Kiel: Studying next to the sea

Seagulls fly above - a brisk breeze blows fresh sea air into the town. This north German city has a very unique atmosphere. If you like spending time in the great outdoors, Kiel is the place for you. But Kiel has more to offer you than just the sea.

by Sophie Nagel

Town hall at night © Arne List/wikicommons
Town hall at night . © Arne List/wikicommons

Facts & Figures

Monthly rent:
310 €
Have a fish roll and visit the Falckenstein beach!

Welcome to Kiel

Kiel is Germany's northernmost town. Situated right on the Baltic Sea, it is the last stop on one of the busiest artificial waterways in the world, the Kiel Canal. Kiel is an important base for the German Navy and famous for its international sailing event, the "Kieler Woche".

The Kieler Woche takes place once a year and includes an extensive supporting programme packed full with concerts and other artistic performances and presentations. During the festival, you can also try out a regional delicacy, a fish speciality known as "Kieler Sprotten".

Seagull at the harbour © Nagel/DAAD
Seagull at the harbour . © Nagel/DAAD

The capital of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein is close to the Danish border. Kiel is a Hanseatic town. You can tell from the typical Brick Gothic architecture. Just outside Kiel, you can visit the Laboe Navy Memorial and see one of the five remaining World War Two submarines, the U 995.

A maritime town, of course, also needs a harbour. And this is located just behind the train station so that you are welcomed by the Baltic Sea as soon as you arrive in town. The road along the Kieler Förde, the Kiellinie, takes you to the seal pool and aquarium which belongs to the Geomar institute. The town's location on the Baltic Sea also offers you the advantage that after lectures, you can hop on your bike and cycle to one of the many beaches just outside town.

Kiel's attractions include the Old Botanic Garden, the 106-metre high Rathausturm, Germany's oldest student theatre, the Sechseckbau, and Schrevenpark, which attracts crowds of people in the summer months.

More photos

Living in Kiel

It's easy to relax and unwind in Kiel. The sea is noticeable everywhere in town and automatically gives you a feeling of freedom. Through the universities, you can take part in inexpensive sailing or surf courses. The International Office even has its own yacht, the Albertina, which you can sail on every Saturday. If you like to spend time in the fresh air, Kiel is the place for you. There are various ferry services that will take you from the town centre to landing stages at Laboe, Falckenstein and Friedrichsort.

Rathaus © Manja Kuerschner
Rathaus . © Manja Kuerschner

Kiel also has lots to offer in the way of culture. Near the landing stage Reventlou is the Old Botanical Garden with the Literaturhaus, where lectures and readings regularly take place. Next to the hexagonal Sechseckbau, there is also a professional theatre where you can enjoy opera, ballet and theatrical performances. Both the theatre and Kunsthalle offer student discounts.

A newer Botanical Garden can be found in the grounds of the Christian Albrechts University on Olshausenstrasse. You can come here during a free lesson or after lunch in the canteen and enjoy a stroll through the park. The grounds of the "Forstbaumschule" are also very popular among locals. The park between the fjord and Feldstrasse has an excellent restaurant and it's also worth coming here for the concerts.

My tip

When the weather's fine, you should eat a fresh fish roll at the "Fischbar" and then take the ferry to Falckenstein and go to the beach.

Mention should also be made of Schrevenpark, which turns into an enormous barbecue field in the summer. On the eastern edge of the park, you can buy delicious fresh French fries from "Kiosk Castello". Not far from here is the "Kitty Rock Belly Full" that serves homemade organic burgers. There are also lots of new individual shops and boutiques springing up all over Kiel. One insiders' tip is "Eisparadies". The homemade ice-cream made from natural ingredients is well worth queuing a little longer for.

Try "Pumpe" for concerts and dance evenings. The Kulturzentrum also has its own cinema. Another cultural centre is "Traum GmbH". "Detail" is good if you want to dance to electronic beats. "Prinz Willy" offers concerts, vegan food and regular flea markets.

Interview with Guy from Cameroon

Guy Martial Kenmoe is 29 years old and is studying Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel.

Picture of Guy from Cameroon © Nagel/DAAD
Guy from Cameroon . © Nagel/DAAD

How long have you been in Kiel and how did you end up here?

I wanted to leave my home country because only a certain elite gets to study there. Fortunately, one of my cousins lives in Lübeck so I lived with him at first. I took an aptitude test in Kiel in June 2008 and then spent a semester preparing for the DSH test.

What should future students organise before they come to Germany?

I did a language course at home and already had B2-level language skills. When I was applying for my visa, I realised I had no idea where Kiel was. It's better to know beforehand exactly what you want to do in Germany, where you want to go and what documents you need.

Schrevenpark © Nagel/DAAD
Schrevenpark . © Nagel/DAAD

What's your advice to anyone moving to Germany?

The language is key! I found it really useful to meet up regularly with my tandem partner Ole. He helped me improve my German but also to get to know the town better. This made it easier meeting people. A lot depends on your own attitude. I tend to see hurdles as a challenge. "Life's not always a ball" is a popular saying in Germany. It's definitely worth taking advantage of the services and activities offered by the university to get to know the new town better.

Do you work part-time?

Since the third semester, I've been a tutor at the International Office, where I supervise international students. Particularly students doing a Master's degree in English here in Kiel have problems with the language and finding accommodation. I try and help them as far as possible.

Botanical garden © Nagel/DAAD
Botanical garden . © Nagel/DAAD

Why is Kiel a good place to study?

In my eyes, Kiel is a very beautiful, easy-going university town. There are not as many distractions here as in Hamburg. The professors are very helpful. The university offers lots of inexpensive trips and excursions, especially for international students. During the sailing season, for example, I like to sail on the "Albertina".

What are the differences between your home country and Germany?

In Jaunde, the capital of Cameroon, there is no sea. I used to travel everywhere by taxi. Here, I cycle. In Germany, the people are much busier than in Cameroon. We stand around on the street and talk. And when we watch football together, we're much noisier and more emotional than the Germans!

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