Everyday Life from A-Z


Private Telephones and Internet Access
The telephone market in Germany is liberated and you find a wide selection of serviceproviders for electronic communication operating regional or national. Usually you sign a contract for data and telephony with the same provider offering you DSL at various speed including VOIP telephony with a variety of possible flatrates. Depending how the infrastructure is developped in your area and the house you are living in you might find the choice between DSL over the former telephone line or fibre or cable-DSL through the cable-TV infrastructure. It may take 2-3 weeks to get high-speed access, such as DSL, installed.

Online comparisons can be found at teltarif, dslweb or verivox.

To get an internet contract or a mobile phone with internet, you also need to show your residency registration when going signing up for a contract.

Mobile communication networks are run by Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and O2 (Telefónica) and sold by 60 contractors offering endless tariffs. The quality of the networks is different not only in speed but density of the connection points („Netzausbau” or „Netzabdeckung”).

Please note that many contracts do include a bonus for the first period and are extended each year automatically without notification for the next period, usually for the next year, and might include TV-services and additional streaming options.

Learning German

To help you feel more at home in Germany, the FHI offers you German classes. For detailed information please contact the secretary of the Administration Department (email, phone: +49 30 8413 3102).
Furthermore, there are language courses at the „Volkshochschulen“ in Berlin and Potsdam.
Potsdam University offers special German classes for foreign students, doctoral candidates or guest scientists, staying at the university. Depending on your previous knowledge you can join one of two courses („Aufbaukurs” 1 or 2). You will have to take a German language test and need at least 60% of the points to be accredited. You finish your class with a participation certificate and a mark. Further information is available at uni-potsdam.de.

Public Transport

Please note that every city or administrative district has its own regional transport system, which has its own charges, tickets and services. There is no uniform system for Germany.
You can find schedules for buses and trains at the following useful websites.

Our site gives you all the information you need to get to the Institute.
The list of buses and trams that run in Berlin with some PDF maps to download.
Here you can download schedules of trams and buses in Potsdam.
List of buses in and around Potsdam. It has good downloadable PDF files of bus schedules. www.vbb.de
List of all public transportation in Berlin and Brandenburg with destination search and maps.
Here you can get information about train schedules for the whole of Germany. There is a timetable searching service and you can buy your tickets online. They also offer an English version of their website.
More frequent travellers on the railroad might consider buying an additional „Bahncard“ which qualifies to a discount of 25% or 50% on regular and sometimes even special fares.

Different Fare Zones in Berlin/Potsdam
Berlin and Potsdam each have their own fare zones (A, B and C) which extend concentric around the city centres. Tickets can be purchased with the zone combinations AB, BC or ABC.

Different Tickets in Berlin/Potsdam
Note that each ticket allows you to travel with all kind of public transport like SBahn, UBahn, bus, tram and Regionalbahn.

  •     Einzelfahrt/Single Ticket: Is valid for one hour in Potsdam or two hours in Berlin one way only.
  •     Set of four Single Ticket: Same as above with a rebate.
  •     Tageskarte/Day Ticket: Is valid from the date of purchase until 3 am the next day.
  •     Wochenkarte/7-Tage-Karte/Weekly Ticket: Is valid for a whole week and costs about the same as 5 day tickets.
  •     Monatskarte/Monthly Ticket: Is valid for the entire current calendar month or 30 days from the date of puchase.
  •     Jahreskarte/Yearly Ticket: Is valid for 1 year from the date of purchase and costs about as much as 10 monthly tickets. On weekends and in the evening after 8.00 p.m. you can take another adult and up to 3 kids aged 6 to 14 years at no additional charge.

Remember to validate every ticket before entering the train or instantly after hopping on the bus or tram by collecting a stamp at the validation machine. Ticket inspectors only accept stamped tickets and will charge you no less than 60 EUR.
Berlin pupils generally travel free of charge inside Berlin AB on the fahrCard you have to apply for.

Travelling with the „Semesterticket“
Students of the Berlin or Potsdam Universities can obtain the student’s semester ticket. With this ticket you can board all buses, trams, urban lines and underground lines throughout the entire public transport system of Berlin and Brandenburg (VBB). You can find more detailed information on astafu (Freie Universität) and astaup (Universität Potsdam), both in German only.

Travelling with Deutsche Bahn
For all who want to travel in Germany or Europe, some offers of Deutsche Bahn are listed below.
Bahncard: This card is recommended for those who travel by train frequently. Please see Bahncard website. Card holders receive discounts on their tickets. The Bahncard can be purchased in every travel agency of the Deutsche Bahn or online. You will need a photo and your valid passport for the application. For further information please see „Offers/BahnCard“ on the DB homepage.


Most shops are open between 08:00 and 21:00 (or 18:00 for small shops) Monday-Saturday. Berlin shops are often open a bit longer. Shops usually close on Sundays and public holidays.
In Berlin you will find department stores and shops all over the city. Department stores, chain stores and boutiques can be found around Kurfürstendamm, Friedrichstraße, Tauentzienstraße, Wilmersdorfer Straße, Hackescher Markt, Schönhauser Allee, Alexanderplatz, or Schlossstraße.
To shop in Potsdam try the pedestrian precinct Brandenburger Straße, the shopping malls Bahnhofspassage, Marktcenter, or Stern Center. For groceries, go to Potsdam City or Potsdam Eiche.

Television Licence

In Germany, every household is required to register for the compulsory „Rundfunkbeitrag“. You can register online on their webpage Rundfunkbeitrag. This site is available in German only.

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