Studentenstadt, which translates to “Student City,” is my home sweet home for the year– a sizeable complex of high-rises nestled comfortably against the Englischer Garten, one of the largest urban parks in the world. I live on the fifth floor of an 8-story building with a big tree outside my window, surrounded by 2,500 other students who also decided Munich is a great place to study.
When I arrived back in August, I walked up from the U-bahn (Munich’s Underground) station and wasn’t exactly thrilled with the place. At first glance, the housing complex looked old and dingy and run-down. The complex, in fact, was built in the 1960/70’s and had seen better days. I was about to find out, however, that this was a place built for functionality and community, not necessarily to please the eye. Studentenstadt, called “Stusta” for short, is the largest student housing complex in Germany. It has it’s own bars, a cafe, small convenient store, library and plenty of grass to lay out a blanket and study or barbeque with friends. While the concrete buildings may be stained and a little out-dated, Stusta has unparalleled character and a lively community feel unlike anything I’ve experienced.
My room is cozy and was furnished with german books, kitchen and school supplies, a disco light, a Karl Marx piggy bank and other curiosities left behind by previous program participants. I have my own bathroom and shower, closet and drawer space, and a big desk that spans a side of my room. I also live right next to the kitchen which I share with my half of the floor.
**Note for prospective program participants: Everyone in the program is spread throughout the complex in different buildings so not everyone has the same accommodations– not everyone has their own toilet and shower**
I really really really love it here, and it didn’t take me long to figure that out. Before I left, I was told not to expect small talk, not to expect the open doors or friendliness that one would find at Whitman or other colleges/universities back in the states. Well, maybe I lucked out or something, but my experience has been the opposite. The first night I was here, I was feeling pretty anxious and didn’t really want to leave my room, but before long, my floor-mates were knocking on my door asking if I wanted to walk with them to a Biergarten in the park behind our building. I was so happy (and surprised) that they were so friendly and welcoming and I spent that evening sipping a beer, getting to know my floor-mates and learning what to expect from Studentenstadt and Munich in general.
Studentenstadt certainly has a different atmosphere than Whitman, but it makes Munich feel like home away from home.