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Munich: Tradition meets innovation

Munich is the home of two prestigious German universities and a city rich in contrasts: modern and dynamic, but at the same time cosy and laid-back. This is where the high-tech sector and academic world meet the rough and ready charm and pure fun of the Oktoberfest. These are just some of the reasons why Germany's southernmost city attracts so many young people.

by Sinah Vonderweiden

Skyline of Munich and the Alps © Rudolf Sterflinger
Skyline of Munich and the Alps . © Rudolf Sterflinger

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
1,365,000
Students:
109,100
Universities:
12
Monthly rent:
358 €
Tip:
Feel like a local by using the Bavarian word “servus” instead of “hello”!
Website:
www.muenchen.de

Welcome to Munich

This is where Bavarian culture meets cosmopolitan flair: Munich is the capital of the German federal state of Bavaria and lies to the north of the Alps. With a population of around 1.3 million, Munich is Germany's third largest city.

Munich is a strong economic centre. Well-known enterprises from the high-tech, electronics and automobile industries such as BMW, Siemens, Infineon, Allianz and Munich Re Group are headquartered here. This economic power generates excellent job opportunities for graduates from all kinds of fields. Munich is home to two of the most prestigious universities in Germany, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) and Technische Universität München (TUM). It is also a city of ideas and inventions. Both the German and the European Patent Office have their headquarters on the banks of the river Isar.

Pinakothek der Moderne © Rufus46/wikicommons
Pinakothek der Moderne . © Rufus46/wikicommons

Munich boasts the Deutsche Museum, the world's largest museum of science and technology, the "Pinakothek der Moderne", the most important museum of modern art in Europe, and of course, it's the home of FC Bayern München, one of Europe's most successful football clubs.

The Vorhoelzer Forum offers a sensational view of the city from its café on the large roof terrace. You should also pay a visit to the Olympiapark and Olympia tower. On clear days, you can enjoy stunning views from the tower and even see as far as the Alps!

Oktoberfest © Dilankf/wikicommons
Oktoberfest . © Dilankf/wikicommons

The famous Oktoberfest beer festival takes place in the autumn. This is something both locals and visitors look forward to all year! Young and old gather in the huge marquees and celebrate in a relaxed and lively atmosphere with folk music and current hits. It won't take you long to get to know locals! The vast festival takes place on the Theresienwiese, and the most important thing about it, of course, is the beer! Here, you'll see beautiful women in traditional Bavarian costume ("Dirndl") and men wearing leather trousers.

Viktualienmarkt is also a good place for meeting people from Munich. You can buy fresh food at this popular market ("Viktualien" is an old term for food) and wander past the stands. A generally accepted motto in Munich is: speaking makes life easier.

Living in Munich

Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany. Students love the cultural diversity and beautiful buildings in the districts of Maxvorstadt or Schwabing. These are great places to live and for nightlife, but they're very expensive.

Englischer Garten © DAAD
Englischer Garten . © DAAD

The people of Munich attach importance to order and respect. "Münchner" are known to say rather rudely: "Dich kenn ich fei nicht." ("I don't know you."). But if you're polite and get to know people properly, they will treat you in a friendly way. It's important to the locals that you respect their culture and don't simply imitate them. You're much more likely to make new friends during a conversation over a glass of wine than by walking through the streets wearing cheap leather trousers with a bottle of beer in your hand.

If you're shy about approaching people, many universities have buddy programmes where international students are supervised by students from higher semesters during their stay abroad. These buddies help you with organisational matters or language problems.

There are lots of nice places in Munich where students get together. The Englischer Garten or "Eisbachwelle" are very popular spots. The rapidly flowing Eisbach has a manmade wave which surfers like to ride. You can sunbathe on the lawns next to the Pinakothek museums in Maxvorstadt.

My tip

If you want to get to know locals, just greet them with the word "servus". This means "hello!"

Popular and, above all, typically Bavarian meeting points in good weather are the beer gardens. This is where friends meet to drink a cool beer or refreshing "spritzer" (juice with mineral water). The beer gardens next to the Funkhaus, "Hofgarten" or on Max-Weber-Platz are especially attractive. When you're in Munich, of course, you also have to try local culinary specialities, such as the traditional Bavarian breakfast with Weisswurst, or white sausage, wheat beer and pretzels. This is typical brewery fare.

The city centre abounds with clubs where you can party until the early hours. Popular venues include the hip "Crux", "Schnelle Liebe" and "Kong". This is where you'll meet Munich's chic, urban party scene. All the clubs are within 15 minutes' walk from each other. You can get cheap drinks at "Barschwein" close to the "Munich Freiheit" underground stop.

Interview with Tim from France

Timothee Mille is 20 years old, a native of France, and studies Music with a focus on jazz and piano at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Munich.

Picture of Tim from France © DAAD
Tim from France . © DAAD

What made you decide to study in Munich?

I wanted to try out different universities, this is something you should do as a musician. Paris didn't work out after I'd finished my studies at a vocational school for musicians. My father works here in Germany, and because I knew that lecturers here are so good, I decided I should stay here.

Being able to speak German really helps in everyday life. How did you learn German?

My German grandmother always likes to speak German with me. But what does it mean that it's important for everyday life? It's simply a matter of respect for a country when you're there as a guest. If foreigners come to France, I think it's good if they try and speak French too. It's the same everywhere.

What do you think of the culture in Munich?

The first thing I have to say is that all the clichés that exist about Bavaria are true! There are lots of blonde women with blue eyes and the beer cliché is extremely evident! Otherwise, life here is, how should I put it ... cool!

Eisbachwelle © DAAD
Eisbachwelle . © DAAD

How does life in Munich differ to life in France?

The mentality is a bit different. The Germans always want rules. They're important and should be adhered to. If you arrive late – at a concert or somewhere else – the ticket office will be closed and you can't just go in. You're not allowed in, end of story. Those are the rules! Whereas in France, it's no problem. It's more relaxed.

How do you make friends or get to know nice people here? Do you have any advice?

Just go out and don't be afraid of meeting people you don't know! I think the most difficult thing at the beginning is remembering the fact that you might not be able to speak the language well but you can still meet people. It's sometimes scary being a stranger if you have to speak a foreign language and you don't know if the other person understands you or not. But it doesn't really matter at all.

And finally: Describe Germany in three words

  1. organised
  2. open
  3. active