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9 Ways to Support Yourself While Studying in Germany

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Germany, as other countries, hosts a large number of international students who have chosen to study abroad. The many benefits of studying in Germany lure international students embarking on their university pathway.

One huge benefit is that tuition fees at the top public universities in this country are close to nothing or literally nothing. All students are required to pay a small fee each semester that varies from region to region, of 50 to 250 Euros called a ‘Semesterbeitrag, which includes a Semesterticket for free public transport.

According to this Germany student’s guide, on average, the monthly costs of leading a modest student life – food, clothes, books, health insurance, accommodation and entertainment – are around 700-800 Euros.

As an international student, you will probably want to look for a side job as a means of supporting yourself and earning some pocket money. Your student visa will automatically give you the right to work part-time or full time (depending on the nature of your studies), but there will be some restrictions so it’s good to take note of them. As an international student coming from a non-EU country, you will be allowed to work only 120 days full time or 240 days part time per year, and you won’t be able to work freelance or be self-employed. Part-time jobs are usually considered mini-jobs and will pay a maximum of E450 per month, but this will be tax-free. If your salary exceeds this sum you will be taxed a percentage of your salary. Students generally earn around E8-10 per hour.

Language will probably not be a barrier to studying in Germany given that most of the Universities offer lectures in English for non- German speakers while you concurrently take classes in German. However, if you are thinking about getting a job during your studies, you should seriously consider taking extra lessons in German.

If you don’t speak much German, then it would be smart to look for a job in a multi-national company rather than in a smaller, local company – although nowadays students who are fluent in Asian languages have been finding positions in companies that do business with Asian countries.

Many students do manage to support themselves through university, or at least earn good pocket money in a variety of different jobs. Here’s some tips on where to start looking:

  1. The university is a great place to start your job search – there are sometimes jobs available as a receptionist, in the library, as an office assistant or in the cafeteria. As long as the work hours don’t conflict with your study schedule, it can be very beneficial to have your work and studies in one place.
  2. If you are a computer programmer – check out the IT sector. Due to the recent IT sector growth, programmers are wanted all over Germany.
  3. If you are looking just to work on weekends, ask at the local bars and nightclubs. There are a lot of options in Germany, and tips can be a good source of pocket money.
  4. Au pairing, baby-sitting, pet-sitting and cleaning can be quite lucrative and often includes free accommodation, as does working in hostels. Long hours and late nights might interfere with your studies – so this might be a better option during vacation times.
  5. If you are the adventurous type, consider taking a job as a tour guide, or zoo scout. This is a great way to meet different people.
  6. Working as a Trade Fair Assistant is another interesting option for international students in Germany, and can pay quite well as well as being educational.
  7. Working at a radio station or in a local TV station is also possibility, depending on your skills and interests. Media is often fun and challenging.
  8. Working in a call center in a big company might be an option.
  9. Get creative – do odd jobs to earn some extra Euros; conduct surveys for research companies, juggle for kids, shop for people, or dog walk.

Some universities in Germany require students to take internships in their field of studies, as part of their program. This can be a great opportunity for students to get an insight into the career or profession they have chosen and get some practical experience. Unfortunately these internships are generally unpaid, but they are extremely valuable and look good on your resume when you are applying for jobs post-graduation.

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