Year Abroad

Your Essential Guide to Student Life in Frankfurt

May 7, 2024
George

How did you spend your Erasmus+ work placement in Frankfurt?

I worked as a Mergers and acquisitions intern for Lufthansa Service Holding – a branch of the German airline Lufthansa – for 10 months (2018/19). I applied directly through their online job portal and received the offer after several online tests and Skype interviews. Overall, it was an incredible experience, and I would do it again without hesitation. My team was very close-knit and made the work, which was often challenging and required long hours, very pleasant. Even though the office was incredibly international, I was surprisingly the only British expat working there, which made me somewhat of a novelty. Everyone was always keen to dive into what was still the hottest topic of the time – Brexit. Everyone, of course spoke English extremely well, given the international nature of the work, but within my team, we spoke almost exclusively German, which is exactly what you want from working abroad.

My lows would include the long hours (which weren’t too difficult as there was always something interesting to be cracking on with), longer than average commute, and, of course, the language learning curve having jumped into the deep end of German. My highs far outweigh the lows, however, and include forming genuine friendships with my colleagues (who I still talk to now), the Lufthansa Christmas party (they built their own xmas market for the event), the work 5-a-side football on Thursdays, working on large-scale international projects, free travel within Frankfurt and discounted flights, and the on-site duty-free.

In general, my advice for job hunting is to just shoot off as many applications as you can. I must have sent off nearly 50 before I got this one. Regarding Frankfurt specifically, it’s the financial hub of Germany (and arguably Europe, too), so if you’re looking to get into that line of work, it’s a great place to be. One huge tip that I found was to use your native English to your advantage, even during the application stage. Even though most Germans speak near-perfect English, there are still many companies that don’t have the native touch and are looking to benefit from a Brit.

“For traditional German food, head to Sachsenhausen, where there are plenty of great restaurants that serve Schnitzel mit Grünesoße with Ebbelwoi, the traditional Hessische drink. It is like a bitter cider!”

Where did you live in Frankfurt?

I initially found it quite difficult to find a place to live because most viewings and signings in Frankfurt happen within one or two days, and they don’t really like giving bedrooms away to someone they haven’t met or who hasn’t seen the property. Similar to job applications, just keep pushing through. You’ll find something eventually. Also, keep checking the websites daily because new listings come up all the time. I stayed in a hostel for a week while I viewed loads of flats, and within two days, I found a great place with two German guys my age. I paid €575 pm (incl. bills, etc), which is fairly reasonable for the area I was in. Moving in was incredibly easy, there was next to no paperwork and I got along with my flatmates really well. There have been cases of scammers targeting people looking for flats abroad, so just keep an eye out for that.

There are plenty of great places to live in Frankfurt, made better by the fact that public transport is very efficient and well-connected. I lived very centrally in Konstablerwache, but my friends lived all over the place. My top tip would be to just live near a train station because you’ll be able to get anywhere in Frankfurt very quickly if you do, so it won’t matter where you live, really. 

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Where are the best places to go?

In general we found places to go either from just looking around the city ourselves or by recommendations from locals. Frankfurt has a great nightlife that took a while for us to discover. There are some of the best and most highly regarded techno clubs in Germany, namely Tanzhaus West and Robert Johnson. On the flip side, I’d highly recommend going to Alt-Sachsenhausen on a Friday and Saturday for an almost club-strip-like experience. There is an abundance of small bars and clubs playing mostly German Schlager Musik and chart hits. Head to ‘Hot Bar’ first for €1 shot and then Oberbayern afterward. Also, plenty of fast-food kiosks near there for afterward. For a different kind of night, go to Jazzkeller in the Alter Oper area on a Wednesday evening for €5 entry into a well-renowned underground jazz bar.

The Irish abrs O’Reilly’s in Hauptbahnhof and Waxy’s in Eschenheimer Tor are both perfect to watch international sport, get a Guinness or to find an English-speaking bar job. Das Nord2 is also a great little bar with a chilled atmosphere. Quite a few bars, particularly in Sachsenhausen, are Raucherkneipen (smoking pubs), which even if you do smoke, can be unpleasant sometimes, but there are plenty of non-smoking bars to choose from as well.

How about some essentials?

I would recommend signing up for an online banking account once you’re there: European N26 or German ING DiBa are both good. If you’re with any of the other traditional banks (such as BD or Commerz), you can only withdraw money from an ATM that is owned by that bank. If you want to get cash out from a different ATM, you will have to pay a fee.

Any other top tips?

For traditional Frankfurt food, head to Sachsenhausen where there are plenty of great restaurants that serve Schnitzel mit Grünesoße with Ebbelwoi (also known as Appfelwei) the traditional Hessische drink. It is like a bitter cider! I would recommend Ebbelwoi Unser or Atschel , in particular for this experience. One thing to note is ‘Nur Bares ist Wahres’ (Cash is king). There are quite a few places that will only accept cash, so bear that in mind – strange for the financial hub of Europe.

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George
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