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Bremen: The green city in the north

Bremen could not be more multifaceted: the city and rural suburbia lie right next to each other. There is a very vibrant student scene, but you won't get lost in overcrowded streets. The river Weser is on your doorstep, each district is full of delightful cafés and there are plenty of cultural activities going on – a city that combines green surroundings with a modern lifestyle.

by Johanna Wendel

Roland statue © Bremer Touristik-Zentrale
Roland statue . © Bremer Touristik-Zentrale

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
544,000
Students:
32,978
Universities:
6
Monthly rent:
326 €
Tip:
Get caught up in the city’s enthusiasm for their football team Werder Bremen!
Website:
www.bremen.de

Welcome to Bremen

Not only the local football club "SV Werder Bremen" is green, but also the town itself! You'll find lots of places to spend your free time because the city has numerous parks and its own urban woodland.

Bremen's most famous citizens are four animals: a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel. Together, they are the Bremer Town Musicians. The bronze statue in front of the town hall recalls the fairytale of the same name by the famous brothers Grimm. If you've read the story, you'll know that the animals never actually made it to Bremen!

Bremer Town Musicians © Bremer Touristik-Zentrale
Bremer Town Musicians . © Bremer Touristik-Zentrale

Bremen has a delightful old town. Next to the town hall is the statue of "Roland", which the people of Bremen are very attached to. It's a kind of statue of liberty and a symbol of justice and freedom. The "Schnoor district" is full of tiny alleyways and narrow houses where you'll find charming restaurants and boutiques. On "Schlachte", a promenade along the river Weser, you can stroll past shops, cafés and bars while enjoying a view of the river. Small local festivals take place here every year.

At the Schlachte © Bremer Touristik-Zentrale
At the Schlachte . © Bremer Touristik-Zentrale

A beautiful path with bushes and lots of benches follows the river Weser. This is a great place for a stroll and for watching the moored ships, especially in the evenings. If you're very quiet, you can hear animals rustling in the bushes. And if you're lucky, you might even catch sight of a hedgehog scurrying past. You can go on a circular boat trip on the Weser. Whether you opt for a tour of the harbour or take a ferry to Oldenburg or Bremerhaven – there are many ways to get to know northern Germany by water.

The town boasts numerous museums. The Bremer Kunsthalle showcases media art and paintings from the last 600 years. Right next to the station is the Übersee-Museum with individual exhibitions dedicated to each continent of the world. Special shows focus on special epochs or unusual traditions from different cultures. So if you're suddenly hit by an attack of wanderlust or homesickness, this museum is the place to go!

Living in Bremen

Apartments and rooms in shared accommodation in Bremen are relatively cheap compared to elsewhere in Germany. But if you want to live close to the university, you should start looking early enough. Even if you live slightly further outside town, you can get to the city centre or university in 10-15 minutes thanks to an excellent train and bus service.

Old Town © DAAD
Old Town . © DAAD

As a student in Bremen, you're bound to end up in "Das Viertel", a neighbourhood that attracts not just students but also lots of locals. This is where people of all ages and nationalities get together and share a sense of belonging. They spend an evening at their local, such as "Das Haifischbecken" and "Klönschnack". Many of the pubs and bars there have a quaint, traditionally Hanseatic flair. From steak house or doner kebab joint to a purely vegan restaurant, Bremen has everything the culinary heart desires, without costing a fortune.

My tip

As a real "Bremer", you definitely have to watch Werder Bremen playing in the Weser stadium! You'll be caught up in the city's enthusiasm for football! And you'll probably want to go back again. Perhaps you'll even be a regular on the stands!

"Das Viertel" is located in the districts of Ostertor and Steintor. Even if Bremen is considered a city – it doesn't feel like it here.

In Bremen, the city and rural suburbia lie right next to each other. If you need a break from your busy student life, it takes just 20 minutes to walk to the rural Hanseatic countryside from the city centre. Thanks to the many public parks, you'll find lots of spots in the city to relax and unwind. Two examples are the old dam walls near the main station, or Bürgerpark. There's plenty of space here for jogging and relaxing.

Interview with Elena from Spain

Elena Castellano Cabrera is 21 years old and comes from Spain. She is taking an international degree in Leisure Sciences at Bremen University of Applied Sciences.

Picture of Elena from Spain © Elena Castellano Cabrera
Elena from Spain . © Elena Castellano Cabrera

Why did you decide to study in Bremen?

When I started my course in Spain, I already knew I wanted to take part in an exchange programme (Erasmus) to improve my German and English. My first choice was actually Berlin, but there were a few problems. So I ended up choosing a town in the north because it's cheaper here. I only knew Bremen by name, because of the Bremen Town Musicians, but several people told me what a pretty town it is and how nice the people are.

Any advice about how to make leaving home easier?

The prospect of independence. The opportunity to have new experiences, meet new people from all over the world and to improve your language skills.

Market square and town hall © Bermer Touristik-Zentrale
Market square and town hall . © Bermer Touristik-Zentrale

And how did you find accommodation? Do you have any advice for finding a room?

Our university in Spain set up a Facebook group for exchange students. I asked if anyone there could offer me any advice for Bremen. I found a girl who explained everything to me and she recommended her student residences. The wg-gesucht.de website can also be useful.

What do you like best about Bremen? What is your favourite spot in the city? And why? 

What I like are the international contacts you can make here. There are students from virtually every country and continent, and it's interesting and fun to spend time with different cultures. The old town is very pretty and also very cosy! There are several spots in Bremen that are very beautiful, for example the "Viertel". Here, you'll find lots of international restaurants, pubs and bars. The atmosphere is very alternative. There's also the Schnoor district, which has its own special charm thanks to its very distinct architectural style.

Bürgerpark © DAAD
Bürgerpark . © DAAD

Do you have any advice on how to deal with Germans?

I have personally noticed several fundamental differences between the German and Spanish culture. The Spanish are more sincere than the Germans, we even kiss people we don't know twice when we greet them. The Spanish people are simply more passionate, I think. Meal times are also different. In Germany, people eat much earlier than we do in Spain.

And: respect the rules! The Germans are very correct, they make rules and they stick to them...

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