Maymester – Essential Travel Information

Booking Your Travel

  • You should book a multi-city itinerary, as opposed to roundtrip.
  • You will fly into Frankfurt/Main International Airport (FRA is the airport code; DO NOT book Frankfurt/Hahn. It is very far away.).
  • You should leave from Berlin-Tegel (TXL) unless you plan on staying in Germany/Europe to go elsewhere after the program ends.

General Packing Considerations, Tech, & Laundry

  • The Akademie and hotel will provide hairdryers, basic shampoo and shower gel, as well as towels and linens. You can buy inexpensive toiletries at the Rossmann store near the Akademie if you forget something.
  • Bring a USB flash drive.
  • Bring a laptop. If you don’t have one, bring a mobile tablet. There is no computer lab at the Akademie, and the hotel charges for use of its Business Center. You will need a device for class, for accessing readings, and for completing assignments.
  • Bring at least one electric outlet adapter for use in Europe. It will be impossible to buy one in Otzenhausen, so make sure you you buy it in the States. An example of such an adapter can be found here from Amazon.
  • Laundry: The Akademie has one washing machine and one dryer. These are a bit smaller than standard U.S. appliances. You can use them free of charge, and detergent is provided. You should plan ahead because the machines may not be available when you want them. Pack smart.
  • Bring a sturdy wallet, ideally with a zip-up pocket (rationale: it is easy to lose crucial documents; for instance; one student on the program lost his train ticket because he didn’t properly stow it away; train ticket replacement cost will be over $100).
  • Do not travel with large luggage. A good rule of thumb: you should be able to walk with your luggage for a mile in hot weather, and you should be able to lift it over your head. While this may not be necessary, you will be responsible for schlepping your own stuff. In other words: PACK LIGHT, lighter than you think you’ll need.

Packing Suggestions

  • One pair of shorts and two pairs of pants
  • Several T-shirts or casual polo-type shirts
  • A light to medium jacket (ideally waterproof)
  • Sweater or hoodie
  • A pair of very sturdy walking shoes and/or sneakers
  • Underwear and socks for up to 2 weeks
  • Umbrella
  • Sunscreen
  • US-Europe electrical outlet adapter (3-prong) like this
  • Prescription medication if needed; bring a copy of the prescription with you
  • Small backpack or waist pack for excursions
  • Refillable water bottle.

Getting There

  • Arrival in Frankfurt: the group will meet at the specified time at the official meeting point (prominently labeled “Meeting Point” in English) in Terminal 1. (NOT the meeting point in Terminal 2).
  • We will travel together from FRA to the Akademie in Otzenhausen.
  • The program directors will collect your flight information before you leave for Germany. They will try to monitor flights in case of delays. If the delay is too long, you may be responsible for finding your own way to the Akademie Otzenhasuen.
  • You should contact the program directors and/or the Akademie Otzenhasuen as soon as you can if any delay occurs. Make sure you have all relevant contact and travel information with you (in your carry-on luggage.) If you plan to come to the Akademie directly (possible, but not recommended), you have to let both program directors know well in advance.

Program Rules and Regulations

  • Once the program begins, stay informed and mindful. Always know our next destination and meeting point in case you get lost.
  • Make sure you have the program directors’ and other important phone numbers and contact information with you at all times.
  • Make sure you have your passport securely with you during trips and transfers. Make copies and/or scans of your passport before you leave the U.S. This would help you get a temporary passport if you were to lose yours.
  • If the program directors give you an event ticket, museum or site entrance, or transportation ticket, and you lose it, you will be required to pay for your own replacement ticket.
  • If the Akademie or the hotel charges you for damage to a room or other property, you will have to pay all of that amount out of your own pocket and will be subject to being sent home.
  • If you engage in behavior that endangers you or other students, or jeopardizes our relationship with our hosts, you will be sent home immediately. This includes excessive noise or disturbing hotel guests (Berlin) or any participants or directors from non-Rhodes programs (Otzenhausen).
  • Attendees will be old enough to drink alcoholic beverages in Germany. However, students are still subject to all Rhodes conduct codes and social regulations. Irresponsible behavior, especially regarding alcohol use, will result in student getting sent home.
  • If you go out in the evening in Berlin, you must always stay in groups or pairs.
  • You are expected to bring a Wi-Fi-capable laptop or tablet.
  • Phone use: Please check your options early. Some carriers include international roaming or offer such plans for a surcharge.
  • Limit your daily mobile phone use. Study abroad is about experiencing new things. You can tell others about it later.
  • We use a group messaging service (currently: GroupMe) to send important program and schedule updates and travel information during the program. While there are lots of Wi-Fi hotspots in Germany, free Wi-Fi is not nearly as common in Germany as it is in the U.S.
  • Always be punctual. Failing to show up at the specified meeting point could make the group delay a trip. Or you might have to make your own travel reservations (and pay for them). Trains and city buses wait for no one in Germany. Ever.
  • You are ultimately responsible for your own documents, travel, and ability to follow instructions.
  • If you get lost, it is your responsibility to contact the program directors immediately.
  • While we are on organized tours, do not leave the tour group.
  • Situations may arise during travel that cause sudden changes to travel plans. Students are responsible not only to listen to instructions and remain alert, but also to acknowledge that they are ultimately responsible to reach the destination independently if necessary.
  • Follow all instructions given by directors. Failure to do so, especially regarding matters of safety or behavior, could result in student being sent home.

German Cultural Conventions

  • You may find some cultural differences difficult to understand. For instance: beverages we usually serve cold are often not cold, ice cubes are not widely available, water is often carbonated, some public bathrooms may cost up to 1 Euro to use, etc. It is not your place to judge these differences.
  • Part of world travel and study abroad is to learn to accept these new experiences and cultural differences without grievance or whining.
  • Tap water is not available in German restaurants. If you wish to have a beverage you will have to purchase one. Bringing drinks from outside is not allowed.
  • Tap water in Germany is safe to drink. The Akademie only sells carbonated water. You can purchase non-carbonated water and other beverages at the grocery stores near the Akademie. Bottled beverages will generally include a deposit fee; you can return your bottles to the store for store credit.
  • Do not put your feet on seats or tables. This is not acceptable in Germany and especially includes coffee tables  and any tables found on trains and lobbies or waiting areas. A stranger is likely to reprimand you in no uncertain terms if you put your feet where they don’t belong.
  • On trains or other public transit, do not prop your feet on the seat opposite you. Again, you will likely be reprimanded by strangers if you do.
  • Do not be loud in public or call attention to yourself. This is considered rude and highly inappropriate in Germany. Adult behavior is expected.
  • Do not limit yourself to familiar restaurants or dishes. The point of being abroad is to experience new perspectives on everyday life, and this includes food and drink.

Other items you may wish to bring:

  • Over-the-counter medicine for common ailments, such as headaches, sinus issues, allergies, and the common cold. While pharmacies are available, it may be difficult to purchase medicine on holidays, during travel, and when things get hectic. If you do get sick, please let the program directors know.
  • Bring sunscreen or buy it upon arrival. Inexpensive sunscreen can be purchased at the Rossmann drugstore in Otzenhausen.
  • Bring an umbrella and/or raincoat/poncho. Inexpensive umbrellas can also be purchased at Rossmann in Otzenhausen.
  • Inform yourself about tick-bourne diseases before traveling to Germany. Purchase a tick spray (Zeckenspray – inexpensive, available in stores in Otzenhausen and Berlin) and check for tick bites in the evening, especially after visits in forests and nature.

Opening and Closing Hours

  • Out of respect for workers and their families, almost all businesses are closed on Sundays and on religious or federal holidays, of which there are several in May and June.
  • Exceptions to this are gas station convenience stores and any stores housed inside a train station. They are open every day.
  • 24-hour businesses are almost nonexistent in Germany.