Making a Nest in the Woods (Living in Student Accommodation as a Creature of Comfort) – Part 3

It’s starting to pour down rain and roar with thunder here in the ‘Heim, but I’m feeling rather cosy in my nest. So I thought, while I wait for the truly Melbournian weather to pass, that I’d sit down and finish off this little series about living in Mannheim student accommodation.

I also need to do something productive to make me stop feeling guilty about just dropping 50€ on groceries and liquor.

Cooking and Eating Veggie

One massive thing I was worrying about before coming to the land of Currywurst and beer was how I was going to keep up my diet.

I’m basically a ovo-lacto vegetarian, and have been for almmmooost two years now. I mean, honestly, I’m a Pescatarian and eat seafood on ver rare occasions, but you sound like much less of a wanker if you just tell people your vegetarian. It was largely a health and lifestyle thing for me in the beginning, but I do have strong convictions against factory farming and modern animal raising techniques. I mean, I still eat eggs, milk and fish which basically cancels all the good I’m doing for the Earth by not eating meat, but that’s an ethical quandary I won’t dive into now.
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But anyway, vegetarians or vegans should not be afraid of heading to Germany. I mean, you might have trouble in other European countries, such as Spain or the East, but here in Germany it’s a bit of a trendy thing to eat veg. Even in discount supermarkets like Netto you can find great veg/vegan options such as my beloved paprika fake-schinken aufschnitt, incredible breads, some salads and your typical veggie pizza/oven food style fair. If your ovo-lacto as well you will have no problem at all. Germans love their buttermilk, yoghurt and even iced-coffee (something I was definitely going to miss).
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Take a look at my fridge and cupboard you’ll find a couple of soups, a lot of bread, meat substitutes and tofu, a whole lot of champignons, salad stuff, juice, buttermilk, olives, margarine and eggs. Living in student accommodation with limited supplies, you’ll likely find yourself (like me), eating a whole lot of scrambled eggs, pasta, soup and sandwhiches, but overall, I’m quite happy with the quality of my eats.

Of course, you can find decent veggie meals anywhere (although not often in super old-fashioned German places), and even specialised veggie restaurants such as Vogelfrei in the quadrate.

Making it a Home

IMG_20150914_153842742As much as it’s great to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, the best way to get settled, I think, is to set up your nest with a little flavour of home.

I’ve always loved keeping things organised and clean, but I’ve also always loved colourful little knick-knacks and art. Since I’ve been here I’ve been continuously adding to my collection of posters and ornaments. These are mostly things I’d have at home, such as cacti and even Warhammer, but being in a new room, with walls already slightly dingy walls, I’ve also started to go a bit wilder than normal with posters and stickers.
IMG_20150914_153822011_HDR   IMG_20150914_154034960
IMG_20150914_153855954I’ve made a little garden from flower stickers on my windowsill to make things a little more colourful, hung up a dreamcatcher (that I bought while drunk at Wurstmarkt this weekend), and set down a disgustingly colourful rug from Woolworth. Here are a couple of photos of my lair to perhaps inspire you in your own zimmer-decoration.

You get almost everything you need to live comfortably (bed, bedsheets, table, chair, cabinets, closet and a small mirror and sink) included with your Studienwerk room, which definitely makes things easier, but its a great first step to go somewhere cheap (like Woolworth, Netto, Lidl or even Moma) and pick up things like a kettle, an iron, bing and school supplies.
Of course, a bottle or two of cheap booze, a lot of tea and chocolate definitely help, but aren’t that necessary.

Some other thoughts about settling down…

Germany is a country that runs on paperwork and Euros, it seems. You definitely have to be organised, carrying your documents with you to all appropriate meetings, setting appointments and writing countless emails, if you want to flourish in your first weeks.

Be sure to bring your passport with you almost EVERYWHERE in the first few weeks at least, you’ll need it to set up bank accounts, registration with the city and even to buy afore-mentioned booze.

If you’re coming to study, be sure to make note of all the appropriate documents you have, but also be sure to have set up a German bank account and get your insurance checked before heading to the office. I was turned back twice to set up an account and get my insurance checked with a local company, so be sure to do that before you start the enrolment process. Annoying, I know, but it’s just how things are done.

The whole system of setting up a German bank account seems easy at the start, but even after like two and a half weeks I’m still waiting for all my access and numbers. Again, very annoying, especially considering that rent HAS to be taken form a German account.

I mean, it’s fairly simple to do it while over here, so I wouldn’t bother with any sort of “Blocked Account”, especially considering the massive amount of money you have to transfer over to strangers just to set it up.
As a bit of a very bare-bones list, here are things you should be thinking about and organising before you arrive in the ‘Heim of Mann.

For your registration with the city (within a week of arrival)
– passport
– form from office
– copy of your rental agreement

Residency Permit (within 90 days)
– passport
– 2 biometric passport photos
– proof of health insurance
– residence registration
– proof of means of financial support (a bank statement etc., to prove you have around 700€ a month)
– copy of rental contract
– enrolment details from your university

Enrolment at Uni
– proof of admission
– receipt of payment of student contribution
– proof of health insurance (given the go-ahead from an insurance company)
a German account number from which rent is drawn each month
– passport (again)

Bank account
– passport (again again)
– current address, rental contact
– biometric passport photos if you have them

For things like phones, you’ll basically just need your passport and current address. Also, keep a hold of a couple of Euro coins EVERYWHERE you go, because you are basically charged for the steps you take in most areas, unfortunately.

So that’s about it…

… for now at least. I’m sure I’ve got heaps of other little tips and tricks to help with your arrival and early life in the accommodation, but I suppose those will come a little later and in little drips. I hope it’s been helpful and/or entertaining in some way!

This week I’ll hopefully get back into some proper thought-blogging! I’m also aiming to get back into the habit of writing a bit more creatively and crazily. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is definitely getting me keen to try some truly outrageous purple prose, just for the hell of it!

Tschüss!

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