When you are new to a university, you can quickly become lonely and a little lost. Especially at big universities, it’s easy to get the feeling that you are disappearing in the crowd. That’s why it’s important to get to know other students. This is easy, particularly at the beginning of term, because at this time, there are lots of newcomers to the university who are also looking to make friends. Even if you have a lot to do at the beginning of your studies, it is well worth investing a little time in making a few contacts.
Many Studierendenwerke offer leisure activities. Often, the student-house tutors organise collective activities such as parties, or cooking and game evenings. Some Studierendenwerke even have their own cultural offices which run theatre groups, painting and photography courses, or writing workshops. They also provide rooms and technical equipment for events. There are also digital offers. Here you can find an overview.
A good opportunity to meet others, especially (but not only) for international students, are the international clubs that are represented at many university locations. These clubs provide the opportunity to meet people from all over the world regularly at film evenings, visits to exhibitions and museums, parties, guided tours and day trips. There are also digital offers.
A good way of improving your language skills and getting to know people along the way is to learn a language in tandem. Two people, with different mother tongues, work together to systematically learn with, and from, each other. Both are pupil and teacher at the same time. But it’s not necessary to swot up on grammar or complete cloze tests. You can meet for a coffee and chat at first in one language for an hour and then in the other, discuss a book or a film, cook together etc. Studierendenwerke, students’ foreign offices or language centres at universities can put you in touch with tandem partners.
Sport activities are on offer at many universities. Over 200 universities are a member of the ADH (German University Sports Federation). The sports on offer are aimed at students, lecturers and employees of the universities and range from fitness courses for everyone, via trend sports, to competitive sport types for ambitious athletes. The prices are usually moderate. Some courses are very popular and get booked out quickly, so make sure you ask about deadlines for registration!
At most universities in Germany, there is a university orchestra, and/or a choir. Do you play an instrument or like to sing? Then this is the right place for you. The orchestras and choirs provide the musical entertainment at university events and usually give one full-length concert each term. Standards vary; some orchestras and choirs take in any interested musician, for others you have to prove your musical ability before being accepted. Normally there are practices once a week and practice weekends take place before a concert.
Both major churches are represented at the universities. Many churches are involved in cross-cultural and interreligious dialogue and promote encounters between German and international students. Besides church services and bible classes, the ESG and KHG give advice and help in emergencies and organise a variety of events such as pilgrimages, meditation courses or training for self-development. The churches often maintain student-houses which are sometimes, but not always, single sex or are reserved for those who are of their religious denomination.
In addition, the Evangelical and Catholic churches offer students from developing countries the student support programme STUBE. This contains seminars on orientation for first-year students in Germany, seminars on subjects relevant to development policy, the promotion of preparatory work experience, and periods of study in one’s native country and measures for reintegration.