When you decide to live in a city for a long time to study, there are many factors to consider in choosing your destination. Many Iranian universities offer Persian courses, of course. But here are a number of facts about Shiraz and why being a student here will make your learning experience smooth and pleasant. The following is meant to give you an idea of what life is probably like as a student here. Nevertheless, if you decide you learn Persian elsewhere, you are always welcome to spend a few weeks here.
With a population that is just short of 2 million, Shiraz is a green and safe city, with a laid-back and tolerant culture. This is partly because a number of other Iranian languages are widely spoken here; in fact, if you are interested in Iranian languages, you will hear many of them in Shiraz. Besides being an additional opportunity to learn another language, this can also give you an idea of the complexity of contemporary Iranian culture and rituals.
In addition, there are cultural institutions that would be important in particular for researchers: in addition to the Mirza Library at Shiraz University, you will have access to the National Library which gives you access to all Persian sources available to conduct your research effectively.
Cultural activities are diverse: there are many modern cinemas whee you can watch Iranian films at, there is a small theater community, and many concerts are organized at various institutions every year. Learning Persian musical instruments is also possible thanks for the many music schools in the city.
As a historical city, Shiraz has an important location in Iranian history. As a result, there is a long list of places to visit while you stay here: the three top Iranian tourist destinations, Persepolis, Hafeziyeh, and Eram Garden, as well as the beautiful Shah-Cheragh Shrine, the colorful Nasir ol-molk Mosque, the Zandiyeh historical complex, and numerous historical sites nearby.
If you intend to visit other historical cities, it is quite easy to travel from Shiraz: there are daily direct flights from Shiraz airport to all major Iranian cities, and you could also travel by bus or by train.
Three: All Work and No Play?
While there are a number of cultural activities that could keep you busy, you can spend your time in other ways, too: there are extended walking and a few hiking routs in various locations; you are only a 4 hour bus-ride from the Persian Gulf coast, where you could spend a weekend or a long vacation. During weekends, you could also spend time at the many weekend resorts around the city, where you can meet people, eat at a restaurant, or simply cook your own food. During winter, when it snows, you can go skiing at a ski resort around 75 kilometers north west of the city.
The climate in Shiraz is generally pleasant during autumn and particularly during spring. Even though winters are not too cold (depending on where you are from and what you consider “cold”), every few years it snows heavily and the temperature stays below zero for more than a week. Summers can be warm, and every year two to three weeks could get very hot during the day.
As a student, you may be interested in exploring the local culture more intensively. There are over 15,000 restaurants in Shiraz and though many sell foods that are quite similar (e.g. pizza, pasta, kebab), you could still explore the urban space and taste local food in many of these restaurants. And there are lots of cozy cafés: not all of them sell good coffee, but you will probably find your favorite spot soon. During hot summer days, most of the cafés are open until very late at night where you can taste unique local drinks. There are also a few modern shopping malls where you could go shopping or spend time to observe the behaviors of various Iranian social classes.
Five: Quality of Life
In general, you will find Iranians to be friendly and hospitable. In Shiraz you will deal with better air quality, less population intensity and traffic, and will have access to the metro to reach downtown; your commutes will be short. These will all give you more time to spend with friends, explore the city, or simply to study Persian.