By Colton Hill (University of Heidelberg, Germany).
This time I want to dive into two annual Autumn/Winter occurrences in Heidelberg: The Winter Term Housing Crunch and the Heidelberg Christmas Market.
My personal experience with this Housing Crunch was much too close for comfort. I actually started looking for accommodation slightly more than 1 month before the start of term, hoping to avoid serious competition. Unfortunately, I had no success. Rather concerned about spending several weeks in a hostel, I turned to my only hope – university accommodation. However, this is before I truly understood the nature of finding a place to live in Heidelberg in autumn.
The first clue about this housing shortage came from the email sent back to me from the Accommodation Office, which went along the lines of: “We can add your name to the waiting list for University Halls, but please do not anticipate a room. We recommend that you continue your search for private accommodation.” Thankfully, I had an extreme stroke of luck and did indeed receive a place in student accommodation. I was relieved to say the least, but it was once I moved in that I found out how truly lucky I was.
The mother of a previous tenant was helping remove the tenant’s belongings, when she revealed that she worked with the University Accommodation Office, stating that as of October 1st more than 3000 students were searching for a place to stay in Heidelberg. For some perspective, that is nearing 10% of the students at the University. It made sense then, that even ERASMUS and other exchange students couldn’t be guaranteed University Accommodation when it is so over-subscribed.
My recommendation to students who are considering studying in Heidelberg in the future is to apply as early as possible for the University Accommodation, in hopes of avoiding two weeks of sleeping in a gymnasium with several hundred other students.
Among other things, Heidelberg gets tourists from all over the world this time of year to experience the Christmas Market.
People enjoying the Christmas Spirit despite the cold and wet weather
For some of the blog readers, the concept of a Christmas Market may be incredibly foreign, but this seems to be an element of Germanic culture that has diffused throughout Europe and in part North America too (Maybe even other places!).
The Christmas Market takes place in the main University Square where dozens of wooden stands are set-up, selling all sorts of food, drinks, and hand-made goods. This event usually lasts until the weekend running up until Christmas, drawing hundreds of people into the small area in the centre of the Old Town.
Especially during the heart of Winter, the Christmas Market is a great event to stay warm. From my personal experiences at several different Christmas Markets, I can happily say that the authenticity of Markets even outside Germany has a high standard. So, I recommend that if people have the chance, to visit a Christmas Market, even if it’s outside of Germany.