The Art of Being a Berliner at HTW Berlin, Germany
If I were to ask you which three words you most associate with Germany, what would you say? Cars, wurst, fast trains, beer, Christmas markets… Or, perhaps, would it be Berlin, its beautiful capital city?
Of all Germany’s wonderful cities Berlin is particularly special. The spirits of its recent and often tragic history can still be felt. And yet, despite that, it seems to produce all kinds of lively, offbeat citizens. Although no New York or London in terms of population, it is every bit as multi-cultural - every seventh Berliner having been born outside of Germany. Here the phrase ‘melting-pot’ springs to mind. The city really is diverse, not only is it a major commercial center that houses worldwide companies like Siemens, Mercedes-Benz, Soundcloud, SumUp and Lufthansa, it’s also a hotbed of creativity - countless contemporary artists flocking to the capital each year. There are more than 440 galleries and thousands of artists in Berlin, all of which help foster the vibrancy that is the city’s heartbeat.
HTW: Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
Among the higher education institutions Berlin has to offer, one university stands above rest in its embodiment of the city’s many faces: HTW Berlin. Also known as the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, the uni offers courses from mechanical engineering to communication to fashion design. Almost 14,000 students are currently enrolled in the more than 70 degree-programs that run, and they have managed to form a community. The university’s collective atmosphere is easily felt when wandering around the buildings. Remarkable, given the uni’s size!
History of the University
Part of the explanation probably lies with the university’s unique background. Although it obtained its independent status in 1994, it was established back in 1874 as a school of engineering and technical drawing. Once Berlin was reunited in 1991, five Berlin universities located in different parts of the city merged making the HTW university (Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft) as we know it today. Among the five were the Engineering school of Berlin, the College of Economics, the University of Telecommunications, as well as the Textile and Fashion School of Berlin. HTW has two amazing campuses where students have everything they require for their studies.
The Wilhelminenhof campus is located in the Southeast part of Berlin, near the bank of the Spree River. The student mensa and cafeteria are perfect places to have a cup of coffee between classes, where students can discuss projects, or simply enjoy the beautiful view. When studying, students have the chance to study in the modern library or in any of the equipped workshop rooms. The Treskowallee campus has the rare combination of both Neoclassic and contemporary architecture. Apart from the library and mensa, Treskowallee also hosts a newly built Sportscenter, a Career center, as well as a Start-up center, where students can begin to develop fledgling business ideas. There might not be a lake nearby, but Treskowallee offers beach volleyball for those desperately waiting for the summer.
Because of their popularity, it is not guaranteed you get a room in one of the student residences. But don’t you frown! For a capital city, Berlin is actually quite affordable, with monthly rent prices varying between 300-600 euros. What’s more, living outside the campus will give you a great opportunity to explore the authentic cafes, crazy techno clubs and hidden bits of street art. On visiting Berlin, its reputation as “poor but sexy” will make much more sense!
What makes this university really stand out is its careful and determined approach to practice. Like all universities of applied sciences, the HTW relies heavily on hands-on learning, project making, as well as teamwork. That is why the university offers workspaces, such as a VR-studio, a Media lab, a fashion studio, and a technical modelling studio. If you are a HTW student, you can never have too much practice. Sometimes an aptitude test is also part of the requirements for admission. So if you already worked in the field, that’s bonus points for you! Although, there’s no need to freak out if you don’t have much experience. HTW offers preparatory classes in maths, programming, languages and crafts, all aimed to help you prepared for your degree.
First steps in the working field
As you may have already guessed, you will definitely need to finish an internship during your studies. Depending on the field of study, the internship might last between 3-6 months. HTW of Berlin strongly supports the international exchange of ideas, which is why all students are encouraged to learn a foreign language and study for a semester abroad.
Knowing that some students are scared to enter the adult world, the HTW career center offers many blogs and alumni networks, where you can seek advice and help with applications. If you’re not sure what workplace may suit you best, you can also enrol in the Mentor for a day program, and see up close what some jobs really entail.
Despite your fancy CV and (no-doubt) brilliant interviewing skills, it still important to impress any prospective employer with your work. That is why, the HTW keeps all of its social media accounts active and working. Student exhibitions, workshops and events are never-ending and they make for a hell of a student experience. Have you already checked the Long night of sciences?
Living in Berlin
That being said, life in Berlin won’t stop with your university experience. The urban culture of musicians, painters and moviemakers is bursting out of every tiny paved street, every independent art studio, and every bit of the remaining Berlin Wall. Where else could you find a techno-induced spa center, or a Currywurst museum? Clubs, museums, galleries, music and film festivals – you name it, Berlin has it. It is almost as if Berlin is one big flea market. On so many street corners you can find long forgotten treasures and authentic memorabilia - hunting these gems can fill up your whole day!
If the city hustle and bustle ever becomes too much, remember, Berlin is surrounded by beautiful sceneries on all sides. I know Teufelsberg (Devil’s mountain) sounds creepy, but the view from the top is worth it. But let’s not skip the mainstream touristic attractions. The first thing most of you will do when arriving in Berlin is to post a picture of the Brandenburg Gate. And there’s nothing wrong with that! The Reichstag Building and the Holocaust Memorial are also nearby and both exceptional. Another must-see is the Berlin Wall Memorial, and while you´re there, stop by the local street food markets for a quick treat.
I hope now you understand why John F. Kennedy wanted to be a Berliner so bad. There is simply nothing to compare to the cultural liveliness that the city possesses. Doing your Bachelor’s in HTW can help you discover some of Berlin’s many faces – and it is up to you to decide which one suits you best. Until next time! - Ruby G.