Göttingen: A student town rich in tradition

Göttingen calls itself the “city of knowledge” – and for good reason. It is home to the oldest university in Germany. Its famous alumni include the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and the politician Otto von Bismarck. Although Göttingen is proud of its traditions, it has remained a young and hip city.

by Sandra Friedrichs

Gänseliesel © Friedrichs/DAAD
Gänseliesel . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
296 €
At "Zum Szültenbürger" you can try a typical schnitzel in many variations!

Welcome to Göttingen

Busy, full of students and conscious of tradition – that would sum up Göttingen in a nutshell. In the winding streets of the historic city centre among half-timbered buildings, students meet in modern pubs or have barbecues together in public parks. This vibrant atmosphere is what makes Göttingen so popular with students. They receive excellent instruction at the university – one of the top 100 universities in the world according to the World University Rankings report – and then go out with friends downtown.

On campus © Friedrichs/DAAD
On campus . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Göttingen has remained a very green city ever since the university was founded in 1734. It contains three large parks, the best-known and most beautiful of which is the Old Botanical Garden. After final exams, students like to go there to hang out and relax in nature. There’s also a lot to see downtown, such as the Göttingen Gänseliesel, the city’s famous landmark. Officially, it’s forbidden to kiss the lady’s statue, but the city makes an exception for newly qualified PhDs.

You can pay a visit to the "Junkernschänke" located downtown as well. It is believed to be the oldest wine tavern in Germany. Or take a walk through Göttingen’s eastside and marvel at the magnificent old houses there. You should definitely see the Bismarck Tower! Many residents will tell you that you can only call yourself a “Göttinger” once you have climbed the tower.

Junkernschänke © Friedrichs/DAAD
Junkernschänke . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Living in Göttingen

Student residents of Göttingen know best how to combine academics with pleasure. You’ll often meet students on campus reading books in the sunshine or who, after passing a test, get out the grill and enjoy the rest of the day with their friends. The university also offers numerous events which provide students with a wide choice of activities. The most important event is DIES, the traditional summer festival for students and university staff. It’s absolutely the best student party ever! The University Sports Department offers sports activities all day long and the lobby is converted into a disco at night.

My tip

If you’re interested in a special restaurant where everyone in Göttingen meets, I recommend going to the Zum Szültenbürger in Prinzenstrasse. The rustically furnished locale offers a wide range of dishes. The guests are especially fond of the schnitzel served in many different variations. How would you like to have yours – with a fried egg and bacon or rather Bolognese style?

Cars are taboo with most students. The traffic is mainly comprised of bicycles. Sometimes people have problems finding a parking space for their bike! But then again, it’s the easiest way to get from Point A to Point B. What’s more, public transportation is expensive, which makes cycling an affordable and healthy alternative. Speaking of exercise, the inhabitants of Göttingen love sports. You see them jogging around the city walls, taking bike tours, hiking or skiing in the Harz Mountains.

Culture is a “big deal” in Göttingen – in other words, it’s everywhere. Whether you like jazz or theatre, you’re sure to find it there. The "Deutsches Theater" offers an extraordinary programme which is very popular among students. The "Göttingen Symphonic Orchestra" is also visited by many students and offers an English programme. If you like non-mainstream films, then you ought to check out what’s showing at the "Lumiere Cinema".

After the show, you can meet up with friends at "Café Kabale" and discuss your impression of the film over a malt latte. Music enthusiasts should go to the "Apex", and beer lovers tend to congregate at "Thanner’s". And if you’d like to experience a typical student party, go to the "JT-Keller" or the "Savoy".

Interview with Emma from Ireland

Emma Nolan from Ireland is 21 years old and studies Law at the University of Göttingen.

Picture of Emma from Ireland © Friedrichs/DAAD
Emma from Ireland . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Why did you decide to study in Göttingen?

I decided to study in Germany because I wanted to learn the language. As a country, I find Germany quite appealing and I was very much interested in its culture. I ended up in Göttingen because of my brother and fellow students. They raved about the town, the university, but also the pleasant lifestyle here.

Did you have problems getting accustomed to Göttingen in the beginning?

The language was the biggest difficulty for me. Göttingen is very international and lots of people can speak English. Sometimes people don’t even attempt to speak German with me, but go straight into English. But I just keep speaking German undeterred. That helps.

Bicycles © Friedrichs/DAAD
Bicycles . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Was it hard for you to find a place to live?

I talked with my professor in Ireland. He helped me apply for a room in a student hall of residence.

Do you have any advice for foreign students who are looking for accommodation?

With what I know now, I’d recommend taking a private accommodation. You can find places on the Internet or here at the university on the “Schwarzes Brett” (notice board). If you live in a WG (flat-share) with Germans, you have to speak German. In an international student hall of residence, there’s no real incentive to speak German.

What surprised you most about living in Göttingen?

Göttingen is better than I expected. I thought life here would be very conservative and that people would be nerdy and boring. But I’m having so much fun here and especially love the nightlife. Not only are there unusual events for students like gay parties, but you can celebrate outdoors, barbecue and drink alcohol. Totally unimaginable in Ireland!

Theatre © Friedrichs/DAAD
Theatre . © Friedrichs/DAAD

Would you like to return to Germany after your studies?

That would be my absolute dream! I haven’t really thought about whether I’d like to get my master’s or start working right away. But I’m quite open to Germany.

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

Definitely! The courses are amazing and professors take care of their students and get involved. I’ve never discussed so many and such interesting topics with my professors as I’ve done here. And Göttingen is fantastic in terms of location. You can go on many excursions and travel very easily to destinations all over Germany from here. A day trip to Berlin or Munich? No problem from Göttingen.

What advice do you have for foreign students who want to come in contact with Germans?

Definitely play sport, ideally a team sport like volleyball, football or basketball. You can quickly strike up conversation with the locals and make new friends. Of course, student parties are great for meeting people too.

How would you describe your stay in Germany?

Studying in Germany has been a fantastic experience which has allowed me to make friends with people from around the world.

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