by: Stephen Ategie
My first impression of Erfurt when I came here in October last year was that it was so small that finding activities to do in my spare time (not like there is much spare time during the semester) would be very difficult. True, it’s a small city with a population of just above 200,000 inhabitants, but the city offers so many attractive activities for young people who want to take some time off the academic workload in the university. The city’s population is an aging one, however the location of the University of Erfurt in the city has attracted many young people to the city, thus making it a vibrant city bolstering with young people. There are various attractions in the city for young and old alike, hence no matter what your interests may be, there is bound to be something that catches your fancy. There are various music and dance clubs, bars, cafes, sport and fitness centers, continental restaurants and during spring and summer, the ambience of the city’s beauty is evident to see, with the numerous parks blossoming with trees, flowers and people having a nice time picnicking, playing outdoor sports or just lying in the sun.
The people of Erfurt are also friendly people, caring and willing to help when asked. As a foreigner, you may feel a little bit uncomfortable when you walk on the streets or when you are in the tram, and people are staring at you. Some foreigners feel quite uneasy with this, but if you observe more closely, you would realize that they are staring at you for all the right reasons, i.e. not in a bad way, but in a friendly curious way, and they would be more than glad if you smile back and say hello or even start a conversation. You might be surprised what a simple ‘hallo’ could achieve. 🙂
Now on to more academic matters… To be honest, I did not imagine that the German academic system would be this demanding. I took 7 courses last semester and it was so hectic, that I almost (I created some time of course 🙂 ) did not have time for extracurricular activities. 7 courses, 4 term papers, presentations, group assignments, classes and exams. Not to talk of the unbelievable amount of time spent in the university library reading countless books and materials. When the semester finally ended, my joy was so great, because this also coincided with the end of winter and the emergence of spring. So now I can wear shorts, a tee-shirt and cycle through the beautiful city of Erfurt, enjoying the nice weather and playing sports with friends in the park.
I come from Lagos in Nigeria, with the city’s population of over 20 million, but I have found life here in Erfurt to be really good and interesting. And the cost of living is also really low here, compared with bigger German cities like Hamburg and Munich. I have made many friends here, and I get to practice my German often. 🙂 As the saying goes, we all see life through different lenses. What has Erfurt been for you? Do not hesitate to leave a comment.