Current students

Study Abroad in Cologne, Germany 2015 - 2016

Study Period: September 2015 – August 2016 

Affiliation/Grade at the start of studying abroad: School of Design, Department of Industrial Design, 4th year 

1. What documents were required for the visa application? 

  • Resident Registration Card 
    It is called “anmeldung” in German. If you go to the nearest town hall and ask for anmeldung, you will get a reference number and can proceed to the registration. No appointment is needed. You need your passport, address, and details of the landlord (I am not sure what details you need to know) to get a registration card. You will be asked where you are from, the date you arrived and your religion. I heard that there is a religion tax, so it is better to answer that you have no religion. 
  • Certificate of Economic Status 
    Before leaving the country, you will need a financial certificate from the German Embassy in Japan or a bank reference certificate. I do not know about the latter because I did not use that. The former can be obtained from the German embassy in Japanese. You can ask them directly for details. If you apply a month before, it should be sufficient time. 
  • Passport 
  • Passport standard ID photo
    There are photo shops in the city, and you can pick up your photo in less than 10 minutes. There are also ID photos machine in the city, such as in the basement of neumarkt, so you will still be fine. 
  • Copy of Your Passport
    You will need a copy of the page with your photo on it and the page that was stamped when you entered the country. Stamps from other countries, such as Amsterdam, are fine for transit purposes. 
  • Certificate of Enrollment
    For kisd, you can download the pdf on your page in kisd space after paying the semester fee. 
  • Documents from the Lessor
    You will need documentation from the landlord to approve your occupancy. 

2. Did you need a German translation? 
In Cologne, daily life is fine, but you should expect that most of the people at the government offices (especially in the visa-related places) do not speak English. So, if you have a German-speaking flat mate, it’s a good idea to ask them along. I got help from a German-speaking Japanese I happened to find, but there are not many Japanese around. So be careful! 

3. How did you go about opening a bank account? (German Bank?)
You can open an account with Deutsch bank. You can open one with your resident registration card and passport. You need to make an appointment to open an account. When you make a bank account, you will be asked if the type of your account is blocked or normal. 

We had previous information that blocked is a hassle and difficult procedure. The bank recommended it to me, but I declined. I have no trouble now. 

4. What about credit cards?
I brought my parents’ family card (MasterCard) and my own card (Visa Card). You can use both cards, but I think Master Card is more compatible in many places, so I recommend it. 

5. What happened to your phone?
I bought a Samsung phone at Saturn (a big electronics store in a departmental store) for 150€ and signed a contract with Telekom for 10€/month for a sim card only. It is not a sim-free model, but all the models available at Saturn can be used with Telekom. The best thing you can do is to buy a sim-free phone in Japan and sign up for a sim card only. You can sign the sim card contract on the same day you go to the mobile phone company with your passport and the cash card of the bank account you want to use. There are various sizes of sim cards, such as micro, mini, etc. I bought the wrong one, so I showed them the sim card slot and asked them which one I could use it. 

6. How did you go about finding a room? 
I asked Mr Araki to add me to the kisd Facebook page in advance. Then I looked at the rental information in there and applied at random. Hence, I found a room before I arrived You can change the room if you want, even after you have decided. So, I recommend you see and check out the rooms as much as possible. 

7. Other matters 
What about the semester fee?
We pay about 250 € each semester. You can register in person at the international office in th-köln, and you will receive a letter from the office with the details of the transfer later. 

What is kisd space?
This is an official social networking site like Facebook, which is only available on campus and is necessary for obtaining your student ID. This is very important because you can get in touch with all kinds of people here. The school will guide you through the registration process. 

How to get on the train?
In Germany, there are no ticket gates, like in Japan. You can buy a ticket before you get on the train, or you can buy it in the carriage if you do not have it. Hence, it is possible to ride for free. However, there are regular unannounced inspections to see if you have a ticket. If you do not have a ticket, you will be fined 80€. Please note that even if you have a ticket, you will be fined if you don’t have a time stamp (which can be done by inserting it into a separate machine from the ticket machine in the car). 

Taku Inoue