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'Braunschweig: totally friendly to foreigners'

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'Braunschweig: totally friendly to foreigners'
Photo: Palani Kannan Kandavel
07:44 CEST+02:00
Get The Local flavour of Germany with our series offering an insider's take on their hometown. This week, Palani Kannan Kandavel talks about his adopted town Braunschweig.

How did you end up where you currently live in Germany?

I was looking all over Europe for somewhere to go for my research career. I applied for several research institutions across Europe and ended up in Braunschweig for my PhD research in Leibnitz Institute – DSMZ - in 2010. Braunschweig has a diverse international environment and international research institutions, not only the DSMZ but also the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, the Julius Kunst Institute, etc. The diverse, international scientific environment in Braunschweig attracted me.

What do you like to do for fun in the city?

Braunschweig has many lakes and is surrounded by beautiful villages like Mascherode, Kanzlerfeld, Rautheim. My friends and I have barbecues, go cycling and swimming around these lakes and nearby villages. There are also several regular cultural events in the Stadthalle, Statstheater and Uni-Max. Those programmes are highlights. In the winter, the Christmas market in town and ice skating in Kreuzteich are great fun. For youngsters, Braunschweig is also a good choice for night life. Downtown at the weekend is full of people for whole night and many nightclubs stay open till morning.

Is it a friendly city for foreigners?

Braunschweig is absolutely a friendly city for foreigners. During my early time here, I couldn't speak or understand German. The shopkeepers, bus and tram drivers, receptionists in public offices helped me kindly without any hesitation. They treat foreigners the same as locals. Most of the youngsters in Braunschweig speak English which is supportive for German beginners.

Do you need to speak German there?

For daily life in Braunschweig and my work, the German language is not necessary but to socialize with the locals and integrate with them, I had to learn it. Many people here are encouraging and help to learn German. The locals are generous in correcting language errors when I speak.

What should a visitor not miss in your hometown?

The visitor can feel the combination of classic and modern environments in Braunschweig. The downtown sights are traditional and historic but the modern clubs and bars give the city a modern feel. The lakes, Oker River, and parks are the highlights - visitors shouldn't miss them. The renovated Braunschweiger Schloss, Braunschweig Lion statue, Altstadtmarkt and Kohlmarkt are also highlights in classic Braunschweig.

What is your favourite spot/activity there?

My favourite spots are downtown and lakes. I go swimming, cycling in and around the lakes. Downtown is also a favourite spot for outdoor restaurants and cafe in the summer. The classic market area in Braunschweig is a nice place for walk around.

Tell us something about your German hometown that only a local would know.

Mumme (a kind of beer) and asparagus are the special foods in Braunschweig. Braunschweiger mumme has been exported to several countries since the Middle Ages. Braunkohl and Bregenwurst, Braunschweiger Lebkuchen are some more traditional food from Braunschweig. Only local people know about these.

How much longer do you plan on living in Germany?

I wish to live in Germany for at least five more years, depending on the availability of a job. My current job contract continues through this year. Personally I feel there are more things to explore and experience in Germany.

Have you had difficulties in Braunschweig?

As Braunschweig is not a big city, there are only a few social communities (except student communities) and this makes it more difficult to integrate with the local community. As Braunschweig is a developing city, there are also frequent road blocks in the main city area. As in all of northern Germany, versatile weather is a major difficulty for many foreigners as well as some locals.

Want your hometown featured on My Germany? Contact us at: news@thelocal.de

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