Life in the Südniedersachsen region

All important steps have been taken, now it is time to get to know the characteristics of life in Germany and the region better. Here you will find valuable Information.

Prior to arrival | Getting started | Life in the Südniedersachsen region

Public Holidays

The German Unity Day on 3 October is the only public holiday designated as a national holiday by the federal government All other public holidays are determined by the individual federal states. There are eight public holidays that apply in all 16 federal states.  In Lower Saxony, Reformation Day is also a public holiday.  Here you will find a list of all public holidays in Lower Saxony:

Public Holidays in Lower Saxony :

Medical Care

We hope that you remain safe and sound during your stay in Göttingen.

In case of an emergency, further information can be found in the “Wegweiser “Gesundheit für alle” (Guidepost – Health for All) by Ethno-Mediznisches Zentrum e.V. and our Medical Care and Emergencies brochure.

Waste Separation and Disposal

Waste separation is an important topic in Germany for environmental reasons. Household waste must be sorted to be recycled. There are various waste garbage cans available for this purpose. Depending on your place of residence, various types of waste are also placed in front of the house and collected on collection dates. The dates for waste collection and more detailed information on waste separation can be found on the waste schedule of your place of residence. You can obtain the schedule online from the local waste disposal companies or from your district or town council.

  • “Yellow bag” or “Gelber Sack“: Light packaging made of plastic, aluminium, tin or composite materials bearing the symbol “Der Grüne Punkt”.
  • Used glass: Empty non-returnable glass bottles and jars are taken to the glass recycling receptacles and sorted into white, green and brown glass. Bottle banks can be found at central collection points, e.g. near supermarkets. In some places, glass is collected directly at your place of residence. The following materials do not belong in the waste glass: Ceramics, porcelain, stoneware, light bulbs, drinking glasses or fl at glass (e.g. window panes or mirrors). Use of the glass bins should be avoided during quiet hours.
  • Waste paper: Any clean paper products, including packaging material made of paper and cardboard. For paper waste, there is often a blue bin available at your property, which is emptied at regular intervals. In some places, the paper material is simply bundled and placed on the street for collection on collection dates.
  • Organic waste: Organic waste such as food waste, potted plants, potato peels, tea bags etc. as well as garden waste such as fallen branches, leaves, grass, and shrub cuttings. Organic waste is disposed of in the green bin.
  • Residual waste: Residual waste is defined as all types of waste that do not belong to one of the mentioned groups. Residual waste is disposed of in the black bin.
  • Deposit bottles: Returnable bottles (Mehrwegflaschen) are marked with a logo to distinguish them from disposable bottles. When you buy a returnable bottle, you pay a deposit. If you return the bottle afterwards, you will get your deposit back. Most supermarkets have deposit machines where you can return the bottles.
  • Electricial appliances: Under no circumstances should you dispose of any devices with cables, rechargeable or disposable batteries with your household waste. Either turn them in at an electrical store or take them to the recycling centre. This also applies to energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • Bulky waste and large household appliances: Bulky waste is defined as waste from private households that does not fit into the residual waste bin due to its bulkiness or weight. The collection of large household appliances such as refrigerators can be ordered with the bulk waste card of your municipality or directly online.

Handshake or a hug? Addressing formally or informally?

In Germany shaking hands is common for people with whom you are well acquainted, or for colleagues. Within the family and among friends, you can hug or kiss cheeks. Common greetings are “Guten Morgen” (morning), “Guten Tag” (daytime) and “Guten Abend” (evening). In Northern Germany many people say “Moin” at any time of the day.

The German language knows the informal speech “Du” and the formal speech “Sie”. “Du” is used for people who you know well or who have offered you to address them informally. Otherwise, the formal address “Sie” is used, for example with strangers, persons in a position of authority or business partners. Among young people and in many work contexts, people use “Du”. Children are always addressed as “Du”. If you are unsure at the beginning and sometimes confuse “Du” and “Sie”: Don’t worry, no one will make a fuss.

Tipping & Going Out

Tipping is common in many countries – yet the subtle cultural differences can easily lead to uncertainty, especially among newcomers. When you request the bill in a German restaurant, you usually pay it directly to the service staff. If you are unsure how much to tip, estimate the cost before asking for the bill (“Die Rechnung bitte”). In restaurants and bars, a tip of 5-10% is suggested. When paying, tell them exactly how much you wish to pay, including the amount of the tip. If you do not expect change back, and want them to keep the change as a tip, just say “Stimmt so”. Especially in bars, you will often be asked whether you want to pay “separately or together”. Paying separately is also quite common among friends and is not an expression of distance. For taxi rides, a tip of 5-10% is customary. Many taxi drivers only accept cash.

What About Gifts and Shoes?

Gifts from guests are welcome – whether for a dinner invitation or a house party. Usually, you should ask the host if you can contribute something to the evening. Nevertheless, if the host denies, it is advisable not to come empty-handed but to bring a bottle of wine, for example.

It is also customary to take off one’s shoes before entering the flat. If in doubt, ask directly if you can leave your shoes on or if you should take them off. Some hosts even have a pair of slippers ready. Before eating together, it is customary to wish each other “Guten Appetit”.


If you are staying and working in Germany for a while, you will need a German bank account to receive your salary or scholarship payments. Also, regular monthly expenses such as rent and electricity are usually debited directly from a local bank account.

There are direct banks (online only) and retail bank branches (physical banks). You can find more information on banks and finances in Germany in the Welcome Guide Region.

Most banks are open from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm on weekdays. ATMs are usually available around the clock.


Full Battery?

Like most countries in continental Europe, Germany uses grounded plug type F sockets. These are usually compatible with plug types E and C (not grounded) and are operated at a voltage of 230V. You can buy adapters locally in electrics stores and at airports.


National Sports Football?

Football is very popular in Germany: more than seven million Germans are organised in one of the 24,000 football clubs. While men’s football still gets most media and social attention, women’s football is also gaining in importance. Other German sports associations also have many members: the German Gymnastics Federation (5 million), the German Tennis Federation (1.4 million) or the German Alpine Club (1.4 million).

Of course, the availability of various sports and its popularity in the region goes hand in hand with the success of the sports clubs, local facilities and geographical conditions. The University sport club Göttingen (Hochschulsport) offers a wide range of different sports. Water sports fans can take advantage of the Northeim Lakes and the Northeim Sailing Club, and hikers will find good views and hiking trails in the nearby Harz Mountains. Our staff will be happy to help you find suitable sports facilities.

Picture credits: Christian Reinhard

Public Smoking

Smoking is prohibited in many public places, such as schools, daycare centres, youth and sports facilities, universities, restaurants, railway stations and public institutions. However, there are specially designated smoking areas where smoking is permitted. This applies to the whole of Germany.