Crossing Continents: The International Column

In this month’s issue Mirza Aizaz Asim, who is studying for a master’s degree in Dairy Science, contributed a text about his arrival in Kiel and how a simple encounter in a local coffee shop eventually turned into a lifelong friendship.

»As the plane touched down at Hamburg Airport, my heart was pounding with a unique blend of excitement, nerves, and anticipation. I had just embarked on a life-changing adventure my journey as an international student in Kiel, Germany. The coming months held the promise of academic growth, cultural immersion, and countless memorable experiences. Little did I know just how transformative this chapter of my life would be.

My first steps on German soil were filled with wonder and trepidation. The air was crisp, the surroundings were meticulously organised, and the sense of being in a foreign land was unmistakable. I took a deep breath, reminding myself of the dreams that had led me here. As I navigated through the airport, the multilingual signs and the warm smiles of the airport staff reassured me that this was a place that welcomed diversity. Settling into my new home in Kiel was a mix of excitement and homesickness.

My new dorm room became my sanctuary, adorned with photographs and mementos from home, making it a comforting reminder of my journey. Kiel is a city that warmly embraces its visitors, offering a unique blend of culture, history, and tradition that makes it a truly remarkable place to study. Kiel, nestled on the shores of the Baltic Sea, exudes an enchanting maritime charm. One of my first experiences as an international student was taking a leisurely stroll along the Kiellinie, the city’s picturesque promenade.

Watching the sailboats glide by and feeling the cool sea breeze instantly made me feel connected to this coastal city. The sparkling waves and serene beaches quickly became therapeutic for me. As Kiel is a city with a rich history, and I made it a point to delve into it. I visited the Stadt- und Schifffahrtsmuseum, where I learned about the city’s maritime heritage and its role in the Hanseatic League.

Participating in cultural festivals, such as Kieler Woche, provided an immersive experience of local traditions, music, and cuisine. The excitement of the regatta and the array of international food stalls truly showcased the city’s welcoming and diverse nature. Talking about food and not mentioning Fischbrötchen would be a mistake.

This heavenly divine sandwich has become my staple food. Gosh! I have already started drooling thinking about it. Kiel is famous for its cosy coffee shops and bakeries. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to study or simply want to indulge in delicious German pastries, the city’s coffee culture will not disappoint. Speaking of coffee shops reminds me of an everlasting bond that I made with a beautiful soul who became my best friend. It was a gloomy autumn afternoon, and I had just arrived in Kiel for my education.

The foreignness of the city and the impending academic challenges left me feeling a bit lost. To soothe my homesickness and adjust to my new surroundings, I decided to explore some local coffee shops. That’s when I stumbled upon this gem of a place. Stepping inside, I was greeted by the comforting hum of conversation, the clinking of cups, and the soft melodies of an acoustic guitar. The warm, rustic décor and the inviting ambiance made this coffee shop an instant favorite.

I ordered a cappuccino and settled into a cozy corner, pulling out my laptop to get some work done. As I was typing away, engrossed in my studies, I noticed a friendly smile from across the room. I looked up to find a young woman with captivating green eyes, her face framed by a cascade of chestnut hair. She was seated alone at a table not too far from mine. With a polite nod, she invited me to join her. I hesitated for a moment, but something about her made me decide to accept the offer.

We struck up a conversation, starting with the typical small talk about the weather, our hometowns, and our reasons for being in Kiel. Her name was Emma, and we soon discovered that we shared a love for literature, music, and a profound curiosity about the world. The more we talked, the more our interests seemed to align. Time flew by, and the coffee shop’s ambiance faded into the background as our connection deepened.

Over the next few weeks, our chance meeting at that coffee shop in Kiel turned into a beautiful friendship. We explored the city together, attended cultural events, and made it a ritual to meet at our newfound sanctuary. The café, with its warm embrace and the unforgettable scent of coffee, became the symbol of our friendship. In Emma, I found a kindred spirit, a confidante, and an unwavering source of support during my time in Kiel. She introduced me to her friends, and I became a part of her social circle. My homesickness waned as I found a new home in the hearts of the people I met in this foreign land.

That little coffee shop was the stage upon which our friendship was born, and the memories we created there will forever be etched in my heart. It was a place where two strangers became best friends, brought together by a shared love for coffee, conversation, and the enchanting city of Kiel, Germany. The lessons I learned from this experience are simple yet profound: Sometimes, all it takes to find a lifelong friend is a welcoming smile and the courage to accept an invitation. Emma and I continue to share our lives, dreams, and adventures, and I will forever be grateful for the day I found my best friend in a coffee shop in Kiel.

Kiel’s strategic location allows for easy access to the beautiful state of Schleswig-Holstein. I took every opportunity to explore the region, from the historic town of Lübeck with its charming old town, to the stunning coastline along the North Sea. For those who appreciate outdoor adventures, Kiel offers numerous opportunities for hiking, biking, and exploring the picturesque surrounding countryside. The city’s extensive park system, including the popular Hiroshima Park, provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Every trip revealed a new facet of German culture and allowed me to appreciate the diverse beauty of this land. Understanding and speaking the German language is a key to unlocking the heart of Kiel’s culture. I enrolled in language courses, which allowed me to connect with locals on a deeper level. The people of Kiel appreciate your efforts to speak their language, and it opened up opportunities for meaningful conversations and friendships.

The people here are incredibly warm and welcoming, always ready to share their stories and experiences. Attending social gatherings and joining student clubs helped me connect with both locals and fellow international students, and together, we celebrated the fusion of our diverse cultures. The Kiel International Center (KIC) serves as a hub for international residents, providing essential services, information, and a place to connect with others.

Together, residents build a tapestry of experiences and backgrounds, forming bonds that transcend borders. Besides, the city helped me cherishing the little things. Sipping on a cup of aromatic tea at a local café, cycling through the city’s bike-friendly lanes, or enjoying a freshly baked pretzel from a street vendor-all these small moments contributed to my sense of belonging in Kiel. In the charming city of Kiel, Germany, the weather is like a character in a never-ending drama, playing its part with a mix of flair and unpredictability.

The city’s weather dances to its own tune, creating an ever-changing symphony of seasons. Winters bring a touch of frosty enchantment, with a chance of snow blanketing the cityscape, turning Kiel into a winter wonderland. Locals and visitors alike relish the opportunity to sip on hot glühwein at the Christmas markets that pop-up all-over town. As spring arrives, Kiel blossoms into life. The air is filled with the sweet scent of cherry and apple blossoms, making it the perfect time for leisurely strolls along the city’s lush parks and gardens.

The sunshine is a welcome companion, encouraging outdoor picnics and café visits along the harbour. Summer in Kiel is like a fiesta by the sea. The city’s proximity to the Baltic ensures that temperatures remain moderate, and the coastal breeze provides a refreshing respite from the heat. The Kieler Woche, one of the world’s largest sailing events, takes centre stage in the summer, as people from around the globe descend upon Kiel to bask in the glory of sun, sea, and sail. Autumn signals a change in Kiel’s wardrobe as the leaves transform into shades of amber and gold.

Crisp, cool mornings and evenings are perfect for cozying up in cafes with a cup of hot chocolate, and the city’s many museums become havens for those seeking indoor adventures. Throughout the year, the weather in Kiel can surprise you. A sunny day can quickly turn into shower of refreshing rain, or a cloudy morning can give way to a spectacular sunset over the Baltic. The weather in Kiel is a reminder that life, like the climate, is beautifully unpredictable. So, if you plan to visit Kiel, be sure to pack layers, an umbrella, and your sense of adventure.

No matter the weather, this coastal city will charm you with its beauty and vibrant spirit, making every day a new and exciting chapter in the ever-changing story of Kiel, Germany. Besides, University life in Kiel, Germany, is an exhilarating and enriching experience. Kiel boasts several prestigious universities, with the University of Kiel leading the way which is fortunately my university as well. Founded in 1665, it is one of Germany’s oldest universities, offering a wide range of academic programs.

The university is known for its strong emphasis on research and innovation, making it an attractive destination for scholars and students alike. With state-of-the-art facilities and a welcoming academic environment, students in Kiel have access to world-class education. Kiel University in Germany is not only renowned for its academic excellence but also for the diverse range of fun and educational activities it offers to students.

While pursuing their degrees, students have the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities that enrich their university experience, broaden their horizons, and create unforgettable memories. Kiel, Germany offers not only scenic coastal landscapes but also a wealth of exciting job opportunities. This thriving city is not just a tourist’s paradise; it’s also a magnet for professionals seeking to build their careers in a diverse range of industries.

In other words, Kiel’s diverse job market and exceptional quality of life, with its coastal charm and excellent work-life balance, make it an appealing destination for professionals from around the world. Whether you’re seeking a career change or looking to advance in your current field, Kiel is a city where you can chart your course for success while enjoying a high standard of living. So, if you are considering a move to Germany and seeking exciting job opportunities, take a closer look at Kiel. This coastal gem offers much more than just charming views; it’s a place where your career aspirations can set sail on a promising horizon.

The city also has a well-developed transportation system providing a range of options for getting around the city and connecting to other parts of Germany and nearby countries. Whether you prefer public transportation, cycling, driving, or taking a ferry, you’ll find various ways to navigate the city and its surroundings. Cycling in Kiel, Germany as an international student can lead to some amusing and memorable experiences.

Kiel is a beautiful coastal city with a strong cycling culture, and it’s known for its bike-friendly infrastructure. Here’s a funny incident that you might relate to: As an international student in Kiel, I decided to fully immerse myself in the local culture, and that included embracing the city’s love for cycling. I bought a used bike and started using it to get around town. One sunny day, I decided to take a long ride along the Kiellinie, a picturesque waterfront promenade that runs alongside the Kieler Förde, the city’s natural harbour.

The views of the sparkling water and sailboats were simply stunning, and I was thoroughly enjoying the ride. However, as a newcomer to the city, I wasn’t entirely familiar with Kiel’s cycling rules. I noticed that many locals were casually sipping coffee or even having a snack while riding their bikes. Feeling confident, I decided to join the ranks of these multi-tasking cyclists. I stopped at a café along the promenade to grab a quick coffee to go.

Balancing the coffee cup in one hand and the handlebars with the other, I pedalled along, thinking I was facing this whole „German biking experience.“ That’s when things took a hilarious turn. As I tried to take a sip of my coffee while cycling, my lack of coordination became painfully evident. I veered off course, almost collided with another cyclist, and then promptly crashed into a lamppost!

My coffee went flying, and I found myself in a rather embarrassing heap on the ground. A couple of friendly Germans rushed to help me up, looking both concerned and amused. I was red-faced and laughing at myself, realising that cycling with a coffee in hand required more skill than I had initially thought. It was a reminder that while Kiel’s cycling culture was welcoming and easygoing, it still required some finesse to truly blend in.

Despite the minor mishap, that incident became a cherished memory of my time as an international student in Kiel. It taught me the importance of taking things in stride, learning from my mistakes, and not being too hard on myself. Plus, it was a great icebreaker for making new friends and sharing a good laugh about the quirks of life as a student in Germany.

As the sun sets on my chapter as an international student in Kiel, Germany, I am filled with gratitude for the friendships I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned, and the memories I’ve created. Though this journey may end, the global perspective and lifelong connections I’ve gained will forever illuminate the path ahead. Farewell, Kiel, for you have been a part of my transformative adventure, and I carry your spirit with me, wherever life may lead.«

Autor*in
Chefredakteur

Finn ist seit Februar 2024 Chefredakteur des ALBRECHTs. Zuvor hat er ein Jahr lang das Kulturressort geleitet. Er studiert seit dem Wintersemester 20/21 Englisch und Geographie auf Lehramt und ist seit dem WiSe 22/23 Teil der Redaktion.

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