1. Before you travel abroad, make sure the exchange students you study with feel at home. Trust me, its good karma.
  2. When registering with the city of Darmstadt for your new place of residence and also to obtain your Visa within 3 months of arrival show up to the Ausländerbehörde about half an hour BEFORE they open. This will save you the headache of waiting in line but don’t be surprised at your first visit if you just meet them to schedule an appointment to come back later…those are the ways of bureaucracy. Simply just knock; no appointment is needed. You will also have to pay them a processing fee for the Visa and the bank of your choosing will also ask you to pay a fee to them…this is something to ask to be clarified.
  3. Placement test for the September “Intensiv Kurs” will solely evaluate your ability to deduce incomplete/blank words from an unread text. No matter what level you get placed into, speak with Frau Friedmann at TU Darmstadt’s Sprachzentrum (located by the bridge leading into the school’s library in the “altes Hauptgebäude” or S1|03 where the majority of your classes will be located) and give her a concrete reason why you should be enrolled into C1. C1 is required to take the Deutsch für Techniker course later during the Winter Semester. If you’re not prepared for C1 don’t sweat it, there will be an opportunity to take another placement test at the end of the September course if more preparation is needed…
  4. Unlike E-Campus you will have to sign up twice for classes at the TU along with another time for your final exam. In order to proceed with your enrollment sign up for the Module then Veranstaltung on Moodle. Remember to also sign up for finals a good two weeks in advance. Your life…and pretty much all of your grade depends on it. Don’t get this confused with Tucan, that’s like Sakai.
  5. Do yourself a favor: forward all of your TU Darmstadt emails to your address at This can easily be done through the school’s IDM-Portal. You will be asked to sign in with your TU-ID and password. Once at the IDM-Portal klick on the “Studentische E-Mail-Adresse” Link under “Persönlich Accountverwaltung”. After following the link under “Zustellungsoptionen” click on “E-Mails an folgende bstehende E-Mail-Adresse weiterleiten” and enter the address in which you would like your emails forwarded to. Untitled
  6. Need to improve your German before your internship? There are many great opportunities to be found locally including a Sprachencafé that meets weekly at the TU in the Stadtmitte – similar to Kaffestunde at the IEP just much bigger with the possibility to practice other languages such as English and Spanish all in one setting. This is best if you are on the go and need something flexible that is close by and has a low expectation of committment. Next, there is Sprachklub. They are a more intimate version of Sprachencafé, so to speak, that has a bit more of an exclusive feel and is a great opportunity to develop long-lasting relationships with other foreigners who attend regularly. Besides speaking German they play lots of fun group games and there is always leftover sweets and food to be had from the Day Care that meets earlier in the day. My final and best suggestion for those looking for their “home away from home” and “second-family”, so to speak is to check out International Generation Meetings Darmstadt (IGM). They are a group of German- and foreign students, families and community members who host a range of events such as around the world cooking, hiking, Christmas cookie baking, excursions to local hot spots and the opportunity to get private German lessons from one of their members. It was by far the best decision I ever made to get over my homesickness in finding locals who are longing to develop relationships with foreigners and to share and exchange cultures through the fun events that they host. See what they are up to here and inquire to get involved.  A bonus for those looking to meet other German students at the university while getting involved with some interesting interdisciplinary engineering projects is to check out Engineers without Borders (IoG). They are a hard-working and fun group of Germans who are highly motivated with improving water access and quality in Third World countries. See what they are up to here and inquire to get involved. In conclusion, the key to success with improving your German will be to GET INVOLVED and GET OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE – be patient in developing new relationships and be open to changing your interests and commitments that don’t stick – the right opportunities will come, you just have to keep on searching, trust me its worth it and it’ll make you feel right at home.
  7. If you’re interested in getting a “school” gym membership you will have to make your way over to the Lichtwiese Campus (UniFit) since “UniSport” in the basement of the altes hauptgebäude is only available for Staff and Faculty members. Although UniFit is the best deal you’ll find in Darmstadt there is a catch…since Oct 2017 they have required new members to sign up on their waiting list.
  8. Need to get around the city faster? Check out the Hauptbahnhof for reasonably used bikes under 100 Euro and free access to tools. Disclaimer: If you’re commuting to Gernsheim on a regular basis please consider something more durable…used bikes can also be purchased via eBay Kleinanzeigen, Free Your Stuff Darmstadt and at Flowmarkts (Flea-markets) around the area – please check your local listings…
  9. When traveling review connections with the booking platform “From A to B“. If you decide to travel via DB in a group book your connection on their website where you will be able to reserve seats. This is especially useful for IC/ICE trains that have multiple stops and to secure your group’s location on the train. Before you arrive at your destination and book your living accommodations, check to see if a towel and breakfast will be included. ProTip: when traveling outside of Germany you will have to rely on WiFi provided in major city areas and/or paid transport such as buses/trains. Therefore take screenshots of where you will need to walk to from your point of arrival such as…bus/train station, hotel/hostel/friend’s house, grocery store, restaurants, points of attraction etc. Also be aware of how far your student pass can get you too for free. Consider paying for a ticket riding outside of Mainz or Frankfurt instead of Darmstadt.
  10. Explore your interests and follow your curiosity. Now is the time to take that course you never had the time for or attend that workshop in town to meet people and listen to ideas you’ve never met or heard before. This time is sure to either make or break you. You’ve come along way to make it in Germany, make sure you reinvest it to keep that momentum growing.