Extended Stays in Munich
Lower-Cost Options Abound, Especially for Students
It is a source of pride among Bavarians that three out of every four Germans would like to live in Munich, and it is therefore no surprise that Munich is also the most expensive of German cities.
For accommodations, the youth hostels are always a good last resort, but there are ways to find apartments, and in the end you save a lot of money going this route.
If you decide on a hostel, Wombats (www.wombats-hostels.com/munich.htm) has large capacity and has already established a name for itself, making it a good place to meet people. If you would like to have an apartment in a student area and you have a student ID, the best place to check is with the apartment börse located in each student housing area. University students who won't be around for a while can rent their rooms out while they are gone. Some people also rent rooms out themselves (unofficially). Look for—or post—signs. "Suche Zimmer" means that you are looking for a room, "Zimmer zu Mieten" means that someone is renting out a room. It also doesn't hurt to get in touch with local tour companies, such as bike tours. Their sales staff deal with tourists daily, and locals sometimes let them know when they have a room available. You can also post on Munich forums like www.Virtualtourist.com. Simply chatting up the locals is also a great way to locate private accommodations.
If you hope to get a grasp of the language while you are there, you might want to avoid the well-known but ridiculously expensive Goethe Institute (www.goethe.de) and try less expensive alternatives like Inlingua (www.inlingua.de) or the Volkshochschule (www.mvhs.de). However, if you can afford it and have the time, a passing grade on the Goethe Institute's Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom or Grosses Deutsches Sprachdiplom (German language tests) fulfils the language requirement for all universities within Germany. The university cost per semester at the University of Munich is €85… and that's it.
If you have already studied some German, Wayne State University's Junior Year in Munich (www.worldbridge.wayne.edu/JYM/) is an excellent immersion program at a reasonable price. There are numerous scholarships for Wayne State students, as well as some for students from other universities.
A student visa allows an American student to work 90 full days or 180 half days per year in Germany. Getting a work permit goes is just a matter of going to the Arbeitsamt (the governmental employment agency). Employers are no longer restricted from hiring foreigners before Germans or EU citizens. As native English speakers, native English being a "special ability," it is easy for Americans to get work permits in Germany (especially if you are in the IT field). Americans can come over to look for work for three months without a visa. After the initial three months, you can go to the Kreisverwaltungsreferat (U3/U6-Station Poccistrasse, southeast exit). It will be a guaranteed headache, but you will get a stamp for a 6-month visa so you can look for work.
The tourist industry is a good place to find work: hostels, tour companies, Irish, or Australian pubs. Students at the universitycab get help with short-term work at Studentenservice (Tumblinger Str. 21, U3/U6—Station Goetheplatz). Take your passport, a passport-sized photo, and your Munich University ID. They have "last minute" jobs that usually start on the same or next day, as well as other short-term jobs. Or go to the University and hang up signs offering your skills as a proofreader (many students have to write papers in English).
There are many opportunities for native English speakers to work as an au pair as well, which gets you room and board and a visa to stay in Germany (www.au-pairiao.com).
Immersing yourself in the culture of Munich does not have to cost a fortune. First, get a month or week pass at the MVG office in the Marienplatz U-bahn station; it will save you considerably on public transportation. With a student ID you can get great deals on theater productions and a huge discount on the Deutsches Musuem, the largest science and technology museum in the world. The Pinakothek museums have free entrance every Sunday. You could spend endless Sundays wandering their exhibits. Take time to walk in the English Garden. The largest inner city park in Europe (even larger than Central Park in New York), it runs north and south along the city and is over five miles long!
If you are here when the weather permits, check out the beer gardens and enjoy Bavarian culture by bringing your own food with you. The Bavarian King Ludwig I outlawed the serving of food at beer gardens in the 1800s so that the locals could bring their own goodies with them. Although the beer gardens do require that you purchase your beverages from them, anywhere else in the English Garden you can bring your own drink, grab a 10-euro grill, and make an afternoon of it. Make sure you bring your bikini (or not; nude sunbathing is okay in the English Garden) and catch some rays while you are there and cool off in any of the rivers flowing through the garden.
In the summer, the Isar river is a popular spot for swimming, barbeques, and parties. Or spend a day wandering the old town, stopping to watch or listen to the plethora of talented street performers. Wander through the Hof Garden at the royal palace, the Residenz. There is always a musician in the gazebo in its center taking advantage of the great acoustics it offers its performers.
Be sure to check out one of the many festivals that take place in Munich throughout the year, www.toytownmunich.com always has listings of the current festivals.
In the winter spend time at the Christmas market (Kristkindlmarkt) in and around Marienplatz. Grab a copy of Munich and the Bavarian Alps from Eyewitness Travel Guides and you can give yourself a lengthy self tour through the city discovering its rich history along the way. Enjoy outdoor cafes and a varied night life while you are here.
Meeting people couldn't be easier. Munich has an English speaking population of about 250,000. Munich Found, an English-language magazine published quarterly, has great information and even a section for jobs offered specifically for native English speakers. Check out their web site (www.munichfound.de) to find locations of the varied English-speaking round tables taking place throughout the city.
If you are more interested in getting to know German students, hang out at some of the student bars in Studentenstadt (U6 —Station Studentenstadt). The bars are incredibly cheap and open nightly. Or get involved in a sports team. Studentedstadt itself offers men's rugby and soccer and women's soccer. A helpful hint when it comes to meeting locals: Germans will leave it up to you to take the initiative and ask them to hang out. The "new kid on the block" gets to decide for himself or herself with whom he or she would like to develop a deeper relationship.
For More Info
www.perob.com is a great English-language portal presenting tons of information on the city.
Additional web sites