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University sports in Germany: from American football to Zumba

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Playing sports at a German university is a good way to take a break from learning. This is good for your mind as well as your body. There are a wide range of sports to choose from and they are moderately priced. What is more, playing sports at university will help you settle in more quickly in Germany.








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Most students in Germany need to spend many hours at their desks, in the library or in the lab every semester. That is why it is particularly important for you to put your study materials on one side from time to time and swap them, for example, for a pair of sports shoes. There are opportunities to take part in sports at many German universities; for example, you can take sport classes or use the available university sports facilities. Sport at a German university offers you many opportunities to enjoy a break from learning, to keep fit and to meet new people. You can choose from a wide range of different sports: there are classes in well-known sports, such as football, basketball or swimming, as well as classes in sports that are not so well-known in Germany, such as ultimate frisbee, bouldering or pole dance.
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Apart from a wide range of classes, playing sports at university has other advantages: the prices are generally very reasonable. Sometimes you can register for weekly classes for just ten euros a semester and often you do not need more than your sportswear and sports shoes. The price mainly depends on the respective class and how much organisation and equipment is necessary. This is why you will probably pay more for a class in canoeing than you will for a class in football. Another advantage of university sports is the fact that most classes start afresh every semester. In other words, you can keep on trying out different sports if you want to. What is more, playing sports at university offers you a good opportunity to meet other students who have the same sports interests as you and you can improve your knowledge of German too.
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One international student who enjoys university sports is Bruno Naredo from Chile. He is 20 years old and is studying Political Science and English Studies at Bonn University. At the moment, he has also registered for a class in ultimate frisbee. In this sport, two teams play against one another and, as the name suggests, they do not play with a ball but with a frisbee. Bruno explains how he came to take up ultimate frisbee at university: “I often saw people playing on the grass in front of Bonn University and thought: “That’s something I’d like to do or I’d like to be able to do!” They were able to throw the frisbee with great precision so that it landed exactly where it was supposed to. So I decided to try this and signed up and now I’m a member of the team. For example, a few weeks ago we went to the German University Championships in Munich. We played there and it was simply great fun and very interesting.” 
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While lectures are taking place, Bruno and his team meet once a week for training. After warming up together, they then practise various throwing techniques and strategies. The coach gives the team instructions and advice, but the players often help each other. For example, team members who have more experience give new members advice. This not only helps individual players to improve their skills but also helps the whole team to get to know one another better and to play together better.
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That was really an added bonus for Bruno: “In ultimate frisbee you play together, you always need to talk to the others and do something with the others. This way you meet new people and can make new friends. When I started studying, I had problems meeting new people because the language was very difficult and I was new in town. And then you simply don’t dare to talk with other people. But when you play sports at university, you are somehow forced to do something with other people and I think that's the best thing.”
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Marshall Porras also sees playing sports at university as a positive experience. He comes from Peru and is also 20 years old. He is currently studying Biology at Bonn University and has registered for the basketball classes offered by the university. He explains why he decided to take up sports at university: “The classes fit into the student timetable very well. I played basketball in Peru, I was younger then and you could do that at school. But training is in the afternoon at university and doesn’t work for us. We either have lectures or have to do some reading. This university class was really good because I am free at the university when the classes are scheduled.”
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As is the case with ultimate frisbee, communication between the players is also important in basketball. That helps you improve your German. Marshall also experienced this, which is why his advice to other international students is: “If people speak to you in English, don’t answer in English but answer in German! You simply need to speak and the others won't complain if you make mistakes.”
What is more, playing sports at university can help you organise your daily routine and your studies in Germany. Marshall says: “In Germany there are various issues that sometimes make it difficult to adapt as a foreigner. First, there is the German language; then there is German society and finally there is German organisation. Sports here at the university help you adapt better. You meet many people and your circle of friends grows. In this way, you learn German better and also learn certain words that only young people use. Also, sports help you with organisation: if you don’t get organised for the university before playing sports, you won’t manage your timing there either. These are three things I improved at university due to basketball.”

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If you want to take part in sports at your university like Bruno and Marshall, you should go and ask at the sports facilities or find out more from the university sports website. Make sure you don’t miss registration, which is normally at the beginning of each semester. You may even have the opportunity to try out a class without needing to register first.
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