North Rhine-Westphalia: What you need to know
Where is it?
Since its reunification in 1990, the new Germany has consisted of 16 federal states. There are three city states – the capital city of Berlin, plus Hamburg and Bremen – and 13 diverse regions ranging from Schleswig-Holstein in the north to Bavaria in the south. North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany and located in the western area. Its capital is Duesseldorf and the biggest city is Cologne.
It shares borders with Belgium in the southwest and the Netherlands in the west and northwest. It has borders with the German states of Lower Saxony to the north and northeast, Rhineland-Palatinate to the south and Hesse to the southeast.
How do I get there?
There is a railway service with Deutsche Bahn Intercity and ICE-trains stopping at Cologne Central Station. ICE and TGV Thalys high-speed trains link Cologne with Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. There are frequent ICE trains to other German cities, including Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. ICE Trains to London via the Channel Tunnel are planned for 2013.
If you travel by train you would arrive at Cologne’s international airport, Cologne/Bonn Airport, which is also called Konrad Adenauer Airport. The airport is shared with the neighbouring city of Bonn.
Is it a good place to learn German?
North Rhine-Westphalia is a great place to learn German since there are almost no dialects or slangs present that have an influence on the standard German language.
You can also contact the agency called “BAMF” that offers free german- and integration-coures for people from different countries that would like to work in Germany. You should check their website for more information and where those courses will be available in your area (http://www.bamf.de/).
German is a very difficult language in general and has a large variety of dialects and slangs that even the native speakers have their problems with it, so it is very important that you find the right class for you.
Moving to Cologne: 3 things you need to know
1.) Where to live?
Cologne offers a lot of great places to live. To give you some idea’s depending on your budget take a look on the list below.
The most desired districts in Cologne would be Marienburg and Lindenthal.
Some medium range districts would be Poll and Kalk.
And some of the less expensive areas are in the districts of Vingst and Cologne Muehlheim.
2.) Where to work?
The economy of Cologne is primarily based on insurance and media industries, while the city is also an important cultural and research center and home to a number of corporate headquarters.
Among the largest media companies based in Cologne are Westdeutscher Rundfunk, RTL Television and many more.
Lufthansa also has their main corporate headquarters in Cologne. The largest employers in Cologne would be the car manufacturer Ford Europe and Toyota Motorsport GmbH. Other large companies based in Cologne include the REWE Group, TÜV Rheinland, Deutz AG and a number of Kölsch breweries.
As you see, there is a large variety of working areas in Cologne that you can choose from.
3.) How to get around?
Like most German cities, Cologne has a traffic layout designed to be bicycle-friendly. You can use the extensive cycle network, featuring pavement-edge cycle lanes linked by cycle priority crossings. In some of the narrow one-way central streets, you are explicitly allowed to cycle both ways.
The Cologne city railway operated by Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe is an extensive light rail system that is partially underground and serves Cologne and a number of neighboring cities. Düsseldorf is also linked by S-Bahn trains which are operated by the Deutsche Bahn.
There are also frequent buses covering most of the city and surrounding suburbs.