Useful Information for Erasmus in Giessen


1. Local time:
Central European (GMT+1)

2. Area:
357.340 km2 divided into 16 Federal States

3. Population:
81.100.000
inhabitants (tourists, immigrants, temporary workers etc. not included)

4. Language:
The official language in Germany is German. However there are many regional dialects, none of them is co-official. We recommend learning some basic sentences you might need on your arrival. Most people do understand English but don’t really want to speak it, especially young people speak English. Older people usually don’t speak or understand English well.

5. Communication:
International dialing code for Germany: +49

6. Currency:
As Germany is member of the Euro-zone, its currency is the Euro (€).

7. Currency change:
Keep in mind that there aren't no places in Giessen to change money. Banks only change currencies for their clients so you either have to open an account first or CHANGE BEFORE YOU COME TO GIESSEN!  If you can't bring Euro from your home country, you will find currency exchange points in the airport of Frankfurt, where you will arrive anyway, but they probably will have high fees or not so good exchange rates for you.

8. Bank account:
If you want to open a bank account in Germany we recommend the Sparkasse. They offer a giro account especially for students. It neither has monthly account administration charges nor fees for giro transfers. There are over 25.000 cash points to withdraw money for free. Only if you go to another cash point you will be charged fees. Telephone and online banking are both possible to manage anything related to your account. As of late you can even manage your movements from the app you can download onto your smartphone. It’s really useful. To open an account you have to bring your passport, a certificate of enrollment and your registration card (for EU countries) or residence title for specific purposes (other countries).

9. Credit Cards:
Foreign credit cards are usually accepted in shops, hotels, restaurants etc. although debit cards are more common in Germany than credit cards. Some shops only allow electronic purse with minimum amount, normally about 5€. However some small shops or local restaurants don’t accept electronic purse. Look out for typical info cards around the pay desk, they normally tell you the possible payment methods.
Telephone numbers for lost/stolen cards:
- card emergency blocking: (+49) 116 116  
- blocking of all cards: (+49) (0)1805 021 021 (expensive hotline number)
- AmericanExpress: (+49) (0)69 97 970  
- Diners Club: (+49) (0)69 900 150 135 /
(+49) (0)69 900 150 136
 
- MasterCard: (+49) (0)800 819 10 40  (inside Germany for free)
- Visa: (+49) (0)800 814 91 00 /
(+49) (0)800 811 84 40
(both inside Germany for free)
 
10. Emergency telephone numbers:
- general emergency: 112 (firefighters, police and ambulance), always remember the five W-Questions (Where did it happen? What happened? How many persons are involved? What kind of affection / injury / harm is it? Wait for further inquiry / Who’s calling?)
- police: 110  
- emergency medical service: (+49) 116 117  
- crisis help line: 0800 111 | 0111
| 0222
 
- German breakdown service (ADAC): (+49) (0)1802 222 222 (expensive hotline number)
- finder for hospitals and doctors: www.weisse-liste.de  

11. Tipping:
Tips in Germany are always welcome amongst employees in the tourist industry and gastronomy, however the atmosphere is relaxed. 5%-10% are appropriate, about 10% if you didn’t spend much, 5% for higher amounts.

12. Farmacies:
Farmacies usually open between 8am and 9am and close at about 18pm. Only the farmacy in the Galerie Neustädter Tor is opened until 20pm due to their official schedule. Apart from that there is always a farmacy open for emergencies. To find an open farmacy nearby you can call 22833 from your mobile phone or have a look at http://www.apotheken.de/notdienste/ .

13. Smoking and Alcohol:
Germany adopted a law limiting smoking in public due to EU demands. Smoking is banned in public places like all stations and means of public transport (airplanes, trains, metro, bus, taxi). It’s only allowed in especially labeled areas. Smoking bans in gastronomic places like bars and restaurants depend on laws of each Federal State. Some have complete smoking bans or partial smoking bans requiring separated areas or locals where smoking is allowed. Universities have different restrictions about smoking bans along with the Federal State but are enforced differently in each university. Smoking is officially allowed in rented rooms and apartments but can be restricted due to fire prevention standards. If you smoke excessively in your apartment the owner can demand you to make or pay for renovations because of usage, strong smell or dropping wall papers.
Officially alcohol is allowed to drink on the streets but it’s usually frowned upon drinking in front of bars or clubs. It’s not allowed to drink inside means of public transport or public transport stations, bus and metro drivers may refuse entrance to persons noticeably drunk.