My Erasmus Exchange in Hamburg, Germany

Why did you choose to go to Hamburg, Germany?

I was set on going to Germany. I hovered between Berlin and Hamburg, ending up choosing the latter as the university offered classes in English and I had a low level of German.

Once I'd gotten to know both cities (Berlin and Hamburg), I didn't regret having chosen Hamburg for a second.

How long did your exchange last? How much were you paid?

My exchange was for five months, from the beginning of March to mid-June. My grant was around 200 euros, though this will depend on what autonomous community you come from.

What's the student life like in Hamburg?

The university organises a week of activities for the international students before classes begin, meaning that you get to know people from the very first day onwards.

There are loads of student residences, some further out from the city centre than others, but they are all great and well-connected to the uni by public transport.

Would you recommend the city and the University of Hamburg to other students?

Definitely. The winter months can be hard though... so I recommend going for the second semester if you can (the Sommersemester) since then you'll avoid the worst months.

I'd also recommend learning basic German before you go, although your classes will be in English, since it's always going to be useful (warning: the Germans just speak in German to each other! ).

One other thing: there are several universities in Hamburg. Mine was the Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg (HAW), which is a uni with a more practical emphasis that the Universität Hamburg, and my experience there was a very positive one.

What's German food like?

Nothing like the Mediterranean diet, but German food isn't bad.

Apart form the typical Bratwurst and Currywurst which you can find in kiosks on the street, there are restaurants with more variety such as Hofbräuhäuser. What's surprising is the large amount of Bäckerei they have.

Did you find it hard to find somewhere to live in Hamburg?

Accommodation was my big worry before I came, since the university didn't provide me with a room in a hall of residence, so I was having to search for a flat online. A few weeks before I left for Germany, the university contacted me to say that they had a few rooms spare in halls - thank goodness!

How expensive is living in Hamburg?

The student residences are cheaper than they are in Spain (at least, cheaper than they are in Madrid). They cost around 260 euros a month and are basically shared flats.

If you're not lucky enough to get a room in a residence, flats can be expensive - Hamburg is one of Germany's most expensive cities.

How are you finding the language? Have you signed up to a language class at the university?

When I arrived in Hamburg, I had already been studying German for a year and I took advantage of my stay to improve my German by going to classes at the Hamburger Volkshochschule. Some academies also run classes at the universities and give discounts to Erasmus students.

What's the cheapest way of getting to Hamburg from your home city?

By plane. I flew to Hamburg with Lufthansa, though Ryanair also fly to Bremen and Lübeck airports, which aren't far from Hamburg.

What are the best places for partying in Hamburg?

Reeperbahn, in St. Pauli district, is the most famous street for clubbing in Hamburg. Prepare yourself, as it amazes everyone. In the city centre, the area mixes pubs with sex shops and show bars, with prostitutes and drunks wandering about everywhere. At first glance, it looks a mess, but you get used to it: every night out always takes place there.

What about eating out in Hamburg? What are your favourite places?

Hamburg has a wide variety of international restaurants. I remember the first meal out I had there in a Hindu restaurant...

For German food, as I mentioned before, the Hofbräuhaus isn't bad. There's also a good place in Sternschanze for eating kumpir, which are roast potatoes with loads of different fillings.

What does hamburg have to offer in terms of culture?

Though the cultural side of Hamburg isn't what fascinated me most about the city, it's a great city for wandering through, enjoying the parks and the Alster. There are loads of museums such as the Kunsthalle (for art), Ballinstadt (immigration museum), Miniatur Wunderland (more than a museum, it's models of entire cities in miniature), and other niche ones such as Dialog im Dunkeln (where you experience what it feels like to be blind).

Do you have any advice for future students coming to Hamburg?

Don't let the weather get you down - this is the only downside to Hamburg... still, it makes you really appreciate a sunny day!

Another piece of advice: travel as much as you can, as the train is very cheap if you travel in groups.

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