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Experiencing Berlin

 

Before You Leave

If you don’t already have one, get a passport! If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire while you are overseas studying. As a precaution, it should be valid for at least six months after your travel. You should seriously consider scanning a copy of the document and emailing it to yourself as well as someone who will NOT be traveling with you.
Students are responsible for all travel arrangements. You should buy your plane ticket as early as possible to ensure the best price. We recommend researching a few travel search engines to find good offers. Non-stop flights to Berlin depart only from Newark/NJ, New York City (JFK), and Washington, D.C. (Dulles).

What to pack

Power and Computers

Laptop

As you probably know, voltage and outlets are different in Europe (220 Volts). You will therefore need the proper adapter to use electronics (including laptops, camera/phone chargers, shavers, etc.). If your device can run at the higher voltage (the back of the power supply will tell you how many volts it can withstand), you can use just a plug adapter; otherwise, you will need a voltage converter (sometimes called a transformer). Either can be bought at electronics or travel stores in the U.S. or online, or at electrical and hardware stores in Europe. Carefully consider your needs for appliances when you travel in Europe, however, especially the high wattage ones. Hair dryers are a special case, as their power requirements are significant. If you want to be a good citizen, consider leaving all hair appliances at home. Also, there is the possibility that they may get fried if you are not careful. If you need one, make sure you buy a heavy-duty converter that will handle as much as 2000 watts (2 kilowatts).

It is advisable to determine which countries you will be traveling in and then choose the plug adapters needed.

Although it is not necessary to bring a computer for your classes, and every participant will have open access to Humboldt's terrific computer lab with free internet access at the law school, most students do. Do not have your computer shipped to you. It will be seized by customs and sent back after much delay and expense. Most modern laptops will automatically sense voltage changes and adapt; you may only need a plug adapter – check your owner's manual or the back of your computer or charger. Otherwise, you will need to bring an adaptor or converter, if necessary. The device is applicable to all other electronic devices that you transport with you (cell phones and camera chargers, etc.).

Please also note that Tulane does not offer any printing for study abroad program participants. There is limited printer availability in the Humboldt computer lab; should you decide that you need to print your outlines or notes, you will have to find printing facilities at local copy shops in the area

Telephones

cellphone

If you want to bring a mobile phone, you should make sure it is equipped to operate on European frequencies. This is not recommended, as is it the most expensive way to communicate with the States. Ask your US phone provider what the international charges are, and carefully consider if using your US phone in Berlin is an appropriate expense.

You may also consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card in Berlin to insert in your phone from the States. The main mobile phone networks in Germany, all with either monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go systems, are: T-Mobil; Vodafone; E-Plus; O2.

Clothing

clothing

Most buildings in Berlin, including the Law Faculty, are not air-conditioned. However, the weather in Berlin in late July and early August is usually mild and on the cool side. The temperature is often between 21-26°C (70-79°F) during the day and 14-18°C (58- 65°F) in the evenings. On the other hand, the daily temperature has been a good bit warmer now for several years. We suggest that you bring a sweater or light jacket for cool evenings and the river cruise. You may also want to bring a light waterproof jacket since Berlin gets a few rain showers in late July and early August. Also, we play soccer and beach volleyball on two afternoons, and there is a bicycle tour on the weekend. You will want to have appropriate shoes and clothes for these events. There may be an occasion to go swimming, so you may want to bring a bathing suit. The style of dress in Berlin is casual even in restaurants and other public places. Shorts and flip flops may not be permitted in a few of the nicest restaurants and dance clubs. The style of dress for the Program is ultra-casual - almost anything is acceptable, including shorts, T-shirts and casual shoes. Remember – there is no air conditioning at the law school! Berliners do not expect students to dress up. For example, several exclusive law firms will host receptions for our students, and there will be tours of major government buildings, but you may dress casually for those events. Many of our female students want to have at least one nice outfit for some of the social events and fancier nightspots. The guys may also want to have something nice to wear on those occasions, but there is no need to wear a coat and tie for any event.

Money

money You are advised not to bring travelers checks. Your ATM card should work in the ATMs in the city, and Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere. Check with your bank to see what sort of foreign transaction fees, if any, are charged so you can plan accordingly. If your card does not have a chip, you may also want to ask your bank to replace it with one that does, as this is a common added security measure and some European card readers are only equipped to read this type of card. Please be advised that, as a security measure, you must call your credit card provider or ATM issuer to inform them of your summer itinerary – otherwise they may block your card. If possible, try to travel with €50 emergency cash as a back up to pay for local transportation, food in the airport, and other small travel expenses.

Things You Might Not Expect

 

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the most important of Germany’s 16 states. It is a huge metropolitan area possessing a nearly 800-year history that makes it one of the most visited cities in Europe, especially during the summer. Berlin is also one of the few cities that boasts three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Museum Island, the Prussian castles and gardens, and the Berlin modernist housing estates. In 2006, the German capital was conferred the title UNESCO City of Design.

Although service is included at most places, usually people do leave a small tip.

Many museums and some services (hair salons, theatres, fast food eateries, etc.), offer a small discount if you present a valid student ID. Please note that many such discounts also require the student to be under a certain age (usually 26).

There is a unique culture of baking and eating bread in Germany. There are more than 300 different types of bread and more than 1,200 types of biscuits and pastries.

Berlin is well-known for its weekly markets. They are held in several squares, and often in front of the town halls, at least once a week. One of the loveliest things to do is to walk through the market in Winterfeldplatz in Schöneberg on a Saturday

Differences Between Berlin and a U.S. City

Air conditioning is not that common in Germany. It may be warm inside! Moreover, most of the suggested housing facilities do not have A/C nor is there A/C in public transportation or most businesses.

Berlin functions in a beautiful way. Traffic flows easily; public transportation is excellent; Berlin is considered safe for a major city; and your restaurant bill would only buy you an appetizer back home.

Germany is extremely accommodating to individuals with disabilities. This is also true for Humboldt University. Humboldy has an extensive website to assist individuals with disabilities. The Program Directors stand by to provide this information in English.

Once You Arrive

Transportation

From the Airport to the City Center

Berlin is served by two main airports:

Schoenefeld Airport (SXF)

Take S-Bahn S 45 or S 9 from Berlin Schonefeld airport. It will take around 45 minutes and costs in the range of €3 each way.

It is also possible to take the AirportExpress train, which runs to the Hauptbahnhof, Zoologischer Garten, Friedrichstrasse, Alexanderplatz and Ostbahnhof every 30 minutes. The trip takes in between 15-35 minutes, depending on your destination.
A taxi costs around €23-25 and takes around 30 minutes (longer if there is traffic).

 
Tegel Airport (TXL)

There is no direct train from Berlin Tegel to the city center. Instead, take buses number 109, 128, or X9 from Tegel. Buses from the airport stop at a number of locations in the city and connect to the Berlin subway and Zoologischer Garten.

The bus and train combination from Tegel to the city center takes around 15 minutes and costs around €3 one way. A taxi costs around €15-18 and takes 15-20 minutes (longer if there is traffic).

Transportation in Berlin

Public Transportation

Berlin offers many inexpensive and easy ways to get around via public transportation.

There are several types of public transit working within Berlin. Luckily, they work together and operate under the same tickets, fares, and rules. Visitors can take trains – the underground (U-Bahn), the urban rail (S-Bahn), and regional trains (RE and RB) as well as buses, ferries and trams.

Berlin is divided into three different transit zones. Zone A includes the heart of Berlin; Zone B forms a ring around the city border and includes Tegel airport; and Zone C includes greater Berlin, including the city of Potsdam and Schonefeld airport. The fare is determined by the zone.

For those who know that they will be using public transportation much, a CityTourCard or Welcome Card allows tourists 2-5 days of unlimited use of public transit as well as some attraction discounts.

The tickets can be bought from a ticket machine at any time or from ticket counters. For immediate use, they may be bought on board trams, which have ticket machines, and from bus drivers.While there are multiple ways to get around Berlin, the transit system is easy enough and friendly to English-speaking travelers.

You can find a taxi at all train stations and airports or by phoning one of the companies (Würfelfunk - 0800-2222255; City-Funk Berlin - 30 210202; Metrocab - 30 29490491).Taxis cam also be flagged down on most streets.

Bicycle

Since it is so easy and safe, Berliners love to bike. There are a lot of cycle lanes in Berlin and you are also allowed to take your bike on most types of public transportation. If you do not have your own bike, you can rent one at the many bike rental shops

Important Phone Numbers
City Authorities

Emergency Police Services: 110
Emergency Medical and Fire services: 112
Local Police (non emergency): + 49 30 4664-4664

Tourist Information
Berlin Service Center: 0049-(0)30-25 00 23 33
Berlin Welcome Center 
Medical Services

Ambulance and Emergency Room: 112
To Find English Speaking doctors in the Berlin Area: 01804 2255 2362

Download Berlin apps for your phone.

Culture

Berlin Culture 

Berlin is an enormous and very important center of culture in Europe. Combining history and innovation, glamour and bohemian styles, it is filled with top museums and galleries, grand opera and guerrilla clubs, gourmet temples and ethnic snacks. Berlin is the perfect place to understand the real meaning of diversity. Perhaps it is because of its heavy historical burden that Berlin is throwing itself into tomorrow with such contagious energy. At times the entire city seems to be bubbling over into one huge celebration. Cafes are packed at all hours, hanging out with friends is a devout ritual, and clubs host their scenes of frenzy until the wee hours.

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