Memories of Ingolstadt

Mark Petkevich, a 4th year student of the bachelor’s programme ‘World Economy’ and HSE Endowment Fund Scholarship recipient  has returned from his exchange programme at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany, and is sharing the impressions on his student life.

Undoubtedly, Ingolstadt is a perfect place for those tired of the hustle and bustle of a big city. I was born and raised in a small town and it’s the reason I sometimes want to escape from Moscow’s faceless and sometimes hostile crowd. Bavaria’s Ingolstadt and its university’s cooperation with HSE gave me such an opportunity, even though at the beginning I wasn’t sure I’d find anything rather than peace there - Ingolstadt is even smaller than my hometown. Yet, I wasn’t disappointed, especially that Munich is an hour away by train and I could always one again enjoy the lights of a big city.

The first creatures I met upon arrival were rabbits darting about the lawns in Klenzepark. It was the 1st of April, Easter Sunday, a cool and windy day but still warmer than in Moscow. It was impossible to check in the student accommodation on the weekend so I was just wandering around the city trying to learn some new facts about it. I got cold but I couldn’t get into any shop to warm myself up (Sundays are church days and most of the shops and cafes are closed), so I chased the rabbits instead. I would have to get used to the fact that on Sundays I could only buy sth at petrol stations.

Later I saw other animals. On the way back home from McDonald’s I stumbled upon a hedgehog that was running across the street right in front of me. It is unusual to see a hedgehog in the city centre but the strangest thing is what comes next.

The same night I went for a walk and was passing by the rubbish containers near my home, they were surrounded by a fence with a lockable door. I heard some noise and stopped. Then apparently the same hedgehog I had seen a couple of hour earlier in the city crawled from down the fence. Chance is a really weird thing, because I believe the hedgehog wasn’t too happy when I patted it near McDonald’s.

You may imagine Ingolstadt to be in the middle of nowhere but it is not true. Indeed the city has lush greenery, that only makes it more beautiful, but all the perks of civilization, not just McDonald’s, are also there. The central street full of shopping malls is usually busy, especially on the weekends. Parallel streets are the stronghold of nightlife with bars and cafes catering to all tastes.

Those coming to Ingolstadt in spring should visit Volkfest. It is held at the biggest parking lot in the city that turns from a colorless wasteland to a theme park with a huge tent. Inside the tent men and women of all ages wearing Bavarian costumes are standing on the benches hugging, smiling, drinking beer and singing Bob Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’. And that’s only what I managed to see, not speaking of all else happening at Volkfest.

Despite the university name contains the word ‘Catholic’, it provides plenty of modern types of entertainment be it student parties or informal meetings with potential employers. If you’re lucky you may be accepted to Fraternity, something like exclusive clubs in English and American universities we know about from the movies. It’s fun, especially if you have not experienced dorm life in Russia. Also during study breaks you can relax in a hammock right in the university courtyard.

You may reproach me because I left the last and smallest part to my studies, but don’t we travel for the sake of experience and language practice rather than academic knowledge? Maybe that’s just my personal view. Anyway, I haven’t noticed much difference, although my professors managed to introduce the material in a more lively and engaging form than in HSE and the study itself was very practice-oriented.

I hope my account, though partial, could sparkle in you some interest for that small, but sweet and cozy town (I’m not talking about cyclists and bike lanes you’d have to get used to), and you’ll be brave enough to see it with your own eyes.

While typing this text I opened Ingolstadt in Google Maps and got so nostalgic…