So far, Hamburg has been a dream city for studying abroad. There are many wonderful opportunities for students: cheap city transport, free arts pass, low price for unlimited fitness classes, free language courses. I wish that sleep wasn’t a requirement because I could easily fill up my timetable with these hidden perks of being a student.
While affordable transport for students can be found in cities across Canada, it often depends on which institution you attend. In Hamburg, all students enrolled in a higher education programme are automatically given a semester transit pass valid for the entire state. Better yet, the metro schedule is conveniently timed for weekend partygoers with trains every 20 minutes throughout Friday and Saturday nights.
Another surprise for new students is the “Freikarte” or free card. It is the city’s welcome gift for your first semester, allowing you to attend unlimited museums, exhibits, concerts, operas, ballets and much more. Most Canadian students aren’t actually encouraged by their city to enrich their lives with culture with a free pass. Many students can’t afford to pay $10 for an artistic event, keeping the arts as a leisure activity for the upper classes and unfortunately, out of the student budget.
In Canada, some universities provide gym passes or pool access included in student fees. If you are interested in ballet or zumba, there are few low-cost classes available. While gym access in more restricted in Hamburg, there is a great scheme for fitness and dance classes. Students pay $70 for five months of unlimited classes and there are at least 10 or 15 classes per day, even on weekends.
Perhaps my favourite perk of being a student in Hamburg is the free language courses. All exchange students can attend free German classes of all levels supported by university funding. For German and international students, there is also a chance to practice English, French, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese and other languages at the Language Centre. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the centre only offers intermediate and advanced level classes but it is definitely worth it to maintain your language skills. Pourquoi pas?