You made it to the European Campus in Pfarrkirchen, but it took you weeks to learn how to pronounce “Pfarrkirchen” correctly? Did you maybe think that Pfarrkirchen is in Deggendorf and later discovered that it is a completely different town, maybe even after you applied? Don’t despair, you are not alone.
Most of us, me included, didn’t know about the existence of this small Bavarian city. Some of us even applied, convinced Pfarrkirchen was located somewhere else. And while you might be currently thinking about the million and one things you need to do when you come to Pfarrkirchen (be aware of quarantine regulations if you are coming from abroad and check this blog post on all the bureaucratic tasks, you should keep in mind that cultural life and social aspects are as important as your studies.
University isn’t just attending lectures and studying for finals. It’s also about hanging out with friends, drinking a Spezi (famous Bavarian soft drink) in the park on a warm Saturday afternoon during summer, swimming in the communal pool, or just hanging out in the central square where the big horse, one of Pfarrkirchen’s landmarks, is.
You have no idea what I’m talking about? Well, there are cool things to do in PAN, as we like to call Pfarrkirchen, and I am here to tell you all about them. Let’s get right to “PAN Cultural and Social 101”.
1- Restaurants, cafés and pubs are your greatest allies.
Most of Pfarrkirchen’s nightlife happens around the Main Street and side streets near to the famous horse called “Wimmerroß”. Almost all restaurants, cafés, pubs and small clubs are located there. Pfarrkirchen has always had a nice, wide range of options such as going for a traditional “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee and cake), a nice dinner out, drinks at one of the local pubs, or dancing in the small clubs on the weekends. You will also find some more tips in the section “Food and Gastro” of the ECRI News.
Of course, the situation has changed drastically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we will hopefully see all the cool places open again in the future. Until then, don’t forget that most of the venues in PAN offer take-away and delivery services. Therefore, you can also enjoy their specialties with your friends and roomies in the safety of you home.
2- Girls and boys just wanna have fun!
Best entertainment places in and around PAN If you are not a “pubs and clubs” person, there are still a lot of things you can do in our lovely town. One of the locals’ favourite activity during summer is to visit the open communal pool. There you can swim or just relax with your friends near the pool. If swimming and sunbathing is not your jam, but you enjoy spending time outdoors, you should try the mini-golf course in the nearby village Postmünster.
There are also many more activities in the surrounding cities. Eggenfelden and Simbach for example have cinemas and entertainment centres. Passau, one of the most beautiful Bavarian cities, if you ask me, is just 40 minutes away by car and one hour and a half by train. If you plan to visit any of the nearby cities or villages, you should check the trains and tickets at the website of Deutsche Bahn.
3- Healthy body, healthy mind: gyms and sports associations in and around Pfarrkirchen
Pfarrkirchen also offers many different opportunities to exercise in a safe and fun way. From gym memberships to sports associations, there are a lot of different offers and I’m sure one of them will meet your wishes!
Some of the activities local gyms offer are Zumba, Indoor cycling, Yoga and Pilates, among others. Some of the sports that are offered through various sport associations or clubs (in German: Verein) are handball, basketball, volleyball, artistic roller skating, football, karate, boxing, ice-hockey, and many more.
At the moment most sport associations and gyms are closed due to corona. Nevertheless, I do encourage you to contact them if any of the above-mentioned sports interests you, because most of them have found a way to continue with their practices through online-classes or by sending exercise routines for their members to practice at home.
4- Short on cash? Good news: Parks are free! Where to exercise in Pfarrkirchen
If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like team sports or going to the gym, then there’s another solution: exercise outdoors. One advantage of living in a small city like Pfarrkirchen is that there are parks and green areas everywhere. You might even have a little yard at your shared flat. If you do have a yard, make sure to make the most out of it. It is also a perfect activity if you are short on cash; something I think every student can relate to. Some of the best parks in Pfarrkirchen are the park alongside the river Rott and the pathway all along the Rottauensee lake. You can go for a walk there, jog, relax with friends or even bring you own mat and do a yoga session next to the river or the lake.
5- Most important (un)written social rules in Bavaria
Ahh, who of us has not committed a tiny but significant mistake when moving to another country? Like greeting someone in a way that is unusual in the local community, crossing the street incorrectly, speaking too loud or too low and so on. It is quite normal to face one of these problems or mistakes when you just moved to a foreign country. Especially if the culture and social cues differ a lot from those we are used to from our home country.
That’s why I would like to explain some of the most important (un)written social rules to you. This way settling in should be much easier for you and I would like to help you prevent some of the mistakes I made when coming to Germany. So, here are my final tips on Bavarian social rules:
- Always cross roads at the pedestrian crossing or at the street corners. German laws are very strict for both drivers and pedestrians. If you cross the street incorrectly, you might face a severe fine. When you are responsible for an accident because you crossed the street incorrectly, then you will get into real trouble. According to German laws, the pedestrian who caused the accident is responsible for all the damages and liabilities. Therefore, I recommend to always cross the streets at the pedestrian crossing and only when the traffic lights are green or, if there’s no crossing, at the street corners.
- Be careful how you greet people. In some countries greeting people, even strangers, with a kiss on the cheeks is a common norm. Germans prefer to greet by waving hello with their hands or a firm handshake. A kiss on the cheek is reserved for family members or very close friends only and even there, some rules apply. Therefore, I recommend to greet people by simply waving your hand, with a handshake or by saying “Hallo”.
- Mind the rules when riding a bike. Bike safety in Germany is a huge topic, which I will not explain in its entirety, but which is extremely important. So, I would like to mention some necessary points here. Germans love riding their bikes. Many even prefer it to driving a car since it is a cheap, eco-friendly and efficient way to get to places. And as always, there are rules: when riding a bike, you should always ride the street in the direction as the cars. You must also read the different traffic signs. If there is a lane specifically for bikes, use this one. Then there are also lanes that are for both, bikes and pedestrians. If there is neither of them, then you must ride on the road, next to the cars. Wearing a helmet is not obligatory but highly recommended. Also important: never listen to music with your earphones and never use your phone while riding your bike. You will also find more information on that topic in the ECRI News section “Bike Station” in iLearn.
- Be aware of loud volume when speaking and noise when there are people around. Coming from Argentina, a Latin American country with great Italian and Spanish influence, I am used to loud noises and have never had a problem with them. I am used to people friendly shouting at each other or loud music on the buses and trains, among other things. Well, then I came to Germany. People here do like to have fun and are very friendly, but when it comes to noise, things are very different to my home country. Germans like their peace and quiet, especially on Sundays. I am not telling you to whisper all the time (I certainly don’t), but you should be aware of the volume when speaking and to be aware of the people surrounding you when you’re out in public. Especially if you are at a café or restaurant, the other patrons will appreciate it if you don’t shout and wave your arms around when telling a story to your friends.
I know that there is much more that might be worth mentioning here, but if I listed everything that comes to my mind, I might as well write a whole book. Therefore, I tried to draw your attention to the most important locations and possibilities in and around PAN and to just highlight some of the more basic social rules. If you would like to get to know the city of Pfarrkirchen better and are interested in more cultural tips, then I highly recommend to have a look at the ECRI News. This weekly newsletter offers useful information on your studies, cultural aspects, food and gastronomy, leisure time and entertainment and life in the region of Rottal-Inn. Check it out and if you like, you can also contribute some of your tips that you think are worth sharing.
Ayelén Toscano Juanes is a 4th semester International Tourism Management Bachelor student at ECRI. Born and raised in Argentina, she lived in Hamburg before coming to Pfarrkirchen. This gave her the opportunity to compare cultural similarities and differences between Northern Germany and Bavaria. She currently works as a student assistant for the ECRI NEWS, a project that aims at helping students discover more about the city of Pfarrkirchen and the European Campus.