Making a Nest in the Woods (Living in Student Accommodation as a Creature of Comfort) – Part 1

Two days away from my three week “arrive in Germany” anniversary, and I’m finally finding time to write about my new home.

I’m a self-confessed “creature of comfort”. I love keeping my living spaces comfortable, clean and colourful. That’s not to say that I can’t happily live in less-salubrious locations but once I know I have to live/sleep/work/clean myself in a certain place for a long time… well, I start to get a bit creative. My office at work back home was quickly decorated with colourful cards and cacti and even some happy little creatures I made out of blu-tac.

A living or working space reflects the personality of a person just as much as fashion. I mean, it’s quite a shallow way of thinking but… eh. Books have covers for the express purpose of being judged, unfortunately.

So basically, I’m the type of person to customise my computer desktops to be as beautiful as possible, to dress up my room to reflect my tastes and dress mostly in black.

Over the next couple of days I’ll be adding to this post. Hopefully it can give you an insight into moving in, living and maybe loving in Mannheimer student accommodation.

Study Town

Student accommodation in Mannheim is fairly well organised, but damn hard to get into. In the middle of May I had to get onto a website at 9:30 precisely and book into room before they were all taken. I was lucky in that I managed to nab the second to last free room. Lucky break, as they all disappeared within ten minutes.

I was actually very, very worried about booking a room. It was one of the hardest parts of the preparation process, pretty much just because it meant I was “locked in” to the exchange with a single click of the mouse. I remember stressing more than any other time in the process during that week.

In the end though, it was definitely worth it, as the amount of people I’ve met who are STILL looking for private homes is really worrying. Poor fellows. Private accommodation, or Air BnB are reasonable ways to go here, but will likely cost you a hell of a lot more and leave you living in some sort of horrible limbo. If you’re comfortable with backpacking and living without possessions (I’d love to, but it’s so hard to achieve that sort of enlightenment) then it should be easy enough to manage.

Keep in mind though, that when you arrive you will have to register where you are staying with the city. You’ll also have to have a solid address for things like bank accounts and phones, so it’s fairly important to find a place to stay fairly soon.

The single room I booked is a bit far away from the Quadrant (in an apparently re-furbished US military base), but generally comfortable. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this little community feels quieter, more connected and maybe even a bit friendlier! Riding the bus to and from the small group of student houses has allowed me to meet so many interesting people. Surrounded by discount shops, you’ll never want for any groceries.

The small bar/club in the block isn’t the most “happenin’” place, but it’s another good place to meet people and play a bit of fußball or xbox on a giant projector. It’s a bit of a “boy’s club” from what I’ve seen so far though.

IMG_20150904_140743024  The group kitchen areas and bathrooms in the single room halls aren’t the most hygienic places. In fact, when I first arrived, the whole building was haunted by flies and worms and all manner of gross stickiness. The toilet seat was broken off it’s hinge and one of the lights was busted.

Luckily, my Mexican roommate (who, no joke, has been supplying me with a LOT of good Tequila) is lovely and helped me buy cleaning supplies and completely gut the dirtiest areas. Now the flies have been massacred and life is back to normal. I can see things getting dirtyIMG_20150904_140800266 again really easily, but from the other flats I’ve seen, ours is actually fairly nice for the time being.

One of my big worries about the rooms before I came was security. There’s not much privacy during the day, with no curtains to hide my shame, but there are security blinds that come dowIMG_20150904_140754914_HDRn easily and make you feel like you’re in an impenetrable bunker. I don’t feel too unsafe here, or in the city as a whole, but it always pays to keep a number of padlocks, bike chains and doorstops on you, especially when travelling away for a few days.

Or maybe I’m just paranoid.

Getting Around Town

IMG_20150831_205816555As I mentioned before, the housing I’m in is a bit out of the city. When I say that though, it’s nothing like in Australia. There it took me an hour to get to uni or work every day, and here it’s only about 20 minutes by bus.

German public transport is MUCH more impressive than Adelaide’s. Things actually run on time here, even if the drivers can seem a bit impersonal. With a semester ticket (155 Euros from the uni) you can travel anywhere in the Rhein-Neckar region, anytime, for free, which definitely pays off for uni students without cars. I mean, it’s been like three weeks and it’s almost payed for itself already! You can even go across the border to France for a day trip! 

But buses and trains aren’t the only way to get around. Here more than anywhere I’ve been the people love their bikes. In a flat, planned city without too much traffic, a bike is an absolutely brilliant idea. I’m very happy to say that I was able to pick up a used, vintage race bike from a seller who was hanging out at the uni grounds and I couldn’t be happier. It could do with a bit of TLC (especially in the chain area), but its still a great way to get around… and keep fit!

IMG_20150903_133715602I recommend looking for a bike around the 40 Euro to 60 Euro mark and taking it out on any nice day you can. There are a lot of bike and repair shops around and bike-sellers everywhere, so you should be able to find one fairly easily if you want!

Of course, walking is just as good of a way to get around. Mannheim is small enough to hike basically anywhere if that’s your thing but seemingly less accessible for people with disabilities than Adelaide.

Get lost in the city, by the way. It’s a good way to find all manner of interesting things.

Well…

That’s about it for now, I reckon! Over the next couple of days I’ll be posting more about living in student accommodation in Mannheim and hopefully giving a few tips and tricks to all those incoming.

Check back soon, leute! Bis bald! Schönen tag! Tschüss! Adiós!

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