What is the Study Buddy program?
The Study Buddy helps an international student to find his/her way in Bremen quickly. Whether it is a campus tour, a coffee in the Viertel or a typical sightseeing; you decide what you're doing together!
The placement usually depends on study fields and same interests. It takes place at the beginning of the semester.
With this program you can...
- socialize with people coming from all over the world
- practise your foreign languages
- find new friends
- prepare you for a stay abroad
- pass on experiences abroad
Apart from that, the Study-Buddy-Team organizes trips on a regular basis so you will get to know all the other Buddys as well. In the pictures below you can see some impressions of some of our trips.
„Growing up in the true pearl of the North“ ~ What it‘s like to be an 18-year-old in Bremen today~
So, here we are! The „Domsheide“: one of the most important transport hubs in Bremen.
Here, trams and busses can get you to basically any city district you wish.
As I mentioned in my short introduction, my former school used to be located near the Domsheide, which is the reason as to why I saw the sometimes pretty, sometimes strange facade of this place almost every day.
All kinds of people roam around here; some to get to the inner city, some to get to work as well as children and teenagers going to school to name a few.
I -of course- was one of the many young boys making their way to school there every morning.
After school was finished, my friends and me often went to pay the „big golden M“ (also visible in the upper pic) a visit to fill our junk - food - addicted stomach. At one point in my school career, I went there so often, the staff started calling me the „McRib - guy“ (which is the burger I always ordered). When we weren’t in the mood for that, we sometimes also went to the most famous Kebap shop of the Domsheide; located just next to the big M (depending on where you come from, you might not even know what a Kebap is, which in itself is a DAMN SHAME!). When I started going there - which had to be about in sixth grade- the people working there sometimes mistakenly told me I had to pay them more, than what I actually owed them. Looking back, they obviously just made some little, insignificant mistakes, which is quite understandable considering the masses of people giving up their orders at the same time. Still, after those experiences shy, young Kasper stopped going there for a while. Fortunately -after regaining my confidence- I once again went there and by now I would even consider myself something of a local; I can wholeheartedly recommend the shop! It is a little expensive compared to other Kebap - shops, but that’s owed to it‘s location in the city center and overall higher quality of the interior and food.
There are also multiple bakeries on the Domsheide; one of them is from a famous Northern German bakery chain and is located just behind one of Domsheide‘s bus stops.
In my later school years, I used to head there during the twenty minute break between classes to get some pretzels, sandwiches or some cold pizza slices. The price tag on those can be quite hefty, but nothing out of this world. The staff is usually very friendly and the shop has some nice big chairs to relax in (during non Corona times).
Now, let’s talk a little about the atmosphere of this busy, sometimes hectic and loud place.
The very first thing you‘ll probably notice when going here (by day) is the striking sound of trams arriving and leaving, often ringing their electric bells to get people out of the way. In the most busy hours of the day, these constantly repeating sounds can get quite annoying, but you’ll get used to it, trust me. On the other hand -as some of my Arabic and Indian friends told me- this is absolutely nothing compared to the busy streets and places in Cairo, Marrakech or Mumbai for example.
As I already mentioned above, the Domsheide can be used to take a look at Bremen’s society at its most vibrant; you’ll see people in a Tom Ford suit heading into the city to get their bespoke cashmere turtleneck with their name carefully stitched on the inside, as well as people living on the street and people doing performance art (who could potentially also live on the street). They usually perform feats such as standing still like a statue or moving like a robot (for example), which is very impressive to say the least! Maybe when you happen to come by one of them sometime, you could give them your pocket change or even buy them something to eat or drink :)
I recall that one day (has to be about three years ago now), I gave a homeless man sitting in front of one of Domsheide’s bakeries most of my lunch money; I laid it in his hat, where a few other donations could already be found. When he noticed the amount of money I gave him, he jumped up and immediately hugged me. This encounter definitely made my day back then and left me feeling good about myself and about the power every last one of us holds to bring a smile to someone’s face.
At night, the atmosphere completely switches; the masses of people are gone and the sound of incoming trains and busses becomes a little or rather far less frequent (depending on if it’s past 12 PM). It has kind of a tranquil vibe, being all alone on such a huge place at night, with no one around. Sometimes you see lights going on and off in the windows of one of Domsheide’s big office buildings; growing up, I always asked myself why people bothered to still be at their workplace this late in the evening. Well, having collected some experience working myself, I guess I understand now ;)
To sum it all up, the Domsheide kind of „accompanied“ me from when I was just a little boy to who I am today (still a little boy at heart). It was one of the few constants in my life; I could rely on seeing its face five times a week, no matter the circumstances surrounding this point in time. The place definitely grew on me, all while I was growing myself, on the outside such as on the inside.
From being afraid of huge masses of people to barely noticing them anymore, from being afraid to order food alone to doing it almost robotically as an everyday „chore“, from being caught up between long legs of tall people to almost towering over some of their heads now; it all started here.
Because of those reasons, I thought it was only fitting to start my little blog talking about this certainly extraordinary place.
The Domsheide also leads to multiple parts of the inner city: like the „Schnoor“ or the „Marktplatz“ , but I’ll write some dedicated chapters for these locations, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves ;)
I hope you enjoyed this first little chapter and will stick around for the second one!
~ your Kasper
As already announced in my previous blog entry, this chapter will be about the „Viertel“, a city district of Bremen, whose name simply translates to „district“. It’s a magical place in more than one way. First of all, officially the „Viertel“ doesn’t even exist, it’s simply a slang - term used to sum up the districts „Ostertor“ and „Steintor“. Even though I’ve grown up in Bremen, I didn‘t know of that fact until like two years ago, when one of my teachers randomly dropped this fact on us. Back then I was kind of embarrassed to be quite honest with you, realizing I didn’t know as much about my own city as I thought I did!
But now; why did I decide to dedicate today’s article to this aforementioned „magical place“ ? To put it bluntly, this district just oozes joie de vivre, acceptance, tolerance and overall, just good vibrations seem to flow above the rooftops here.
Just for context: I, Kasper, was raised in „Schwachhausen“, one of Bremen’s East side districts. It’s actually located not that far away from the „Viertel“, but I still don’t remember having any memorable events unfold there when I was young (7-10ish). That all changed when I started attending the catholic high school near Domsheide. You may recall; my previous article was about that place!
Well, it just so happens that the „Viertel“ is simply a short walking distance (of about 15 minutes) off!
My friends and me first started going there for the very same reason as you (probably) would in non - Corona times; FOOD AND DRINKS!
The Viertel has a multitude of amazing, (mostly) low - cost restaurants, take - aways and bars. Many of them carry a long and interesting legacy on their shoulders; I recommend asking around your fellow German students and/or friends to find out more! (Unfortunately, I can’t go into further detail because I’m not allowed to mention their names :// Copyright stuff, you get the drill)
When my friends and me first went to a Kebap and Rollo shop (more infos regarding the „Rollo“ will follow later in the text) in the area, we were immediately greeted by an insane amount of hospitality and budget - friendly food, that happened to taste way better than what the price was alluding to (some of the Kebap shops here are even better than the one on Domsheide, but pshhht ;)) We often met up in the Viertel after school and spontaneously decided where we wanted to go (even during Corona times); the selection is huge, I recommend to just explore at your own pace while still trying out as much as you can, it’s worth it!
But I think you’ve heard enough of Kebaps by now, haven’t you ? Let me introduce you to the Viertels proudest invention when it comes to food: the Rollo. The Rollo is a (as the name already suggests) rolled flatbread with various fillings (meat, vegetables, vegetarian, vegan).
In my humble opinion, the Rollo happens to be one of the best „allrounder“ - fast food around. Lots of people from different cultural backgrounds and with different jobs pay the legendary Rollo inventing shop on the „Sielwall“ - crossing a visit in their lunch break or after work (Disclaimer again to prevent confusion: I sadly can’t mention the name of the restaurant, but just ask around for the legendary Rollo - shop on Sielwall; everyone who’s set foot in the Viertel at least once will (hopefully) know what you mean!)
Holy moly, that was a LOT about food; let’s get into the bar - side of things now ;)
The options here are just as varied as the ones for food. I strongly recommend getting one of your Bremen - friends to guide you around; there are a few must visits along the way. In some bars legendary stories are being written almost every night (Pro tip: ask for the „Eisentaufe“ in a certain bar of (almost) the same name on Sielwall if you wanna have an uncomplicated, easy - to - stomach drink)
Warning! The previous statement may potentially contain sarcasm!
I have collected a few of alcohol induced „(mis)adventures“ myself over the years, but I‘m afraid I shouldn’t go into more detail here :)
But riddle me this: What happens when you give 16 year old Kasper a fake ID and 30 euros to spend ? I’ll let your imagination run wild for this one.
Onto the cultural attractions now! I first got introduced to this side of the Viertel by an acquaintance of my parents, who happens to be a photographer living and working here!
In eighth grade, I did a two week internship at his photo studio which is located in a sleepy side alley, far away from the hustle and bustle of the Main Street. Here - aside from learning a lot about the art of photography- I began to get immersed in the art - and music - oriented scene of the Viertel.
But of course that’s not all; far from it actually!
Right when you enter the Viertel, be it by train or on foot, you’ll see the awe inducing building that contains Bremen’s (main) theater inside!
Being honest with you, I don’t recall much about it, but that’s owed to the fact, that I haven’t been there in forever. The last time I was there (probably around 2011?), my parents and me watched an adaption of the book „The Brothers Lionheart“ by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, as far as I can remember.
I do have one big, big recommendation from recent memory for all of you though: the small and cozy cinema that’s located in about the middle of the Viertel; it’s a „Programmkino“ (Arthouse Cinema) which means it only shows a small variety of carefully selected movies, some new, some old. I’m quite passionate about the topic of filmmaking myself, so I often went there throughout the years, discovering some hidden movie gems myself! The atmosphere is very warm and friendly due to the cinema only having one hall where movies are being shown. Oh, and there also is a bar literally right in front of the cinema hall for all your food and drink related needs!
And now, we’re gonna take a look from above: what’s it feel like to move around, live or simply just BE in this district ? I know, I kind of already answered this question in the beginning of my text but I feel somewhat obligated to give y’all a more nuanced description than „magical place“ (which it most certainly is though!).
As already mentioned above; restaurants, small bars, music stores, take aways and even a cozy arthouse cinema lay on this street (Ostertorsteinweg). Similar to the Domsheide, this street is loud and full of people (at all times of the day by the way), but the atmosphere is very laid-back and the people aren’t as hectic as they are in the inner city. The atmosphere always reminded me of certain streets in Berlin and the old town of Amsterdam for example; if you’ve ever been there, I think it’s easy to draw parallels.
Last but certainly not least, let’s answer the question what the Viertel „taught“ me.
Back when I first started regularly going here, my mom was worried about me; she heard stories from a colleague whose son had a long history of drug abuse, which all started in the Viertel, where he allegedly started buying marijuana first but soon started leaning towards the more „hardcore“ drugs on the market. Not having grown up in Bremen and not knowing anyone from this particular district, she started developing prejudices towards the Viertel; not necessarily wanting me to hang out there etc. At first, I was mad at her for trying to keep me away from areas she deemed unsafe. As a teenager you often feel like your parents are making irrational decisions, but when you get a little older you realize they’re mostly concerned for your safety :)
Still, I’d love to tell you that she changed her mind and started appreciating the cultural diversity displayed here, but you know how parents are sometimes; stubborn and narrow minded towards certain topics.
Having made completely different experiences traversing around the Viertel, (by day and by night) it taught me to try to never have any preconceptions about places/people etc, no matter what other people might tell you beforehand. It’s all about making your own experiences and building your opinion on that foundation.
Well, that was it for today. I hope you enjoyed my article and are looking forward to the next one! Cheers!
We have now successfully reached the third chapter of my blog! There actually is a saying originating from Bremen („Dreimal ist Bremer Recht!“), which tells us that all things can be done three times; it’s your right to do so here!
Throughout the years I often used this phrase in a joking manner with friends, for example when I wanted to order three cheeseburgers instead of just two or even a measly one.
I highly encourage you to make good use of this phrase while you’re here, us locals will appreciate it ;)
Now, enough with the digression and back on track! Today, I’ll tell you a thing or two about our lovely inner city. It’s Bremen’s most historically interesting part, stacked with lots of sights for some free likes on your Insta - Account and all kinds of stores to satisfy your inner shopaholic.
When you ask Bremen’s locals what stands out to them about our inner city, you will most likely get answers like: the market square, the Roland (a famous statue of Charlemagne‘s nephew), the Böttcherstraße, the town musicians, the city hall and the St. Petri Cathedral.
All of these sights have one thing in common: they were constructed atleast one-hundred years ago (Some of them, such as the Roland, have even been around for over five-hundred years)!
If you happen to hail from a European country, this won’t come as a surprise to you. After all, most outdoor tourist attractions are old buildings, statues and places, right ?
While that might be true for cities that have been around for a long time, it certainly doesn’t have to be this way!
I‘m thinking of newly developing cities all around the globe, who are still in the process of creating their own identity and therefore do not possess historical statues, places etc. yet.
Admittingly, I‘m not the biggest expert in that regard; I’ve never been outside of Europe!
My view on the other parts of the world is heavily shaped by talking to people from those places; obviously the media, such as television news, experience reports, movies and video blogs for example, are a huge part of this world - building (in my head) as well.
Pretending that I’m a completely unprejudiced person concerning those topics would be hypocritical to say the least.
I‘m writing this, as to not come off like someone uneducated enough to believe that Europe is the only continent with worthwhile sights to visit.
I simply lack any first - hand experience that would make me eligible to comment on sights from Jaipur or Shenzhen for example.
Although I obviously plan to change that, once we get rid of this virus.
Now, picture this: you’re walking into the city starting from Domsheide, you pass a café that belongs to a multi - billion dollar company and one that actually sells tasty coffee for under five bucks; suddenly you’re standing on Bremen’s famous market place. Your eyes sway around, not knowing what to examine first: the enormous, proud, illustrious town hall, the „Roland“ standing in front of it like a guardian angel or maybe the golden facade relief of the Böttcherstraße ?
Little intermission here: I didn’t tell you guys before, but I actually wasn’t born in Bremen. Why is this important ? Well, I told you guys I‘m going to use this blog to talk about my experiences growing up here and so I did the last two chapters. Especially for this segment though, I consider it important for you to know, that I once saw all of Bremen through the same eyes as you at the moment.
Ten years ago, my family and me moved from Berlin to Bremen. I was eight years old back then, just lost all of my friends and was pretty dissatisfied overall with having to move to another city. One of the first places my family took me and my brother to was the inner city. They wanted to convince us that moving to another place didn’t mean the end of the world and that beauty can be found no matter where you are. A concept that didn’t sit quite right with me at that point in time; I only wanted to go back to my friends, my old school and our old house on a small hill. But obviously fate had already decided that Bremen was my hometown now. After a few rough months, I too managed to accept this city as my new home and it was only uphill from there.
Today, I am more than happy to call this beautiful city my hometown and am even more thrilled to be telling you guys all about it!
But yes, all of the above is the reason why I always think of my first days in Bremen when I happen to pay the market place a little visit.
So much for „short intermissions“.
To not completely overwhelm you, I’ll be focusing on the three sights in the inner city I deem the most interesting to visit/watch/take photos of as an international student.
I’ll start with the St. Petri Cathedral.
Since I visited a catholic high school not far from this particular cathedral, my school would often take us there for ceremonies and religious events.
In my eyes, it’s one of the most awe - inspiring building in all of Bremen; I don’t believe I need to elaborate on this, just look up a picture on Google or even better, visit it in person. It’s just as (if not even more) gorgeous from the inside as it is from the outside. If you’re interested in Romanesque and gothic architecture, this’ll be even more of a feast for you.
The second building is actually very close to the dome, it stands right next to it!
I‘m obviously talking about the aforementioned town hall, THE most impressive building in Bremen; I’d even put it before the cathedral. Trust me, you need to see this one in person!
The third sight is not a building but a whole street: the Böttcherstraße. Its buildings are constructed in the style of „expressionism“, which is very rare to encounter in daily life!
The street contains a museum, lots of souvenir shops, a few restaurants, a hotel and handicraft workshops.
I always found the artwork (facade relief) at the beginning of the street to be its most mesmerizing asset. You can spot its golden greatness right from the marketplace!
Away from the sights for a second, how’s the shopping and food situation in the inner city you might ask?
Food: great, Shopping: uhmm...
Let‘s start with the positives; the food options are great just like in the Viertel. But I talked so much about that in the last two articles that I think I’d be overkilling it a little at this point (that is, if I dedicated another paragraph to this topic). So we‘ll just leave it at that for today.
The shopping side of the inner city is honestly pretty disappointing. I’m sorry for having to tell you this, but unfortunately it‘s not looking too good at the moment :(. Due to Corona a lot of truly unique shops had to close (one of my favorite fashion stores as well), making the inner city look bland in comparison to the Viertel for example. Obviously, you can still shop for essentials here; basic fast - fashion stores, chain - book stores and electronics stores are all here, just not equipped with the range of articles you’d expect from a city of Bremen’s size. That doesn’t mean that there’s no opportunity to properly go shopping in Bremen, it just can’t be found here sadly.
If you look for a relaxed shopping - afternoon, try going to the Viertel, the Weserpark, the Waterfront or simply drive to Hamburg.
While writing this article I had way bigger difficulties than I thought I would. It’s a weird feeling; you spend your last ten years walking through the inner city (almost) every day, only to be left speechless when it comes down to telling other people about why this place means so much to you.
Before writing, the memories were flowing through my head by the mere thought of this place!
So why are they so damn difficult to put into words now ?
The violin - player standing on the market square performing the „Godfather - Theme“ at night, teenagers drinking and laughing on the banks beneath the town hall, pigeons launching attacks from above on unsuspecting tourists carrying ice - cream, business men and women angrily whispering slurs under their breath while making their way through mobs of kids standing in front of Kebap shops; trying to get back to their office in time.
All of these impressions maybe fun to read , yet they don’t deliver a coherent text simply slapped together.
Writing, I realized I had to „rediscover“ my own city.
Going about your daily life sometimes makes you forget about all of the wonders your city has to offer. Strolling through the city for the 50th time, you start forgetting that there’s a town hall next to you in the first place. It’s self - evident; your attention starts going away from the environment around you, rather focusing on your immediate tasks.
Thanks to this article I rekindled my own love for Bremen.
So in a way I want to thank you, kind reader.
Without you, I wouldn‘t have considered trying to view Bremen not through the lense of a resident of over ten years, but of someone just discovering this city.
So, among all the sightseeing, shopping, drinking and eating, don’t forget to sometimes just simply hold in for a moment and absorb the rich atmosphere of our wonderful market place.
It’s truly like none other (No, I’m not getting paid to say any of this, I wish I was though).
This marks the end of my third article! I hope you enjoyed it just as much as the previous ones!
Until next time,
This article is dedicated to the reason I got called a „Bonze“ in high - school: the district/quarter of Bremen I grew up in; „Schwachhausen“.
The name translates to something along the lines of „Weakburg“ , which is hilarious enough for some of Bremen’s residents to crack all kinds of uninspired jokes about arguably the best quarter to live in (in my completely objective opinion!). [sarcasm warning]
But why is that ? Well, the quarter is located about 15 minutes away from the inner city; you‘re getting to enjoy the privilege of a short way into the „action“, while still being able to retreat into the peaceful and calm streets of those who possess a whole wardrobe of Ralph’s good old Polos.
But no, in all honesty, it’s a good quarter to live in; even though Schwachhausen residents tend to get the „snob“ treatment quite often (most of the times in a joking manner though).
Obviously, that’s just another dumb prejudice.
Just like every district, Schwachhausen has wealthy and not - so - wealthy areas.
I used to deliver medicine to elderly people here too a few years ago, so I know the quarter like the back of my hand.
Unlike the Inner city or the Viertel for example, I won’t do as big of a restaurant and sights breakdown here, because Schwachhausen is mainly a residential district.
Still, I’d like to guide you in the „right direction“ ;)
Let me hit you with those local tips now!
The best restaurant is definitely the mexican one close to the St. Remberti - church (yup, still no mentioning of restaurant names allowed). I‘m a regular there since I was like eleven and always loved the food. Although my Mexican Spanish teacher loved to tell all of us how incredibly inauthentic the food there really is, I won’t stop cherishing it any time soon (P.S. I recommend the Mexican BBQ pizza and the chimichangas espacially). Many birthdays were celebrated there over the years; mine as well as those of my friends. The portions are HUGE and little boys that just hit puberty tend to develop an almost insatiable hunger in the evening hours, so this restaurant was simply perfect. The restaurant also has a smokers only area inside (a rare sight in Germany nowadays!), and one eventful day a couple of my friends and me accidentally stumbled into it. We were looking for a new place to sit and totally missed the „smokers only“ sign on the door in. Upon entering, the smell of cigarettes immediately hit us. Since all of us were around the age of thirteen at the time, none of us had ever smoked before, let alone encountered smoking people inside of a restaurant.
For some strange reason we actually decided to just sit down there and go on with our meal, until a waitress informed us on which area we were currently in.
We left the restaurant kind of embarrassed that day.
Other than that I can recommend taking a walk around the „Geteteich“ (Gete - Pond) in Schwachhausen‘s „Gete“ - area.
The pond can be found after walking through a narrow path (Buchenweg) surrounded by allotment gardens. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the serene sound of chirping crickets and birds calling out for a partner. In the evening, you are almost guaranteed to be able to take a seat on one of the two banks around the pond (during daytime, lots of people are here; it’s still nice, just not as much as in the evening in my opinion).
If you long for complex conversations with the person accompanying you, this is the best spot in all of Schwachhausen! Obviously, it’s also great for having a little picnic or perhaps even a nice evening of (responsible) drinking ;)
You always have a special relation with the quarter you grow up in. A lot of key - moments take place here; your first kiss, your first sip of alcohol and your first party for example.
I lived in Schwachhausen since I was eight years old, so all of those crucial puberty - happenings unfolded right here.
I remember sneaking out for a big (atleast it seemed big at the time) open air concert/party in another area of Schwachhausen when I was about 15 years old. I had no experience with parties, drinking and all that good stuff up to that point. A more knowledgeable friend took me under his wing and we flew out into the night (on our bikes).
Once we arrived, we were greeted by a crowd of already more - than - a - little drunk party animals who were dancing (more like stumbling to be honest) around the place, like there was no tomorrow. I was heavily uncomfortable, being more of an introverted and heavily awkward sitting at home - gamer kinda guy back then. Not to mention my friend basically vanishing into the crowd, the moment we locked our bikes and approached the stage. The music was blasting into my pure and innocent ears, while the people around me looked like they were about to squash me simply by wavering into me.
I wanted to go home.
Back to my comfortable bed in my warm home located in a peaceful street just a mere fifteen minutes away.
It wasn’t until I started to let myself go and stopped caring what other people might think, that I was able to fully enjoy such events.
This may seem like a completely random story of a first party/concert experience, but being honest, it truly helped me mature in more way than one!
Finally experiencing yourself as one - of - many helped me being more relaxed and natural in everyday situations.
I don’t overthink every single social encounter anymore, after parting ways with the „impostor - syndrome“ that somehow makes you feel like you never belong.
And yeah, this whole development started that very evening.
Ending this chapter, I feel kinda sad not being able to tell you more fun and sometimes ridiculous stories about Schwachhausen and me. But all good things have to come to an end and so does this little piece of my life that I just shared with you.
Anyways, have a good day and until next time!
This is it. The final chapter. A little unexpected ? Don’t be mad, please!
I‘ll just reuse a phrase from the last article: „All good things have to come to an end“
I don’t really have a blueprint for this one, so it’s going to get pretty chaotic I’m sure.
Well, what do we want to talk about today ?
The weather ? The greatness of University Bremen?
No, that ain’t it. Maybe...
Oh, I got it!
This is where things get interesting. I told you about my city from my perspective these past weeks.
How about you tell me a little bit about yourself and your city ? (e.g. the atmosphere, your favorite places, the people around you)
Doesn’t have to be a wall of text, just what you feel like sharing ;)
I’d be more than glad to hear from you, kind reader. Obviously that’s just an offer though!
Ever since Corona started our lives haven’t been the same. I’m beyond happy to have been given this platform to talk to you guys.
It‘s been quite a ride; you only see the four articles in front of you, but trust me, those are just a fragment of what potentially would have been possible.
Since my voluntary year at the University is coming to a close, so do my articles.
Still, if you’d like to have the aforementioned exchange, send me your impressions under firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you enjoy your stay in Bremen and may happiness lie in your every step. Goodbye.