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Krefeld: A large city with a Small-Town feeling

Krefeld, though actually quite large, has a charming, small-town feeling. Everything is located nearby, and with little effort you can escape into the beautiful Rhineland countryside for a day. If you enjoy concerts, jazz and ice hockey, you will soon feel right at home in Krefeld.

by Bastian Rothe

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum © flickr/Stadt Krefeld
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum . © flickr/Stadt Krefeld

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
222,000
Students:
14,650
Universities:
1
Monthly rent:
333 €
Tip:
Meet locals at "Zócalo"!
Website:
www.krefeld.de

Welcome to Krefeld

The pace of life in Krefeld is a bit slower than in other cities. In comparison to the neighbouring cities of Düsseldorf and Duisburg, everything feels a bit smaller and cosier in Krefeld. In the 18th and 19th century, Krefeld made a name for itself as the “City of Velvet and Silk”. Today its textile industrial legacy is commemorated at the “Haus der Seidenkultur” and the “German Textile Museum”.

Nowadays the textile industry plays a more important role in research. In collaboration with the Lower Rhine University of Applied Sciences, local companies are working to improve, among other things, industrial textiles. The chemical and metal industries, metal construction and automotive engineering are also important branches of industry in and around Krefeld. Numerous corporations, like Bayer AG and Evonik Industries, have built facilities at the “ChemPark” located directly on the Rhine River. Krefeld is also home to assembly plants for express trains, such as the ICE, as well as trams and subways.

Prinz Ferdinand Strasse © Rothe/DAAD
Prinz Ferdinand Strasse . © Rothe/DAAD

Despite the large industrial areas located on the outskirts of town, Krefeld has kept its charming character. All along Blumenstrasse and Prinz-Ferdinand-Strasse, you can admire the freshly renovated and colourfully painted houses which were built during Krefeld’s heyday. Further away from downtown are two buildings designed by the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: Both Haus Lange and Haus Ester (on Wilhelmshofallee) are public museums today.

If you’re wondering – the word “Krefelder” doesn’t only refer to residents of Krefeld. In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, it can also be a mixed beverage, containing Altbier (a dark beer) or Pilsener and cola. In other regions, those speed-bumps which force drivers to reduce their speed are sometimes called “Krefelder Pillows” – or “Krefelder” for short.

Living in Krefeld

Many people, who work in Düsseldorf or Duisburg, live in Krefeld because the rental prices are lower than in other cities. Students benefit from this as well. Krefeld has a well-developed public transport system with trams and bus lines. But riding your bike is also a safe and easy way to get around town. There are many bike paths and hardly any hills in Krefeld.

Krefelder Pillows © Rothe/DAAD
Krefelder Pillows . © Rothe/DAAD

The “Kulturfabrik” in Krefeld draws crowds from well outside the city limits. Concerts, cabaret and theatre performances are held there all year around. The Kulturfabrik – or “KuFa” for short – is located near the train station in one of the buildings of the old slaughterhouse. A bit closer to downtown, but somewhat hidden in Lohstrasse, you’ll find the “Jazzkeller”, one of the oldest jazz clubs in Germany which opened in 1958.

If you come to Krefeld, you should go see an ice-hockey game of the Krefeld Penguins which plays in the premier league. Emotions run high when they play against the Düsseldorf team. The fans endearingly call such matches “Streetcar Derbies” on account of the tram connection between Krefeld and Düsseldorf.

My tip

Near the shopping district of Königstrasse, there’s a café/restaurant called “Zócalo”. Many Krefelder like to meet there. You’ll quickly make contact with the locals!

If you come to Krefeld, you should go see an ice-hockey game of the Krefeld Penguins which plays in the premier league. Emotions run high when they play against the Düsseldorf team. The fans endearingly call such matches “Streetcar Derbies” on account of the tram connection between Krefeld and Düsseldorf.

Another big “sporting” event is the soapbox derby down Hülser Berg in Krefeld. Thousands of onlookers cheer on the daring pilots as they race down the hill at breakneck speeds. If you’re into sports yourself – especially water sports – then you ought to go to Elfrather Lake. There you can do windsurfing, rowing, diving and sailing. Many Krefelder enjoy taking relaxing walks or bike rides around the lake on warm, summer days.

Interview with Vasilis from Greece

Vasilis is 31 years old and comes from Greece. He’s in his fourth semester of a bachelor’s degree programme in Industrial Engineering.

Vasilis from Greece © Rothe/DAAD
Vasilis from Greece . © Rothe/DAAD

How did you prepare for your degree programme in Germany?

I came to live with my sister in Essen first, which isn’t very far from Krefeld, and attended a language course at the University of Duisburg/Essen. I definitely wanted to stay in North Rhine-Westphalia and so I looked at the universities and degree programmes in this region.

What would you recommend to students who wish to come to Germany?

They should definitely complete a language course ahead of time. I came to Germany with a B1 level – which was good enough to get around town a little bit. But you have to speak better German if you want to live and study here.

How do you finance your studies in Germany?

I receive a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and I work as a tutor at the university. I also have a small part-time job.

Beer garden in the park © flickr/Stadt Krefeld
Beer garden in the park . © flickr/Stadt Krefeld

What made you decide to study in Krefeld?

I checked various rankings and then applied to the different universities. I was also accepted in Bielefeld and Gütersloh, but Krefeld appealed to me most. Plus it’s not too far away from Essen, so I can visit my sister.

How do you like Krefeld?

I like this city because it’s just the right size for me. It’s true that some people don’t like it so much. But things are changing here. They’re trying to modernise many of the buildings downtown. The Stadtwald and Elfrather Lake are beautiful, and you can usually fine a nice, pretty neighbourhood to live in.

What advice could you give us about making friends in Germany?

Well, in the beginning I took part in a language partnership. That was nice because you can learn the language in a fun way and easily come in contact with other people. You can find groups and meeting places on Facebook, like in Düsseldorf or Cologne.

What do you want to do after your studies?

I’d like to stay in Germany and get some on-the-job experience. In a few years, I’ll return to Greece back to my family.

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