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Siegen: Small student town with a personal flair

Are you the type that likes small towns where you can run into fellow students at parties or when you’re out shopping? Would you feel more comfortable at a smaller university? Then Siegen is the right place for you! Its small-town flair is perfect for studying, living and having fun.

by Rahel Klein

Panorama of Siegen © Klein/DAAD
Panorama of Siegen . © Klein/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
99,000
Students:
18,800
Universities:
1
Monthly rent:
289 €
Tip:
Relax on a summer picnic at the Schlosspark!
Website:
www.siegen.de

Welcome to Siegen

Siegen is one of the smaller university towns in Germany with some 100,000 inhabitants. It lies at the heart of what is known as the Siegerland, a densely wooded region in the southern part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Siegen is a place where everything is reachable on foot and where you can quickly get out into nature and escape the hectic pace of city life. The town and its university offer students many opportunities to expand their horizons and ensure they’re not lost in the anonymity of a big city.

Oberes Schloss © Klein/DAAD
Oberes Schloss . © Klein/DAAD

The Siegerland was long known as an ore-mining region. There are two large bronze statues next to the train station named “Hüttenmann“ (Smeltery Man) and “Bergmann” (Mining Man), honouring the city’s industrial history.

In the upper part of town (Oberstadt), you’ll find numerous churches and the Untere Schloss (Lower Castle) and Obere Schloss (Upper Castle). You can get a wonderful view of the entire city from the expansive park grounds of the “Obere Schloss”. The castle features the collections of the Siegerland Museum and the Rubens Hall. Siegen is the birthplace of the world-famous Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. Consequently, Siegen is often nicknamed the “Rubens City”. Nine original paintings by Rubens are on display in the Rubens Hall.

In the historic centre of town, you’ll see several half-timbered houses with authentically historic slate-covered roofs. They were all lovingly reconstructed after downtown Siegen was destroyed during World War II. St. Nicholas’ Church is also worth seeing. On the spire of the church, you will notice a small golden crown – the official symbol of the city of Siegen.

Campus of the university © Klein/DAAD
Campus of the university . © Klein/DAAD

Living in Siegen

One of the great things about Siegen is its size. When you go out during the week or at the weekend, you can be sure to meet many of your fellow students. In the immediate vicinity of the train station, there are numerous bars and clubs where you can eat, drink and be merry. The music club Meyer is the most popular and well-known meeting place for students. Every Wednesday, they host a student party with changing mottos. The club PlanB, not even five minutes away, is a bit classier and hosts student parties on Thursdays.

If you want to go out to a nice place for drinks, you’ll like Das Wohnzimmer. It’s located directly beneath PlanB at the main train station and is decorated in a 60s retro style. You absolutely have to try out their homemade cakes and cupcakes! Every Monday and Thursday, the Irish pub Shamrock organises a quiz night which has become especially popular with students.

Schlosspark © Klein/DAAD
Schlosspark . © Klein/DAAD

The CityGalerie is a large shopping centre located near the main train station. There you’ll find shops for everything you need – groceries, office supplies, clothing, electronics, etc. On Bahnhofstraße next to the train station, you can do some window-shopping or hang out at one of the many cafés there. You’ll tend to find the smaller shops and boutiques in the Oberstadt district – the historic part of town.

The Obere Schloss regularly hosts a variety of cultural events. You can also just stretch out and relax on the lawns in the adjacent Schlosspark. It’s a favourite oasis for many students.

The entire Oberstadt district has become one the favourite residential areas for students over the past few years. Numerous flat-shares have popped up in the small, quaint half-timbered houses downtown. In the summertime, students sit together in the small courtyards, celebrate and go out together at night.

My tip

Pack a picnic basket and blanket and relax with some friends on the lawn in the Schlosspark in the summer.

Siegen’s cultural life has much to offer. Poetry slams and concerts take place at the Apollo Theater. The Kulturhaus Lyz regularly invites regional and national artists to perform. We should also mention the special film award The Golden Monaco. The award ceremony is entirely organised and hosted by students, with prizes going to the best student-made films and videos.

The Bigge Lake, located about half an hour away, is a gigantic reservoir which is especially popular in the summer. It’s an excellent place to go camping, swimming and barbecuing and is never jam-packed even on hot days. Thanks to its southern location, Siegen is just minutes away by car from the states of Rhineland Palatinate and Hesse.

Interview with Ahsan from Pakistan

Ahsan Ali is 28 years old, comes from Pakistan and earned his master’s degree in “Roads to Democracy(ies)” in Siegen.

Picture of Ahsan from Pakistan © Klein/DAAD
Ahsan from Pakistan . © Klein/DAAD

What made you decide to study in Siegen?

The master’s programme “Roads to Democracy(ies)” exactly matched my academic interests. I had studied “International Relations” in Pakistan, and was able to build on that thematically, especially because all of the master’s courses were taught in English.

How did you prepare for your studies in Germany?

One of my professors in Pakistan played a significant role. He had studied in Heidelberg for a while and was acquainted with the German education system. Then he helped me organise my studies in Germany, find the right university and a master’s programme in English.

As you know, Siegen is a relatively small city. Did it meet your expectations?

I’ve gotten to know so many people from so many different cultures – which has been a formative experience for me. Most of my fellow students have been friendly and helpful. When I arrived in Siegen, I initially had problems finding a flat because the student residence hall was filled. But then some friends and fellow students helped me out and within a few weeks, I had found a flat.

Oberstadt © Klein/DAAD
Oberstadt . © Klein/DAAD

And what was your experience with learning German?

I took a few courses at the university. What helped me most was speaking with friends and fellow students – you learn much more that way than in German courses. And I watched television and movies in German.

What do you like best about Siegen?

I especially like the historic part of town and the Obere Schloss. I spend lots of my Sundays there with friends. We sit in the park on the lawns and relax.

What advice would you give to foreign students who want to come in contact with other students?

I’d suggest participating in the events organised by the International Students in Siegen (ISIS). They regularly put on cultural events and parties. One time I went to one of their International Dinners, which I really liked. I love it when all sorts of different cultures come together and you can get to know new people and new countries.

Please complete the following sentence: Studying in Germany….

… has offered me a better platform to launch my career and has been an important experience for getting to know about the highs and lows of life.