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Furtwangen: Traditional university town in the Black Forest

The town of Furtwangen is located in the middle of Germany’s largest forest, nestled in an idyllic valley among meadows and near Germany’s highest waterfall. Here you can find the peace and quiet you need for your studies while you become familiar with German customs and traditions.

by Janine Funke

Statue in Furtwangen © Janine Funke
Statue in Furtwangen . © Janine Funke

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
9,238
Students:
6,828
Universities:
1
Monthly rent:
304 €
Tip:
Take a hike to the Triberg Waterfalls.
Website:
www.furtwangen.de

Welcome to Furtwangen

If you don’t have a car, the best way to reach Furtwangen is by bus from Freiburg. The two-hour bus ride takes you through one of the most scenic regions in all of Germany. The bus drops you off in the centre of the historic downtown of Furtwangen. There you’ll find the University of Applied Sciences, numerous cafés and restaurants and many historical buildings built in the typical style of the region, similar to that of the Museum Gasthaus Arche.

The Clock Museum © Janine Funke
The Clock Museum . © Janine Funke

Furtwangen is known for its traditional clock-making industry. The Clock Museum contains the largest collection of German-made clocks. It is located next to the university and is definitely worth visiting. In fact, the University of Applied Sciences in Furtwangen started long ago as the first clock-making school in Germany. Nowadays the region is characterised by metal working, precision engineering and electronics which have made the city’s business prospects quite interesting.

Life in Furtwangen

You can spend much of your free time outdoors in Furtwangen. The region offers ideal conditions for exercising, playing sports or taking long walks in nature. The forest is right at your doorstep! You can take an extended excursion to the nearby Danube Spring or visit the "Hexenlochmühle".

My tip

Definitely go visit the Triberg Waterfalls. There’s a beautiful hiking trail that takes you there from Furtwangen.

If you want to do some serious shopping, go to the movies or see a play, you should take a bus to the nearby city of Villingen-Schwenningen. A lot of students spend their evenings together at organised events, like film nights or barbecues, or at the "König-Kebab". At weekends students sometimes go on excursions to various tourist attractions in the region – and the Alps are not far away!

Café in Furtwangen © Janine Funke
Café in Furtwangen . © Janine Funke

If you ever get the chance to live in the middle of the Black Forest, then you shouldn’t miss out on some local traditions. These include the Swabian-Allemannic "Fasnet" festival on Ash Wednesday with the traditional Narrenzunft carnival guild parade. At the end of August, Furtwangen holds an annual Stadtfest (city festival) featuring numerous events, such as a flea market and a clock fair. If you enrol in the winter semester, you should try to arrive a little earlier so you can experience these events first-hand and get to know the town better. However, the traditional university ball will likely be the absolute highlight of your term at the University of Applied Sciences in Furtwangen.

Interview with Pallavi from India

Pallavi Kanchan is 23 years old. She comes from Chennai in southern India and is pursuing her Master of Science in "Smart Systems" at the University of Applied Sciences in Furtwangen.

Pallavi Kanchan © Janine Funke
Pallavi Kanchan . © Janine Funke

Why did you decide to get your master’s degree in Germany?

After I got my bachelor’s in "Electronics and Instrumentation" in India, I wanted to do my master’s abroad. I looked at a lot of master’s programmes around the world, and finally decided for Germany – mainly because of the low tuition fees. Germany is also a centre of technology, particularly in the field of engineering. Many companies have headquarters here which means there are more internships available and better chances of getting hired later on.

Why did you decide to study in Furtwangen?

To be honest, I was only looking for interesting master’s programmes in the beginning. I decided to come to Furtwangen only because of the degree programme. After they accepted me, I started looking at where the city was located and realised how small Furtwangen really is.

How did you prepare for your stay in Germany?

I contacted other students on Facebook. There are many Indians who study here, but also other students from abroad, especially from Turkey and Africa. By contacting students who were already here, I received lots of helpful advice and could prepare well for my time in Germany. Of course, it wasn’t easy in the beginning. I come from one of the biggest cities in India, and Furtwangen only has 10,000 inhabitants.

Furtwangen University © Janine Funke
Furtwangen University . © Janine Funke

How were your first days in Furtwangen?

I liked Furtwangen as soon as I got here. Sure, it’s a small town, but Furtwangen is a university town. It’s very easy to meet people and find support. The biggest challenge was getting to Furtwangen from the Frankfurt airport. Furtwangen doesn’t have a train station, so I first had to take the train to Freiburg and then get on a bus. At the big stations, no one had even heard of Furtwangen, but lots of people helped me anyway. When we finally arrived, we were picked up by the staff of the International Center. We received a "Welcome Package" with food and some other practical items. Then they showed us to our rooms. That was really helpful after such a long trip. The International Center also assigned each of us a buddy, so we always have someone from Germany who can answer our questions.

Did you learn German before you came to Germany?

I started learning German one year before I began my master’s programme. The German courses here at the university are free, so I’m still learning. Lots of people in Furtwangen prefer to speak German over English – so it’s good practice. Some people speak in dialect which I don’t understand all that well.

Would you recommend Furtwangen to other students?

Absolutely! Furtwangen is quiet and clean. There are places to relax everywhere. Here you can study in the middle of nature surrounded by mountains, fields and forests. There’s not much to distract you. The facilities at the university are very well equipped. And there are not too many students which means we are all well supervised and have a personal connection to our professors.

Do you have any good advice for students coming to Furtwangen?

Bring winter clothes with you! It can get very cold in the Black Forest. And you shouldn’t come to Furtwangen with overly high expectations. There’s no cinema here and not very many pubs. But there are a lot of nice people with whom you can have a great time. Be open to meeting people and try learning German before you get here.

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