Kaasch
Phone: 07720 / 33345
Qi Gong and meditation classes
The Church at Campus in Schwenningen offers Qi Gong and meditation classes which take place on Mondays at 6.45pm in the meditation room in the St. Franziskus Gemeindehaus at Erzberger Str. 11, Schwenningen (next to the F Building).
For more information contact Uli Viereck.
Culture and Cuisine evenings
At the Culture and Cuisine evenings, the Church at Campus invites all students and their friends to present their country in an informal atmosphere with a meal, music and more.
For more information contact:Märit KaaschTelephone: 07720-33345
Trip to Taizé
Every year, the Church at Campus in Schwenningen organises a trip to Taizé in France at Easter.
English language media
Information about local and international English-language print and broadcast media available in Germany can be found here.
Public Holidays in Baden-Württemberg
New Year’s Day
Easter Sunday -2 days
2015: 5 April 2016: 27 March
Easter Sunday +1 day
Tag der Arbeit
Easter Sunday +39 days
Easter Sunday +50 days
Whit Monday (Whitsun/ Pentecost)
Easter Sunday +51 days
Easter Sunday +60 days
Day of German Unity
Tag der deutschen Einheit
All Saints’ Day
1st Day of Christmas
2nd Day of Christmas