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An Expat Talks about Living in Heidelberg, Germany

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Heidelberg

How long have you lived there?

3 years

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

I met people mainly by going to bars, many of which, because of the Army presence and international community, cater more to English-speakers and Americans (the downside of this is the GI crowd, which, despite having met a lot of cool soldiers, also has a lot of violent and ignorant drunks.)

There are probably more wholesome ways of meeting people, but I'm wouldn't be the one to know. If you get a job on a U.S. base, they have a lot of programs and such aimed at helping families and new arrivals adjust and meet new people. The university also to host a lot of cultural events and such. There are a lot of nearby woods and mountains so there's always athletic/outdoors type opportunities.

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

Heidelberg has a very diverse and international character as a result of several factors. Most notable is the city's large and prestigious university, which attracts lots of German and international students. The city also has large expat and immigrant communities. The U.S. military installations in and around the city and the military personell and civillian workers who live offbase. Because of the academic and international character of the town, most people speak some degree of English.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

I was a civillian worker on one of the U.S. bases, which is probably the easiest route for U.S. citizens without a strong background in German and will provide access to a lot of the military infastructure (and I believe the Dept of Defense school system as well.) Their job listings are here- http://www.chra.eur.army.mil/

Outside of that, Heidelberg has a very large high tech software and medical research industry, probably as a result of the university. Tourism and acadamia also seem to be very big, though I know less about them. A decent link is here- http://www.e-heidelberg.com/stay/stay.html

Mannheim, which is nearby and much larger and more industrial/business oriented than Heidelberg might yield more options.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

It is a university town, so there's always a lot of nightlife and cultural/academic events. It's population is too diverse to generalize, but it doesn't seem to have as much of a materialistic 9-5 business-minded attitude as I'd imagine would exist in a larger city.

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Just try to learn the language; it isn't really necessary but it will increase your opportunities and help you forge friendships with the locals (some Americans here never venture out, socially or culturally, out of the large and established American community.) Other than that just to have a good time and enjoy the area, its a great city with beautiful architecture and a thriving international culture.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Oct 5, 2010 13:12

Heidelberg is wundubar! Ich wohne im Walldorf (1989-1992)

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