Braunschweig: Where the Middle Ages and modernity intermingle

Braunschweig is full of contrasts. You will find medieval churches nestled among the modern shops. The beautiful parks brighten up the grey buildings of the Technische Universität (TU), Germany’s oldest technical college. Braunschweig is a city with many different facets and a unique charm.

by Sandra Friedrichs

View of the Brunswick Castle, which is a shopping center that many students enjoy using. © Friedrichs/DAAD
Castle . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
322 €
Watch "Tatort", a popular German crime series, on a huge screen at C1 Cinema!

Welcome to Braunschweig

The residents of Braunschweig are proud of their city. With its medieval-style downtown, it is widely regarded as one of the prettiest cities in Germany. But Braunschweig is also home to international, cutting-edge companies. The city is full of contrasts. One example is the castle which has a shopping centre integrated inside. This combination of modernity and tradition attracts an increasing number of students to the city. Having so many young people makes Braunschweig extremely vibrant.

Passers-by and students sit in front of the Brunswick Cathedral. © Friedrichs/DAAD
Cathedral . © Friedrichs/DAAD

There are many places worth visiting downtown. For instance, Burg Dankwerode and the Braunschweig cathedral are two impressive buildings situated right next to modern stores and shops. On the Kohlmarkt, you can see why residents of Braunschweig are so proud of their city – classy cafés and well-known chain stores are integrated in the medieval half-timbered houses. The oldest parts of the city date back to the early ninth century.

The Oker River makes a detour around the downtown in the truest sense of the word. Boats constantly take tourists up and down the river so they can enjoy a view of the city from the water. The residents of Braunschweig take advantage of the quiet river for one of their favourite pastimes – canoeing.

The river Oker in Brunswik is used by many students for canoeing. © Friedrichs/DAAD
Oker River . © Friedrichs/DAAD

But students aren’t only attracted to Braunschweig because of its interesting architecture. The TU Braunschweig is the oldest technical college in Germany and is one of the most prestigious. Many of its degree programmes – such as Mechanical Engineering – benefit from practice-oriented instruction and close cooperation with local industry. A number of well-known corporations operate in Braunschweig and the surrounding region, e.g. Intel, Volkswagen, Siemens and the fashion company New Yorker.

In the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum international students can get to know the history of the city. © Friedrichs/DAAD
Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Living in Braunschweig

With its medieval downtown district, Braunschweig is keenly aware of its history and tradition, but that doesn’t mean the city is quiet. Student life in Braunschweig is very diverse and international.

The city has a rich cultural scene. The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum is the oldest museum in Germany and is known for its extensive art-historical collection of works by Vermeer and Rubens. You should also pay a visit to the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, where you can learn more about the history of the city. Theatre lovers especially enjoy the performances at the LOT Theater, which provides a venue for young, talented actors from the region.

My tip

The "C1 Cinema" shows “Tatort”, a long-running German TV crime series, on a large screen – at no charge! With soft drinks and popcorn in hand, everyone speculates about “whodunit”.

During the summer, you can go on an outing to the “Südsee” (South Sea). You can relax in the park and cool off in the lake. And don’t forget to stop by the Okercabana Beach Club – especially popular among students thanks to its reasonable prices.

There’s an active nightlife in Braunschweig which will take your mind off the everyday stress at university. There are three places in town where lots of bars and clubs are packed together. You can start your evening in the Magni district at the "Altstadt Treff", where they serve delicious Altbier punch. If you’re a cocktail lover, you should go to Siebenschläfer, located on the west side of downtown.

After that, head over to what they call the “Cult Quarter” where legendary parties regularly take place at The Lindbergh Palace, 42° Fieber and the BrainKlub. Most places don’t charge an entrance fee, but if they do, it’s usually never more than four euros. If you want to have a drink with friends after a lecture, you might want to check out the Eastern Ring District where you’ll find a number of pubs on Blütenweg.

Interview with Sami from the Palestinian territories

Sami Mustafa is 20 years old and is studying for his State Examination in Pharmacy at the TU Braunschweig.

What made you decide to study in Braunschweig?

I’ve always dreamt of studying in Germany. I’m fascinated by this country, and even when I was small, I was sure that I’d live and study here someday. The degree programme is top-rate and the quality is recognised around the world. And it’s only a four-and-a-half-hour flight away from home, which is important for my parents and me. I would have been interested in the United States, but the continent is simply too far away and the cost of education is too expensive.

Portrait of the student Sami from the Palestinian territories in Brunswick. © Friedrichs/DAAD
Sami from the Palestinian territories . © Friedrichs/DAAD

What do you like best about Braunschweig?

It’s very easy to enjoy your free time. I like playing sports and going to the gym or playing football in the park. Sometimes I go swimming. And if I want to relax, I take a walk around the lakes around Braunschweig. The nature here is truly fantastic.

Do you think that Braunschweig is a good place for foreign students to study?

Braunschweig is neither too big nor too small. Within just a few days, you can discover the city – it doesn’t overwhelm you like Berlin or Munich. The courses here are excellent and the professors show a great deal of understanding toward foreigners. They support you and help you if you need them.

Did you experience any trouble preparing for your visit in the beginning?

Yes, applying for the visa was a difficult process. First I had to provide proof I had the necessary financial resources, and then I had to take a 140-hour language course. That took me about seven to eight months even before I could come to Germany.

View of the historic old town of Brunswick. © Braunschweig Stadtmarketing
Old Town . © Braunschweig Stadtmarketing

Did you have any problems getting started in Braunschweig?

I think the language barrier was my biggest problem. Sure, the language course I had to take helped me a lot. But it’s a totally different thing speaking a foreign language in class or in real life. And not everyone speaks English here, which meant I really had to improve my German. But now the difficulties are passing.

What surprised you most about living in Braunschweig?

For me, the traffic here is really unusual. I had never taken a tram before! It’s a great way of getting from point A to B. I also discovered the benefits of bike-riding. Braunschweig is a flat city with no hills, so it’s relaxing and really fun to ride your bike.

When the weather is good, many passers-by and students sit in Brunswick's Kohlplatz square. © Friedrichs/DAAD
Kohlplatz square . © Friedrichs/DAAD

What do you plan to do after you’ve finished studying? Would you like to stay in Germany?

Absolutely! I’d like to start working in Germany after my studies and stay for a few years. I really like it here and the education is great!

How would you describe your stay in Germany so far?

Studying in Germany is wonderful for me, but also difficult. If you want to succeed here, you have to work hard. And if you do, it’s possible. And the Germans are much nicer than they’re reputed to be!

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