The Mole Diaries: Passau
Passau has been a fantastic place to spend the German placement part of my year abroad. Although it isn’t a very big city, the Dreiflüßestadt (City of three rivers) has a lot to offer and is just a stone’s throw away from plenty of other interesting and beautiful cities and towns in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic!
The international office at the university was exceptional in being prepared for the arrival of new students and had organised many activities to help us meet new people and get to know the surrounding area as easily as possible.
The only thing I struggled with here was choosing classes as the website isn’t very clear with regards to how many ECTS credits courses are worth.
The Bayern ticket allows up to five people to travel anywhere in Bavaria (and a few other places like Salzburg) between 9am and 3am on regional trains for only €29! The Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket is also something worth mentioning because for €40, five people can travel anywhere in Germany using regional trains for the day which means you can head further afield to somewhere like Berlin (or even Poland). Austria is quite literally a wrong turning away and can easily be walked to. There are regular boat trips along the river Danube, some lasting just 45 minutes, some lasting 5 hours.
Head to the Veste Oberhaus on a sunny day for stunning views. From here you’ll be able to see where the rivers Donau/Danube, Inn and Ilz meet which is also worth seeing from the Dreiflüßeeck.
Eat Bavarian Food
Although Passau does have many international restaurants and cafés serving everything from Italian to Chinese food, it’s well worth a visit to a traditional restaurant in the Altstadt or the popular Bayerische Löwe to try one of the many regional dishes. You will be able to find cheap pastries and Brötchen in most supermarkets or in one of the many bakeries. Keeping this in mind, however, and despite the stigma of doing so in the UK, one of the places you will probably frequent more than most is one of the kebab shops before stumbling home after a night out!
Make an effort with people, both Germans and other international students
Hiding away in your room in those first few weeks will do you no favours as friends are crucial in helping you have a great time on Erasmus, stopping you from feeling homesick and in the case of meeting native speakers, getting you to practice your language skills!
St. Stephan’s Cathedral (Der Passauer Dom)
This beautiful Cathedral is famous for allegedly having the world’s largest working Church organ but taking ten minutes just to wander around the inside and appreciate the rest of its highly decorative design is recommended.
The university offered me the chance to be partnered up with a German student who would be able to help me settle in and allow me to practice my target language. I advise anyone to do this as it is all too tempting to stay in your comfort zone and spend too much time with fellow English speakers!
This beer festival will result in you spending obscene amounts of money but there is nothing quite like dancing on benches in a huge tent with all of your friends, listening to live music with a beer the size of your head! Passau also has several beer gardens in which you can sit back and enjoy a cold beer from one of the local breweries on a sunny day.
Sundays in Passau can feel pretty soul destroying with the majority of things being closed but the Passauer Erlebnisbad (PEB for short, basically the local swimming pool) is open if you find yourself stuck for something to do (other than sleeping off your hangover).