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Chemnitz: Studying in the “City of Modernity”

Chemnitz is a hub for mechanical engineering, automotive sciences and microsystems technology. A long tradition of industrial culture has significantly shaped this “City of Modernity”. Here at the TU Chemnitz and its research institutes you will find excellent academic and research conditions. And thanks to its familiar atmosphere and low rental prices, it’s an ideal place to study.

by Dominik Brüggemann

Chemnitz University © TU Chemnitz
Chemnitz University . © TU Chemnitz

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
241,000
Students:
10,700
Universities:
1
Monthly rent:
259 €
Tip:
Enjoy a breath of fresh air at the city park after a long day at university!
Website:
www.chemnitz.de

Welcome to Chemnitz

Chemnitz is a large city in the state of Saxony located near the central highland region of the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). Its time-honoured industrial culture is still alive and well today. Chemnitz is known for mechanical engineering, its auto industry and microsystems technology. Many of the research activities take place at the Technische Universität (TU) Chemnitz. Several of its institutes even belong to the prestigious German “Excellence Initiative”. Several well-known Fraunhofer Institutes also offer employment to researchers.

Karl Marx monument © Brüggemann/DAAD
Karl Marx monument . © Brüggemann/DAAD

Until German reunification in 1990, Chemnitz was called Karl Marx City. Today the city’s most famous landmark is a gigantic sculpture of the philosopher’s head. The monumental bust is displayed on a pedestal in the middle of town. Residents of Chemnitz simply call it the “Nischel” – which means “head” in the Saxon dialect. Measuring seven metres in height, the bronze sculpture is allegedly the second largest portrait bust in the world – after the Sphinx.

Chemnitz is a working-class city with a very eventful history which is still evident today. Thousands of jobs were lost due to the economic turmoil which resulted from the demise of the GDR. But since then, the city has gotten back onto its feet and is growing again. There are still many vacant flats in town, which is why rental prices are very reasonable. It’s not very hard to find a nice, affordable flat.

Industry museum © Dietmar Träupmann
Industry museum . © Dietmar Träupmann

You can learn more about the city’s industrial history at the Industriemuseum. In addition to steam-powered locomotives and many other exhibits, you can also admire the famous Trabi. This iconic car was originally developed in Chemnitz and dominated the streets of the former GDR.

The city centre has been completely redesigned over the past twenty years. Today you’ll find modern shopping centres and office buildings around the marketplace in front of the city hall. Chemnitz proudly presents itself as the “City of Modernity” with a number of impressive buildings. For example, the “Stadtbad” (municipal indoor pool), built in the famous Bauhaus style, is definitely worth seeing. You can combine exercise and sightseeing in one visit.

Town hall © Brüggemann/DAAD
Town hall . © Brüggemann/DAAD

Living in Chemnitz

Life in Chemnitz takes place in the centre of town. This is where you’ll find pubs and bars. The “Turmbräuhaus” across from the city hall is a typical German locale. The campus on Reichenhainer Strasse is just as important for students, who often meet there after classes to participate in numerous student clubs. You’ll find an especially international flair at the "Club der Kulturen". In the former pedestrian zone “Brühl” near the main train station, there are a number of beautiful cafés and stylish, alternative shops.

My tip

The Chemnitz River winds its way through the city. The city park stretches up along both sides of the river. After a long day at university, it’s a great place to enjoy a deep breath of fresh air. It’s also an ideal spot for taking a bike tour to get to know the city better.

The Theaterplatz is where the popular "Film Nights" take place during the summer. You can get together with friends and watch the latest movies on a big screen under the open sky. The Museum Gunzenhauser is a very famous Chemnitz museum which features the famous Expressionist painters. This and the König Albert Museum are definitely worth visiting. We also recommend going to the opera on Theaterplatz. As a student, you normally receive a concession rate on tickets to the opera and ballet.

When the weather is nice, many residents of Chemnitz like spending time at the “Schlossteich” – a lake located in a park a bit north of the city centre. That’s where you can hang out, meet with friends or rent a rowboat in the summertime. The Küchwald at the north end of the city is an even larger recreational area. If you like jogging, the park has kilometres of paths perfect for running.

Interview with Arpine from Armenia

Arpine Nazaryan from Armenia is 25 years old and pursued her bachelor’s degree in European Studies in Chemnitz.

Picture of Arpine from Armenia © Arpine Nazaryan
Arpine from Armenia . © Arpine Nazaryan

Why did you decide to study in Chemnitz?

It was because of the content and structure of the B.A. programme in “European Studies” at the TU Chemnitz. The university has a good reputation, a very familiar feel and you have close contact with your professors. Those were the main reasons I chose to study in Chemnitz.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

When I received my acceptance letter, I applied for a student visa and started collecting all the documents I’d need in Germany. After that, I contacted the Studentenwerk in Chemnitz and registered for a room in a student hall of residence. Once all that was taken care of, all I had to do was pack my bags and off I went!

Theatre © Brüggemann/DAAD
Theatre . © Brüggemann/DAAD

What should students, who will soon be studying in Germany, take care of before departing?

For those who have problems with German, I recommend taking an intensive language course before studying in Germany. It’s also important that you’re on good financial footing. Not everyone is lucky enough to find a suitable part-time job right away, so you should bring enough savings with you to finance your first year. Foreign students can apply for additional support by contacting the “Patenprogramm” (sponsorship programme) at the TU Chemnitz before arriving in Germany.

What was the hardest thing about living in Germany for you in the beginning? And how did you deal with it?

My family and friends were all in Armenia and I couldn’t just visit them for a weekend like German students. That was really tough in the first semester. But then I made very good friends relatively quickly and got to know many other nice people in Chemnitz who were always there for me.

Schlossteich lake © Brüggemann/DAAD
Schlossteich lake . © Brüggemann/DAAD

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

As I mentioned, I contacted the Studentenwerk in Chemnitz directly. They are extremely helpful and can usually assign you a room in a student hall of residence.

What do you especially like about Chemnitz?

The campus is very nice with its sports fields, lawns, little student clubs, and my absolute favourite place on campus is the university cinema. But the Schlosspark, the city park or a short walk through the Kassberg quarter are nice alternatives.

Why is Chemnitz good for students?

The cost of living in Chemnitz is extremely affordable. So you don’t need much money to live here. With your student ticket, you can reach Leipzig or Dresden by train within an hour. What’s more, the university is really good, at least as far as I can judge with respect to my subject. And you can really concentrate on your studies here because there’s less to distract you than in Berlin, for example. It’s a bit quieter, but still I’ve met many nice people here.

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