Living in Berlin?
Berlin: International Schools & Transport
Getting an Education in Berlin
As each federal state of Germany is responsible for its own education system, schools in Berlin may differ from those in other German cities. Children must attend school until grade ten. Around grade five, they are tested to see whether they are able to attend the Gymnasium, a type of secondary school with a very academic focus. The Gymnasium will continue on to grade twelve when students graduate with the Abitur (German high-school diploma).
Students who do not qualify for the Gymnasium will attend the Integrierte Sekundarschule. Following the Integrierte Sekundarschule, they can attend a Berufliches Gymnasium. Some Sekundarschulen also offer the Abitur, which is mandatory for studying at university.
With the pilot project of the so-called Gemeinschaftsschule, another type of school is currently in the testing phase. Covering pupils’ education from first grade onward, this type of school gives its students the opportunity to stay at just the one institution of education up until they take the Abitur exam.
For more on education in Germany, just have a look at our extensive guides to Family, Children and Education in Germany, for instance:
A Multicultural Education: International Schools
As Berlin is host to numerous embassies, there are many diplomats living in the city who send their children to private international schools; this is also an option if you would rather your children receive a multicultural education. The John F. Kennedy School in Zehlendorf is an option for, primarily, German and US American children It offers a free bicultural and bilingual education from kindergarten through to high school.
The French Gymnasium in Berlin — founded in 1689 — is one of the oldest international schools in Germany. It offers bilingual studies in French and German. Both the Berlin International School and the Berlin British School are also well-known and quite popular among expats and diplomat families.
There is limited admission and international schools may be quite expensive, so be sure to check the individual websites for more details.
Various Means of Transport in the City
Driving in Berlin can be stressful, and parking is rather difficult to come by. There are several large parking garages in Berlin, but these are often very expensive and tend to fill up fast. Most Berliner rely on public transportation to get them where they want to go.
Berlin has a very high-end public transportation system, with one of the largest underground and suburban rail networks in Germany. The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) manages buses, streetcars, underground lines, and suburban trains. The BVG attaches great importance to environmental awareness and has tested different methods for energy-efficient vehicles. Its buses, for example, are run on hydrogen motors to keep the Berlin air clean.
The BVG covers the entire metropolitan Berlin area, from Reinickendorf in the northwest to Treptow-Köpenick in the southeast, with suburban trains (the S-Bahn). Although locals like grumbling about late trains and understaffed lines, the Greater Berlin Area couldn’t do without its S-Bahn. Buses, streetcars and the underground (the U-Bahn) can easily get you from one corner of downtown Berlin to the other.
Getting In Some Exercise: Cycling
Berlin has a highly developed network of bike lanes, which are not only safe, but fairly quick, too. Locals save time and stress while exercising when riding through the city on their bikes. There are currently more cycle lanes under construction to ensure safe connections between all Berlin destinations for the many cyclists in the city.
There are also many bike rental stations (city bikes) throughout the city offering rates from just half an hour to a whole day. So if you need to get from A to B quickly and do not want to deal with traffic or the underground, you can hop on a bike for a small fee and leave it at the next bike station 30 minutes later!
If you are thinking about traveling within Germany, our in-depth section on Transport and Driving could be of interest to you.
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