Moving to Germany

After graduating with my Master’s degree, I felt like I was moving into a new stage of my life. I’m no longer a student. I will soon begin a full-time job. I’m married!
To mark this new stage of life, I also decided it was time to move. So, that’s what I did!

Unfortunately, I live in a very popular city where there are a lot more people looking to rent apartments than there are apartments to rent. With a little patience and a lot of luck, however, I was able to find an amazing apartment.

Here is how I did it:

SEARCH ONLINE
The two most popular real estate websites in Germany are immobilienscout24 and immonet. Realtors and landlords often upload their listings to both websites, but sometimes they only use one or the other.

So, I checked both. Multiple times per day. And as soon as I saw an apartment I liked, I (in reality, my husband) either emailed the realtor/landlord or called them directly to set up a viewing.

MONEY TALKS

In a market where there are more renters than rentals, it can be hard to even get a viewing. After contacting a realtor or landlord, we were usually first required to fill out a form with information such as job, income, and nationality. The realtor would then obviously decide who gets to view the apartment based on these various factors.
VIEW & APPLY
In November, I was going to at least two viewings per week (while also finishing my Master’s thesis and planning a wedding). For 4 of the apartments that we viewed, we submitted an application. Here is a small overview of each of those apartments:
Apartment 1: Neubau
Pros: brand new, 2 bedrooms, ground floor with private garden
Cons: no grocery store within walking distance, far away from the city center & the university
Apartment 2: Uni-Nah
Pros: brand new, close to the university (where Marco works), ground floor with private garden
Cons: 1 bedroom, required a 5-year contract
Apartment 3: Stint
Pros: centrally located, huge balcony with a view of the river, floor heating, parking garage
Cons: 1 bedroom, over-budget
Apartment 4: Altbau
Pros: newly-renovated Altbau, 2 bedrooms, 3 stories, shared-use garden
Cons: no parking, located on the 3rd-5th floors
We didn’t get apartment #1. Before we got an answer from #2, we called the realtor to tell her that we weren’t willing to sign a 5-year contract. We did get #3, and Marco was ready to sign the contract, but it didn’t feel right to me, so we declined.
The last apartment we applied for was #4. Since there were so many great applications, however, the owner of the building wanted to interview the top 3 applicants. We had our interview on December 27 – just three days before our wedding. On December 28, we got the call that the apartment was ours.
On the day we signed the contract, our landlord actually told us that he chose us because of the romantic notion that we would be moving in just after our wedding 🙂

TIMING
The biggest issue when moving within Germany is getting the timing right. The standard rental contract in Germany requires a 3-month termination notice. However, most of the apartments that we came across wanted someone that could move in within 2 months.

Luckily, the rental market moves so fast in our city. So, we were able to get out of our old apartment and moved into our new apartment less than 2 months after signing our new lease and terminating our old one.

A post shared by Courtney (@courtneydmartin) on

And that’s it! Now we are living in a beautiful Altbauwohnung built in 1462! Since the apartment is so special, I am actually thinking of making an apartment tour video to show it off 😉

Leave a comment below if you want to see a video tour of the apartment!

Moving to Germany, Studying in Germany, Working in Germany

I had four appointments at the Bürgeramt in the month of September. Yes, you read that correctly: four appointments in four weeks.

Here’s a review of each of those appointments, just to give you an idea of how amazingly thorough (and sometimes redundant) German bureaucracy is for us foreigners.

Appointment #1: Ausländerbehörde

https://www.facebook.com/welcometogermerica/photos/a.501304819992555.1073741828.485254714930899/932785913511108/?type=3&theater
My student visa was going to run out on September 30th. However, due to other bureaucratic circumstances, I had to enroll for another semester at my university. So, I needed to renew my student visa for at least 6 more months. When I made this appointment per email, I was told all I need is a new biometric photo, proof of enrollment, my passport, and 80€. However, when I got to the appointment, my case worker spontaneously decided that my Verpflichtungserklärung (which Marco signed 3 years ago saying he is financially responsible for me) is too old. So, I needed to get a new one.
Unfortunately, my case worker doesn’t issue Verpflichtungserkläungen. Turns out, filling out these forms is a full time job for someone else on a different floor of the building. But I couldn’t just go over to her office today. Come on, that would be too convenient! No, I needed to make an appointment, and the earliest available was in two weeks.
Beyonce understands how I felt (source).

Oh, to top things off, my case workers informed me at the end of the appointment that he was going on vacation for the next three weeks. So, my new appointment to renew my visa (that was going to expire on September 20th) was scheduled for September 21st. Perfect.
Appointment #2: Standesamt

This is the only appointment I had during this month that wasn’t at the foreigner’s office. Instead, it was across the hall at the registry office.
After paying the court fees for our marriage, we had to go back to the registry office one last time (this was time #3) to sign some official-looking papers. Unfortunately, our regular case worker called in sick that morning, so everyone was scrambling to find someone we could meet with. 
Suddenly, we were asked to come upstairs. Until then, we had always gone to an office across the hall from the foreigner’s office – an area of the Bürgeramt (citizen’s office) that I have become quite familiar with. In fact, sitting in the waiting room with its dirty white walls and crying babies has started to feel like home. After ascending the staircase and opening the big metal door to the third floor, however, I gasped in awe of what we had been missing out on.
The walls were painted a happy yellow. There were large wooden chairs in the hallway that looked more fit for a throne room than a waiting room. We went into the office of our fill-in case worker, and she had a full wall covered in photos and letters of happy German couples that she had married over the years.
I basically felt like confused John Travolta in the TARDIS (source).

“This is the VIP floor for German couples!” I remarked to Marco. I had never realized that until then, my non-Germanness had gotten us shafted to the foreigner’s floor.
The rest of the appointment really wasn’t all that eventful. The woman said that all of our documents were in order, we signed some papers, and we set another appointment to plan to the ceremony in early December.
Appointment #3: Verflichtungserklärung

Back to the Ausländerbehörde for Marco to take financial responsibility for me. It sounds dramatic, but it’s really not (unless I smash a bunch of car windows with a baseball bat just before jumping on a plane to the U.S.). 
To fill out the Verpflichtungserklärung, Marco had to show his pay stubs from the last three months, his work contract, and our lease for the apartment. The woman then subtracted the rent from his monthly salary to figure out if he has enough money to “support” me.
After some arithmetic, we both signed a few forms, and I got to take a copy of my brand new Verpflichtungserklärung with me for my fourth and final appointment the following week.
Appointment #4: Ausländerbehörde (Again)
This was it: the last appointment. I went alone, and seeing as it was only one week before my residence permit expired, I was a little nervous. Luckily, everything went as it should. I handed my case worker all the necessary documents, and he made a lot of copies and fattened up the file they are keeping on me. 
The interesting part came when he asked me how long I need a visa for. Technically, I am only enrolled for one more semester at my university, which is 6 months. After that, I will probably just switch to a spouse visa, since I am getting married in December. I told him this, and he told me the best news I had gotten all month:
If I take a visa for just six months, I only have to pay 30€ instead of the standard 80€. Not bad! I also just get a sticker in my passport instead of a plastic ID card, which is nice. Now I just have to make sure I have all my documents together by the beginning of March to get my fifth (and final?) type of residence permit…
Expat Life, Moving to Germany

It is a fact that Germany releases much less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per capita than the United States. This is due to a mixture of factors that include large investments in renewable energy and an overall environmental consciousness among German citizens.

This got me thinking: Has moving to Germany helped my carbon footprint to shrink?

Carbon footprint in Germany vs. USA

First, let’s look at some numbers:
Tons of COâ‚‚ Produced Per Capita in 1990
USA: 19
Germany: 15.2

Tons of COâ‚‚ Produced Per Capita in 2010
USA: 19
Germany: 12.3
Information received from Carbon Footprint of Nations.

This means Germany has actually improved its carbon emissions by nearly 3 tons since 1990. The United States’ carbon footprint per capita actually spiked to 21 tons in 2000, which they did recover from. When you look at the big picture, however, it is basically like they have never made any progress at all.

USA
So, I was curious to see how my carbon footprint improved since I moved to Germany. Using several carbon footprint calculators in order to get the most accurate result possible, I first calculated my carbon footprint for the last six months while I was living and working in Illinois from January 2013 to July 2013:

Ecological Footprint: 20.5 tons of COâ‚‚ eq/year
Global Footprint Network: 25.3 tons of COâ‚‚ eq/year
Stanford: 17.2

Average = 21.0 metric tons of COâ‚‚e

Major contributing factors:
  • During this time, I was driving 60 miles round trip each day for work = 3,900 miles over six months
  • I lived in a 3-bedroom house
  • Only about 11% of the energy produced in the U.S. comes from renewable sources
Germany
Next, I calculated my carbon footprint for my last six months in Germany, which would be from November 2015 to May 2016.

Ecological Footprint: 13.7 tons of COâ‚‚ eq/year

Global Footprint Network: 9 tons of COâ‚‚ eq/year

Stanford: 6.6 tons of CO2 eq/year

Total: 9.8 metric tons of COâ‚‚e

Major contributing factors:

  • I live in a 1 bedroom apartment
  • Marco and I are very conscious about electricity use and only use about 25 kWh per week
  • I travel most often by foot, otherwise by city bus (we only drive our car max. 1x/week)
  • Approximately 40% of our electricity comes from renewable sources (and that is the cheapest, basic electricity plan available)
There are many factors that I could not take into account, which is why my carbon footprint is so much lower than the average. However, we can still assume that the difference between these two numbers is fairly accurate.

I am now producing 11.2 fewer tons of COâ‚‚/yr than I was 3 years ago.

As a side note, I do realize that because I make a transatlantic flight approximately once per year, my carbon footprint is actually much higher than each of these numbers indicate. Since I just wanted to focus on the impact of my day-to-day life in each of these countries, I did not take my yearly flights into account.

For those that have moved to another country: how do you think your carbon footprint has changed?
Expat Life, Moving to Germany

Today marks 2 straight years of living in Germany! While I feel like I should say something like, “The time has gone by so fast! I can’t believe it’s already been two years!” I am actually feeling the opposite. It’s more like, “Only two years? I feel like I’ve been living here for at least 5!”

I suppose that is just because of all the things that have happened in these past two years. I flew to Germany on a one-way ticket on July 24, 2013. If you want to see a review of everything that happened in my first year, check out my one year anniversary post.

Here is a look back at my second year in Germany.

July 2014

  • My parents visited for two weeks, and we made a lovely tour through Germany
  • Germany won the world cup! Best of all, this happened while my parents were here, so we all got to celebrate together

August 2014

September 2014

  • I celebrated my 3-year anniversary since coming to Germany for the first time to study abroad in 2011!

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

  • Marco and I tested our American and German dialects
  • I got all of my grades back from my first semester of grad school, and I did (actually a little bit better than) average!

July 2015

And here we are in July 2015! I am done with classes for my second semester, but I still have 6 term papers to write (wish me luck and lots of productivity). It’s crazy to think about how different my life is right now (read: more stressful) than one year ago. But I am very happy to be where I am, and hope that my update in one year from now will include finishing up my Master’s degree and getting ready for a successful job hunt!
Here’s to another great year in Germany!
            Expat Life, Moving to Germany, Studying in Germany

            Although all cities/states are different, here are the steps I took to get my foreign driver’s license exchanged for a German driver’s license:

            1. Contact the local Führerscheinstelle by phone or email, and ask what documents are needed to exchange your driver’s license
            2. Collect the required documents, which usually include:
              • Foreign driver’s license
              • Passport/Visa
              • Biometric Photo
              • Translation of Foreign Driver’s License (40€ at ADAC)
            3. Bring documents to the local Führerscheinstelle and pay the fee (35€)
            4. Pick up your German driver’s license a couple weeks later
            How to Get a German Driver's License

            Getting my German driver’s license had been on my to-do list since the German boyfriend tried (unsuccessfully) to teach me to drive stick shift over a year ago. Since foreigners in Germany are only allowed to drive with their foreign driver’s license for their first 6 months in the country, I have not been allowed to drive in Germany since December 2013. Luckily, residents of some countries (U.S. included) have up to three years to trade in their foreign license for a German one.

            **The rules are different for each state of the U.S. Check the U.S. Embassy website to see if your state has a reciprocal agreement with Germany**

            Before getting started, I read blog posts by both Sarah Stäbler and Alex Butts about their experience with exchanging their American driver’s licenses. Unfortunately, all I learned from those posts is that everyone’s experiences is different. Like many bureaucratic process in Germany, each city/state has different requirements, so I knew I had to start off my contacting my local driver’s license office… ugh.

            Luckily, I found the email address for my local Führerscheinstelle online, so instead of wasting my time at the German equivalent of the DMV, I send them an email.

            Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

            ich bin eine Amerikanerin und wohne in Lüneburg. Ich habe einen Führerschein
            aus dem Bundesstaat Illinois und ich möchte diesen in einen deutschen
            Führerschein umschreiben. Welche Dokumente brauche ich dafür und wie
            verläuft der Prozess?

            Herzliche Grüße,
            Courtney Martin

            The next day, I received a reply:

            Guten Morgen Frau Martin, 

            bitte kommen Sie mit folgenden Unterlagen zu denÖffnungszeiten in die Führerscheinstelle:
            – Personalausweis oder Pass mit Meldebescheinigung– Führerschein aus  Illinois– biometrisches Passbild– 35 €
            Bei Ihrer persönlichen Vorsprache kann dann der weitere Ablauf besprochen werden. 

            A few days later, I went to the Führerscheinstelle, and only had to wait about 5 minutes to meet with the woman responsible for all residents with last names beginning with L-Q.  She made copies of my American passport, German visa, and American driver’s license. I also gave her a biometic picture and 35 €. She then said that she would send the request my German driver’s license, and I all I had left to do was get my American driver’s license translated. This is done at the ADAC (like the German equivalent of AAA) and costs 40 € for non-members.

            It is important to also note that I went to the Führerscheinstelle all by myself. Generally, I believe in always bringing a German with for any bureaucratic processes (civil servants don’t really like wasting their time with people that speak baby German). So, I was incredibly proud that the trip ended up being so successful!

            A few days later, I dropped off my American license at the ADAC, paying 40€ for the translation. I had to wait one week for the translation to be finished, and during this time, I got a call from the Führerscheinstelle to tell me that my German license was ready to be picked up! So, once my translation was ready, I went back to the ADAC, picked up the documents, went back to the Führerscheinstelle, and I got my German license that very day!

            My German driver's license

            Note that you do have to trade in your foreign license for the German license when you do it this way. However, you can return to the Führerscheinstelle at any time to trade in your German license for your foreign license at any time (and vice versa) for free. So, for example, I can go back to get my American license before flying to the U.S. in September.

            Overall, the process is pretty simple and much more inexpensive than doing German driving school (that process costs around 2,000€). So, if your home country’s driver’s license is recognized by Germany, get to the Führerscheinstelle before your three years are up!

            Expat Life, Moving to Germany, Travel

            I have flown between Germany and the U.S. a total of 4 times in the past 4 years. With my upcoming trip to the U.S. in September, this number will soon be 5.









            Every time I have made this transatlantic flight, I have done it with a different airline and had a connection through a different airport. And since the German boyfriend and I were able to snag such a great deal for our upcoming trip (with yet another airline), it got me thinking about what I have paid to fly between the U.S. and Germany in the past. So, here is an overview of each of my transatlantic flights, including how much I paid for my tickets.

            SWISS

            This was my very first time leaving the U.S. It was also my first time searching online for airline tickets. So, I basically just typed “Chicago to Hamburg” in Google, clicked on the first search result, and begged my parents to pay for it. Looking back, I can see that the tickets were a little bit expensive, and I probably could have found something cheaper, but you live and you learn. I am also happy that I got the experience of flying with SWISS (because it’s pretty nice).

            USA to Germany
            Chicago (ORD) to Zurich (ZRH)
            31 August 2011 from 19:55 to 10:55

            Zurich (ZRH) to Hamburg (HAM)
            01 September 2011 from 14:55 to 16:20

            Germany to USA
            Hamburg (HAM) to Zurich (ZRH)
            Zurich (ZRH) to Chicago (ORD)
            — This is on my receipt, but I didn’t actually end up taking this plane due to technical problems. Instead, I was put on a Lufthansa plane through Munich.

            TOTAL: 1,039.01 USD / 741.07 EUR

            US Airways

            This was hands down my worst experience flying between the U.S. and Germany. The flight was unbearably long, the planes were old, and I had two stops on the way back to the U.S. It is important to note, however, that this was the most quickly-planned trip as well. My departure was in September, and I bought the tickets at the end of July. For the best deals, you need to book about 4-5 months in advance.

            USA to Germany
            Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
            11 September 2012 from 16:00 to 10:20
            Frankfurt (FRA) to Hamburg (HAM)
            12 September 2012 from 12:05 to 13:10
            Germany to USA
            Hamburg (HAM) to Frankfurt (FRA)
            11 November 2012 from 08:25 to 09:45
            Frankfurt (FRA) to Charlotte (CLT)
            11 November 2012 from 11:05 to 15:00
            Charlotte (CLT) to Chicago (ORD)
            11 November 2012 from 18:05 to 19:14
            TOTAL: 813.00 USD / 661.50 EUR

            LOT Polish Airlines

            This is the first/only time I have ever bought a one-way ticket. Unfortunately, one-way tickets do not cost half of a round-trip, but I got an okay deal on this one when you consider that I was flying in July – one of the most expensive months to fly. 
            I was very happy with LOT Polish Airlines since I got to fly on their brand-new Dreamliner 787. I also had a whole row of 3 seats to myself, which probably made this my most comfortable flying experience as well. However, having to go through Warsaw Airport was the absolute worst. So, the SWISS flight still remains at the top.
            USA to Germany
            Chicago (ORD) to Warsaw (WAW)
            24 July 2013 from 21:50 to 14:05
            Warsaw (WAW) to Hamburg (HAM)
            25 July 2013 from 17:25 to 19:00
            TOTAL: 506.39 USD / 388.77 EUR

            Lufthansa

            This was my last flight to the U.S. over Christmas. Lufthansa is a solid airline, and our experience was with them was great. I also really like the Munich airport, so having to sit around there for a few hours between flights isn’t too bad. The only bad thing I can say is that Lufthansa does now charge for seat reservations, so Marco and I each paid 50 EUR each to reserve seats for each of the transatlantic flights. We didn’t reserve spots for the shorter flights, and we did have to sit on opposite ends of the plane for one of the trips.

            Germany to USA
            Hamburg (HAM) to Munich (MUC)
            20 December 2014 from 13:00 to 14:20

            Munich (MUC) to Chicago (ORD)
            20 December 2014 from 15:40 to 18:55

            USA to Germany
            Chicago (HAM) to Munich (MUC)
            3 January 2015 from 21:30 to 13:20

            Munich (MUC) to Hamburg (HAM)
            4 January 2015 from 15:00 to 16:15

            TOTAL: 828 USD / 622.19 EUR

            Finnair

            This is the itinerary for our upcoming flight in September. This was by far the best deal either of us have ever gotten on an airline ticket between Hamburg and Chicago, and I am not really sure it would be possible to find something cheaper. Also, in typical Courtney-fashion, we have chosen to fly with yet another new airline.
            Germany to USA
            Hamburg (HAM) to Helsinki (HEL)
            13:00 to 15:50
            Helsinki (HEL) to Chicago (ORD)
            17:25 to 18:40
            USA to Germany
            Chicago (ORD) to Helsinki (HEL)
            22:00 to 14:50
            Helsinki (HEL) to Hamburg (HAM)
            17:30 to 18:30
            TOTAL: 418.03 USD / 385.12 EUR


            What was the best deal you ever got on plane tickets?
            Featured, Moving to Germany, Studying in Germany

            How to Get a Job with a German Student Visa

            Studying in Germany is great! It is way cheaper than in the U.S. (as long as you go to a public school), there are great universities, and there is a huge selection of interesting degree programs (many that are even in English!).

            Regardless of how cheap the tuition is, however, moving abroad is never cheap, and you will probably want to get a part-time job during your studies.

            Step 1: Read Your Visa Carefully

            Before looking for a job, you need to know exactly what type of work you are allowed to do, and how many hours you are allowed to work per month. If you received an electronic residence permit, then this information is written on the Zusatzblatt (mine is pictured below). If you just got a sticker in your passport, then it should be written on the top page of the sticker.

            German student visa
            My Zusatzblatt (on the right) has all of the information regarding how many days/year I am allowed to work. For the standard student visa, you are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days per calender year. Since a half-day is 4 hours, this basically means that you are allowed to work 4 hours per day, 5 days per week. As a student, you probably would not want to work more than this anyways.
             German student application visa
            Pictured above is the sticker from my student application visa, which states that I was not allowed to seek employment (Erwerbstätigkeit nicht getstattet).
            NOTE: Most student visas specifically forbid freelance work. Unless you have a freelance visa, you are now allowed to have a freelance job such as teaching English.

            2. Start Searching for a Job

            After you know what type of job you are allowed to have, you can start searching. Student jobs at a university are called studentische Hilfskraft (abbreviated SHK) or wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft (abbreviated WHK). If you like the idea of working on campus, then this is what you should look for. Most universities have their own job portal on their website, which would be a great place to start.
            If you are looking to get off campus, then other popular websites for finding a job in Germany include Indeed, Monster, and Job Scout 24.
            You may also consider making a Xing account, which Germans prefer to LinkedIn.

             

            3. Make a Resume/CV/Lebenslauf

            Once you found some jobs to apply to, it is time to make an updated resume targeted for your desired job. Since you are in Germany, you may also want to write a German-style resume, which includes your photo, birthday, nationality, and more. For more information, read my guide on how to write a German resume.
            How to write a German resume

            4. Apply to Jobs

            After you have updated your resume, it is time to apply to the jobs you found. If it is just a part-time student job, then you probably do not need to write a cover letter. Rather, just include 1-2 paragraphs about why you are qualified for the job and excited to work for the organization in an email. Remember to attach your resume as a PDF, and hope for the best.
            If the job description is in English, then you can probably get away with doing everything in English. If the job description is in German, however, then make sure to include a German resume and write your cover letter/email in German. Since the jobs I applied to wrote their descriptions in German, but English fluency was required, I included a German and English version of my resume.

            5. Rock the Interview

            Doing a job interview in German (when German isn’t your native language) is terrifying. Trust me, I’ve had to do it. My only advice is to speak slowly and clearly as possible. Good luck!

            6. Fill Out the Paperwork

            Once you have the job, you will have to fill out a lot of paperwork. If you followed my day of German bureaucracy, then you know that I spent a lot of time trying to round up all of the documents I needed before I could finally sign my work contract. Some of the documents you will probably have to provide your new employer include:
            • Visa / Aufenthaltserlaubnis
            • Passport
            • Proof of health insurance
            • Social Security Card / Sozialversicherungsausweis
            • Student ID
            If you did apply for a student job at your university (SHK/WHK), then your wage is based upon your education level. So, you may also have to provide your college transcripts to prove that you already have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
            Viel Glück!
            Culture, Diabetes, Expat Life, Moving to Germany

            Although I have been living in Germany for well over a year now, I had never actually gotten German health insurance. This all changed when I started my Master’s in Germany, however, as being enrolled in a German university made me eligible for public health insurance.

            Since I have Type 1 Diabetes, a chronic disease that could easily eat up a couple hundred dollars a month in medication and doctor’s visits while I was living in the U.S. (and that’s with private insurance), I was very excited about enrolling in German public health insurance.

            Although I signed up in October, I didn’t actually take advantage of what I was paying 78€ per month for until my first doctor appointment in December.

            Once the day came, I was thrilled to walk into the office, hand the secretary my health insurance card, and head back to the waiting room. No talk of money at all, because nobody pays for doctor’s visits (of course there are exceptions to this rule, but in general, doctor’s visits are paid in full).

            I then sat in the waiting room listening to the doctor call each of the patients’ names.

            “Frau Riemenschneider!”

            “Herr Müller!”

            “Frau Kalbfleish!”

            Mrs. Martin!”

            Ahh, yes. Since the German boyfriend sees the same doctor, he had told him a few weeks prior that his American girlfriend had an appointment coming up. So, the doctor thought it was hilarious to call me “missus.” I guess I can’t complain too much though. At least he didn’t call me Mr. Courtney like so many other Germans do.

            The doctor’s appointment itself started off pretty standard, with the doctor asking questions about my history and showing me my blood work (which I got done a week prior, and I didn’t have to pay for).

            What shocked me most was when the doctor abruptly said, “I would like to do an ultrasound. Can you lay down over here?”

            An ultrasound? Don’t we need to schedule that for a separate day? Won’t that cost a lot of extra money? Oh yeah, these are all things that the Germans don’t think about.

            So, I laid down and had a quick ultrasound. No biggie.

            German prescription forms (red is for public health insurance)

            Overall, the appointment went great, and I walked out with a handful of prescriptions that needed to be filled ASAP. So, on the way home I stopped by the pharmacy.

            Oh, and when I said I had a handful of prescriptions, I wasn’t kidding. I still have the receipt that shows that I handed over 6 that day, and you can see from the photo above that I am still holding onto three more, which I will fill via an online pharmacy.
            When I went to the pharmacy that day, however, I was watching the monitor anxiously as the total steadily rose. But to my surprise, it was only going up by increments of five, and at the end, my total was only 32.07 Euro.
            part of my receipt from the pharmacy

            “Only 30 Euro for all that?!” I was thinking as I handed over my debit card.

            So, I was quite surprised when Marco whispered to me, “I am sorry it costs so much. I can help pay for it, if you want.”

            What?! Are you kidding me? I just paid 10€ for over 3 months of insulin! I’ve got no problem with that!

            Since the receipt included the list price of each of the medications, I figured I would add that up just to see how great my German health insurance is. The result? 627.15€

            Let’s do that math:
            32.07 / 627.15 = 0.05

            That means my insurance covered 95% of the costs of my medication! I realize that Europeans are probably super bored reading this post, but this is a big deal for us Americans, especially for those unlucky Americans that have chronic diseases.

            GO PUBLIC HEALTHCARE!

            Expat Life, Moving to Germany, Studying in Germany

            Germany offers foreigners the opportunity to apply for three different types of student visas: the language course visa, the student application visa, and the student visa.

            After receiving a student visa last week for my Master’s studies, I have now officially had each of these three types of student visas sometime within the last year. So, since I am now a professional German student visa applicant, I figured I would share some of my knowledge with you.

            Here are each of the three types of German student visas and how to get them:

            1. Language Course Visa

            The language course visa is the perfect option for those that want to spend time in Germany as they learn the German language. 
              German language course visa
              To apply for this visa, the following documents are required:
              • Passport
              • Health Insurance
              • Proof of Finances
              • Biometric Photo
              • Fees (60-100 Euro)
              • Proof of Enrollment in a Language Course
              Officially, the language course must meet for at least 20 hours/week. However, I was able to get this visa by being enrolled in a course that only met for 3 hours/week. Therefore, it is best to ask at your local Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde) for the specific requirements.
              For more information about this visa, read my full post about the German language course visa.

              2. Student Application Visa


              If you think that you want to study in Germany, but are still trying to find the right program, then you are allowed to stay in Germany on what is known as a student application visa (Studienbewerbervisum).

              German student application visa
              To apply for this visa, the following documents are required:
              • Passport
              • Health Insurance
              • Proof of Finances
              • Biometric Photo
              • Fees (60-100 Euro)
              This is a relatively easy visa to get since you do not need to prove enrollment in anything, you just have to have all of the standard documents. If the people at the Foreigner’s Office give you problems in trying to get this visa like they did to me, just show them paragraph 16 from the German law on foreigner’s permits. The visa is only for 3 months, but it can be extended two times for a total of 9 months.

              For more information about this visa, check out my full post on the German Student Application Visa.

              3. Student Visa

              Once you have already been accepted to a German university, and you have officially enrolled, then you can apply for a German student visa. 
              German student visa
              To apply for this visa, the following documents are required:
              • Passport
              • Health Insurance
              • Proof of Finances
              • Biometric Photo
              • Fees (60-100 Euro)
              • Proof of Enrollment at a German University
              As long as you have official proof of enrollment at a German university, getting this visa should be quite simple. If you have already been living in Germany for awhile and are currently on a different visa (such as the student application visa), then they will simply stamp it “invalid” before giving you your new student visa, just like they did to mine:

              To read about my experience in getting a student visa, check out the following posts: Confusing Process of Getting a German Student Visa, Student Visa Update, Day of German Bureaucracy

              To read more on living and studying in Germany, make sure to follow me on Bloglovin’ and Facebook. You can also leave any questions in the comments below.