Karlsruhe: Sunny, international and full of energy

Karlsruhe is one of Germany’s warmest cities and plays an important role in the German legal system. Its excellent research institutes, diverse recreational activities and creative potential make the city very appealing. Thanks to its international atmosphere, you can become acquainted with many different cultures.

by Marlene Bauz

Karlsruhe Palace © Bauz/DAAD
Karlsruhe Palace . © Bauz/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
318 €
Have a typical "Flammkuchen". At the "Stövchen" you are spoilt for choice!

Welcome to Karlsruhe

History and modernity come together in Karlsruhe. The Baroque castle “Carols Ruh” was built in the 18th century and is still a defining element in the structure of the city. All of the surrounding streets lead to the castle so that you can see it from every direction. The layout of the historic city centre looks like a fan from above. That’s why Karlsruhe is also known as the “Fan City”.

KIT  © Bauz/DAAD
KIT . © Bauz/DAAD

Yet Karlsruhe is also known as the “Internet capital of Germany”. The first e-mails in Germany were sent from Karlsruhe, which is also the home of the prestigious Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Not only does KIT play an important role in driving Germany’s technological development, it’s also one of the major employers in the region.

Many people in Germany associate Karlsruhe with law and democracy. Two important legal institutions are headquartered in Karlsruhe - the German Federal Supreme Court and the German Federal Constitutional Court. Their significance is evident on the Platz der Grundrechte, situated between the castle and the marketplace on Karl-Friedrich-Strasse. There you will find plaques bearing statements on justice and injustice.

You’ll discover a pyramid in the middle of the marketplace. It marks the burial site of the city’s founding father, Markgraf Karl-Wilhelm. The Karlsruhe city hall is located at one end of the marketplace. It was completely rebuilt after being destroyed in 1944 during World War II. The plaza is intersected by Kaiserstrasse, the busiest shopping street in Karlsruhe with many shops and stores.

Square of Fundamental Rights and Karlsruhe Palace © Bauz/DAAD
Square of Fundamental Rights and Karlsruhe Palace . © Bauz/DAAD

Living in Karlsruhe

When the weather is nice – and you have good chances of that with some 140 days of sunshine per year – you can soak up some sun, for example, at the Botanical Garden at the castle or in the Stadtgarten. There you’ll find large lawns, beautiful plants and plenty of space to have a nice picnic. There’s also a zoo in the Stadtgarten which you can visit.

My tip

You should definitely try a “Flammkuchen”, a specialty of the region. It resembles a very thin-crusted pizza. You’ll find a large variety of “Flammkuchen” at the "Stövchen". There’s a beer garden in the rear courtyard where you can enjoy your “Flammkuchen” when the weather’s nice.

If you want something for your ears rather than your eyes, Karlsruhe is perfect for you. “Das Fest” is an annual music festival featuring nationally and internationally renowned artists and a large accompanying programme. The tickets cost less than ten euros. You can also enjoy live music at the “Zeltival” and the “Unifest” at KIT once a year.

A great place for students is the Student Centre Z10, as well as the Culture and Communication Working Group (AKK). Located on campus and in the vicinity of the KIT campus, you can always get freshly brewed coffee and other beverages there. Both the Z10 and AKK regularly organise events like quiz nights and parties, as well as various workshops and courses.

The ZKM│Center for Art and Media interweaves art with technical innovations and topics of current interest. The centre is comprised of several museums and institutes. Not only does the ZKM hold regular exhibitions, but also offers lectures and workshops.

For some delicious refreshment during the day, go to the "Saftladen" on Waldstrasse. There you can treat yourself to freshly prepared fruit smoothies and milk shakes. "Brasil" is a favourite pub with students. The "Radio Oriente Musikclub" features regular live music and parties. In the summertime, it’s very nice to sit outside the many restaurants on Ludwigsplatz.

Interview with Steinick from Indonesia

Steinick Parulian Sibarani is enrolled in the Industrial Engineering bachelor’s programme at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He is 20 years old and comes from Indonesia.

Picture of Steinick from Indonesia © Bauz/DAAD
Steinick from Indonesia . © Bauz/DAAD

What made you decide to study in Karlsruhe?

It was because of the good reputation of the university and the KIT. I had taken a foundation course at KIT and met lots of nice people there. Many of those acquaintances have become my close friends today.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

I learned German intensively for two years during my studies. I also gathered information on German life and culture via the Internet and at events offered by the Goethe-Institut and the DAAD in my home country.

Schlossgarten © Bauz/DAAD
Schlossgarten . © Bauz/DAAD

What was the hardest thing for you about living in Germany? How did you cope with it?

In the beginning I had big problems communicating, because people would use vocabulary in situations I wasn’t familiar with. For example, the expression “Es ist mir Wurst” (Editor’s note: literally translates as “It’s sausage to me”, meaning “I don’t care”). I had problems with the colloquial language too. Luckily, the International Centre of Encounter offers a programme in which participants can practice spoken German for free. Not only does it give you the chance to improve your German, but you can also meet friendly people from around the world.

How did you find a place to live? Do you have any advice for others looking for accommodation?  

Finding a flat in Karlsruhe was very difficult, it seemed to me. That’s why it’s best to start looking a few months before the semester begins. If you’d rather get a room in a student hall of residence, you should apply about two months in advance at a number of the residence halls.

Do you have a part-time job, and if so, what kind of job is it and how did you find it?

I found my job as a HiWi [Editor’s note: pronounced HEE VEE, short for “Hilfswissenschaftler”, (student research assistant)] at the HiWi market at KIT. You frequently find openings posted there. And if you do find a job that suits you, you have to submit your application materials as fast as possible because there’s lots of competition out there.

Südstadt © Bauz/DAAD
Südstadt . © Bauz/DAAD

What do you like best about Karlsruhe?

I especially like the internationality of Karlsruhe. You always have the chance to encounter a new culture here.

As a foreign student, what’s the best way to come in contact with other students?

I actively participate in the university organisation MUNIKA which suits my interests well. In the group you learn about the working methods and operations of the United Nations. Not only is it fun to participate, but you also have the chance to meet people. These contacts can be very important later in life. That’s where I met a couple of students from the same year in my degree programme, with whom I now revise and who help me when I have problems with my studies.

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