Frankfurt dos and don’ts

Germany seems to be a very well regulated country. When looking at Frankfurt for the first time, the most interesting observation that I made was about the cleanliness and neatness of the main high streets and shopping areas. I get the impression that Germany, or in particular those living in Frankfurt, take a lot of pride in their appearance and their surroundings.

Living in Frankfurt had enabled me to gain a great insight to a completely new culture. I feel that I have already learned a great deal about the German culture, especially through my work in school, where I get to see German families acting out their lives on a daily basis. I also appreciate the great public transport system! Having lived in a village where I had to wait for an hourly bus to town, the ease of the U-Bahn can be a-likened to a miracle.

Frankfurt is a great city. When I say it’s international I really mean it. I have only been here for a short amount of time, and I have already met people from all over the world, doing different work at different stages of life. Moving to Germany has been, without a doubt, the best and most interesting life choice I have made (and if that’s not good advertising, I don’t know what is). Among the first thing I did when I arrived in this city (which I strongly recommend) made me realize what a great choice I made.

Shopping in Skyline Plazza

As a shopaholic I admit, reaching for every store (on sale at the time) made my new beginnings so much fun and much more colorful. Since I wasn’t really prepared for the cold weather I got to buy every warm cloth from scratch. The easiest way to reach Skyline Plaza Frankfurt is to get there by U-Bahn, line U4, and get off at station Frankfurt Messe. From there is only few minutes’ walk to the shopping mall positioned in the heart of the new Europaviertel.

In seek of art in Montmartre am Main

Montmartre am Main is an international get-together of professional and non-professional artists, basically anyone who’s interested in the arts, free of charge. They welcome you to bring your material (an easel or sketchbook) and join their open air painting sessions that take place from April/May until September/October every 2nd week Sunday from 14h to 17h approximately on the border of the river Main at Frankfurt-Hoechst (Batterie/Zolltor).

Celebrating expatriate hood in Berger Strassenfest

Newcomer’s life in the beginning is quite lonely and sad so I tried to spice mine up any chance I got. A festival among many in this country makes for a great start.

Food, drinks and live music during a whole weekend as the weather gets warm in the heart of Frankfurt’s Berger Strasse. One of the city’s best street festivals if you ask me!

You will find all sorts of stalls offering German festival-food-favorites like curry wurst and fries, Spanish paellas, Indian specialties like samosas and tandoori chicken, and of course all the drinks you can think of. From ‘erdbeerebowle’ strawberry punch to beer, wine and Brazilian cocktails.

With Germany I came here not expecting anything. I expected to just suck it up and get on with it because I wanted to experience studying abroad. But I really do love it here. I love Germany in that it’s safe and clean and a nice place to live. The people are lovely, the city is exciting. My work is fantastic and the people around me are amazing. But, of course, it’s not perfect here…. So here is what you don’t get to do in Germany!

You don’t get to buy anything after midnight.

Anyone who has lived in every other country will tell you how amazing it is to have convenience stores open all night. In my hometown, supermarkets are open 24/7. In Germany, shops in the centre close at 7 or 8 depending on what day of the week it is, and the supermarket closes at 10. When I’m coming in from a night out it’d be nice to be able to pop into a shop and buy something to snack on… or when I’m late back like I am when I come home from Zumba, it’d be nice not to feel rushed because I only have 20 minutes left until the shop shuts.

Delivery services are still a myth

Unless you are/have a housewife/househusband, and are able to be there at all times during the day, don’t expect anything other than spam mail and small letters to be delivered to you. You will be sent on while goose chases across the city (if you are in Frankfurt) to find which small corner shop (that closes at 4pm, by the way) your online purchase/stuff from home/care package has been sent to.

If you are very, very unlucky, your goods may be sent to the Zollamt – customs office, which is on the edge of town, about 30 minutes on the tram and another 15 minutes walking after that. Word of advice if this happens to you – always say that your stuff is a gift!! Otherwise you may have to pay extra on it!

Frankfurters overdo it with salt

I love German food. I don’t eat the crap stuff in the canteens anymore, so I really appreciate the good German food that I have once in a while. However, German food is really salty. I’m not sure if they, as a nation, feel particularly bad about this, but there doesn’t seem to be any obvious efforts to cut down on this.

(Frankfurt mainly) is stuffed with homeless people

The cities I’ve lived in before Frankfurt are Liverpool in the UK and Nagoya in Japan. In Liverpool there was a cute old man who used to play the violin on Bold Street all the time. Otherwise, there were no obvious homeless people. In Nagoya there are visible homeless people, but they are pretty sophisticated, and sit in Sakae station and paint and play instruments and watch tv on little handsets. They’re pretty pro-active about their situations.

In Frankfurt there are people with stumps for limbs, women wrapped in head scarves, young girls, men on crutches… all manner of people who make you feel so guilty for all that you have. It was one of the very first things that struck me about Frankfurt, and I tried to get involved with a soup kitchen. But no one would have me due to my lack of German skills. I was (and am still) very upset about this. A smile is the same in every language. I do give money to the women and young girls I see on the streets, but I don’t have enough to be able to give them as much as I feel I should. I feel constantly guilty about it – especially when they come into restaurants and go from table to table asking for money. I wish I was a big enough person to be able to offer them more than I do.

So, there we have it… they aren’t such bad frustrations. I think I am very mellow about living as an expat now. I’ve come to accept cultural differences as things that should not be debated or fought, but discussed and learnt from. The German way of life is constantly making me see things in new ways – I really do love it here.

If you’re an expat, I’ve love to hear your top 4 frustrating things about where you live!