Shyam Sundar Sridharan is a 22-year-old student from Chennai, India, who moved to Germany in September 2011 to pursue a master’s degree in Jena. He spoke to The Local about the best things to see and do in Thuringia’s second largest city.
How did you end up in Jena?
After finishing my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in India, I chose Germany to pursue my master’s because it seemed like an obvious choice. I’m studying Scientific Instrumentation at the Fachhochschule (technical university) in Jena, a course offered in English. I’m doing an internship in Erfurt at present, but I live in Jena.
What do you like to do for fun in the city?
In my free time I like to skate, swim, go trekking, play snooker and cycle. Last summer my friend and I rented bikes for two days, roamed around and explored many new places in Jena. This is only possible in the summer. There’s a big park in Jena called Paradies, which is nice for cycling and skating.
Is Jena a friendly city for foreigners?
Yes, very. And the people are very helpful as well.
Do you speak German?
I did the beginner’s course while I was in India, so I can speak a little. It has improved since I moved here.
Can you tell us something about the city you don’t like?
Sometimes I have to go to the state’s capital city, Erfurt. There’s not a lot of variety in Jena for clothing and household items, for example.
What do you miss most?
The food, obviously. You don’t get south Indian food here. Sometimes I get parcels from my parents in India with some ingredients. Before I came here, I didn’t cook at all. There’s a shop in the city where you can also get Indian ingredients – but they are very costly here. There are also two Indian restaurants here called India Garten and Taj of India.
Do you like German food?
I’m a vegetarian but I love Germany’s staple food – Kartoffel. I also love potato and enjoy German dishes like Rösti. Vegetarian food is expensive in Germany. Even the vegetarian burger at MacDonald costs more than the chicken burger. Also, people here in Jena love bratwurst.
What would you say is the one thing a tourist shouldn’t miss in Jena?
The nightlife in Jena is very good because it’s a student city. There is something or other happening every night, but mostly from Wednesday to Sunday. I like the club Rosenkeller and Villa am Paradies. Being a student city, it is livelier than Erfurt, which is an hour and a half away from here. There is a 24 hour tram in Jena which is very convenient.
What is your favourite tourist spot in Jena?
I really like the Jentower. You can climb to the top for a view of the whole city. A very famous street in Jena is Wagnergasse in the city centre which has a lot of hotels and bars. Most of the students hang out there. There is a go-kart centre in north Jena in Zwätzen.
Can you tell us something about Jena that only a local would know?
There’s a castle in west Lobeda in Jena called Burgruine Lobdeburg. It’s not very famous or big, but it is very good for trekking. I don’t know much about the history of the city, but while I was at the castle, I read that a lot of parts of the city were destroyed during the Second World War. There is a coffee shop on the way to the castle which is also very good.
How much longer do you plan on living in Germany?
I’m in my fourth semester right now. I will definitely stay in Germany for another year.
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Interview conducted by Mithila Borker