Germany attracts seriously cerebral and adventurous students from all over the world. German cities are a magnet for young folk - from scientists to classical musicians to urban hipsters in search of creative nirvana.
The expat syndrome
I can personally attest to their appeal, given that I spent a big chunk of my young adult life in Germany. After a year on a Fulbright journalism grant in Hamburg I earned a master's degree in European Studies in Bonn and subsequently worked in Frankfurt as an editor on a now-defunct, daily English-language edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
Somehow the ONE year I planned to spend in Hamburg at age 26 snowballed into FIVE YEARS in Germany - a typical expat story.
Where do I begin ... ?
There are MANY reasons to enjoy life as a young person in Germany, from convenient modes of transport to world-class museums to multicultural gastronomic delights - eating a Currywurst or Döner Kebap at 3 a.m. in Hamburg after a night out on the town; hanging out with colleagues at outdoor evening summertime festivals in the heart of Frankfurt; lingering in a beer garden as the sun sets over the Rhine River in beautiful Bonn.
There literally is too much to say about just how much fun student/young professional life in Germany can be.
Here's an attempt at a "TOP TEN" shortlist of sorts:
- 1. Internationally educated, multilingual faculty based at excellent teaching facilities located in the centers of major cities and charming towns
- 2. Affordable student housing (dorms or WG's/"Wohngemeinschaften")
- 3. Forging new friendships for life
- 4. Affordable healthcare (student discounts)
- 5. Affordable public transport (ditto)
- 6. Affordable cultural activities (ditto)
- 7. Affordable rail travel (Deutsche Bahn)
- 8. History meets modernity all around you (art, architecture, gastronomy, etc.)
- 9. Located at the heart of Europe, low crime rates, safe hostels/hotels (great for travel!)
- 10. Great, safe nightlife (public transit via night buses, etc.) + romantic possibilities with hot people from across Europe (optional)
Show me the ways
Basically life as a footloose and fancy free young global citizen in Germany can be pretty awesome. If you chose to live life to the fullest in Germany - at any age, really - there literally never is a dull moment. It's like a kind of sensory overload every single day, depending on what strikes your fancy - art, architecture, history, science, commerce, conversation, politics, trade fairs, gastronomy, nature, travel, cycling, hiking, swimming, wellness, shopping, festivals, concerts, theater, nightlife, and so on and so on.
Berlin and Munich earn top marks as student cities
But don't just take my word for it: Two German cities - Berlin and Munich - have made it into the top 20 in the first ever global "QS Best Student Cities" roster, which was based on factors including university rankings, student mix, affordability, quality of life, and employer activity (see the top headline in this edition of The Week in Germany for more information).
Both Berlin and Munich are among the brightest jewels in the crown of Germany's truly diverse and endlessly appealing urban landscape - a legacy of a long history of independent regions that only banded together formally as modern Germany in 1871.
What are you waiting for ... ?
As a lifelong urbanite and former resident of Germany, I would advise anyone considering moving to ANY major German city to do so in a heartbeat.
By Karen Carstens
Editor, The Week in Germany