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Erfurt: Familiar, Green and in the Heart of Germany

Erfurt is located in the state of Thuringia, the green heart of Germany. You can travel quickly to almost any corner of the state by bus or train. Erfurt itself is one of the most picturesque medieval cities in Germany and looks back on a long and eventful history. Its familiar atmosphere, short distances and many parks make Erfurt an ideal place to study!

by Jo Graff

Old Town © Graff/DAAD
Old Town . © Graff/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
202.000
Students:
400
Universities:
3
Monthly rent:
248 €
Tip:
Find out why people here call themselves "Puffbohnen"!
Website:
www.erfurt.de

Welcome to Erfurt

Erfurt’s historic city centre is one of its most attractive features – the old quarter is simply enchanting with churches and synagoges, the Fish Market and the Erfurt cathedral – the city’s most famous landmark.

Cathedral © Graff/DAAD
Cathedral . © Graff/DAAD

The Petersberg, an old fortress built at the gates of the old city in the 17th century, still towers majestically over the town. There are 142 bridges in Erfurt. The Krämerbrücke is the best known. On this small inhabited bridge, you will find a number of traditional and family-owned shops where you can window-shop, while away the time and enjoy yourself. Stop at the chocolate maker, for example, and try their chocolate milk. The Krämerbrückenfest is one of the cultural highlights of the year and attracts droves of visitors every June.

The Gera River runs through the parks and gardens of the city. You can spend your free time relaxing at the riverside. The EGA-Park in the south-western quarter of Erfurt is another great place to go – supposedly it’s the largest and most beautiful park in Germany for recreation and relaxation. There are many exciting things to do around the region as well. Due to its ideal location, there are many places to visit nearby. You can travel anywhere in the state of Thuringia for free with your semester ticket. Take a trip to historic Weimar, the Wartburg UNESCO World Heritage Site or go on a hiking tour through the Thuringian Forest. The "Rennsteig“ trail, for example, has been taken by hikers and nature lovers for over 700 years!

Erfurt is home to numerous children’s media and broadcasting companies and is the economic engine of the region. Mechanical engineering and horticulture are two significant business sectors as well.

More pictures

Living in Erfurt

Life in Erfurt is peaceful and familiar. The medieval centre of town with its small streets and squares are energised by some 10,000 students who study at the university, the university of applied sciences and the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. There’s a special feeling of community in Erfurt. You’ll always run into people you know – either on campus or downtown.

My tip

You can only call yourself a tried and true Erfurter when you know why people here call themselves "Puffbohnen" (broad beans).

Most places are easy to reach on foot – especially downtown. That’s why it’s no problem to spontaneously make plans to meet up with friends. There are plenty of activities offered to students – even outside of the university. Most of these activities usually take place downtown around the “Anger” and the Fish Market. The city’s cultural magazine "t.akt" can help you gain an overview of upcoming events. You’ll definitely get oriented quickly.

Park near the Krämerbrücke © Graff/DAAD
Park near the Krämerbrücke . © Graff/DAAD

The Engelsburg Student Centre in the Andreas quarter hosts cultural events almost every day. For example, you can meet with other students at the Café International once a week. You shouldn’t miss out on the more traditional parties like the Stawi-Party at the Presseklub or the KW Champagne Reception at the beginning of the semester. In addition to the regular get-togethers at the residence halls, Café Hilgenfeld on campus is a good place to go if you want to meet other students.                                  

When it comes to music, you’ll find what you’re looking for. While "Musikpark" caters to a broad range of musical styles, you’ll likely meet fans of electronic sounds at "Cosmopolar" and "egabox". You’ll hear an entirely different set of sounds by the musician Clueso. He’s possibly the most famous musical export the city has to offer, and with any luck, you might run into him when he’s not performing at the typical concert venues like the "Stadtgarten", "Museumskeller" and the "Gewerkschaftshaus" (House of Social Services).

Wenigemarkt © Graff/DAAD
Wenigemarkt . © Graff/DAAD

You could also meet up with friends at one of the many student cafés in town, like the "Roter Elephant". You should also hang out at the beer gardens in the summertime where there is always something going on. At the weekends, there’s nothing better than feasting at an extended brunch. For example, meet with friends at the "FAM" and afterwards, enjoy the flair of the weekly market on the cathedral square. On Sunday evenings, you can head over to the “Living Room” at "Peckham’s Coffee House" and watch the latest episode of Tatort (Crime Scene) with your friends.

Or enjoy one of the other cultural activities which the city offers. Theater Schotte is an amateur theatre with an excellent reputation which caters to children and young people. Its vision is to promote creativity, the joy of experimentation and individuality. The artistic repertory ranges from modern plays to the classics. And the admission fee for students is quite inexpensive.

Interview with Ching-Hui from Taiwan

Ching-Hui comes from Taiwan, is 27 years old and is enrolled in the Children and Youth Media master’s programme in Erfurt.

Ching-Hui and her sports group © privat
Ching-Hui and her sports group . © privat

How did you end up studying in Erfurt?

I got my bachelor’s in European Languages and Culture in Taiwan. In one of my seminars, we had an exercise in translating German children’s books. I loved it. I had often thought about going to Germany, and Erfurt was a partner university. It all fit together well. First I came as an exchange student, and then ended up applying for admission to full master’s degree programme.

What was it like when you first came to Germany?

Pretty difficult. I’m not an especially shy person, but I am compared with Germans. I don’t speak so loudly. People had problems understanding me. And a master’s programme is obviously much different than a bachelor’s, much more intensive and you’re much more on your own. In Taiwan the professors approach you if they think you’re having problems. Here in Germany it’s different. You have to take the initiative yourself.

How did you come in contact with other students?

Many of the students here aren’t from Erfurt, which means they’re open to making new acquaintances. In the beginning I attended a language course and that’s how I met my current flatmate. You can also meet people quickly in sports clubs. And there’s not so many in our degree programme, so we often do things together. There’s also the “Strangers Become Friends” project, through which I met my host family three years ago. We still see each other regularly. In this way, I was able to get to know a generation outside of the campus.

What do you like best about the city?

The city and university are very familiar. I come from a city with a million inhabitants and I studied in Taipei, so this is really laid back in comparison. I like the giant swing on Petersberg the best. From there you can enjoy a beautiful view. And if you like children’s books as I do, then the small bookshop on the Krämerbrücke is simply wonderful.

Complete the sentence: “For me, studying in Germany is...”

…a chance to gain a new perspective.