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Oldenburg: Holiday feeling in northern Germany

In Oldenburg, every season of the year has a bit of a holiday feeling. The North Sea is just a hop, skip and jump away and numerous canals criss-cross the downtown district. The city and university campus are relatively small, making it easy for you to make friends quickly.

by Janine Funke

Bicycles everywhere in Oldenburg © Noack/DAAD
Bicycles everywhere in Oldenburg . © Noack/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
157,267
Students:
22,674
Universities:
3
Monthly rent:
292 €
Tip:
Besuche den Botanischen Garten der Universität Oldenburg!
Website:
www.oldenburg.de

Welcome to Oldenburg

Oldenburg is situated in the northern part of Germany near Bremen in the state of Lower Saxony. From Oldenburg, it’s not very far away to Germany’s western neighbour, the Netherlands.

Oldenburg is considered one of the most business-friendly cities in Germany. In addition to many traditional firms, it has become home to a vibrant creative scene which lends the city a new dynamic spirit. Oldenburg offers an increasing number of recreational activities featuring a mix of culture, nature, tradition and modernity.

Degodehaus © Noack/DAAD
Degodehaus . © Noack/DAAD

You’ll see impressive historic buildings on many streets and corners in town, such as the Lappan. This 35-m bell tower is one of the oldest buildings in Oldenburg. The historic building, in which the municipal library is located, is also worth seeing. As you pass the Oldenburger Staatstheater and the city hall, you’ll come to the marketplace where both young and old sit together and chat. Looking around, you can’t miss the impressive Degodehaus, one of the few buildings which survived the massive city fire of 1676 and recently underwent extensive renovation.

The downtown district is encircled by several canals fed by the Hunte River, so there are always places along the water to take a break.

By the way, some say that there are more bicycles in Oldenburg than inhabitants. Hard to believe, right? The fact is that bikes are a great way of getting around town, going to the university, taking excursions to the many lakes and moors in the region, or visiting the city parks.

Canal and library © Noack/DAAD
Canal and library . © Noack/DAAD

Living in Oldenburg

Oldenburg is a very comfortable, green city. And bikes are the best way of getting around. Some parts of the city are even blocked to traffic and can only be reached on foot or by bike.

Because Oldenburg is relatively small, you will be able meet people quickly. The International Office organises day excursions to a different German city every month, and stages “Game Nights” every Wednesday. They also put on an international dinner once a month, to which every student brings a typical food and beverage from his or her home country.

Castle © Noack/DAAD
Castle . © Noack/DAAD

You should plan a trip to the North Sea on one of your free weekends. Both in the summer and winter, you can take a train to the town of Dangst and enjoy the cool sea breeze. But Oldenburg itself offers water-recreational activities as well. For example, you can take a boat tour through the city and to the edge of the castle gardens via the canals of the Hunte River. In the summer time, many residents spend the day swimming at one of the many lakes in the regions. You should definitely try out the Woldsee!

My tip

Visit the Botanical Garden at the University of Oldenburg which contains many plants from the region and other countries as well!

If you’d like to go out for drinks at night, Wallstrasse is the place to go. There you’ll find numerous bars, restaurants and cafés, as well as many friends and acquaintances from the university. We strongly recommend trying the new beer at the Brauhaus, which goes well with a traditional meal of green cabbage in the autumn.

Cafe Extrablatt is an especially popular spot, and if you’re looking for a place to have a romantic dinner, we recommend reserving a table in the quaint inner courtyard of the Patio restaurant.

Interview with Elina from Norway

Elina Kristiansen is 21 years old and comes from Norway. She is enrolled in the bachelor’s degree programme Business Administration with a concentration in Legal Studies at the University of Oldenburg.

Elina from Norway © Noack/DAAD
Elina from Norway . © Noack/DAAD

Why did you decide to study in Germany?

After graduating, I needed a “change of scenery” and wanted to enrol in a degree programme abroad. I had already lived in Germany with my parents when I was six. My father works together with a German company and can also speak German, which is why I knew lot about the country and quickly decided to go to Germany. Oldenburg, though, was a coincidence. I wanted to study in the north and the university immediately accepted me.

How did you prepare for your studies in Germany?

Because I come from abroad and applied to a German-language bachelor’s programme, I had to prove that I had a certain level of German proficiency in order to really be accepted. That was the hardest part of my preparation. I got my Goethe-Zertifikat and had to pass the TestDaF during my first semester here.

Since I’ve always been interested in German, I was lucky that I could already speak it very well and was able to pass everything on my first try. After I received my acceptance letter, my father and I travelled to Oldenburg, looked for an apartment and took care of other matters. The International Office at the university helped me tremendously. It’s not so easy to find an apartment in Oldenburg because the city is constantly growing.

Were you able to get acclimated to the university and the city from the start?

Yes, that worked out very well. I received a lot of help through my degree programme. The people here are very nice and I always felt well taken care of. The International Office organised a special orientation week for the foreign students, which is how I met many other students. Meanwhile, I myself work as a tutor for the International Student Office and help other students from abroad.

Market square © Noack/DAAD
Market square . © Noack/DAAD

What do you especially like about Oldenburg and the University of Oldenburg?

I wanted to study at a place where I could make contacts quickly, and that worked very well in Oldenburg. The most important thing to have in Oldenburg, aside from an apartment, is a bicycle. You can get around everywhere with it – it’s totally practical. There are many lakes outside of town, and in the summer, I often travel with friends to the North Sea – it’s like a mini-break every weekend.

The university is still quite new and the buildings are all new and modern. I especially like the fact that you’re not anonymous, everyone helps each other and there’s almost a one-to-one student-teacher ratio. After my bachelor’s, I might even get my master’s here.

What surprised you most about Germany?

I was surprised that Germans were really as accurate and punctual as people say. There are certificates for everything, something we international students always find pretty funny. The “Kohlfahrten” are also very funny. People walk through the streets, pulling handcarts behind them, drink alcohol and end up at a bar eating cabbage. I did that once with some international students, and it was really fun.

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