10 Things You Should Know…

10 Things You Should Know…

Xiang Ru and Yang Yihe, who just returned from the RWTH Aachen, share a list of 10 things you should know before leaving for an exchange semester in Germany.


10 things you should know before leaving for an exchange semester in Germany
(RWTH Aachen in particular)


1) Anmelden und Abmelden

“Anmelden” refers to the “residence registration” procedure that you need to complete within a week of your arrival in Germany. You can take your passport and go through the procedure at the nearest public affairs office.

“Abmelden” corresponds to the “de-residence registration” that you must complete before leaving Germany. The purpose is to cancel your address in Germany. Note that you should do “Abmelden” within one week before you leave, and doing the procedure too early is not allowed. The same passport and registration documents as for Anmelden are required.

Aachen Cathedral

2) Deutsche Bank

In the process of obtaining a long-term visa in Germany, we must go through the brutal procedure at the Deutsche Bank. But after you arrive in Germany, you still inevitably need to fight with it.

First you need to activate the account. In the week you arrive, you will need to go to an outlet of the Deutsche Bank at the required business hours, bring the asset certificate and passport from Deutsche Bank (Shanghai), and tell the salesperson that you want to activate the account.

It is important to note that the assets of Deutsche Bank (Shanghai) are bilingual and I have forgotten whether they are bilingual in both Chinese and German or bilingual in both Chinese and English. So before going to Germany remember to go to Deutsche Bank (Shanghai) counter to confirm that you have all the information you need.

Activating the Deutsche Bank account is to be done after you get a membership, because you have to make sure that the address provided to Deutsche Bank is valid. You will receive a total of five letters in two weeks, including your Deutsche Bank card, consumption password, online payment password and dynamic TAN code (each payment will need a different number of the TAN code). If you find a letter has been lost in transit, you can ask Deutsche to send you again. Of course, two weeks is just the time a bank clerk tells you, most of my classmates around the collection of five letters, and you would have to ask the Deutsche Bank. Don’t overestimate the efficiency of the Deutsche Bank. In the first month of Germany you may not be able to use your account.

Deutsche Bank will bring you a lot of interesting experiences, such as inexplicably cancelling your bank transfer orders. You may need to repeat the procedure several times, and then go to the counter to find staff for clarification.

Deutsche Bank sometimes does not give you your monthly living expenses, and then you can only rely on credit cards and UnionPay savings card to live. I asked their staff about this many times, but they did not tell me that the reasons was for denying living expenses, but also did not say how to solve the problem. I guess can only wait until after closing the account to get the money in the card. If you encounter problems, ask for a different staff member, because each person may give a different answer and certain staff members may help you to solve the matter. When I was closing the account, there was a female staff member who told me to wait two days while another staff member told me I can finish it that day. You may need luck to solve any problem at the Deutsche Bank.

Closing the account is a very happy thing. After you do the Abmeldung, you take the proof of the account to the school to obtain the Deutsche Bank card funds unlock proof. The staff will say that the unlocking should be handed to the local immigration office to handle, but because we are students, the immigration will send our materials to the school, and the school agent will unlock the proof of funds for us. Finally holding the funds to prove that the passport, Deutsche card you can go to close the account.

Do not use Deutsche Bank as the only source of funds, be sure to prepare funds other than Deutsche Card, such as Master or VISA cards, and cash or UnionPay savings card. Some online shopping is only available with credit cards (Master and VISA). If you are running out of cash, you can withdraw Euro cash at any Sparkasse with a UnionPay savings card. The transaction fee is 20 RMB. The exchange rate is not very good, but better than the airport exchange rate.

3) Semester Ticket

The semester ticket basically includes the entire North Rhine-Westphalian public transport system (bus, train, subway, light rail, etc.), and can be used for a semester. All trains can be reached in addition to express trains and foreign trains. You need to pay 224 Euros of the ticket fee to the school and if the bank transfer is successful, after three days they will send you the semester ticket. If you use the Deutsche card to transfer, then remember to check the state of the transfer, as I said earlier the Deutsche Bank may cancel the transfer for no reason. The semester ticket only works in conjunction with the student card for identification.

4) Deutsche Bahn

DB (Deutsche Bahn) covers all the German rails and buses. In Germany, it is convenient to travel by train. Different from the domestics, the railway station is usually located in the city center, starting from the main train station in Aachen, within two hours you can go to Cologne or Düsseldorf, three hours to reach Brussels in Belgium or Paris in France, about five hours to reach Berlin or Munich. German trains are not only quiet and comfortable, they are humane, and you can carry a bike. However, there are still some problems: the first is the price problem, the price of German train ticket like that of an airline ticket is floating, the closer the departure date is, the higher the price. It is best to buy long distance tickets more than two weeks in advance on the official DB website. Not arriving on time is an important issue, so you need to download the DB Navigator, which is a DB-developed mobile app, you can check trips, prices, travel, and download e-tickets. Lateness information will be updated in real time.

5) Housing

After the application, the school will provide you with a housing application website address. However, due to the housing shortage in Aachen, you may only get appartments far from the campus and the city. So you can also pay attention to abcdv forum or weibo to get a better choice. The better plan is to rent an appartment for the first month, after you arrive in Aachen you can then find a better room.

6) Travelling


I went there twice, and encountered the parade crowd both time. Köln is worth a visit. Usually there are lots of people, and even more people when on holidays (such as the famous Köln Carnival). Pay attention to safety.

Köln cathedral and Rhine river


There are many immigrants from Japan. In the vicinity of the train station it is easy to find a lot of Asian cuisine. It is a good place for dinner. Not that many attractions, however.

Light rail in front of the main train station

Tromso (Norway)

You can see the aurora in winter. Be sure to keep warm. It is better to equip the camera with a delay function. You can rent a tripod in the local travel agencies.

Aurora Borealis

7) Food

I have not eaten out many times in Germany. The local staple is mashed potatoes and bread. The more famous German food is the pig knuckle with sausage. People may not agree about how it tastes. The German restaurant basically tastes alike. You are not required to give tips. Generally you can make it up to an integer such as 8.7 to 9 such that the 0.3 is then the tip.

Germany has a lot of markets, opening once or twice a week. They are not very cheap but the food is very fresh. Fish and chips is really the best food I ever ate in Germany.

8) Study

Electing courses is very important, but you have countless opportunities to change. So you may wish to elect different courses when you are interested in the subject at the start of the semester, and then see if it is suitable for you. The German university mechanism is very different from the familiar Chinese and American education, and they emphasize self-learning and voluntarily arrange time. In the four-month course you will not have any quiz and homework except for the weekly Tutorial and Lecture, all of the grade will depend on the final exam.

All the English courses that Aachen gave us are master’s level, so most of them are very difficult and deep. Now the JI website shows that there is one class, Fundamentals of Fluid Power, that can be transferred, but the fact is that this class is much harder than fluid mechanics, and that the odds of failing the course are high and you may want to challenge yourself to choose this course. Here are a few of our courses: Quality Management, Process Measurement, Production Management, and Machine Design Process. Specific course information can be found on CAMPUS office website.

Partying at the SuperC
Partying at the SuperC

Snow at the Library
Snow at the Library

9) What to do when your wallet and phone are stolen

First, call the 110 emergency number. Then the police will tell you to go to the police station where you belong (not necessarily the nearest). After registering at the police station, you will have to wait. After which you can start to fill all kinds of documents.

What to do when the Deutsche Bank card gets lost? First call the Deutsche Bank 24-hour hotline to freeze the card. However, online payment and transfer cannot be frozen by phone, for insurance, you also need to go to Deutsche bank to send a new bank card and set the password. But you do not have to worry too much, because if the stolen card is a credit card, Deutsche Bank will give compensation to you.

What to do when student card and semester ticket lost? The Aachen student card is called Bluecard, and you need to go to the first floor of the SuperC school complex building to have it re-issued. The cost is 10 Euro and you can get it on the spot. For the semester ticket you need to go to the bus company’s customer service center, in Aachen it is located in Bushof, and the cost is about 20 euros.

How to do when your passport gets lost? If you are as unlucky as me, congratulations, North Rhine-Westphalia got a Chinese consulate two years ago, located in Düsseldorf. You need to bring three passport photos, the certificate issued in police station, ID card, naturalization registration certificate, etc., everything you think that you can use to get the passport. It does not matter if you don’t have any of that, but the time required to verify the identity of the information may be longer. Leave a phone number for the embassy staff, and then wait for the message prompts you to come and get a passport. I only spent less than ten days to run, but it varies, usually about a month.

How to get a new visa? If you do have a long pass visa for some country, you can go to the consulate of the country. If you need access to the EU during your stay in Germany, you must get the German visa. The school’s immigration office can handle the matter. If you want to make an ordinary visa, he will need to send your material to Berlin for a review and take about a week. However, if you are in an emergency, he can also help you apply for short-term residence permit, the general residence time longer than the long-term visa, this one can be done on the spot, and the use of visa is of no difference.

What to do when the phone is stolen? Call the police. There is even less hope than the possibility of finding the wallet, because in general it is broken into parts to sell. Fortunately, our operating system is in Chinese, do not worry about Alipay, WeChat and other identity information disclosure.

10) Be BRAVE

Although most of the above is not really about happy things, I still cherish and miss the bitterness in Germany, it encouraged me to grow, and forced me to move forward, so I became a brave, firm self. Please be brave and go out. The unknown is immeasurable.

Written by Xiang Ru, who lost her wallet, (left) and Yang Yihe (right).

xiang_ru  yang_yihe