Studying and Living in Hamburg

About Hamburg

Once an entirely sovereign state under the Hanseatic League, the federal state of Hamburg is now home to over 1.8 million people and the largest city in Germany. Known as “the gateway to the world” is owed to the cities prosperity, a major transportation hub and an industrial engine combined all together and promoted by influential media, Hamburg makes for a highly organized and standardized city to live in. Thousands of successful companies operate in the Hamburg area which makes for an important financial impact in the economy of the city as well as the whole country.

The second largest port in the world is the port of Hamburg, and it is said that if you’ve never experienced a boat trip starting from the port, riding in the serpentine watery streams enjoying every bit of Hamburg upfront you’ve never actually been to Hamburg.

Hamburg’s ancient culture and tradition is evidently depicted through the many residencies and buildings carefully preserved throughout the course of history, letting the tourists see its transformation and bits and pieces of the modern city it was in every period of humanity. A walk through the old town, a glance over Speicherstadt, a historical venue of brick warehouses in contrast with the contemporary entity of HafenCity, the city center, makes for a linear progressive fusion of hamburgers development.

Factually, Hamburg seems to have 2300 bridges, more than Amsterdam and Venice combined. Along with the bridges, there are numerous green spaces, some even used as recreational venues which is considered a true wealth among the people who live in the area.

Besides being the center of trade between Northern and Eastern Europe, the Port of Hamburg has turned into the greatest tourist attraction in the region. The two rivers that flow, following city streets are surrounded by fine restaurant, beautiful little shops and flowery gardens that give an impression of peace and serenity.

The main city attractions would be boat touring around Elbe streams, no matter how you are strolling around in some fancy yacht or some really jacked boat the experience stay the same, unforgettable. A visit to the notorious St. Pauli street along the most sinful mile as they call it of the Reeperbahn red light district , is the top nightlife charm  of the city as there are several best-in-town restaurants highly recommendable by the fine-dining jury right in these sinful alleys.

Culturally, Hamburg is home to over 40 theaters, Hamburg state Opera and the world famous John Neumeier’s Hamburg ballet along with over 30 cinemas, around 60 public and private museums each of them offering something for the indisputable different tastes of its civilians.

Nightlife starts and ends around the st.Pauli street featuring numerous clubs and artsy galleries that gather sinners into sinfully amusing themselves with the challenge and awe of darkness.

As every other city in Germany that takes pride in their very own customs and traditions, there are several events during the year that celebrate the honor of being a German, and everyone is welcome to join.

Shopping is another rather peculiar attraction in the city as you can treat yourself with the finest inventions in the fashion industry, or simply get clothes to cover yourself; you can even combine both chic and kitschy into some other, heavenly and inspirational clothing adventure and challenge the societies comfort zone.

Another memorable experience once you starts exploring the incentives of this great city is getting to see animals up-close in the Tierpark Hagenbeck, yet this time they are not held in cages like prisoners but rather a perfectly natural environment is created by the institution so both sides, the people and the animals can enjoy the symbiotic pleasure of living in an urbanized environment.

When in Hamburg it’s very difficult to find a true hamburger as everyone has a different origin and a different cultural perspective to share.

Universities in Hamburg

Concerning post-secondary education level, there are 16 university-level institutions, public and private that offer prospective students a varied and challenging decision to make when it comes to profession. As much as it’s a cosmopolitan and cultural city, Hamburg can be scientific too. From philosophy, to medicine and social media, Hamburg offers a great alternative for students that wish to expand their horizon’s while living in Hamburg.

University of Hamburg

University of Hamburg

University of Hamburg is the biggest research and education institution in Northern Germany and one of the most extensive universities in Germany. The main campus is located in the central district of Rotherbaum, with affiliated institutes and research centers spread around the city state. Students can choose from a 149 different majors which are offered by six faculties. With almost 700 professors engaged in teaching and research, the University of Hamburg is the largest in Hamburg. In addition, over 3,600 academic staff and 6,100 administrative and technical staff members are employed in the university.

The University of Hamburg is the third largest university in Germany. Over 40,000 students are currently attending the University of Hamburg. They offer 170 different majors in six different faculties. If you’re looking for a university that focuses on research, the University of Hamburg may be what you’re looking for. This University has been at the core of climate research in Germany since the Federal Government put forward an initiative in 2007. Cosmology, neurosciences, and linguistics are also popular areas of study at the University of Hamburg; the only sign language major in Germany is offered here, and so are courses in Yiddish and other languages.

Hamburg University of Applied Sciences

Hamburg University of Applied Sciences was founded in 1970 as the Fachhochschule Hamburg. Four engineering schools and six vocational schools were brought together with the goal to develop a new form of higher education. The focus was to be on the application of knowledge, with degree programmes that included placements in industry, laboratory work and practice-related projects.

Students can choose from the following faculties:

  • Engineering and Computer Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Design, Media and Information
  • Business and Public Management
  • Social Work and Nursing

The University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg offers a variety of modern majors such as media, information technology, economics, and communications. The university is connected to a worldwide network of universities, and has a variety of different opportunities for students who decide to study abroad in Hamburg. The university is known for its high-quality education and its international worldview. Currently, over 2,000 of the 13,000 students that are currently enrolled hold a foreign passport.

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg

Instead of traditional faculties, the TUHH has separate administrations for teaching and for research: research is conducted in departments, teaching is divided into schools of study. Scientists from different subjects work together in the departments. Curricula are organized by academic specialty, depending on the course of study followed.

Hamburg’s technical university (the second-largest university in the city) is located across the harbour from the University of Hamburg. It’s located in the traditionally working class Harburg district of the city. TUHH is known for its majors in ship-building, engineering, city planning, and electrical engineering. TUHH has always been known for its forward-thinking, interdisciplinary approach. It was established in 1978, and was the first university in Germany to create a public funded body that connected researchers with private investors and companies (known as a technology transfer corporation). TUHH is associated with the Northern Institute of Technology, which allows them to offer an MBA as well.

Helmut Schmidt University

The German military educational establishment that was founded in 1973 at the initiative of the then-Federal Minister of Defense, Helmut Schmidt is known as University of the federal armed forces. At the Helmut Schmidt University there is a specific organizational structure, in addition to the division between the areas of teaching and administration that is common to all universities. The academic division takes care of teaching and research, to which end it maintains 4 faculties.

  • Electrical Engineering Faculty
  • Mechanical Engineering Faculty
  • Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty
  • Economics Faculty

HafenCity University

The HafenCity University Hamburg is the only university of its kind in Europe. The education and research at the HCU Hamburg aims on contemplating and concretizing what the future of metropolitan areas could and should look like. Coping with this future will, however, require a systematic interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary approach. For this reason, the HCU offers the entire range of disciplines required for understanding and designing the urban environment:

  • Architecture, Civil Engineering, Geomatics, Urban Planning
  • Metropolitan Culture
  • Urban Design and Resource Efficiency in Architecture and Planning

The HCU is a unique university because it only focuses on architecture and metropolitan development. It is currently the only university of its kind in Europe. Every discipline that could be under architecture and metropolitan development are at HCU, no matter what you imagine that they could be. They offer a unique Masters degree in Urban Design and Resource Efficiency in Architecture and Planning alongside a variety of other degree programs.

Overall, if you are considering studying abroad, Hamburg has several universities that can you can choose from. They have great nightlife programs and a lot of culture for you to indulge in as well. Overall, Hamburg is a great choice for studying abroad, no matter where in the world that you are coming from.

Living in Hamburg

Hamburg is very unique metropolitan area. Because of its role as the second-largest city in Germany, it’s definitely a conurbation with a lot to offer. You will never run out of things to do if you decide to go to Hamburg for study, and it’s not hard at all to find what you are looking for in the metropolitan area.

As stated above, Hamburg’s official name is the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The whole city reflects this in every nook and cranny. The significance that Hamburg had as a medieval trading centre left its mark everywhere, including in how the city looks. The historical area known as “Speicherstadt” (the warehouse district) is a great example of Hamburg’s function in the Roman Empire. Its significance as a trading centre has never changed either; it is currently northern Germany’s most important centre for trade and transportation.

Another thing that makes living in Hamburg unique is all of the water. Water is the keystone of Hamburg’s landscape: bridges, channels, and the Rivers Elbe, Alster, and Billie can be seen wherever you go. Sunday mornings are exciting with the Fischmarket on the Elbe (and contrary to its name, it has more than fish). The harbour is also home to the world’s biggest harbour festival (over 1 million attendees) called “The Hamburger” or, in Germany, “Hafenegeburtstag”.

Even though Hamburg is a large and populous city, the atmosphere is welcoming and casual. The city embraces the arts, and it features a variety of cultural, art and street festivals throughout the entire year. Daily social life differs depending on what part of the city you are residing in. Each district of Hamburg has its own character, which means that they each bring their own type of charm to the table.

Unlike most modern cities, Hamburg really didn’t build upwards. Skyscrapers are rare due to how conservative their urban development policies were in the past. The city has a variety of parks and tree-lined avenues that make Hamburg one of the more “green” cities in Europe.

Another great thing about studying in Hamburg is that, even if you don’t find what you want to do, access to other parts of Germany is fairly simple. Hamburg is in close proximity to both the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Both of these sea coasts have a variety of sea resorts and coastal landscape that anyone can enjoy. Historic Lubeck and Rostock are only a short train ride away. And of course, who doesn’t want to visit Berlin while studying in Germany? Hop on a train and you can take a day trip there from Hamburg.

Overall, living in Hamburg is a unique experience that offers a variety of different things that you can do. You will never run out of activities to enjoy in Hamburg, no matter what you like doing. Recreation in Hamburg is plentiful, and the culture and history of the city are enough to keep anyone fully engaged.

Cost of Living as a student in Hamburg

Since it is a financially empowering region, the standard of living tends to have risen a bit yet Hamburgers can afford that due to a flattering paycheck. However when it comes to students, it might be a bit challenging to finance your stay in this city but never impossible.

How you manage your monthly budget totally depends on your lifestyle: sacrificing a bit here and there might bring several pleasures which otherwise you wouldn’t be able to afford.

Firstly there are no tuition fees when studying in a public education institution in this region. Students are however bound to pay a sum of around 300 euros as a semester contribution which allows students free access to public transport all year round.

Renting an apartment in Hamburg is actually the most expensive thing for a student’s therefore, University dormitories/residencies are a far better and more affordable alternative.

Rent majorly depends on the district; normally city center is very expensive and the further from the center, the cheaper the rent.

Apartments in the center

  • One bedroom 500-800 euro
  • Three bedrooms 1500-2000 euro

Apartments outside the center

  • One bedroom 400-600 euro
  • Three bedrooms 800-1400 euro

Monthly utilities for a bigger apartment are around 200 euros while internet connection will cost you somewhere between 20-30 euros on a contract.

Depending on the choice you make, eat inside or eat outside you will be noticing a great fluctuation in the overall budget. Everything bought from the market is at least 3 times cheaper and 10 times more than eating outside in some budget restaurant/joint. For a decent meal, a dinner for two will cost you around 30-60 euros.

Market prices of daily items:

  • Bread (ordinary, white) around 1.5 euro
  • Milk costs less than 1 euro
  • Water is 50 cents a bottle
  • Eggs, a dozen for 2.5 euros
  • Apples and other fruit, around 3 euro per kg.
  • Cigarettes, 5 euro a pack
  • Beer, domestic less than 1 euro.
  • A beer in some random pub, domestic of course will cost you 3 euros minimum meanwhile café latte 2.5 euros and higher, depending how fancy the place is.

Housing and Accommodation in Hamburg

If you are considering studying in Hamburg, you need somewhere to live. Let us take a look at what you need to do in order to obtain living quarters in Germany without a lot of hassle.

The quickest way to find a place to live in Hamburg is by going through a real estate agent (German: Immobilienhändler). Now, the problem with using an agent is how much they cost; if they find you somewhere to reside, they want you to pay between two and three months of rent for an upfront fee (deposit). So, if you find a home using this method, you may end up paying up to 6 months’ worth of rent (between two to three months to your landlord for a security deposit) before you even move into the house. And depending on how much your rent is, that can be a lot of cash.

Of course, there are other methods to find an apartment if you start looking ahead of time. You can look at newspapers; listen to others through word of mouth, and search the Internet. As the Internet becomes more advanced, it is becoming easier to find overseas accommodation options. There are plenty of websites that can help you find accommodation in Hamburg, and many of them will give you virtual tours and connect you with the right people.

If you are looking for an apartment or home to reside in when you study in Hamburg, there are a variety of things that you should know. Terminology is one of the most important things to understand: most countries would refer to an apartment as having two bedrooms; that same house would be referred to as a “four room” apartment in Germany. So what is included in the room count? Living areas, dens, dining rooms, and bedrooms are included in the room count. Bathrooms (also referred to as WCs), kitchens, and hallways are not included.

When you are looking for an apartment in Hamburg, you’ll notice that furnished apartments are relatively rare. If you are lucky enough to find them, they will be much more expensive than their unfurnished counterparts. Now, unlike their counterparts in the United States, unfurnished means unfurnished. There are no cabinets, no cupboards or closets, and no lighting fixtures. Things that we take for granted in American rentals are not included in German ones: stoves, refrigerators, wardrobes, curtain rods, and lights are your problem to deal with.

If you are considering renting in Hamburg, you should consider hiring a lawyer and/or legal advisor that speaks fluent German. Even if you understand German, the lease may be beyond your comprehension. The leases may contain items that you’d normally see in American leases, like an annual rent increase or responsibilities that you may not expect. Termination is difficult; unless the circumstances are extraordinary (transfers are much easier to do than terminations, though).

There are two parts to monthly rent payments in Germany. The actual rent cannot be changed for the whole of the lease, but the second part, called the Umlagen or Nebenkosten can be. The latter is for those costs that are variable: property tax, heat, cleaning, rubbish disposal, water, and sewerage may be part of that. In some cases, the latter can also include electricity and gas. These details will be worked out with your landlord at the time of signing your lease.

Rent averages €650 per month for a three-room (1 bedroom) apartment in the centre of the city. Outside of the centre of the city, that drops to about €475. If you are looking for a five-room apartment, those run at approximately €1900 per month in the city (this is prohibitively expensive for most people), and outside of it, around €850. These vary depending on your location and on your landlord, but these are good numbers to use as you budget for your time of study in Hamburg

Overall, the leasing process in Germany is very similar to what you would experience in other parts of the world. It’s not a difficult process as long as you understand what is going on and how to work with it. If you are considering studying in Hamburg, it is definitely worth your time and energy to do the appropriate research to get the best deal when it comes to your living quarters.

Working While Studying in Hamburg

If you have made the decision to study in Hamburg, one of the questions that you may have is whether or not you will be able to work. It depends. If you are on a legal visa, then yes, you should be able to work. Take note, they are quite strict on their working requirements: if you break any of these rules, you could get into a lot of trouble and even be deported.

Hamburg is one of the best cities in Germany for work, but here are the requirements for working in Germany; note that they vary depending on what country you are from.

If you are a citizen of Group 1, you can work as much as you like without having to obtain any additional working permits. The following countries are considered to be part of Group 1: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or United Kingdom.

If you are from one of these countries, you shouldn’t work any more than 20 hours a week while classes are going on. If you opt to work more, you will have to pay into social security.

If you are a citizen of Bulgaria or Romania, you are considered a member of Group 2. In 2014, the rules for Group 1 will apply to you. Until then, you need to follow the same rules as in Group 3, which are listed below.
If you are a citizen of any of the countries not listed above, you are considered part of Group 3. Group 3 has the most strict rules: you can only work 120 full days or 240 half days every year. You will also need to obtain a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency and the Aliens’ Registration Office in order to work as you study in Hamburg.

Now that we understand the laws you must adhere to in order to work in Germany, what kinds of jobs can you find in Hamburg? The good news is there are a variety of options for overseas students to consider when studying abroad in Hamburg.

Firstly, consider getting a job on campus at the university that you are attending. There are a variety of departmental jobs that you can find where you will most likely be doing some sort of filing or other secretarial work. You could also work at an on-campus library or at any other university institution.

Most students in Hamburg work as waiters or waitresses in cafes, pubs, and/or bars. Others may help take care of those attending exhibitions and trade fairs. Cleaning, babysitting, copying, cycle couriering, delivery, and a variety of other jobs are available and they’re fairly easy to find in the newspaper or via the Internet. You can also make sure to check the notice boards at your university, in local libraries, and at supermarkets. Many universities also have a job agency service for their students as well. Overall, it’s not difficult to find a job in Hamburg if you’re studying there. Office jobs, waiting jobs, and promotional assistant jobs are very popular in Hamburg, and all the universities offer student assistant jobs.

How much you get paid at a job depends greatly on how much you know, what your skills are, where you’re working and what industry you’re working in. Hamburg is one of the best cities to work in Germany due to their high rate of pay; of course, the cost of living is higher (as we discussed earlier) so it will probably even out. Most times, you can earn anywhere from five to ten euros an hour; your average supermarket employee will get around six euros, whereas office work could bank you up to ten euros per hour.

Overall, working as you study in Hamburg is a great decision. Jobs are usually flexible and work with you on your schedule, and even though the cost of living is high, the amount of money that you will make will definitely make up the difference.

Things to See in Hamburg

  1. Miniatur Wunderland
  2. Park Planten und Blumen
  3. Hamburg Port
  4. Town Hall
  5. Warehouse District
  6. Reeperbahn – St. Pauli
  7. Hafencity
  8. Phantom der Oper
  9. Fish Market
  10. Jungfernstieg

Things to Do in Hamburg

  1. Imagine dining in total darkness with a complete stranger. An adrenaline thrill only in Dialog am Dunkeln.
  2. Chocoversum offers to indulge you in the world of chocolate. Drink a lot of water.
  3. Enjoy Hamburger dom, the biggest festival in the region. It only happens three times a year.
  4. Rent a bike and follow the Hafenerlebnisroute – a trail leading through the labyrinth of freighters and containers.
  5. Spend a day relaxing and sunbathing at Elb-beach.
  6. Hagenbecks Tierpark offers an exclusive encounter with the wilderness.
  7. Maritime circle line is a must-do tour to give you a glimpse of what you’ll be facing in Hamburg.
  8. Enjoy the famous Lion King musical in the theaters.
  9. Radioactive nightlife in one of the wicked club in town, the Hafenklang.
  10. Oberhafenkantine offers some truly traditional dishes cook with pieces of the host’s heart in it.

Here are some more things you should consider doing while you’re in Hamburg:

Harbour Tours

Harbour tours are incredibly popular due to the immense size of Hamburg’s ports. The harbour is over 800 years old, and you can enjoy a boat tour, stroll around the waterfront, or enjoy some fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants that overlook the harbour.


The Reeperbahn is the most famous street in Hamburg, host to the thoroughfare of the city’s legendary entertainment; the Beatles started their international career here during the 1960s. Reeperbahn is also home to the Red Light District, hosting strip clubs, erotic museums, and an eclectic variety of bars and restaurants. Many say that this is area is reminiscent to Amsterdam.

Hamburg Fish Market

The fish market is not only home to fish, alongside fresh seafood, there are a variety of exotic fruits, nuts, and teas from all over the world. If you enjoy food at all, you should visit this open-air market, open Sundays from 5 am to 9 am. The earlier you arrive, the fresher your food will be. This unique and popular market has been around for over 300 years.

Warehouse District

While you are visiting the harbour, go over a few blocks and you will find the historical warehouse district, which happens to be the home of the largest warehouse complex in the whole world. The streets are narrow and made from cobble stones; small waterways are lined by a variety of 100-year-old warehouses that house cocoa, silk, and carpets. If you visit in the evenings, check out the light projections that they put on the buildings and bridges.

Church St. Michaelis

If you are into church history at all, make sure you check out this Baroque period church. It was built in the mid-1600s and is the most famous church in northern Germany. Its standard Baroque style is elaborate; the interior is white and golden and can seat over 3000 attendees. There is also access to the top via a spiral stairway; go up to enjoy beautiful views over the city of Hamburg.

Alster Arkaden

Every student needs retail therapy once in a while, and Alster Arkaden is the best place for you to consider for your exclusive shopping needs. The architecture is beautiful (inspired by the Venetian style) and stands out even more in the evenings with the wrought iron lampposts. There are a variety of stores to choose from and enjoy.

Planten un Blomen

Do you enjoy gardens? Then you should check out the green scene in Planten un Blomen. There are a variety of gardens located here, including a complete botanical garden and the largest Japanese garden in all of Europe. If you’re in Hamburg in the summer, the gardens offer a wide variety of entertainment options: water-light concerts, theatre performances, and festivals round off what’s available during the summer.

And this is only the beginning of what you can do while you’re studying in Hamburg. Are you excited about the nightlife? Will you take in the gardens? Is shopping your thing? How about history? No matter what your interests may be, you can always find something to do in Hamburg.

Learning German in Hamburg

If you are trying to learn German while in Hamburg, you have a variety of options. There are two main ways for you to do so: first, you can take group courses with others who are learning German, or you can do what is called tandem partnering.

Group courses are available all over Hamburg; language schools, universities, and Goethe Institutes all offer group courses that you can take alongside your degree program.

There are also intensive language courses that you can take in order to make progress quickly. Several of the Hamburg universities offer summer courses that teach you German quickly during the term breaks. These courses are developed to help you make strides in mere weeks, and usually include lessons that introduce you to the country of Germany and its culture.

We’ve gone through all the German language schools you can find in Hamburg and listed the top ones you should consider joining.

For more information, please visit German language courses in Hamburg.

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