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Stuttgart: The green economic centre in a valley

The area around Stuttgart is one of Germany's strongest industrial regions. The city in the south of the country offers engineering students ideal conditions. This green city that nestles in a valley is the headquarters of numerous companies in the automobile industry, major corporations and many research institutes.

by Sinah Vonderweiden

Schlossplatz © DAAD
Schlossplatz . © DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
591,000
Students:
82,400
Universities:
11
Monthly rent:
306 €
Tip:
Enjoy the stunning view from the Birkenkopf at sunset!
Website:
www.stuttgart.de

Welcome to Stuttgart

Stuttgart lies in the south of Germany and is a magnet for international students of engineering. The construction and automotive industry as well as information technology and mechanical engineering play an important role in the area. Many famous German car brands such as Daimler and Porsche and major enterprises such as Bosch, Kodak and Lenovo are based in Stuttgart. The city is also home to small and mid-sized companies, which have between ten and 500 employees and are often global market leaders in their industry. Renowned research and development institutions, including two Max Planck Institutes and institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are also headquartered here.

View from the TV tower © Timberwind/wikicommons
View from the TV tower . © Timberwind/wikicommons

You can enjoy fantastic views of Stuttgart and the surrounding area from the television tower, which has a 216-metre-high viewing platform.

There are numerous museums and small galleries in Stuttgart. Next to the big Staatsgalerie, for example, is the small project room known as Lotte and a wide selection of technical museums is supplemented by a host of smaller exhibition venues. Stuttgart has lots of attractions both in the city itself and in the surrounding area, where you can admire castles, churches and impressive architecture. The Uni-Park frequently showcases new architectural projects, and students like to hang out here in the summer when the weather's good.

Stuttgart lies in an area known as "Schwabenland", or Swabia, and the inhabitants are "Schwaben", or Swabians. They are renowned not only for their diligence and frugality but also for their culinary specialities. The Swabian cuisine is simple and down-to-earth. "Spätzle" (home-made noodles) and "Maultaschen" (filled pasta cases) are especially popular. Pasta dishes are usually served with lots of sauce and offered in many variations.

Unipark © DAAD
Unipark . © DAAD

Stuttgart is famous for the Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgart's version of the Munich Oktoberfest, which takes place on the main square. In the autumn, the people of Stuttgart refer to the festival simply as "Wasen". A spring festival is held here in April.

Football plays a central role in Stuttgart. The city's team VfB Stuttgart has a large fan base. Visiting the huge stadium full of enthusiastic football fans is always a very special experience.

Living in Stuttgart

Schlossplatz is in the city centre on Königstrasse. Young and old get together here to enjoy ice-creams and sit in the sun. From Schlossplatz, you're soon in Schlosspark, a long green belt which passes through the town and ends with the Wilhelma zoo. Whether you sit in a beer garden, on the banks of the river Neckar in Bad Cannstatt or visit a café for an ice-cream – the people of Stuttgart generally like to meet outdoors.

Maultaschen soup © Roland Geider/wikicommons
Maultaschen soup . © Roland Geider/wikicommons

Apart from parties organised by the different universities, there is a party mile on Theodor-Heuss-Strasse, where chic bars and clubs play house or pop music. For subculture go to "Wagenhallen" at the Nordbahnhof, "Bar Romantica" on Hauptstätter Strasse and "Lehmann" at the Bosch-Areal. One club with a particularly long tradition is Schräglage. This is where you'll meet hip-hop fans. Around the "Hans-im-Glück-Brunnen" fountain near Rotebühlplatz, there are lots of different little bars and restaurants that attract crowds of young people.

The best way to get to know the Stuttgart mentality is to visit the small beer taverns. In a so-called Besenwirtschaft, a type of wine tavern which is only open at certain times of the year, you can get Swabian dishes and wonderful wines from the region. A popular motto among the Swabians is "Schaffe, schaffe, Häusle bauen", literally meaning "Work hard, work hard, build a little house". If you want to know what this is actually all about, it's best to ask the locals over a pitcher of beer or a glass of wine in a "Besenwirtschaft".

My tip

A trip to the Birkenkopf, which is also referred to as "Monte Scherbelino". From there, the sunset and view of the town are stunning.

To enable you to find the right life/work balance, Stuttgart offers numerous recreational opportunities. Nature lovers are in their element in the nearby low-lying mountain ranges of the Schwäbische Alb and Black Forest. In the summer you can go hiking there, in the winter skiing or snowboarding. Feldberg has good slopes for winter sports. Cycling is also a popular hobby in Stuttgart. Whether racing bike or mountain bike – if you like cycling, you'll soon find like-minded friends.

One delightful winter highlight is the Christmas market in Esslingen, where you can treat yourself to a mug of hot, traditionally spiced mulled wine and enjoy a traditional German "Bratwurst", or sausage.

Interview with Adam from Morocco

Adam Bennari is studying for a Bachelor degree in Renewable Energies at the University of Stuttgart. He originally comes from Morocco and is 25 years old.

Picture of Adam from Morocco © Adam Bennari
Adam from Morocco . © Adam Bennari

Why did you decide to study in Stuttgart?

I decided to come to Stuttgart because it's possible to study Renewable Energies here. The University of Stuttgart is one of the first universities to offer a special study programme in this field. Another reason is that Baden-Württemberg generally pursues a policy that supports renewable energies.

Why is Stuttgart a good place to study in?

Despite the lack of accommodation, Stuttgart is one of the best university towns in southern Germany: it has dozens of institutes of higher education, good public transport services and, above all, (relatively) good weather!

What was the most difficult thing when you first moved to Germany? And how did you come to terms with this?

The most difficult thing at the beginning, of course, was homesickness. But thanks to my host family, new friends and skype (of course), I coped OK. I also had to learn the language. I found this really good fun though, so I soon got used to things here. It couldn't be any other way. The Germans are so friendly and welcoming!

Birkenkopf © DAAD
Birkenkopf . © DAAD

What surprised you most about life in Stuttgart?

The biggest surprise was that there's a Mercedes Museum here! Like a lot of Moroccans, I'm a big fan of the German car industry. My father and I visited the museum and we stayed there for ages!

What's the best way to get to know other students?

On campus, you meet students from all over the world and you soon come into contact with other people. Student parties and nightlife in general are a good way of having fun with other students. I really like the different work groups and student clubs and organisations that offer all kinds of activities and programmes (such as trade fairs, workshops, informal get-togethers).

Describe Germany in three words!

For me, Germany is a source of knowledge, a source of inspiration in energy policies and it's a generous nation.