Joining a Verein can be a great opportunity to get to know locals and as well as become good at a sport of your choice. By seeing the same people on a regular basis, it can help you establish your first group of German friends.
Definition of “Verein”
“Verein” is the official term for regular meetings of a defined group of people for a predefined activity. That means that sport clubs, book clubs, music clubs and general clubs for all kinds of hobbies are, by definition, a “Verein”; thus there can be all kinds of Vereine appearing in your search results.
Why joining a Verein is a good idea
When studying in Germany, you may notice German Universities don’t offer many activities at the likes of sports activities, cultural courses or social projects. In contrast to for example U.S. American universities, German schools have one aim: to provide you with the best academic education possible. This focus might increase the quality of your studies, but everything else that contributes to the personal growth of a person is left aside.
In order to compensate the poor offer of sports and cultural activities, being part of a Verein is the best option to fill that void. As described before, a Verein normally consists of regular meetings of the members to focus on their one hobby like the playing of a certain musical instrument or sport, education of a language and much more.
In Germany, creating friendships is best done by meeting the same group of people again and again. Fitting in is easier when brought together by a certain hobby that everybody enjoys. You will not have any problems finding something to talk about because having common ground with the strangers you will meet at a Verein will help you gain trust within the group. Oftentimes, the meetings take place in the early evening and are followed by going out to a nearby bar or restaurant. This happens especially if the meeting takes place at the end of the week.
While most Vereine meet sometime between Monday and Friday, the weekends are usually reserved for either expositions, performances or game days in case of a sports club. Naturally, there won’t be activities every weekend. Sport clubs especially have seasons with regular games on weekends and off-seasons without regular weekend meetings.
By joining a Verein, you do not only get to know people from only your Verein. The exposure to the public on games or expositions will quickly help you to get to know other Vereine and the city.
Prices and how to find a Verein
Memberships and costs for Vereine are different for each club. However, most of the clubs don’t take the official membership too serious, and most of the time you can visit these clubs several times before becoming an official member. A good time to ask for the membership is between two and three weeks after your first visit.
The average membership fee for a sports club in Germany for adults is 15,50€/month with many sports having lower membership fees.
If you want to join a Verein, the first step is to look for a homepage. A good way to find a Verein is to search for “[German name of the sport] Verein [name of your city]”, e.g. “Fußball Verein Berlin” will show you results for soccer clubs in Berlin.
Virtually all Vereine own a homepage, but the quality of the information differs greatly since most homepages of Vereine are volunteer work. At minimum, a homepage will tell you when and where the club is meeting. In the great majority, you can go to any meeting. If the club is competing at a higher level, there will be different kinds of meetings to accommodate all members with a different skill level in the respective area. If there are different meetings, look for “Offenes Training” or “Freies Training” which translates roughly to “open training”, meaning that new entrants are welcome at these times.
If you can’t seem to find a website, there are two more ways to find your future club. First, you can use search engines created especially for Vereine in Germany like https://www.vereinsland.de/ or http://vereinsverzeichnis.de/. In case you still don’t find any result, your best shot is at asking locals such as employees at your work place or university.
Another option to get in contact with the Verein is to give them a call or send them an e-mail. We wrote a short e-mail example in German with the explanation of what needs to be filled in from your side to start the contact with the Verein.
Example e-mail to Verein:
Liebe Mitglieder des ___ [insert official name of Verein] ___,
mein Name ist ___ [insert your name] __, ich bin ___[insert age in years] ___ Jahre alt und komme aus ___ [insert your home country] ____.
Ich habe Euren Verein gefunden und würde gerne wissen, wie ich beitreten kann.
Generally, most Vereine welcome new members with open arms. In the recent years, the number of Germans who are members of a Verein have diminished and so Vereine are looking actively for new people interested in taking part in their club.
Written by Manuel Eckarth