Erasmus in Berlin: Guide for students
As you may already know, Berlin is the capital of Germany, and it is one of the best destinations to go to as an Erasmus student. If this is your Erasmus destination (or you are considering it), in this guide we give you all the information you need to make your experience as an Erasmus in Berlin unforgettable. Let's get started!
Student accommodation in Berlin
One of the first tasks you will have to do is to look for accommodation. In this section we explain to you the main housing options and, on the other hand, which are the best areas to live in Berlin as an Erasmus student.
Erasmus flat or residence?
If you are wondering whether it is better to live in an apartment or in a student residence, you should know that in Berlin you will find both options, so it will depend on your preferences. Our advice is to research and value both options, as each of them has its pros and cons. If you still don't know which option is better for you, here you can watch our video where we talk about the positive and negative aspects of both options.
If you opt for the student residence option, you should know that in Berlin (and in Germany), public residences are managed by an organization called "Studierendenwerk". These residences are an economical option but, as you can imagine, it is not always easy to get a place. Normally the universities reserve a quota of places for Erasmus students, but we recommend you to check the conditions and deadlines to apply for them.
Of course, there are also some private residences in Berlin, but they are usually quite expensive. The other option that most of the students choose is to live in a shared apartment. Living in a shared apartment is not as cheap as a public residence, but it is still an option many times cheaper than private residences.
Best areas to live in Berlin
As for the best areas to live in Berlin, you have to keep in mind that it is a very big city, but still has a good transport network that connects the whole city.
Many students want to live in the city center (Mitte), but as you can imagine, it can be quite expensive. Therefore, there are other popular areas for students such as Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Schöneberg, Tiergartenviertel or Moabit. All of them are very close to the center of Berlin and have a good transport network.
Gastronomy in Berlin
Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, so it enjoys a very rich and varied gastronomic panorama. During your Erasmus in Berlin you will be able to enjoy the German cuisine, but some dishes that we recommend you to try are:
- Currywurst. It is the most famous street dish in Berlin. It is a pork sausage cut into small pieces and covered with a mixture of ketchup and curry powder. It is usually served with bread or fries.
- Doner Kebab. Berlin is full of places to eat falafels, shawarma and kebabs, and they have been really popular for several decades. Did you know that the Kebab was invented there?
- Eisbein. It is a boiled or grilled pork knuckle. It is served with sauerkraut or pea puree.
- Bretzel. This kind of bread in the shape of a bow can be found in bakeries, cafés and street stalls.
- Boulette. It is a hybrid between meatball and hamburger. It is prepared with beef, parsley and onion and fried. Some people eat it on bread, as a hamburger or sandwich, and others as a portion.
Leisure and party in Berlin
Of course, the party is another point that could not be missing in our guide for Erasmus students. Berlin is known by many as the capital of techno and rave culture. So much so, that the city declared the clubs as cultural institutions.
The nightlife scene in Berlin is very varied, and you can party practically every day of the week. You will find parties from cozy clubs and discos to abandoned factories and empty warehouses, but in any case, all genres of music are represented.
Here is a list of clubs and discotheques in Berlin where you can party, some of them where Erasmus students usually go: Havanna, Matrix Club, Kit Kat and Berghain.
Of course, it is not all about partying. In Berlin you can do a lot of different plans and activities. For example, on the first Sunday of every month, the entrance to about 60 museums is free. Some of them are located on the Berlin Museum Island, the largest museum complex in the world and which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Cost of living in Berlin
Regarding the cost of living, we cannot say that Berlin is an economic city, but it is true that, in spite of being the capital of Germany, it has a lower cost of living than other German cities.
The cost of living of a student in Berlin can be around 800-900€ per month, but everything will depend on the lifestyle you have during your Erasmus. This cost will depend on four variables: accommodation, shopping basket, transportation and leisure. You have to take into account that one of your biggest expenses will be the rent of your accommodation. To give you an idea, a room in a shared apartment can cost around 500-600 euros per month.
Regarding transportation, you can save some money with the transport passes. Most universities participate in the Semesterticket program, which offers an unlimited transportation pass for the entire semester. It is an option that is included in the tuition fee (Semesterbeitrag). In addition to the Semesterticket, there is also the Deutschlandticket, a pass for which, for a surcharge of €13.95 per month you can travel on regional trains throughout Germany and public transport everywhere. Not included are ICE or IC trains, which are high-speed trains.
Places you can’t miss
Berlin is a city full of history and culture wherever you go. During your Erasmus in Berlin you will be able to know this city in depth, but some of the places we recommend you to visit are:
- Brandenburg Gate. It is one of the most recognizable monuments, both in Berlin and in the whole country.
- Checkpoint Charlie. This famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War now houses a museum about the division of Berlin.
- Berlin Cathedral. It is the most representative building of the city, and from its dome you will have the best views of Berlin.
- Holocaust Memorial. The 2711 concrete blocks of different heights pay tribute to the Jews exterminated during Nazism.
- Berlin Wall. Although the wall that divided the East and West parts of Berlin was demolished in 1989, some sections still remain. In fact, the largest part (1.3 kilometers long) is known as the East Side Gallery, where there are some famous graffiti.
- Charlottenburg Palace. This palace was built between 1695 and 1699 and together with its baroque style gardens, it is one of the mandatory stops during your Erasmus.
Of course, these are just some of the places we recommend you to visit in Berlin. During your stay there you will be able to visit in depth everything this city has to offer.
Trips from Berlin
One of the best parts of Erasmus is the possibility it offers to travel and get to know other places in Europe. From Berlin you can easily travel all over the country but also to other European cities and countries, since it is located in the center of Europe.
One of the best options to travel to other European cities is by bus. For example, Flixbus is a bus company that operates practically all over the continent and at very cheap prices. You can also travel by train, or even by plane, since the city is served by the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER), located south of the city. To get from the airport to the city center, you can take the Flughafen-Express train (RE7 and RB14). You can also take the intercity train or the S-Bahn S9. There is also a special bus service that operates during the night, when the train closes.
In this guide for Erasmus students in Berlin we have also included trips nearby, to get to know other places and cities with a great tourist attraction.
- Hamburg. Less than two hours away by train is this port city, with several outstanding places of interest such as the port of Hamburg, one of the most important in the world, or its impressive neo-Renaissance town hall.
- Dresden. The capital of the state of Saxony is another perfect getaway during your Erasmus. It can be visited perfectly in 1 or 2 days and there you can visit the Samper Opera House or the Zwinger Palace.
- Hannover. Although it is not as popular as other German cities, it has an important cultural center, with some interesting monuments and places to visit, such as the New Town Hall or Marktplatz.
- Prague. It is located about four hours by bus from Berlin and it is one of the must-visits during your Erasmus in Berlin. Here you can see the Prague Castle, the Dancing House or the Charles Bridge, among many other places.
- Wroclaw. It is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Poland and is known as the city of elves, as there are more than 300 elves scattered throughout the city.
Tips for students in Berlin
Finally, some tips we give you for your Erasmus in Berlin are the following:
- Become a member of the student associations that exist in Berlin, as you will be able to benefit from discounts in a lot of places. In addition, the associations themselves organize events, parties and even trips with international students, so it will also be a perfect opportunity to meet other students. The main student association in Berlin is the Erasmus Student Network (ESN).
- Meet other students going on Erasmus in Berlin and find roommates on the Erasmus Play App.
- Apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) well in advance. Here we explain to you how to apply for the European Health Insurance Card step by step.
So far our guide for Erasmus students in Berlin. We hope this series of tips will help you to enjoy the experience of your Erasmus scholarship in Berlin.