Frequently asked questions for international prospective students of the Department of Natural Sciences
Living and Studying in Rheinbach: FAQs
Students often have many questions as they embark on their new adventures of living and studying at our university. Some of the most commonly asked are answered on these pages:
How is the academic year organized?
In Germany, the academic year is divided into two semesters (terms). The winter semester 2021/2022 runs from September to February, the summer semester from March to August. Lectures in the winter semester 2021/22 are given from the end of September to the end of January, and then in the summer semester 2022 from the end of March to the beginning of July. There are two examination periods following and preceeding the lecture periods.
Here you will find the actual dates.
Usually students in the Bachelor programmes will find their weekends off, however, some language courses, computer courses or tutorials may be offered on Saturday mornings. All study programmes offered by the Department of Natural Sciences have a strong focus on practical training, therefore you will be very busy in our laboratories during the lecture period. The average class day starts with lectures around 8 a.m. followed by two to seven hours in the laboratory depending on the course. If you do not have practicals (laboratory classes) you will probably spend an equivalent amount of time in the library, reviewing lectures, preparing lab reports, and researching scientific literature.
Current time tables are published here.
One of the keys to academic success is that you are able to organize your work independently and to develop a time management system, which will enable you to make the most of your studying time while allowing yourself enough time to recover and have fun.
How much money will I need for living and leisure expenses?
Compared to other European countries, Germany is not overly expensive. The price of food, accommodation, clothing, cultural activities, etc. is equivalent to the EU average. In fact, the cost of living is relatively low compared to Scandinavian countries.
Be it the room in a dormitory, the pizza in a restaurant or the bottle of beer in a student club - everything costs money. On average a student needs aprox. 800 Euro per month in Germany.
Read more on the costs of living, money and bank accounts here...
Are there any scholarships available for incoming students?
Unfortunately the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences cannot provide scholarships for a complete course of studies. There are, however, a number of institutions and/or foundations to which one can apply for funding. In many cases this must be done even one year in advance of the beginning of one’s studies. Each of these scholarship programmes has different requirements.
For further information please check this page: https://www.h-brs.de/en/scholarships-international-students
Can I work while studying in Germany?
Often students need to find work to cover part of your expenses while living in Germany.
Students of an EU member country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland are permitted to work as much as they would like without prior permission. They are subject to the same rules which apply to German students. However, they should not work longer than 20 hours per week. Otherwise they are required to pay into the social security system.
Students from all other countries are only permitted to work 120 full days or 240 half days per year (voluntary internships included). Those who wish to work longer require permission from the Federal Employment Agency and the Alien Registration Office. Obtaining permission depends on the labour market in one’s place of residence.
However, when looking for a job please keep in mind that the main purpose of your stay in Germany is learning and earning your degree. Your study programme can be tough and very demanding so remember to not overload your schedule.
You can find information on job opportunities on the following web pages: www.studentenjobs24.de or www.jobber.de. Both of these sites also offer useful information on finding employers who offer additional hands-on training. Local job offers for students are also to be found in the university magazine doppelpunkt. A basic knowledge of German is essential for many jobs, so be sure to get a head start in your German classes.
How about the housing situation?
Most German students choose to live in a flat (apartment) on their own, with other students or with their partner. A student hostel is however an interesting alternative as it is considerably less expensive! Moreover it is a great opportunity to quickly and easily meet people from all over the world.
We therefore recommend applying for a room in a student residence. For the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, housing is organized by the Student Services Bonn (Studentenwerk Bonn). Please find information on the online application process here.
However, as the Studentenwerk has a limit of 40% students from abroad, you may not be successful on your first trial and no room may be granted to you. If so, please check out the housing chapter below, which guides you to other forms of organized housing or assists you handling with the problems and challenges of finding a room on your own.
What about the weather in Germany?
Germany has a variable but mostly pleasant climate with four distinctive seasons; autumn, winter, spring and summer. When you arrive in Rheinbach it will be late summer to early autumn - a time which by some is considered to be the most beautiful period of the year: The days are still warmed by the sun in the blue sky, but it is quite crisp in the morning as the leaves start to turn yellow, red and orange. November is commonly a grey month, with foggy mornings and rainy days. You may not see the sun very often. During the winter holiday season, Christmas markets open in many cities which are known for their spiced hot wine, sweets and many small crafts shops.
Hoping for snow? Admittedly, in Bonn we hardly ever have a white Christmas, but in January to February temperatures are mostly below zero and chances are much greater that you will need your snow boots. In March, spring begins with the first flowers coming up and days start to grow warmer. Temperature and weather generally is quite variable in springtime so be prepared for rapid weather changes.
The summer season runs through late June, July, August and early September. Summer temperatures only rarely go over 30 to 32°C. In August, the German climate is often sticky with high humidity and possible thunderstorms in the evening.
When you prepare your luggage please consider that your study program will start in autumn. You will need a warm jacket and strong shoes for outdoor wear. An umbrella is also an essential item.
When to arrive in Germany?
Lectures start in the first week of October. Nonetheless, we strongly recommend that you arrive in Germany and in Rheinbach on or before the middle of September. This will allow you to have enough time to settle in (e.g. into your new home) or to find one and to see to all the mainly formal things that you will not find the time to do once the semester starts.
An early arrival also allows you to participate in the orientation weeks which begin in the mid September. During these sessions, the content of the study programme will be presented and explained to you, safety instructions will be given (mandatory attendance is required to take practical courses), you will be introduced to the laboratories, the library and the campus in general. There are also some course offers to refresh you on basic mathematics, software etc. This week is not something strictly academic: it also gives you time and a chance to get to know your future fellow students.
Are there any contact points for further information and help?
For any formal questions regarding further proceedings please contact the Registrar's Office. Furthermore check our web page "Study guidance" as they provides all kinds of useful information for students from abroad.
For any particular questions regarding both Biology programmes please contact Prof. Häbler or Prof. Weiher or refer to the web pages of the corresponding study programmes: Applied_Biology or MSc_Biomedical_Sciences.
Maybe you just need someone to give you that kind of information that cannot be found on official pages? For those questions a student tutor (called Study Buddy) will be assigned to you by the Welcome Centre of our university. Your tutor will be enrolled in a higher semester and will help you to find your way around. He or she will contact you via email soon after you have received the letter from the Registrar's Office and will be ready to answer most of your important questions. Moreover, your Study Buddy will be there for you when you finally arrive in Germany, showing you the city, the university - whatever may be necessary. Please find more information here.