Ruhr West students in Mülheim and Bottrop have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to finding a place to live. As a general rule, students either live in halls of residence or in private accommodation.
Student halls of residence
Ruhr West, like other German universities, does not have any on-campus residence halls or dormitories of its own. But there are numerous off-campus student halls of residence available in Mülheim and nearby Essen and Duisburg. These are managed by Studierendenwerk Essen-Duisburg, an independent student services organisation that also operates the university’s dining halls and cafeterias. Studierendenwerk currently provides nearly 2,500 furnished rooms in shared and single apartments. Rates vary between €220 and €400 per month and include furniture, high-speed Internet access, television and all utility costs, such as water and electricity.
Living in one of these subsidised residence halls is often the least expensive option available, but to secure a space, students have to apply well in advance. Applications must be submitted online via the Studierendenwerk website (http://studentenwerk.essen-duisburg.de/wohnen/), which is available in English and German. Rental agreements are generally made for one year or one semester.
Private accommodation and flat shares
The majority of Ruhr West students live in private flats, which are nearly as inexpensive as residence halls because of the affordable rents in the Ruhr region. You may find anything from empty rooms to fully furnished flats, sometimes sublet by other students going abroad for a semester or two. In addition, there are a number of commercial agencies to help you find housing and rooms, though some of them may charge a fee for their services.
Flat shares, or WGs (Wohngemeinschaften) as they are known in Germany, are especially popular among students. In a flat share, several people live together, each with their own bedroom, and share the kitchen and the bathroom. Besides being relatively inexpensive, living in a flat share makes it easier for international students to meet Germans and learn the language. Flat shares and other private housing options are typically advertised online and in local newspapers and magazines.
In Germany, the most popular place for university students and staff to have lunch (the main meal) is the on-campus dining hall known as the ‘Mensa’ (the Latin word for table), where the food is affordable and varied. Each of Ruhr West’s brand new campus facilities in Mülheim and Bottrop features a welcoming dining area serving a choice of two different dishes every day, including one vegetarian meal, plus a selection of soft drinks, salads and desserts. These subsidised meals cost between 1.50 and 6 euros.
Germany is known for having one of the best health care systems in the world. A broad range of hospitals, medical practices and institutions guarantees low-cost medical care for everybody under Germany’s national social security scheme. Ruhr West, like most German universities, does not offer any on-campus health care services of its own, but the University Hospital in nearby Essen and a dense network of other hospitals, general practitioners and specialists are there to serve the health care needs of the local population.
As an international student, you will be treated on the same basis as a German resident, provided you have sufficient health insurance coverage. If you decide to take out a health insurance policy with a public German insurance provider, most types of medical and dental treatments will be covered for a low monthly fee of about 80 euros. This means you don’t have to pay anything for treatment when seeing a doctor or dentist. By contrast, if you decide to take out private health insurance, either in your home country or in Germany, you will need to pay your medical bills in advance and later file for reimbursement with your insurance provider.
Should you become seriously ill and require treatment at a hospital, the hospital will contact your public or private insurance provider to confirm that your treatment costs will be met. With public German insurance providers, this will generally be the case, especially in emergencies. You will have to pay a fixed charge of €10 per day for a maximum of 28 days in a year. This is non-refundable in Germany, but you may be able to seek reimbursement from your private insurance provider at home.
Medicines and bandages prescribed by a doctor or dentist can be obtained in any pharmacy in exchange for the prescription. You will have to pay 10 per cent of the cost subject to a minimum charge of €5 and a maximum charge of €10. These costs are not refundable. For minor drugs and medicines, such as painkillers and cough mixtures, you may be charged the full amount. Note that the sale of medication is strictly regulated in Germany: some drugs that you may be able to buy over the counter in your home country, such as antibiotics, may only be prescribed by doctors here.
As a young and growing university, Ruhr West currently concentrates on building strong academic programmes rather than offering a comprehensive sports programme. We do believe, however, that doing sports and keeping fit provides an important balance to academic work.
That is why we created a partnership with the nearby University of Duisburg-Essen, giving Ruhr West students and staff the opportunity to participate in more than 350 sports courses offered by Duisburg-Essen’s University Sports Centre each year. The cities of Duisburg and Essen are only a few minutes away by local train.
In addition to the more traditional sports, the centre’s offerings include courses in futsal (a Latin American version of indoor football), kayaking, rock climbing (indoor and outdoor), trampolining, Wing Chun (an early-nineteenth-century Chinese martial art) or Zumba (a Latin American dance fitness programme). All registered Ruhr West students are very welcome to attend.
Courses such as running, table tennis, basketball, volleyball and slackline are provided free of charge, whereas others may involve a small fee. Moreover, the University Sports Club (USC) runs its own fitness clubs at both campus locations in Duisburg and Essen, featuring trained staff to provide professional guidance and support. Membership is open to anybody interested in a good workout.
Germany’s largest urban area and one of the world’s foremost industrial regions, the Ruhr region (Ruhrgebiet) covers an area of some 5,000 square kilometres and has a population of about 5 million. Named after the river running along its southern edge, the Ruhr region consists of 53 interlinked towns and cities. Long known primarily for its history of coal mining in the 19th and 20th centuries, the region’s main economic strength today lies in the wide variety of medium-sized enterprises, some of which are world leaders in their fields.
After the demise of the coal and steel industry, new employment has been found for many of those affected by the closure of pits and rolling mills, while many of the former steelworks and mines have been reinvented as parkland, design centres, art galleries or museums, which have become popular tourist attractions. As part of these efforts, the Ruhr region was named the European Capital of Culture in 2010. Moreover, the Ruhr valley today is a surprisingly green area, providing many opportunities for outdoor recreation. In fact, Mülheim and Bottrop are among the greenest cities in the Ruhr region.
Getting from Mülheim and Bottrop to the nearby cities of Essen, Duisburg, Dortmund, Düsseldorf or Bochum is easy, because all cities are well-connected by local and regional trains, which Ruhr West students can ride for a small fee. Aside from a diverse array of bars, clubs, restaurants, cinemas and shopping opportunities, some major attractions include the Museum Folkwang in Essen (one of Germany’s most important collections of 19th and 20th-century art) or Bochum’s famous Schauspielhaus theatre. The Ruhr is also an important footballing region, with teams like Gelsenkirchen’s Schalke and Borussia Dortmund numbered among Germany’s most successful.
Closer to campus, there are lots of exciting things to do in Mülheim and Bottrop as well. The ‘Alpincenter’ in Bottrop, for example, feature’s the world’s largest indoor skiing slope, open year round. Right next to it is the highest wind turbine in Europe, a great venue for skydiving. Movie Park Germany, also in Bottrop, is an amusement park based on film themes.
Students in Mülheim like to head out to Freilichtbühne Mülheim, an idyllic park with an outdoor stage featuring open air performances from May through September. Another popular park is Mülheims Garten an der Ruhr (MüGa) – a landscaped garden, home to the world’s largest walk-in camera obscura and ‘Ringlokschuppen’, a former railway depot and now a popular location for live concerts, exhibitions and other events. The intimate, 80-seat ‘Rio’ cinema is known well beyond Mülheim as an excellent venue for independent films.