Information for Newcomers
The Welcome Page of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science has been designed as an information portal for new and existing scholars at the Institute. It is intended to help scholars to get settled into the Institute, Berlin/Germany, and passes on firsthand advice from current and former guests. Access is restricted to the Institute’s members, and future scholars who hold a contract or formal letter of invitation. Please contact your Department/Research Group secretary for access details.
Who Can I Speak to about General Issues?
The Main Contact section provides a list of contacts. You'll find that you liaise mostly with the secretaries of your Department/Research Group, along with the Welcome Office (visas, accommodation, schools), Travel Office (arranging travel to Berlin), and Personnel (contracts, pensions, etc.). During your stay you will likely also find yourself speaking to the post room, housekeeping, communications team, and librarians.
What Should I Do before Coming to Germany/Berlin?
You'll notice that the main navigation of this website has a "Before Arrival" section where you can quickly access all of the information relevant to preparing for your stay. Once you have received your invitation from your Department/Research Group, the secretaries and personnel staff will be in contact regarding your contract and can assist with your move. One of your first tasks will be to arrange health insurance and organize travel and apply for your visa (if applicable). Ensure you retain receipts to claim back travel expenses.
You'll also need to find accommodation—the Institute's Welcome Office is happy to assist. The Institute has a small number of apartments on site, but other options used by past and current scholars have included private accommodation, the IBZ academic apartments, and Humboldt University guesthouses. Accommodation can be difficult to find in Berlin, so we recommend starting your search well in advance. If you're not sure where in Berlin you want to live, information on life in the different districts can be found in the Guide to Berlin section of the Welcome Page.
Those of you with children should consider planning childcare, kindergarten, or schooling in advance of your arrival, since places can be limited. We have placed links to information on a single Family Page to help you navigate all of your tasks for before and during your stay.
Do I Have to Bring My Computer and Books with Me?
You may bring your computer, but you do not have to—scholars are provided with one, usually a Macbook, upon arrival. You will also have an MPIWG email address (active shortly prior to your arrival, until four weeks after you leave the Institute), a profile on the Institute's website, and access to IT Support during your stay. If you have any specific needs or queries in advance, please contact the IT Support team who will be happy to advise you.
The majority of newcomers leave their books at home, since all scholars are permitted access to the Institute's Library, and also have access to our interlibrary loan system. You will be invited (via your MPIWG email account) to attend the official library introduction, held on the second Thursday of each month, in order to sign up to the full library privileges and make the best use of the resources. Once you have accepted a place at the Institute, you can also email the library to request interlibrary loans in advance of your arrival.
Do I Need Health Insurance?
Yes! You and all family members traveling with you will need adequate health insurance for the duration of your stay in Germany. Health insurance must cover medical treatment for acute illness and accidents in Germany, as well as return travel to your home country should this be medically necessary. Read more on the Health Insurance page.
How Do I Arrange Childcare/School/Child Benefit?
We recommend that you plan childcare or schooling in advance of your arrival in Berlin—read here for information on babysitters, kindergarten, and schools. Upon arrival in Germany you can also apply for child benefit. At the Institute you will also have access to playrooms, and nearby playgrounds. Some recommendations on schools in Berlin can be found here.
The Institute also has an Equal Opportunities policy in place with an emphasis on working and parenting, with a Gender Equality Officer and her deputies responsible for maintaining the policy and advising scholars.
How and When Will I Be Paid?
Scholars must sign a document upon arrival that specifies his/her relation with the Institute. If your contract implies payment, you must set an appointment with personnel staff to sign the contract and provide bank details—read more on the First Tasks Checklist of the Welcome Website. Payment is backdated each month, so we recommend that you bring enough to cover the first month of your stay in Berlin.
When Do I Get the Key to My Office/Apartment?
You will receive a building keycard and door key upon arrival. Read more about building access on the First Tasks Checklist of the Welcome Website.