I can’t tell you if you will lose your heart in Heidelberg, but you will most certainly lose your heart to this wonderful city. As someone who has studied there for nearly three years, I can tell you exactly what makes Heidelberg such a good destination for students, both from Germany or other parts of the world.
- Heidelberg University
The Ruprecht – Karls University in Heidelberg was founded in 1386 and is the oldest university in Germany. Whilst we don’t have elite universities like Oxford and Cambridge as in the UK, (In Germany, the quality of teaching depends on the course and is different from university to university), Heidelberg University is known for its excellency in teaching medical courses and for its outstanding research in science and medicine.
Heidelberg is a student city, a quarter of its population being students. Departments and faculties are spread over the “Altstadt”, the old central part of town, (mostly Arts and Humanities) and the science complex called the “Neuenheimer Feld”, which is 20 min away from the city centre. Most courses are in German, however, Heidelberg University also offers a range of Master’s programmes in English.
- International community
Coming back from my year abroad in England, I moved into the “Europahaus”, a student accommodation where half of the students are international students. My flatmates are nearly all international students and I was hence introduced to the world of ERASMUS students in Heidelberg. Living in the city centre made it easy to go out almost every night and explore what Heidelberg has to offer for international students. Heidelberg has students from all over the world and actively promotes cultural interaction by organising events and language exchange.
Head to Gunnars, a pub and the meeting point for international students where ERASMUS parties are held and where they have a piano on which you can show off your piano skills.
Students’ parties in Heidelberg are legendary, the biggest one being the “MathPhysTheo” party, which is organised by the Maths, Physics and Theology students’ committees. There are tons of traditional pubs in the “Untere Straße”, the famous lower street. And especially if you live in student halls or house share, you will hardly be able to avoid house parties.
There are numerous student events. Language exchange, Christmas baking, concerts, flea markets, film screening, just to name a few.
A famous festival is the “Heidelberger Herbst” where you can expect food and music throughout three days.
Don’t miss climbing up to the “Thingstätte”, situated on a hill, to celebrate the 1st May.
One thing that you have to see at least once is the “Schlossbeleuchtung” when the Heidelberg Castle is lit and a fantastic firework illuminates the sky.
My personal favourite: The classical concerts that take place fortnightly in the “Alte Aula” and that are free for students from 7 pm!
You probably think that a canteen is nothing special, but our’s is! There are three of them, the “Triplex Mensa”, the one in Neuenheimer Feld and the “Marstall mensa”, which is the student’s favourite, and has been voted the best university canteen in Germany.
- Societies and Sports
We have a knitting society, university orchestra, choirs, theatre groups and a vast sports program.
- The library
The library is huge. I still get lost in it. It has enough places to study and read, except for when exams are approaching. Furthermore, HEIDI, as we call our university catalogue, offers online resources and access to online magazines that you normally would have to pay for. But as a student, it’s free!
- Neckar and Neckarwiese
Heidelberg is located on the river Neckar. People will use the Neckarwiese (the meadow) to have a picnic in summer, relax or play volleyball. It is also ideal to practice martial arts, have a barbeque or fool around with your friends.
Students will not get bored on weekends. Although you might want to avoid the “Hauptstraße” in the summer when it is packed with tourists.
Heidelberg castle is the main attraction and although it is magnificent, there is a castle just as beautiful with a stunning garden near Heidelberg that not many people know about: Schloss Schwetzingen. When you are in Heidelberg, try not to miss the “Studentenkarzer”, the student prison and the poems and love vows that students have scribbled onto the walls hundreds of years ago. Heidelberg also has many museums, shops, traditional pubs and cute cafés.
- Try walking along the “Philosophenweg”. The forests and hills are characteristic for Heidelberg and will delight nature fans.
I met incredible people while studying at Heidelberg University and nearly every corner of the city is linked to a happy memory. Why don’t you come and see for yourself!