Living and Studying in Heidelberg

Heidelberg - the name stands for the world-famous Castle, the picturesque Old Town nestling between the Odenwald Forest and the Rhine Plain and, of course, Germany's oldest university. The town, the university and the surrounding landscape have been feted by poets, painters and musicians from all periods, but the German Romantics were especially susceptible to the charms of this "fair site". Their perception of the city has decisively influenced the image of Heidelberg all over the world.

 welcome day for first-year students
The traditional welcome day for first-year students. No other event provides so much information in such a short space of time on the huge array of initiatives and institutions newcomers to Heidelberg are confronted with. And they all receive a copy of "Unispiegel", the University newspaper (German).

Freedom and creativity

In such favourable circumstances, student life can be expected to develop a certain exuberance. Indeed, the earliest sources on the subject suggest that on times things may have got a little out of hand. If the list of prohibitions regulating student night life is anything to go by, the young scholars appear from the outset to have indulged in roisterous revelry, something which the respectable burghers were reluctant to countenance, even if they had no daughters to keep out of harm's way. Today, the students' prison with its walls full of graffiti is a favourite tourist attraction. In former times, however, its function was anything but merely picturesque.

students' prison
Messages from the past. Now a tourist attraction, the students' prison was once precisely what its name suggests. The original jail dated back to the 16 th century, while the last of its successors was closed in 1914.

But this bid for unrestricted licence was not without a more responsible political and social component. In the early 19th century, it was the Heidelberg students who were most responsive to Southwest German liberalism. For several generations they were instrumental in imposing republican ideas and also helped enforce a new constitution for the youthful Empire. In the period of student unrest in the 1960s and 1970s, Heidelberg was a major centre of protest with frequently abrasive clashes between professors and students culminating in full-scale sit-ins and the systematic disturbance of lectures and meetings of academic bodies.

Today, student commitment tends to stay closer to the subjects studied. Students take part assiduously in international gatherings, organise symposia, arrange placements with organisations and companies and turn their acquired knowledge to immediate creative account in all kinds of initiatives, from business consultancy services to student magazines. Student councils pass on their experience to newcomers, keep a watchful eye on their professors' teaching performance, administer a wide-ranging network of social assistance schemes and take a keen and active interest in the political side of university life.

Education, culture, sport

Quickly as things change and receptive though it is to modern developments, Heidelberg has contrived to retain its character as a "romantic" place to study. There are the countless traditional inns in the crooked streets of the Old Town, the Philosophers' Way is one of Europe's finest scenic walks, the Castle is always a favoured destination, while the banks of the Neckar attract hundreds of young people for organised and impromptu festivities, particularly in the summer season. Numerous theatres, prestigious film and music festivals and a wide range of museums offer cultural events of outstanding quality.

Cultural life Cultural life at the University is rich and varied. One of its mainstays is the "Pillar Hall Puppet Opera Company". Students and lecturers at the Department of Musicology (German) have created a small stage of their own. The puppets figuring in the ambitious annual productions are all hand-made by the company.

The various University choirs, orchestras, theatre groups and debating societies (German) are key factors in this cultural diversity and an indispensable part of life in the town.

at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens
A superb showing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Students from the University of Heidelberg won two gold medals and a bronze medal.

The same applies to the numerous opportunities for engaging in sporting activities, from rowing on the Neckar to the latest trend sports. The Institute of Sport and Sport Sciences provides students and staff with a huge range of sports to take part in, while a special sport promotion programme ensures that outstanding performers can combine the quest for gold medals and world records with the demands of the subjects they are studying. The Heidelberg Olympic Base (German) is situated on the Neuenheimer Feld campus.

Mens sana in corpore sano
Mens sana in corpore sano is the ideal informing sporting activity at the University. Students and staff can choose from a huge range of mainstream and trend sports.

Heidelberg offers an almost overpowering range of subjects (German) to study. Exchange between the different disciplines takes place not only in interdisciplinary research projects but also in general education programmes, including the crossdisciplinary Studium Generale (German) lectures, which are open to the general public.

Studiosi et Alumni

Professor Mario Fernández, who studied political science at the University of Heidelberg and also did his doctorate here, was Chilean ambassador in Berlin. Before that he was minister of defence in his home country from 2000 to 2002. He frequently visits his alma mater and supports the University in a variety of ways.
Professor Mario Fernández

When the Heidelberg Alumni Association was founded in 1996, the former students arriving in droves from all over the world to honour the occasion were an eloquent token of the undimmed attractiveness of the University, notably for international students. Most of them uphold their links with the alma mater throughout their lives. The motto "semper apertus" can thus be justly interpreted as an invitation extended to the whole world.

Alumnus Mohammed Saleh
Heidelberg Alumni International. After receiving his doctorate in Heidelberg, Mohammed Saleh became director of the National Museum of Egypt, where he is now involved in the development of the Grand Museum of Egypt. He frequently returns to his former institute as a visiting professor.

Zentrum für Studienberatung und Weiterbildung
Centre for Study Counselling and Continuing EducationQuick movers. Providing information, guidance, advice and skills, the Centre for Study Counselling and Continuing Education (German) acts as a mediator between secondary education, the University and the labour market. Its liaison services link schools, Faculties and companies.

Campus TV
All systems go! Alongside numerous print periodicals, the University transmits its news via cable and antenna, with a web magazine, the Campus Report radio programme and the HeidelR@d multi-media journalism project, where students acquire media skills. With a monthly half-hour programme on the private RNF channel, repeated at regular intervals, Campus TV ensures that topical scientific and academic issues are addressed on television. Three of these projects are supported by the Broadcast Authority of Baden-Württemberg (LfK).

University Sports Club Heidelberg 1899
The University Sports Club Heidelberg 1899 is a top-notch basketball team and former German championship record-holder. Home games at the Rhine-Neckar Olympic Base attract anything up to 2,000 spectators. The Club's major sponsor is the financial services company MLP and its founder Manfred Lautenschläger, a Heidelberg alumnus.
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Latest Revision: 2018-05-23
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