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Newcomers' Guide

VIEWS: 22 PAGES: 43

  • pg 1
									Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam




                Newcomers’ Guide
                1st Edition, 2010
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                    Page 2 of 43




Contents

   Disclaimer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              4
   Note from the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 4
   Introduction from the Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  6

1 Arriving in Germany                                                                        7
  1.1 Registering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         .   .   .   .    7
  1.2 Other mandatory administrative matters . . . . . . . . .              .   .   .   .    9
                 u
      1.2.1 Freiz¨gigkeitsbescheinigung (EU/EEA members)                    .   .   .   .    9
      1.2.2 Visa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          .   .   .   .    9
      1.2.3 Residence permit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            .   .   .   .    9
  1.3 Housing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         .   .   .   .   11
      1.3.1 Housing Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             .   .   .   .   11
      1.3.2 Berlin vs Potsdam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             .   .   .   .   11
      1.3.3 SCHUFA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              .   .   .   .   12
      1.3.4 Internet Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            .   .   .   .   14
  1.4 Banking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         .   .   .   .   15

2 Living in Germany                                                                         17
  2.1 Learning German . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   17
  2.2 Shopping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      .   .   .   .   .   .   18
       2.2.1 Buying food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      .   .   .   .   .   .   18
  2.3 Healthcare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    .   .   .   .   .   .   20
  2.4 Miscellaneous administrative matters . . . . . . . . .        .   .   .   .   .   .   21
       2.4.1 Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      .   .   .   .   .   .   21
       2.4.2 GEZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      .   .   .   .   .   .   21
                  u
       2.4.3 Begr¨ßungsgeld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   22
       2.4.4 Kindergeld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   22
       2.4.5 Work permits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   23
  2.5 Public Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   24
       2.5.1 Transportation zones in Berlin and Potsdam             .   .   .   .   .   .   24
       2.5.2 Buying tickets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   25
       2.5.3 Validity of tickets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    .   .   .   .   .   .   25
       2.5.4 Tax declarations and transportation costs . .          .   .   .   .   .   .   26
       2.5.5 German Railways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        .   .   .   .   .   .   26
       2.5.6 A couple of tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   27
  2.6 Children’s education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      .   .   .   .   .   .   29
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                                         Page 3 of 43

3 Working at the AIP                                                                                             32
  3.1 Getting Started . . . . . . . . . .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   32
       3.1.1 Travelling to the AIP . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   32
       3.1.2 Laufzettel . . . . . . . . .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   32
  3.2 Computing and email accounts .         .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   32
  3.3 Science at the AIP . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   33
  3.4 Institute Events . . . . . . . . . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   34
  3.5 Betriebsrat . . . . . . . . . . . .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   35
  3.6 Internal Science Committee . . .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   36
  3.7 Other people you need to know .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   36
  3.8 PhD students . . . . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   37
       3.8.1 AIP Student Association .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   38
  3.9 Administration . . . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   38
       3.9.1 Salary . . . . . . . . . . .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   38
       3.9.2 KLR . . . . . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   39
       3.9.3 Taxes . . . . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   40
       3.9.4 Forms . . . . . . . . . . .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   40
  3.10 Social Activities . . . . . . . . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   41
  3.11 Internal Newcomers’ Guide Wiki        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   41
  3.12 AIP official Newcomers Guide . .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   41
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 4 of 43

Disclaimer
This Guide was not written by AIP administration but by its scientists: post-
docs, students and staff. The primary purpose of the Guide is to provide
information for people who are new to the AIP. The content is by no means
exhaustive and it may contain some subjective statements. Although every
effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the information provided, the AIP
assumes no liability for the contents.


Note from the Authors
Many people contributed to this first edition of this AIP Newcomers’ Guide.
Of course, every situation/problem/question/inquiry can’t be addressed in
one document, and for sake of clarity it needs to be kept compact. For this
reason, we tried to focus on the topics that affect most people. However, there
is certainly room for improvement, and this document is meant to be updated
on a yearly basis. So, please take some notes and let us know what you think
needs to be added/modified or shortened/suppressed.


In addition to the basic information given in this guide, you will find:

   • Some practical details, such as addresses, and German vocabulary lists
     annotated in framed boxes;

   • The most important remarks or tips highlighted in boxes with grey back-
     ground;

   • Side remarks or details are written in grey italics in the margins.

In parallel to this Guide a Newcomers’ Guide Wiki exists on the internal AIP
webpages and can be edited by all AIP members at any time. It contains
more details on things like searching for an apartment, or other topics such as
mobile telephone providers, etc . . .
Have a look and don’t hesitate to add any information you find useful:

                 http://astar.aip.de/Newcomers/Newcomers
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 5 of 43


  Your notes
   List of information which should be in this guide:

   –


   –


   –


   –


   –


   –


   –

   List of information which is too detailed here (and can be left on
   the Wiki):

   –


   –


   –




The guide will be updated every year in July. Please send these notes or any
other comments and suggestions to this year’s editing team:

                                                             Claudia Conrad
                                                             cconrad@aip.de
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                           Page 6 of 43

Introduction
  • Introduction paragraph from the director
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                               Page 7 of 43
                                                                                   Lexicon

                                                                     Chapter 1     Anmeldung
                                                                                          Registration

                        Arriving in Germany                                        Abmeldung
                                                                                        De-registration

                                                                                   Anmeldeformular
                                                                                     Registration form
1.1    Registering
                                                                                                a
                                                                                   Anmeldungbest¨ti-
In Germany, you and your family need to register in the city where you live.       gung
You must register within two weeks of arriving in Germany. Once this is done              Registration
you receive a registration certificate, which you will need in much of your ad-               certificate
                                                  u
ministrative paperwork. One can register at the B¨rgerservice in the Potsdam
Rathaus or any B¨rgeramt in Berlin. There are some slight differences on how
                  u                                                                Anschrift
the Anmeldung is handled from state to state.                                                   Address

In Brandenburg, basically all you need is your passport. You might be able             u
                                                                                   Begr¨ßungsgeld
to fill out the Anmeldeformular beforehand. Sign it, and take it to the               Welcome allowance
  u
B¨rgerservice. The “Welcome Center” is hosted at the same location, and
                                                                                    u
                                                                                   B¨rgeramt,
is specially tailored for foreign scientists arriving in Potsdam. See additional    u
                                                                                   B¨rgerservice
practical details below.                                                            citizen service office
                                                  a
In Berlin, you have to fill out a form called “Erg¨nzende Angabe zur An-
                                                                                   Lohnsteuerkarte
                         o
meldung bei der Meldebeh¨rde” and a second one called “Anmeldung bei der                       tax card
         o
Meldebeh¨rde”. Bring your passport or EU ID card, your visa if you have one,
your job contract, and an address at which you can be reached, even if it is               o
                                                                                   Meldebeh¨rde
only temporary.                                                                          Registry office

In both states an apartment rental contract is no longer required.                 Rathaus
                                                                                               City hall

         Tips!                                                                     Ummeldung
                                                                                   Registration transfer
          • If you do not speak German and you are intending to
          live in Berlin, it is probably a good idea to first register              Unterschrift
          yourself in Potsdam with a provisional address (e.g. hotel).                         Signature
          The “Welcome Center” is very helpful with completing your
          administrative work.

          • It is a good idea to combine this trip with collecting your
          Lohnsteuerkarte, since you can get it at the same counter.
          See Section 3.9.3 for more information.

          • If you are EU or EEA-member, you should also ask for a
                u
          Freiz¨gigkeitsbescheinigung (see Section 1.2.1).

          • If you are a student of the University of Potsdam, com-
                                                      u
          bine this with your application for the Begr¨ßungsgeld (see
          Section 2.4.3)
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                Page 8 of 43

                                                    u
After you have found a flat, you must go to the B¨rgeramt in Potsdam or the
district of Berlin your new flat is in and proceed to a simple registration trans-
fer (Ummeldung). The Ummeldung is requested to be done within 2 weeks
after you moved to your new flat, but don’t worry if you can’t stick to this
deadline, they will only charge you a fee if you re-register later than 3 months
after you moved.

                                                                                    Data privacy
Finally, when you leave Germany for good, you have to un-register at the
B¨rgeramt in your current living area, so they know you are leaving the coun-
  u                                                                                 If you don’t want to
try.                                                                                receive any advertise-
                                                                                    ments from political
                                    ¨
  Practical details for Potsdam ’s Burgerservice                                    parties or letters from
                                                                                    the GEZ (see below)
      Address:           Friedrich-Ebert Straße 71                                  you can (according
                         14469 Potsdam                                              to §14 MeldeG) re-
      Opening hours:     Mo 10am-6pm                                                quest that your ad-
                         Tue-Thu 8am-6pm                                            dress is not passed
                         Fr 8am-2pm                                                 on. You have to tell
                                                                                    this to the representa-
                         Sa 8am-12am
                                                                                                  u
                                                                                    tive of the B¨rgeramt
                                                                                    and you will be given
      For help in English for most of your paperwork, arrange a meeting             another form to fill
      with the “Welcome Centre”: +49-331-289 1731.                                  out and sign. How-
                                                                                    ever, if you choose
      Online info:     www.welcome-center-potsdam.de (with English)                 this option, your ad-
                       www.potsdam.de (German only)                                 dress will also not ap-
      • To check the up-to-date opening hours, follow the links:                    pear in registers.
                         → Rathaus Online → B¨rgerservice → B¨rgerservice
                                                u                u
      • To download administrative forms follow:
                       → Rathaus Online → Stadtverwaltung Dienstleistungen
                                                          → Antr¨ge/Formulare
                                                                a
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 9 of 43
                                                                                  Lexicon
1.2       Other mandatory administrative matters
                                                                                  Aufenthaltserlaubnis
                                                                                       residence permit
                                                                                      a         o
                                                                                  Ausl¨nderbeh¨rde
                                                                                       foreigners’ Office
1.2.1           u
           Freiz¨ gigkeitsbescheinigung (EU/EEA members)                               u
                                                                                  Freiz¨gigkeits-
If you are a citizen1 of the European Union or the European Economic Area,        bescheinigung
                                                                                  certificate of freedom
you are are entitled to reside in Germany. However, if you are planning to stay
                                                                                           of movement
more than 3 months, you (and your family) need to apply for a certificate of       Mitarbeiter
freedom of movement. This certificate takes the place of a residence permit.                    employee
You can apply for this document when you first register with your passport         Wissenschaftler
or ID. You should then receive this document by post within a few weeks.                        scientist

1.2.2      Visa
If you are not a member of the countries listed in the box below, you are
probably required to apply for a visa before entering Germany. This visa is
attached to a page of your passport. When a visa is required, you must apply
for it while still in your home country. Note that the correct purpose of stay
must be listed on the visa.
Doctoral students should apply for a visa as either a guest scholar (Gast-
wissenschaftler) or an academic employee (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) when
employed by the university or a research institution such as the AIP (item 20
                                                                  u
on the application). With a visa for study purposes (Visum f¨r Studien-
zwecke), one is not allowed to pursue academic employment.
Application for a visa to enter Germany is done from the German embassy or
consular service in your home country. The processing time can be quite long,
of the order of six to eight weeks.

  Entry without a Visa
  People from the following countries can enter in Germany without
  a visa:
             EU or EEA members, Switzerland, Australia, Israel, Japan,
             Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United States.


1.2.3      Residence permit
If you are not a citizen2 of the European Union or the European Economic
Area you and are planning to stay for a period of time longer than 3 months,
                        a        o
you must visit the Ausl¨nderbeh¨rde in your area of residency after entering
Germany. This is true even if you were not requested to have visa for entering
Germany. This office will issue you the appropriate residence permit, called
an Aufenthaltserlaubnis.

  1
      or family member of
  2
      or family member of
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                       Page 10 of 43

All people entering into Germany with you must have their own individual
visas.


     ¨       ¨
 Auslanderbehorde in Potsdam
      Adress:          Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 79-81
                       Haus 20
                       14469 Potsdam
      Opening hours:   Tue 9am-6pm
                       Thu 9-12am & 1-4pm
                       Fr 9-12am

      Tel.:            +49 331 289-1753
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                   Page 11 of 43
                                                                                       Lexicon
1.3     Housing
                                                                                       Haus
1.3.1    Housing Options                                                                        house, home

You primarily have three options regarding living arrangements for your time           Hausmeister
at the AIP:                                                                                       concierge

                                                                                       Hausverwaltung
      Private apartment: Rent levels are low enough in Berlin such that a                          property
      student or postdoc can easily afford to live on their own. Some popular                  management
                                                        o
      areas of Berlin to live in are Charlottenburg, Sch¨neberg, and Prenzlauer
                                                                                       Hausbesitzer
      Berg. The transit connection between Berlin and Babelsberg is excellent,                        landlord
      so it can be just as easy to live in Berlin as in Potsdam. Living alone
      of course gives you most freedom in choosing your place. However it is           Miete
      also more expensive and less social, particularly when you first arrive.                             rent

      Shared apartment: An alternative to living on your own is to look for            Vermieter
      a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), where you share an apartment with other                                landlord
      people. This may be a good way to meet new people or to improve your
      German (if the people you live with are German). You also share costs            Wohngemeinschaft
      and problems.                                                                    or WG
                                                                                          shared apartment
      Dormitory: If you are a student from abroad, you can apply for a
      place in one of the many dormitories in Potsdam. They are organized              Wohnung
      accommodation through the “Studentenwerk”, which is affiliated with                            apartment
      the universities in the Potsdam area (but not Berlin). The dorms are             ¨
                                                                                       Ubergabe
      cheap and social. You can choose between shared and private apart-                 flat inspection and
      ments. Most of them have internet connections for a fee per semester                        handover
      and one of them is located only 100 meters away from the AIP in Park
      Babelsberg.                                                                      Zimmer
                                                                                                         room
 Specifically for scientists
                                                                                       For a detailed vocab-
 • AIP on-site accommodation: The AIP has on-site accommodation                        ulary list concerning
 for visitors or new arrivals. However, it is only available for short periods.        housing, see page 13.
 To to check whether it is available at the time of your arrival, please contact
 the secretary of the AIP, Christiane Rein (crein@aip.de).

 • IBZ: The Internationales BegegnungsZentrum der Wissenschaften Pots-
 dam, or the International Meeting Center for the Sciences in Potsdam. Its
 goal “is to make possible a pleasant stay for the guests of the Potsdam Sci-
 entific Facility”. The IBZ provides private apartments to visiting or newly
 arrived scientists for a duration of three months to two years. Note that they
 offer to accompany you to the Rathaus to help you register when you first
 arrive.



1.3.2    Berlin vs Potsdam
People working at the AIP generally choose to live either in Potsdam or in
Berlin. In Potsdam people choose Babelsberg to live close to the Institute
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 12 of 43

  Links
  Useful websites for finding an apartment are:
   • IBZ (see box on page 11)
   • Immobilien Scout24
   • Berliner Morgenpost: Wohnungsmarkt
   • TagesSpiegel: Immobilien Berlin
   • M¨rkische Allgemeine: Immobilien (mainly for Potsdam and
       a
  surroundings)

  Furnished apartments might be useful for a short-term stay or while
  you are looking for a long-term apartment:
   • City Mitwohnzentrale GmbH
   • Coming Home
   • HomeCompany: Berlin
   • Crocodilian Rooms in Berlin

  Useful websites for finding a WG are:
   • www.wg-gesucht.de
   • www.studenten-wg.de

  To find a Student room in Potsdam:
   • www.studentenwerk-potsdam.de


(∼10 minutes by bike) but it is also rather expensive. There are cheaper but
more remote options in the Schlaatz or Stern (>20 min by bike or bus).
If you choose an apartment in Berlin expect prices between the above numbers,
but be aware that if you are further east than Charlottenburg commuting to
work will take you at least an hour from door to door (twice a day). More
tips, links, and details concerning housing can be found on the AIP Wiki page:
http://astar.aip.de/Newcomers/Newcomers


1.3.3     SCHUFA
If you are looking for a flat, one of the documents that you may be required
to provide is a “SCHUFA”. This is a private organization which estimates
the probability with which you will pay your rent. If you are just arriv-
ing in Germany it is probable that you are not in the Schufa database. In
this case you can register online and order something called a SCHUFA-
Verbraucherauskunft (SCHUFA customer information) that you can then give
to the rental agency. This will cost e7–10. You will find more information
here: www.meineschufa.de
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 13 of 43




 German housing terms and abbreviations
  The advertised rent in most cases refers to the basic rent (Kalt-
  miete) which means that you will have to pay extra for electric-
  ity, water, heating and waste disposal (Nebenkosten). In contrast,
  these subsidiary charges are normally included in the rent for fur-
  nished flats. When you are looking for a flat, keep in mind that
  Warmmiete includes all costs, Kaltmiete does not.

     3 Zi.-Whg         3 Zimmer Wohnung         3-room apartment
     3 ZKDB            3 Zimmer, K¨che,u        3 rooms plus kitchen,
                       Diele, Badezimmer        hallway, bath
     Abstand           Abstandszahlung          you have to buy some
                                                of the fixtures and fur-
                                                nishings
     DG                Dachgeschoss             loft apartment
     EBK                      u
                       Einbauk¨che              built-in kitchen
     EG                Erdgeschoss              ground floor
     HH                Hinterhaus               back of the house
                                                (might have little
                                                light)
     K                 Kaution                  deposit
                       kalt                     cold rent (See above)
     NR                Nichtraucher             non-smokers
     KM                Kaltmiete                cold rent
     NMM               Nettomonatsmiete         net monthly rent
     MVZ               Monatliche               rent in advance
                       ˜
                       Vorauszahlung
     Prov.             Provision                commission
     qm                Quadratmeter             square metre
     TG                Tiefgarage               underground garage
     VH                Vorderhaus               front of the house
     WG                Wohngemeinschaft         shared flat
     WBS erford.       Wohnberechtigungs-       subsidised     housing
                       schein erforderlich      only rented to holders
                                                of a special permit
     Wfl.                       a
                       Wohn߬che                living space
     WM                Warmmiete                warm rent (See above)
     Zi                Zimmer                   room(s)
     ZH                Zentralheizung           central heating
     zzgl. NK             u
                       zuz¨glich Nebenkosten    plus extra charges
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 14 of 43

1.3.4   Internet Connections
There are numerous internet providers for you to choose from. Expect to pay
around e25 /month.
                                                                                   Alternative to DSL
If you opt for standard internet connection at home your new provider will
                                                                                     If there is no DSL
set up an appointment with a (Deutsche Telekom) technician to enable your
                                                                                   available in your city
DSL/telephone connection. This should not cost you anything but it can take        district (yes, that
a few weeks in the worst case. In some cases the technician will need access to    still happens!), don’t
the “Hausverteiler”. This central distributor is typically located in the cellar   despair - you can
of your building and you might need to get in touch with the Hausmeister           check out the cable-
of your building to obtain the key. Any necessary hardware (e.g. modem) is         internet     providers.
included in the contract with your internet provider.                              It may be possible
                                                                                   to get a highspeed
                                                                                   internet connection
         Important!                                                                via the cable which
          Keep in mind that most contracts with an internet provider               is used for cable TV.
          will have a minimum duration of 24 months. If you move                   Often you can get a
          away from Germany to a country where your provider is                    combined package of
                                                                                   TV, telephone con-
          not available, you can cancel your contract early (in the-               nection and highspeed
          ory anyway) but otherwise you are going to pay for the                   internet. Prices and
          full 24 months. If you want to cancel your contract after                contracts are similar
          24 months, you should do so several months in advance,                   to those for DSL.
          otherwise the provider might renew the contract automat-
          ically.

          Alternatively you can consider prepaid mobile internet op-
          tions. These are typically renewable on a monthly basis.
          As they rely on the the mobile phone network the connec-
          tion speeds are slower but on the plus side you can use it
          anywhere in Germany not just in your own home.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 15 of 43
                                                                                 Lexicon
1.4    Banking
                                                                                 BLZ or Bankleitzahl
 When you go to a bank to open a bank account (“Girokonto”), you need to                  bank code
bring the following items:
                                                                                 Dauerauftrag
                                                                                 regular bank transfer
   • passport or identity card
   • Visa (non-EU only)                                                          Kontonummer
   • Work contract                                                                   account number

   • “Studienbescheinigung” (certificate of study) if you want to benefit from     ¨
                                                                                 Uberweisung
     reduced fees (PhD students only)                                                   bank transfer

                                                                                            a
                                                                                 Einzugserm¨chtigung
        Some German specifics                                                              direct debit
                                                                                        authorization
           ¨
         • Uberweisung: The use of bank transfers is very com-
         mon in Germany. This is not only true for regular payments
         such as your rent, but also for other payments.

          • EC-Karte: Many German stores (e.g. grocery stores)
          do not accept credit cards. The only alternative to cash
          payment is to use a debit card called an “EC-card”. These
          are usually provided with a standard bank account.

          • Geldkarte: This is an electronic cash card, in general
          implemented on your EC-card. From a cash dispenser you
          can load your Geld-karte to a certain amount of euros. This
          card is particularly useful to buy bus or train tickets from
          machines.

          • Einzugserm¨chtigung: An ”Einzugserm¨chtigung”
                           a                              a
          (direct debit authorization) is a popular method to pay
          for services like flat rental, phone bills etc. Giving an
                      a
          Einzugserm¨chtigung allows the payee to directly take the
          required money from your bank account (make sure that it
          has enough balance). Within six weeks, you can instruct
          your bank to return a direct debit transfer if you notice
          that it was unauthorized or incorrect. You do not need to
          give a reason for the cancellation to the bank. However, if
          you cancelled a valid transfer, you may be asked to pay the
          additional costs of the cancellation.

The service and fees for a Girokonto vary with each bank. The monthly basic
fee is about e2–7, additional fees for each transaction can apply as well. In
addition, a debit card may cost e10–20/year whereas a credit card usually also
costs about e20/year. If you have a regular income of more than e1000–1250
or more (depending on the bank), your bank account may be free of charge.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                  Page 16 of 43
 Online Bank Accounts
 As an alternative, you could consider opening an online bank account. These
 are most often free of charge and offer free debit cards, sometimes even free
 credit cards, but this comes at the cost of less service. There’s no office you
 can go to in case of trouble, only a telephone hotline. For opening such an
 online bank account, you need to fill out the application forms and usually
 prove your identity via the “PostIdent” method. This means that you get a
 PostIdent Coupon, take it to the nearest post office and show your passport/ID
 there.


You can find on the newcomer Wiki page more information concerning interest,
taxes or free credit cards.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 17 of 43



                                                                   Chapter 2

                             Living in Germany

2.1    Learning German
Formally it is not required that students, postdocs or staff speak any German
in order to successfully work at the AIP. However, people generally find that
day-to-day activities (such as shopping, taking the train, etc.) are much more
enjoyable if you speak and understand German to a basic level. The German
people you interact with will also be appreciative of your efforts.
There are several options for learning German. A common, popular and cheap
method is to attend German lessons at one of the many Volkshochschulen in
Berlin or Potsdam. There are also many private German language teachers
that can be found. These tend to be more expensive, but the class sizes are
much smaller and the tuition is more personalised.
Since 2009, such private classes have been organized at the AIP, on a weekly
basis. Currently three levels are available and cost e10 per 90 minute class.
You are welcome to join one of the existing classes or, if there is reasonable
demand (4 people with the same language level) an additional class can be
opened.

          Tips!
           • Funding: Depending of the type of funding your position
           is based on, German class fees might be paid for you. Ask
           the person who offered you the position.

           • Tandem: An effective way to practice German and get in
           touch with the culture is to find a German tandem partner,
           with whom you will spend half the time speaking German,
           and the other half speaking your native language. This is
           complementary to a classical German class.

  Links
  – A list of the Volkshochschulen in Berlin can be found at:
                                                 www.berlin.de/vhs

  – A list of the Volkshochschulen in Potsdam can be found at:
                                              www.potsdam-vhs.de
              and www.potsdam.de/cms/ziel/35356 (English as well)

  – Concerning the German class at the AIP contact:
                                         o
                             Stefan Gottl¨ber, sgottloeber@aip.de
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                 Page 18 of 43
                                                                                     Lexicon
2.2     Shopping
                                                                                     Laden
 The shopping landscape in Germany mostly dominated by medium sized                             shop, store
supermarkets and international fashion labels. However, smaller and more
                                                                                          a
                                                                                     Gesch¨ft
unique stores still exist, especially off the main shopping areas. In the city
                                                                                                shop, store
centers or district centers (for Berlin) you will also find larger department
stores like, e.g. Karstadt or Kaufhof, which basically offer everything from          Supermarkt
clothing, furniture to electronics, sometimes also food (mostly delicatessen).       supermarket, grocery
Shops for clothes and electronics are also mainly situated in the city/district                     store
centers or in large malls outside the city boundaries.
                                                                                     Kaufhaus
                                                                                        department store
  Opening times
 Opening times can vary from shop to shop in Germany. They can usually be            Baumarkt
 found on the front door of the shop. Typical opening times are                       Do-it-yourself store,
 • Monday - Saturday 9:00 - 20:00                                                       building supplies
                                                                                                      store
 • Sunday closed
 Bakeries often start working early in the morning (∼ 6:30) and mostly open          A&V
 also on Sunday mornings to provide fresh buns for breakfast.                          Second hand shop,
 On Sundays almost all normal shops are closed except for some special places            mostly furniture
 like some of the Berlin railway stations. Especially if you live in Potsdam
 you should keep that in mind when you plan your weekend meals.                        a
                                                                                     Sp¨tkauf
                                                                                       small grocery store
2.2.1   Buying food                                                                        open until late

There are basically three types of grocery stores which mainly differ in assort-
ment and price level:
• A Supermarkt provides the widest range of products combined with medium
prizes. They can be found all over the place and provide you with all the stuff
you need for (Wester-European) cooking. Examples (no recommendations!)
for large chains are REWE, Kaiser’s or Edeka.
• A Discounter is a store which has specialized on a limited range of food
products which it offers at quite low prices. Discounters often also have a
temporary no-food assortment which changes on a weekly basis. Typical dis-
count stores are Aldi, Lidl, Netto or Penny.
• Finally there is a range of smaller shops which with a very limited range
of goods. They are mostly specialized on e.g. organic food (Bioladen) or
                                                                    u
vegetables in general with a small assortment of other things (Gem¨seladen).
Others are open till late sell mainly beverages or they also work on Sundays
                                        a
when you cannot go to other shops (Sp¨tkauf ). Generally, prices are at least
as high as in supermarkets, sometimes much higher.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                      Page 19 of 43

       Tips for saving some money
        • Food prices are not fixed in Germany and can vary
        significantly between shops.
        • Supermarket chains regularly distribute via mail adver-
        tisements with discounts on parts of their assortment.
        • Especially for larger purchases it is possible to bargain
        on the price or on additional equipment. Discounts larger
        than a few percent are rare, however.
        • Buying food generally larger packages are cheaper. How-
        ever, this is not always the case. The price labels always
        also show the price per kilo. Comparing is often worth the
        effort!
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                         Page 20 of 43
                                                                                                 Lexicon
2.3      Healthcare
                                                                                                 Arzt
 In Germany, you must possess health insurance. As a newcomer nobody                                           Doctor
expects you to dive into the jungle of the details of all health insurance, the                     Hausarzt
                                                                                                         home doctor
AIP will recommend a health insurance provider for you. The health insur-
                                                                                                    Zahnarzt
ance covers a broad range of injuries within Germany, the EU and several                                       dentist
other countries. However, it does not cover additional transportation costs                         Frauenarzt
from foreign countries back to Germany. For this case, if you travel for plea-                           gynecologist
sure or work outside Germany it is recommended that you sign up for an                              Kinderarzt
“Auslandsreise-Krankenversicherung” which will cost you about e5–10/year                                 pediatrician
and usually includes additional costs at visits abroad up to 6 weeks per trip.
                                                                                                 Notdienst
                                                                                                   Emergency service
Once you have signed up you will receive at home or at the AIP a card which                      Krankenversicherung
will be your health insurance card. You will need this card every time you want                      health insurance
to see a doctor, a dentist, or if something happens to you and you need to go to                 ¨
                                                                                                 Uberweisung
the hospital. At the reception they will ask you for a proof of health insurance.                             transfer

If you feel sick and you are thinking about visiting a doctor, you have the
freedom to go to the doctor of your choice. It is recommended to choose a
basic doctor (Hausarzt which is something like a “Home Doctor”) near your
place of residence. The Hausarzt is the starting point for almost any medical
procedure. In case your Hausarzt cannot help you further (for example, you
have a particular injury that requires a specialist) you will get from him/her
an Uberweisung to a specialist. There is a fee of e10 to pay on the first visit
    ¨
of your Hausarzt every quartile of a year (3 months) and includes all visits of
other doctors as long as you are transferred to them by your Hausarzt with
    ¨
an Uberweisung 1 .
These quarter divisions of the year are fixed from January–March, April–June,
                                                                  ¨
July–September, and October–December. Independently of the Uberweisung
you can always visit other doctors or specialists, but you have to pay e10
extra fee per quarter of the year for each doctor you visited on your own.
The dentist will also charge you e10 per quarter, except for a regular 6-
monthly screening. If you need to go to see both a medical doctor and the
dentist in the same quarter you have to pay 2×10=e20.
If you become sick and decide to stay at home you are obliged to inform your
employer immediately. However, you are not required to go to the physician,
unless you are sick for longer than three days. At the latest on the fourth day,
you have to make sure that your employer receives the doctor’s Krankenschein
(sickness certificate). Your employer is liable to continue payment for 6 weeks
of sickness.
Children: If one of your children is sick and needs to stay home with you,
then you may have Kinderkrankheitstage (children sickness days). You need
to hand in a copy of the doctor’s sick note to the AIP and send the original to
   1
     In theory, you can go directly to any specialist, pay your e10 and ask for an Uberweisung
                                                                                   ¨
to the Hausarzt, just in case you will need to see a doctor a second time during the quartile.
In practise not all specialist are willing to do so.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 21 of 43

your health insurance. Your salary will be decreased by some amount, but your
health insurance will transfer most of the difference. Kinderkrankheitstage are
limited to 10 work days per parent per year.

  Useful links
 • For emergency service or fire-brigade call 112
 • For the various emergency health services (i.e. doctors, dentists, phar-
 macy) see these links:
             Potsdam: http://www.info-potsdam.de/notdienst.html
                                                                                  Lexicon
             Berlin:     www.berlin.de/polizei/notfall/notdienste.html
                                                                                  Arbeitsamt        or
 • TK:     The Techniker krankenkasse is AIP default’s health provider.
                                                                                  Bundesagentur     u
                                                                                                   f¨r
             Adress:   Großbeerenstr. 109                                         Arbeit
                       14482 Potsdam                                               Federal employment
             Tel.:     +49 331 748855                                                            office
             Website: www.tk-online.de
                                                                                     o
                                                                                  BAF¨G
 • ENVIVAS: This company offers world wide health insurance coverage
                                                                                           federal state
 for your business and private short trips abroad which complement TK                       studentship
 insurance holders. See this link for details in english.
                                                                                      u
                                                                                  Begr¨ßungsgeld
                                                                                    welcome allowance
2.4     Miscellaneous administrative matters
                                                                                  Haftpflicht-
                                                                                  versicherung
                                                                                      liability insurance
2.4.1    Insurance
                                                                                  Hausrat
It is highly recommended to have Haftpflichtversicherung. It protects you              household effects
against accidental damage to third party property. It costs only about e50/year
and can save you from a difficult situation, e.g. if your washing machine breaks    Familienkasse
and ruins the flat below you or if you damage a car with your bike. You can                Familly office
also consider getting Rechtsschutzversicherung or a Hausratversicherung, al-
though those are less critical and often considered as not worth the money.       Kindergeld
                                                                                     children allowance

2.4.2    GEZ                                                                      Rechtsschutz-
                                                                                  versicherung
         u
The Geb¨hreneinzugszentrale (GEZ) is the German radio & TV licence fee
                                                                                        legal protection
collecting agency. Almost every inhabitant of Germany owning a TV, radio
or comparable electronic equipment (like a PC) is obliged to pay GEZ fees to
finance the German public service broadcasting system. Exceptions are, for
                                                   o
example, disabled people or students receiving BAF¨G with their own house-
hold. As of March 2009, the monthly fee was e5.76 for a radio and/or a PC
and e17.98 for a TV (and a radio/PC).
Note that that every private household has to register only one TV and one ra-
dio/PC. This means that a family (including married couples and school-aged
children) has to register only once. However, other people within the house-
hold whose income exceeds a certain limit (the einfacher Sozialhilferegelsatz
which is around e300/month) must also register.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                               Page 22 of 43

Registration is possible via the internet (www.gez.de, in German only). If you
move to or within Germany and are not registered you will usually receive a
letter from the GEZ with the request to register within a few weeks of arriving.

2.4.3          u
           Begr¨ ßungsgeld
If you are a student of the University of Potsdam and moved to Potsdam for
your studies, you can also apply for Begr¨ßungsgeld. This is a e50 payment
                                          u
from the city of Potsdam to you for each semester you are enrolled. There
are some deadlines which you have to take into account. You will find further
details at the webpage of the Studentenwerk Potsdam: www.studentenwerk-
potsdam.de/begruessungsgeld (website also available in English).

2.4.4      Kindergeld
If you have children, you are entitled to apply for children allowance from the
German social system. In 2010 this is e184/month, per child for the first two
children. The amount for the third, fourth, etc. child is even higher. The
Familienkasse pays for all children under the age of 18 years and even beyond
(up to 25 years) if a child is in education and gets only a small salary.

To apply:
                                                                         u
The responsible agency is the Familienkasse from the Bundesagentur f¨r Ar-
beit 2 , usually from the city where you live and where you are registered.
There exist special regulations for employees in public service, but this is not
the case for people working at the AIP.
Only one of the parents will get the Kindergeld: if you live apart, it is usually
the one where the children are living; otherwise you can decide yourself. The
other parent has to give his/her consent by signing the application form as
well. The application form can be downloaded directly from the Arbeitsagen-
tur. In most cases, form “KG1” will be the right one for you. You may also
follow the online questionnaire, answer the questions step-by-step and thus fill
out the form interactively.
Non-German and non-EU citizens will need to attach a copy of their passport.
For each child, a birth certificate is required. You may first send only a copy
and the people from the Familienkasse will contact you if they need the origi-
nal.
You can either send the application via mail (along with the required certified
copies) or visit the Familienkasse personally during its opening hours (no ap-
pointment necessary). The latter option has the advantage that you can just
show the birth certificates and they will make certified copies themselves.
  2
      The Arbeitsamt is also responsible for unemployment money.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                           Page 23 of 43


  Familienkasse in Potsdam
         Address:   Schlaatzweg 1         → just between Potsdam main
                    14473 Potsdam         station and S-Bahn station Ba-
         Tel.:      +49 1801 546337       belsberg


2.4.5   Work permits
In general, foreigners to “old-EU” or EEA countries require a work permit
when working in Germany. But there are some exceptions regarding the re-
quirement of a work permit. In particular, scientific employees of research
institutions which are financed mostly or solely by public funds might not
need a work permit. Because of this, AIP scientists might not require
a work permit.
Nevertheless, you have to submit a copy of your contract, job description,
academic transcript and university degree to be exempt from applying for a
work permit. Foreign fellowship holders do not require a work permit because
they are not employees. The same applies for students not working more than
90 days or 3 months a year.
However, if your partner wishes to work, he or she might require a work
permit for Germany. It can be obtained at the employment office for foreigners
              u       a
(Arbeitsamt f¨r Ausl¨nder). There you receive a form that has to be filled in
by yourself and also by your employer. According to German law, you have
to wait 4 weeks before receiving a work permit and you are not allowed to
work while your application is being processed. That is because the officials
have to make sure that no other German or EU citizen fits your position. This
condition is in practise difficult to fulfill. Work permits need to be renewed
every year.

  Old- and New-EU members
  Old-EU members are countries that joined the EU before 2005.
  Citizen of these countries or from the EEA countries do not need a
  work permit, in contrast to the citizens of the “new-EU” countries.

  • Old-EU members: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France,
  Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal,
  Sweden, Spain, UK.

  • Other countries with no need of work permit: Norway,
  Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Cyprus.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 24 of 43
                                                                                    Lexicon
2.5     Public Transportation
                                                                                    Ankunft
                                                                                                    arrival
Public transport in the Greater Berlin metropolitan region is provided by           Abfahrt
                                                                                                 departure
German Rail (Deutsche Bahn, DB), S-Bahn (which stands for Schnellbahn),
                                                                                    (Haupt-)Bahnhof
U-Bahn (underground metro train), Straßenbahn (tram), and Busses.                     (main) train station
                                                                                    Einzelfahrt
2.5.1    Transportation zones in Berlin and Potsdam                                             single trip
                                                                                        a
                                                                                    Erm¨ßigung
Both Berlin and Potsdam are organized in roughly concentric transportation                   reduced fare
zones A (inner) through C (outer city), respectively. Fares depend on between       Gleis
which zones you wish to travel, and tickets are named accordingly. Of course,                     platform
tickets are only valid within these respective zone(s), but in some instances       Kleingruppe
can be upgraded.                                                                              small group
                                                                                    Kurzstrecke
For Potsdam, these are “Potsdam AB” (for journeys within inner Potsdam in-                      short haul
cluding Babelsberg - for all practical purposes, this will be you standard ticket   Richtung
for Potsdam), and “Potsdam ABC” (including some fairly outlying regions in                        direction
                                                                                          a
                                                                                    Versp¨tung
the greater Potsdam area). For Berlin, these are “Berlin AB” (for journeys
                                                                                                      delay
within the inner city), “Berlin BC” (for travel within the outer city).             Verkehr
                                                                                    traffic (other context:
Since Berlin treats Potsdam like a suburb, Potsdam is geographically located
                                                                                              intercourse)
in Berlin’s C zone; hence the “Berlin ABC” ticket covers both all of Berlin as      Zug
well as “Potsdam AB” (but not Potsdam C, which extends to the other side of                           train
Potsdam). Thus, if you live in Berlin and work in Babelsberg (AIP), “Berlin
ABC” will be your standard ticket.
                                         o
A special case is a journey to Berlin Sch¨nefeld International Airport (SXF).
Since SXF is located in Berlin’s C region, a “Berlin ABC” or “Berlin BC”
ticket is needed, depending from where in Berlin you start your journey.
From Potsdam, however, there are two possibilities to get to SXF: either di-
rectly with the RB22, which will require a “Berlin BC” ticket (since both
starting point and destination are in Berlin’s C zone), or by going through
Berlin e.g. Zoologischer Garten, Alexanderplatz, or Ostbahnhof, which will
require a “Berlin ABC”.
While this all might appear confusing at first, it is not really complicated. In
particular, transport-network plans show the three zones in different colours
for easier orientation, so you should understand fairly quickly.
  Online information
  Two very useful web-pages are the connection query pages
  of Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg, www.vbbonline.de, and
  of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, www.fahrinfo-berlin.de/Fahrinfo/bin.
  Both are offered in English. It displays the fastest connections by
  pubic transport. In particular you can ask how to reach AIP, typing
  in “Sternwarte”.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 25 of 43

2.5.2    Buying tickets
If you get caught by the ticket control, not having a valid ticket will result in
a e40 fine which is practically uncontestable: being a foreigner, not knowing
your way around, and not speaking German will not be accepted as an excuse.
It is best to avoid any trouble and to make yourself familiar with the basics
of ticketing as quickly as possible.
Both in Berlin and Potsdam, the transportation companies maintain customer
offices where you can buy tickets, usually located close to major stations (e.g.
Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, etc.).
In the absence of an office, tickets can be bought from vending machines at the
train, tram, S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations. Some vending machines have touch-
screens with instructions in English (and other languages). Plan enough time
for your first attempt to use the vending machine because it can be a bit tricky.
You can also buy a ticket on board trams (vending machines) or busses (ask
the driver). In some busses, drivers might redirect you to an on-board vend-
ing machine, located a couple of metres behind their seat. Step forward and
buy your ticket there. If you already hold a ticket, just show it to the driver
when getting on the bus. Make sure to validate the ticket properly (see below).
Note that tickets cannot be bought on U-Bahns, S-Bahns and regular
trains. Thus, before you board any of these trains, make sure that you have
bought a ticket and validated it.


2.5.3    Validity of tickets
Tickets come in a wide and confusing variety; it is thus worthwhile to take
some time and check which ticket suits your needs best. A brief overview of
some of the most important tickets:

   • Berlin ABC: for the entire Greater Berlin metropolitan area. If you live
     in Berlin and work at AIP, this is what you need. Single fare e2.80,
     monthly ticket e88.50, yearly ticket e830.

   • Potsdam AB: if you work and live in Potsdam.            Single fare e1.70,
     monthly ticket e35, yearly ticket e340.

   • Monthly tickets come in two varieties: valid for either a calendar month
     (e.g., June 2010), or for 31 days. The former gives you one day of grace
     at the beginning and the end of each period (i.e., the June ticket is
     already valid on May 31 and still valid on July 1) while the latter allows
     you to cover any 31-day period you want.

   • Cheaper short-haul fares apply when you’re only travelling six stations
     or less by bus or tram in Potsdam, or three stations or less by S-Bahn
     or U-Bahn in Berlin; check network plans to count stations between
     you and your destination. However, changing public transport is not
     permitted.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 26 of 43

Normal, standard single-fare tickets are valid on all transportation, but only
for a limited amount of time (120 min in Berlin, 60 min in Potsdam; see below).
This means that the same ticket will allow you to use whatever transportation
means you require to reach your destination. You may even interrupt your
journey as long as you travel within the time your ticket is valid. What you
must not do, however, is to return to (or travel in the direction of) your
starting point. This will be considered a return trip, and if you do not hold a
return ticket, you will be fined if caught in a ticket control.
A ticket that has not been validated, or that has expired, will be regarded as
invalid, and you will be fined if you get caught in a control. Thus, always
remember to validate your ticket appropriately.

2.5.4   Tax declarations and transportation costs
Under German tax law, you are entitled to deduce from your taxable income
any cost that pays transport to and from your workplace, either by full-cost
accounting, a per-kilometer rate (cf. “Pendlerpauschale”) or a flat rate. Dis-
tance limits between your home and workplace might apply, but it is always
worth asking for details regarding this possibility.

2.5.5   German Railways
German Rail (Deutsche Bahn, DB) operates train lines mainly, but not ex-
clusively, within Germany. Comfortable, and fairly popular, high-speed DB
Intercity Express (ICE) trains offer an alternative to flying when it comes to
medium- and long-distance travelling within Germany and neighbouring coun-
tries. For example, the ICE from Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Hamburg Haupt-
bahnhof takes only 1h30, while Frankfurt am Main is reached in less than
4h15, especially if the “ICE Sprinter” is taken. ICE trains run hourly.
However, ICE tickets can be expensive, and in some instances it might be
worthwhile to check for slower, and hence cheaper, trains (i.e. with more
stops). Moreover, there are price-reduction schemes such as e.g. Bahncard-
50, which, for the period of one year, reduces by 50% the price of any DB
ticket. Since the Bahncard-50 itself will cost you e230 (2nd class), reaching
the break-even point will depend on how much you will travel. Bahncard-25
and 100 are also available, as is the first-class option.

Buying train tickets
Tickets can be bought at the train station either at a vending machine or at the
DB Reisecenter (travelcenter), where a service charge (e2) will be applied, or
online. In the latter case, you will be sent an electronic ticket in PDF format
which you need to print out; note that it is valid only in conjunction
with the credit card that was used to buy it. DB does not make any ex-
ceptions to this rule, so make sure you have all you travel documents with you
when you board a train.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 27 of 43

Normal tickets are valid for the travel route, and are not limited to particular
trains. This means you can miss a train, take one earlier/later than booked,
or even interrupt your journey for a stop-over, as long as you stay within the
30-day validity period. Any seat reservations you made will be forfeit if you’re
not on the corresponding train, but can be changed for a e2 service fee at any
DB Reisecenter, provided seats are available. Seat reservations on ICE trains
cost e2.50 extra, but for long journeys it is better to book a seat or you might
find yourself standing most of the time. For travelling on days around a (long)
weekend or any other holiday, you should definitely book a seat.
To cope with the increasing competition from no-frills airlines, DB has recently
introduced early-bird specials. There is now an option to book a ticket a long
time in advance, at a very attractive price (e29 one-way). Of course, DB
reserves only a small number of seats for these early-bird specials, so be quick.
However, as with flights, these tickets have a significant downside: they’re
only valid for the very train they were booked for. If you miss the train for
any reason (other than a connecting train being late), you ticket is forfeit, and
you have to buy a new one.
Note that cross-country train tickets are not validated at the station, but by a
conductor aboard the train. An exception to this rule are locally valid tickets
                                                   o
such as “Berlin ABC” from Potsdam to Berlin Sch¨nefeld Airport (see above).
  Online information
  – The Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg, www.vbbonline.de,
  website covers rail travel throughout Germany and some interna-
  tional destinations. It has an English option and is very good for
  finding timetables, route planning or appropriate tickets.

  – Visit www.bahn.de for more information on rail transportation.

2.5.6    A couple of tips
Bahncards
While Bahncards (i.e., price-reduction cards) are very attractive, they come
with a couple of very important issues.
The most important thing is that the Bahncard is valid for one year. However,
unless you specifically end the contract with DB at least 6 weeks prior to the
expiry date of the Bahncard, DB will automatically extend your contract for
another year. Under German law, you are obliged to pay, and DB will send
people after you to get their money. Currently, consumer advocates are trying
to contest this practice in court, and although DB has lost pretty much every
case brought against them, they keep on appealing, hence the courts’ rulings
have not yet come into effect. If you want to make sure that you do not auto-
matically extend your Bahncard, do end you contract the moment you obtain
your card. You can do so online, or at any DB travelcenter in the train stations.
The next issue is that with only one exception, the Bahncard rebates are not
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                           Page 28 of 43

accumulative. That is, if you wish to purchase an early-bird special for e29,
only the Bahncard-25 will be able to reduce the fare by 25% whereas all other
Bahncards (50, 100) will not do so. In most cases, however, you will not get
an early-bird ticket anyway, since numbers are very limited. Thus, take great
care to choose the best Bahncard for you. There are online-tools available on
DB’s website.


Timetables
Railway timetables come in two colours: white for arrivals (“Ankunft”), and
yellow for departures (“Abfahrt”). It is important to note that some entries
have footnotes; a legend thereof is provided at the bottom of the timetable.
One symbol, for instance, means that the train in question only runs on work
days (in Germany, this is Monday through Saturday), but not on Sundays and
holidays. If you read such timetables, make sure that you fully understand
the entries, or you might wait for a train that will never come.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                                  Page 29 of 43

2.6    Children’s education                                                             Lexicon

The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the in-          Abitur
                                                                                                     A-levels
dividual states, which means significant variations across Germany. We refer
here to the rules applied in the states of Brandenburg and Berlin.                      Erste Klasse
The system is quite complicated, and this review is not intended to be com-                         1st grade
prehensive.
                                                                                        Grundschule
School attendance is mandatory for 12 years. Children first enter the Grund-                  Primary school
schule, in the erste Klasse, around the age of six. Primary school is up to the
6th grade, i.e. when most of the children are around twelve years old. The              Hort
secondary school system becomes more complicated, because there are four                after-school care club
types of secondary institutions and children, supported by their parents, need
to apply to the school of their choice.                                                 Jugendamt
                                                                                          youth welfare office

  Useful links                                                                          Kinderkrippe
                                                                                                 day nursery
  – To check the school holidays in Germany:         www.schulferien.org
                                                                                        Kindergarten
  – List of Kitas in Potsdam: www.potsdam.de/cms/ziel/30689/DE/                                   playschool

                                                                                        Rechtsanspruch
  – List of primary schools in Potsdam:
                                                                                                 entitlement
                              www.potsdam.de/cms/ziel/30269/DE/
                                                                                        Tagesmutter
                                                                                                  day nanny

                                                                                        Tagesbetreuung
Before entering school: children 0–6 years old                                                      day care
                                                                                        Kitas
There is no mandatory way to look after your children until they are of age
to go to school. But if you need or would like to send your children to a day              It is quite com-
care service, here are the most common options:                                         mon      that     the
                                                                                        Kinderkrippe,
   • Tagesmutter : A single person who takes care of a small group of children          Kindergaten      and
                                                                                        Hort (see next sec-
     aged between 0 and 6 (though it is more common for a Tagesmutter to
                                                                                        tion) are located in
     have children under age 3);                                                        the same institu-
                                                                                        tion,   often called
   • Kinderkrippe: This is the name given to the day nursery places for                 a Kita, short for
     children aged between 0 and 3 years old;                                           Kindertagesbetreu-
                                                                                        ung, children’s day
   • Kindergarten: playschool for children aged from 3 to 6. The year be-               care.
     fore entering school, when children are 5 to 6 years old, they usually
     follow special activities which are meant to prepare them for entering
     school. This group of oldest children in a Kindergarten is usually called
     Vorschulgruppe.
       Right to early education
       The option to attend a kindergarten is provided for all children between three
       and six years of age, even if one of the parents is at home.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 30 of 43

Primary School: children 6-12 years old
For the majority of children, classes are taken in the morning and the atten-
dance to school increase from 4-5 hour in the 1st grade, to 6-7 hours in the
6th grade. Consequently, many parents need to find a place where their chil-
dren will be staying after school. The Hort is the institution designed for this
purpose. In addition to proposing recreation activities for your children, most
Horts support children in doing their homework as well, which can be quite
helpful for parents who don’t yet speak German. The Hort generally offers
day care during most of the school holidays.

Secondary School: children 13-18 years old
In both Berlin and Potsdam, secondary school starts with the 7th grade. There
are four types of institutions in which children may pursue their education:

   • The Gymnasium is designed to prepare students for university edu-
     cation and finishes with the final examination Abitur after grade 12 or
     13;

   • The Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate stu-
     dents and finishes with the final examination Mittlerer Schulabschluss
     (MSA) after grade 10. Depending on their marks, after this examina-
     tion the pupil might enter a Gymnasium to pass the Abitur ;

   • The Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes
     with the final examination Hauptschulabschluss after grade 9 or 10 and
     the Realschulabschluss after grade 10.

   • The Gesamtschule combines in the same school the approaches of the
     three above institutions. The pupils are not divided in classes but follow
     courses which apply to their level, in each subject. Depending on each
     pupil’s performance it is possible to complete a Hauptschulabschluss,
     Realschulabschluss or Abitur.

To obtain a place in a secondary school, pupils supported by their parents
generally need to send applications to the individual schools. Although this
procedure is at some point centralized, and should principally be based on
the pupil’s school mark, it is in practice quite complicated, even for native
Germans.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                        Page 31 of 43



       Important
        It is highly recommended to look for a place in a Kita or with a
        Tagesmutter as early as possible. If you don’t apply for a place at
        your favorite Kita early enough, you will have to choose another
        Kita or wait several months until a place is free. A good date
        for starting a Kita is in September, when the oldest children are
        entering school.

        Note that Kitas and Tagesmutters are usually not free of charge.
        Depending on the parents’ total income and the hours of day
        care, you have to pay a certain amount (called Elternbeitrag) plus
        the costs for food. For a single PhD student this can quickly
        be about e100/month in Potsdam, for two married postdocs as
        much as e400/month.




       Regulations
        If both parents are (or the single parent is) working, the federal
        state is responsible for providing you with a day care solution for
        your children until the 5th school year.

        In order to secure the right to support from the municipality, the
        following must be satisfied:

        • The educational institutions must be located in your municipal-
        ity of residence (i.e. not where you work)
        • Your children must be listed on your Lohnsteuerkarte
        • The child must be between 0–6 years of age and not yet going
        to school

        Then, parents need to fill out a form indicating their daily working
        hours and transportation time which then need to be stamped by
        their employers. This form is usually provided at the Kita where
        you want to register the children.

        Depending on the Kita, you might hand this document directly
        to the Kita, which will then take care of the rest of the procedure.
        Otherwise, this form needs to be sent to the Jugendamt in your
        city. The Jugendamt will return a document called Bescheid uber ¨
        die Feststellung des Rechtsanspruchs Ihres Kindes aus Tagesbe-
        treuung which attests your right to day care. The Kita will re-
        quest this document when your child begins attending the Kita.
                                                                     Chapter 3

                          Working at the AIP

3.1     Getting Started
3.1.1   Travelling to the AIP
The main AIP campus is located in Babelsberg, south-west of Berlin. The
nearest main train station is Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, but the smaller Babels-
berg S-Bahnhof is even closer. The S7 S-Bahn runs between Berlin–Potsdam
every 10 minutes during the times that you would be coming and going from
the AIP. You can catch bus 694 in the direction Stern Center from either sta-
tion, and alight at the station called “Sternwarte”. Alternatively, you can eas-
ily walk to the AIP from the Babelsberg S-Bahn station along Karl-Liebknecht
Straße. More detailed directions on how to get to the AIP can be found on the
AIP website, and a map of the Babelsberg area can be found on the back page
of this Guide. Upon arrival, you should introduce yourself at the reception
desk in the Schwarzschildhaus, which is usually occupied by Christina Walther
during office hours. Frau Walther speaks some English, so if you need help
finding your host, you can ask her.

3.1.2   Laufzettel
During your first few days at the AIP your supervisor/host will give you a
Laufzettel (running paper), and will help you complete it. On the Laufzettel
you will find a list of people within the AIP administration and IT. Some
people you will only have to visit and ask them for a signature, so you know
them and they get to know you. Others will provide you with equipment, such
as your key and your computer account. If nobody is present at one of the
stations, you can re-visit it later. When your Laufzettel is complete, leave it
with the last person on the list.


3.2     Computing and email accounts
Upon arrival you will be assigned a desk with a computer, and a computer
               e
account. Andr´ Saar is the head of the IT department, and is supported by
             o
Karl-Heinz B¨ning, Mario Dionies and Michael Fiebiger. They are useful peo-
ple to know. If you have any computing problems, the best thing to do is to
send an email to admin@aip.de. The IT people will read the email and they
can decide amongst themselves who is best suited to deal with the problem.
For information about the IT infrastructure at the AIP check the internal
webpage edv-doc.aip.de. This page has useful instructions for getting various
accounts and many solutions for practical computer questions. Use the search
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 33 of 43

function at the bottom of the page to find specific topics. However, some of
the pages are only in German, so, for example, to learn how to print from your
laptop to a printer, search for Drucker.
Extensive computing facilities, such as computer clusters, and extended data
storage facilities are also available. Manfred Schultz is in charge of these. One
can also ask the e-Science team (www.aip.de/groups/escience/) for other op-
tions, e.g. to join AstroGrid-D and German D-Grid. It is also possible to have
                                                                  o
a webpage hosted at the AIP, but one must ask Karl-Heinz B¨ning to assign
you an account and some disk space.
There are three mailing lists which are of interest to AIP employees: info-
aip@aip.de, wiss-aip@aip.de and all@aip.de. The first is intended for all AIP
employees, and wiss-aip relates to scientific information for researchers. The
third should reach everyone currently with an aip email address, including
diploma students and long-term guests. If you have a contract with the AIP,
you will subscribe to info-aip via the Laufzettel. To subscribe to all@aip.de,
send an email to all-subscribe@aip.de, and to subscribe to wiss-aip, send an
email to wiss-aip-subscribe@aip.de. Everyone at the AIP should be subscribed
to at least one of these lists.
From outside, the Institute’s network can be accessed through the login.aip.de
server. If you want to set up a tunnel or use VNC, check the edv-doc.aip.de
webpage or read about how to configure your .ssh/config file. Writing e-mail
from outside is possible through the web interface https://mail.aip.de/, the
VNC or the mail server londo, for which you need to request a special account.

  Note!
  The home directory of your computer account is automatically backed
  up daily, but your work disks are not. It is your responsibility to ensure
  they are backed up in case of disk failures, etc. A good idea is to ask
                o
  Karl-Heinz B¨ning for disk space on e.g. atlas so you can back up your
  work directories.


3.3     Science at the AIP
The AIP is one of the major astrophysical institutions in Germany, with work
dedicated to various astrophysics research and instrumentation projects. Ac-
cording to the AIP’s official structure, each research group is located within
one of the main branches. Branch I concerns Cosmic Magnetic Fields, Branch
II is for Extragalactic Astrophysics. The Research Technology group is sepa-
rate but administered within Branches I and II.
There are currently six research and five research technology programme ar-
eas. The six research groups are Magnetohydrodynamics and Turbulence,
Physics of the Sun, Stellar Physics and Activity, Star Formation and the In-
terstellar Medium, Galaxies and Quasars, and Cosmology and Large-Scale
Structure. The five technology areas are Telescope Control and Robotics,
High-resolution Spectroscopy and Polarimetry, 3D Spectroscopy and Super-
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                           Page 34 of 43

computing, E-Science, and innoFSPEC Potsdam. Some of these groups have
sub-groups, such as the Galactic Archeology group within the “Galaxies and
Quasars” group. For a more detailed description of each programme area, you
can look in the latest version of the biennial report.


        Other AIP Sites
         The main AIP campus is located in Babelsberg, but there
         are other satellite campuses in the surrounding area. Tele-
         grafenberg, where the AIP still maintains an historical site,
         is 10 minutes away from the research campus located on the
         site of the former Babelsberg Observatory. During your
         stay at the AIP, you should take the opportunity to visit
         the Great Refractor (the fourth largest lens telescope in the
         world), and the Einstein Tower solar observatory at the Al-
         bert Einstein Science Park, which is where the former As-
         trophysical Observatory Potsdam was located. There are
         public tours twice per month.

          AIP solar physicists use the Einstein Tower Observatory to
          test instruments destined for solar telescopes on Tenerife.
          The AIP collaborates with the IAC on Tenerife in running
          several telescopes at the Observatorio del Teide, in partic-
          ular the robotic STELLA telescopes and the Gregor Solar
          Telescope. The solar team has been operating a radio an-
          tenna station in Potsdam-Tremsdorf since 1954, and has
          recently started concentrating its efforts on a new antenna
          station in Potsdam-Bornim which is part of the LOFAR
          interferometry project.

3.4    Institute Events
There are several events at the AIP. Most are work related, but some are
public outreach, and some are purely social. In addition to the institute-
wide meetings, your science group will also probably have informal meetings
that you will attend. For a list of AIP events in the coming weeks, go to:
www.aip.de/news/week/index.php

      Daily

        • Science Coffee: 10:30, 1st floor, Leibnizhaus An informal
          discussion of recent science news over coffee, which is provided for
          a small fee, or whatever beverage you wish to bring.

      Weekly

        • Extragalactic Science Club: Tuesday 16:00, Seminar room,
          Schwarzschildhaus This is the AIP’s Branch II journal club,
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                             Page 35 of 43

          where one person informally presents a paper and the audience
          participates in a discussion.
        • Kaffeerunde: Thursday 13:30, Seminar room, Schwarzschild-
          haus The Kaffeerunde is a voluntary informal meeting open to all
          AIP employees to share news regarding recent scientific events and
          results. It is also the place that newly arrived students and em-
          ployees can introduce themselves to the rest of the Institute.
        • Department Colloquia: Friday 11:00, Lecture hall, Schwarz-
          schildhaus The one hour colloquium is presented either by an AIP
          researcher or a visiting scientist. Coffee is served beforehand, start-
          ing at 10:30 in the Schwarzshildhaus foyer.

      Monthly

        • Sternennacht: Every third Thursday of each month, 20:00
          Lecture hall, Schwarzschildhaus A public lecture, given in Ger-
          man, by an AIP scientist.
        • Institute Conference: Lecture hall, Schwarzschildhaus This
          meeting is to be held approximately every 3–6 months, instead of
          the Department Colloquium.

      Yearly

        • Beirat The Beirat is a yearly review of the AIP, lasting two days
          each Autumn. Everyone formally employed as a scientist at the AIP
          must make a poster describing some aspect of their work. Diploma
          students and guests are very much invited to make a poster as well,
          but it isn’t required. A small subset of people will be asked to give
          a short talk about their work in addition to creating a poster.
        • Public Outreach Events The AIP hosts several outreach events
          throughout the year, sometimes in coordination with other insti-
          tutes. The AIP, as well as several other institutes throughout Berlin
          and Potsdam, take part in the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften as
          well as the Lange Nacht der Sterne.
        • Betriebsausflug The Betriebsausflug is the all-Institute day out,
          and occurs in early summer. These events are common at businesses
          and institutes in Germany.


3.5    Betriebsrat
We hope that as a member of the AIP you will have an enjoyable and produc-
tive time, but if you have suggestions to improve something or if you encounter
problems, there are several ways to get advice and support.
The Betriebsrat is the AIP’s work council, a body of seven colleagues elected
from all departments of the AIP. Elections occur once every four years. The
Betriebsrat would be your first stop for work related problems that you can-
not clarify with your supervisor, e.g. contract details, or disagreement with
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                             Page 36 of 43

                                                    u
your superiors. The current chair is Jan Peter M¨cket (jpmuecket@aip.de,
Tel. 518). Since the existence of a Betriebsrat is required by German law,
the Betriebsrat has some power in matters of personnel and must be heard.
All details you discuss are kept strictly confidential. The up-to-date list of
members can be found at:
www.aip.de/People/jpmuecket/betriebsrat/BR1.html


3.6    Internal Science Committee
The Internal Science Committee’s purpose is to strengthen the scientific out-
come of the Institute. It plays the role of a two-way communicator and advisor
from the AIP scientists to the heads of the Institute and vice versa. The ISC
organizes the Institute conferences as well as regular workshops.
The current Internal Scientific Committee was elected in February 2009 for
two years. Your input to the ISC is welcome. You can send an email to the
ISC group at isc-aip@aip.de, or contact its members directly. The member list
and more details can be found at the following adress:
www.aip.de/aip/internal/AIP-ISC


3.7    Other people you need to know
There are several important people at the AIP who perform specific functions.
A few of them are outlined here.

   • Foreign Liaison officers There are two foreign liaison officers in the
     Institute, Carsten Denker (cdenker@aip.de, ext. 297) in Branch I and
                  o
     Stefan Gottl¨ber (sgottloeber@aip.de, ext. 516) in Branch II. You may
     contact them in case you have problems which you cannot solve together
     with your supervisor or the colleagues of your working group. The for-
     eign liaison officers will help you either directly or by pointing you to
     somebody who can help to solve your problems. They also try to identify
     problems of general interest and will find together with the administra-
     tion of the Institute a solution to such problems. For this they will need
     your input. Once or twice a year there will be a meeting with the officers,
     where people who recently joined the AIP can share their experiences
     and discuss some of the problems that they might have encountered upon
     arrival at the AIP. Please feel free to contact Carsten Denker and Stefan
           o
     Gottl¨ber by e-mail or phone or just see them in their offices, if you have
     any problems or ideas on how to help foreigners joining the AIP.

   • PhD Student Liaisons Lutz Wisotzki and Carsten Denker are in
     charge of coordinating the AIP’s PhD programme. See Section 3.8 for
     further information.

   • Public Outreach The AIP does a lot of public outreach work and
     all members are encouraged to participate. The public outreach team
                                    o                     o
     consists primarily of Madleen K¨ppen and Gabriele Sch¨nherr, who are
     always happy for AIP members to help with planning and carrying out
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                               Page 37 of 43

      public events. If you have an interesting scientific result and would like
      to construct a press release, Madleen and Gabi are the people to contact.
      Additionally, they can help you if you need AIP brochures for visitors
      or other fun things for kids.


3.8     PhD students
If you are starting your PhD thesis at the AIP, there are several special points
that you should know about:

      Register as a PhD student within the AIP: The AIP has two scien-
      tists charged with coordinating the Institute’s PhD programme. Please
      contact either Carsten Denker (cdenker) or Lutz Wisotzki (lwisotzki) as
      soon as possible after your arrival. They will ensure that you are are
      internally registered as a PhD student, and they will also provide you
      with essential information for the further procedure. It is planned to
      associate each new PhD student with a mentor (typically a postdoc) to
      help you discover the scientific life at the AIP.

      Enrolling at University: As a PhD student you should also, as a rule,
      enroll at the University of Potsdam (UP). This is needed since the AIP
      is not part of the university. The formal procedure is described in the
      following English webpages of UP:
      www.uni-potsdam.de/aaa/incoming/en/promovenden
      Note that it is not required that you enroll immediately after your arrival,
      you could also do this at a later stage. However, as a student you get a
      lot of benefits for a very modest annual fee - among others, free public
      transportation in all of Berlin and Brandenburg.

      Duties for PhD students During your time as PhD student at Pots-
      dam you will be mostly working on your thesis project. There are cur-
      rently no mandatory courses that you have to take. You are of course
      free to join all astrophysics courses offered at UP; note however that
      many of them - especially the more basic ones - will be in German.
      While there is no obligation to take courses, UP has two mandatory
      requirements for all PhD students. When handing in your PhD thesis
      you need to certify that you have fulfilled these two requirements.

        • You have to participate in the Astrophysics Seminar at UP in Golm
          for at least 1 semester. That includes the obligation to give a talk
          on a topic of your own choice (which should not be identical to your
          PhD thesis work), but also to attend the other talks of the same
          semester.
        • You must aquire some teaching experience at UP, either by partic-
          ipating in the tutorials of astrophysics courses, or in some of the
          main physics courses. Please ask your supervisor or one of the PhD
          coordinators (see above) for details and help to find a slot.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                            Page 38 of 43

3.8.1   AIP Student Association
There is a meeting group at the AIP exclusively for students, called “Just
Another Science club with a K (JUST ASK)”. The group was founded in 2010
to:

   • be a platform for students to get to know each other (ALL students at
     the AIP, i.e. PhD, diploma, master and bachelor students)
   • create an encouraging, friendly atmosphere, where stupid questions don’t
     seem so stupid
   • organise talks (see below)
   • organise workshops and jamboree sessions
   • invite AIP guests and colloquium speakers to give introductory lectures
     on their field, or participate in a JUST ASK coffee session to answer
     questions from students
   • have an informal monthly round table get-together to discuss current
     problems or ongoing requirements

There will be monthly talks by current students, discussing their work. The
audience is exclusively composed of students, so it is a non-intimidating en-
vironment in which to practice giving talks and asking questions. Additional
talks can be requested, for example if you would like to practice a talk to be
given at a conference.
JUST ASK activities are announced via the wiss-aip mailing list and are tagged
with the label [students@aip]. The current student representative is Tilmann
Piffl (til@aip.de, Leibnizhaus room 1-13) and the deputy is Claudia Conrad
(cconrad@aip.de, SSH 203). The representatives have several duties, includ-
ing:

   • keeping track of the student population at the AIP
   • receiving any suggestions, ideas, comments or complaints regarding JUST
     ASK activities
   • trying to help with non-science problems

New students should drop by one of the representatives soon after they arrive
so they can be informed of JUST ASK events.



3.9     Administration
3.9.1   Salary
Most students and postdocs at the AIP (and in Germany in general) are paid
at the “TV-L” salary scale, but the exact amount you will earn depends on a
couple of things, e.g. prior work experience.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 39 of 43

          TV-L Pay Scale
           There is a useful website that will give you a good (but not
           exact!) idea of how much money you will be making on the
           TV-L salary scale at:

           • http://oeffentlicher-dienst.info/tv-l/ost/

           Fill in the following:

           • Entgeltgruppe E 13

           • Stufe 2 im Bereich L¨nder
                                 a

           • Lohnsteuerklasse 1 if you are single and have no children,
           or whichever Lohnsteuerklasse applies to you

           • click Berechnen

           It will give you an itemised list including your gross
           (Brutto) pay, various deductions, and your net (Netto)
           pay. PhD students will make approximately half this to-
           tal amount. Remember, this is only an estimate. You
           will have to wait until you receive your first pay slip to see
           exactly how much you earn each month.


3.9.2    KLR
The Kosten-Leistungs-Rechnung (KLR, costs and performance accounting) is
the AIP’s time and activity recording database, located at http://klr.aip.de.
You will be assigned a personal account for it, and you must access it at the
end of each month in order to be paid. You must record all of the following
activities that are applicable to you:
   •   the time spent on your main project
   •   time spent on vacation or sick leave
   •   time spent on other projects or public outreach
   •   publications, talks and other accomplishments of your work
The KLR interface is not very intuitive, but there is an introduction to explain
the basics, “The ABC of KLR”, which can be found in the KLR main section.
The time recording must be done at the end of each month. If you forget to fill
it in, someone from the administration will send you a reminder e-mail. If you
are away from the Institute over the end of the month, you can send an email
to Markus Randig with your time details and it will be filled in for you. The
editing of the Leistungserfassung (your accomplishments, such as published
papers and talks), is more relaxed, and does not need to be completed every
month, but does need to be filled in at the end of the year. An email is sent
out to remind you.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                             Page 40 of 43
                                                                                  Lexicon
3.9.3   Taxes
                                                                                  Lohnsteuerkarte
                                                                                      Income tax form
The Lohnsteuerkarte is coloured piece of paper that states your tax class
(which depends on your personal status: single, married, married with chil-                 a
                                                                                  Steuererkl¨rung
dren, etc.) Your employer needs it in order to pay you. You have to give                     Tax return
your Lohnsteuerkarte to the AIP administration (Herr Ingo Schiller). How-
                                                                                  Lohnsteuerhilfeverein
ever, you might not need it if you are paid through a scholarship. You can get    Tax assistance group
                                u
your Lohnsteuerkarte at the B¨rgeramt, so it is a good idea to get it at the
same time as your Anmeldung. In the proceeding years, your Lohnsteuerkarte
will be posted to you automatically.
It might be worthwhile doing a tax declaration every year, because it is likely
that you will get some taxes back. Tax programs which guide you through all
the important forms are helpful. They also send your declaration electronically
to the tax office and you can even import your declaration from the previous
years which will simplify the process significantly after you have done it once.
The programs cost about e20 but between December and March you can find
reduced special editions in supermarkets or in magazines such as Computer-
bild for e5 or less.
If you don’t feel like wading into German tax procedures, you can go to a
Lohnsteuerhilfverein, or tax assistance group. You pay a fee of about e100, you
meet with a person, show them your payslips and other bits of information, and
they do your taxes for you. The people at the Lohnsteuerhilfverein generally
only speak German, so you might need to bring a German-speaking friend
with you.

3.9.4   Forms
If you travel anywhere, for work or personal reasons, there are some forms
that you must fill out.

   • Holiday: Antrag auf Urlaub bzw. sonstige Arbeitsbefreiung
     You have to ask permission if you wish to go on holiday. Permission will
     (almost) always be given. Technically, you need to fill in the request
     form and have it approved before you book any tickets or flights. The
     form is in English and German and can be found in various locations
     (printer rooms, or post rooms, for example) around the Institute. After
     you have filled in your name, the dates you’ll be away and the address
     of where you will be going, you need to get your group head to sign the
     form. The blank asking for how many days you’ll be away is how many
     working days, not how many days in total, so exclude weekends and
                                                               o
     holidays. This form then needs to go to either Katrin G¨tz (Research
     Branch I), or Christiane Rein (Research Branch II).

   • Business Trips: Antrag auf Genehmigung einer Dienstreise
     For business trips, you need to fill in a form and have it approved be-
     fore you book any tickets, outlining your trip plan and an estimate of
     the anticipated costs. The form is in German only and can be found
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                              Page 41 of 43

     on the AIP intranet at http://intra.aip.de/verwaltung/forms.html. You
     will need to know your Kostenstelle, which you can find out from your
     supervisor/boss. This is so the administration knows which group within
     the AIP to bill for your expenses. The form needs to be put into the
     Personal und Recht/Personalabrechnung postbox next to the reception
     desk in the Schwarzschildhaus.

   • Business Travel Reimbursement: Reisekostenrechnung : f¨r Inlands-
                                                           u
     und Auslandsdienstreisen
     The form to get reimbursed for business travel is very complicated, and
     you will probably get something wrong. It is in German only and is
     usually found in the same location as the Holiday form. You can ask
     a German speaking co-worker to help you figure it out, but if you still
     have trouble, someone in the administration department will help you
     correct it. It needs to be sent to Frau Knoblauch.


3.10     Social Activities
There are several social events that occur irregularly, and can be organised by
anyone. If you would like to be informed of the social events, it would be a
good idea to subscribe to the aip-friends e-mail list. To subscribe, you need to
follow the instructions given here: http://astar.aip.de/Tips/AIP-friends. For
a list of events going on at the AIP, including social activities and holidays,
go to: astar.aip.de/Calendar/Calendar.



3.11     Internal Newcomers’ Guide Wiki
Due to legal reasons, there is some information that we are not allowed to
include in the printed version of the Guide. However, there is an internally-
accessible Newcomers’ Guide Wiki maintained on the AIP Intranet. The Wiki
can be edited by anyone with an AIP computing account. If you want to
know more specific information about one of the topics mentioned within this
Guide, you can check the Wiki. Alternatively, if you have an experience that
you think would be useful for others to know, you can add it to the Wiki. The
Wiki is located at http://astar.aip.de/Newcomers/Newcomers.


3.12     AIP official Newcomers Guide
There is an AIP “official” Guide for new employees, provided by AIP’s ad-
ministration. This guide is accessible via internal link at intra.aip.de/guide.
Amongst other information, you can find an English translation of your em-
ployment contract.
AIP Newcomers’ Guide                                             Page 42 of 43




Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all the people who took part in this project, and there
were a lot of people . . .

It took our small team almost a year to realize that we would never manage to
compile a self-consistent guide without substantial help. Iliya Nickelt had the
initial idea to publish the Newcomers’ Guide on the Institute’s Kaffeerunde
Wikipage, for which we take the opportunity to acknowledge here. We would
also like to thank Frank Breitling, who is efficiently maintaining this page:
http://astar.aip.de/Newcomers/Newcomers.
When we called for the entire Institute to contribute to the Wiki, and then
asked for individual contributions to check the information gathered, we did
not expect that so many people would engage themselves with such enthu-
siasm. Clearly, many people are willing to welcome and help new collegues
arriving at the AIP. Thank you to the people who authorised us to use sections
of existing guides they had written and published on their personal webpages.
In particular, we borrowed a lot of information from Christer Sandin.
So, in alphabetic order, many thanks to: Claudia Conrad, Aldo Dall’Aglio,
Harry Enke, Jaime Forero, Joris Gerssen, Arjen de Hoon, Sebastian Ka-
                                          e
mann, Tilmann Piffl, Kristin Riebe, Andr´ Saar, Olivier Schnurr, Gabriele
   o
Sch¨nherr, Ole Streicher, Peter Weilbacher, Steve White, Lutz Wisotzki,
and everyone else who contributed.
The first edition of this Guide was compiled and edited primarily by Isabelle
Gavignaud and Natasha Maddox in 2010.

								
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