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LIVING IN GERMANY

Five reasons I decided to stay in Frankfurt (despite the pandemic)

Many of Alisa Jordan's fellow international friends and acquaintances headed back to their home countries when going into the office in Frankfurt was no longer necessary. But the British blogger describes what still drew her to the city, even working from home.

Five reasons I decided to stay in Frankfurt (despite the pandemic)
Frankfurt in April, when most of the old town was empty due to the spring lockdown. Photo: DPA

“No long commutes, no over-priced rent and a slower pace of life.” The list that would roll off my tongue when asked what I liked about living in Frankfurt compared to London.

Of course, there were other benefits too, but these were definitely my top three. After 3.5 years, I had settled in Frankfurt and was enjoying the life that this city offered me. Saving time, saving money, and feeling less stressed.

People always asked if I would move back to London and although I’d say “If at all, then not anytime soon,” moving back to London was not something I often thought about.

READ ALSO: What moving to Berlin as a British exchange student during the pandemic taught me

But then, as we all experienced, the world went into lockdown. And whilst I’ve been fortunate not to lose my job, this huge shift in lifestyle made me think about what else Frankfurt offered.

Jordan in Frankfurt. Photo: Ulrike Lachmund

After numerous months of what people had hoped would only be a several-week-lockdown, life has never been so slow. There was no longer a need to live close to the city, and as for the commute – well, what commute? My commute in Frankfurt had now been reduced from walking from my home to the office, from walking from my bedroom to my living room. 

This lifestyle had become the new norm, not just for me but for everybody. When it was clear there was no end in sight, plenty of expats started heading back to their home countries, as they didn’t need to physically be abroad anymore.

But for me, moving back to London due to the pandemic wasn’t my first thought. After asking myself what else I like about Frankfurt, I realised there are several positives about living in this city – benefits that aren’t related to work! So what is it that’s keeping me here in Frankfurt?

Easy access to the nature

I’m ashamed to say that it’s taken a global pandemic for me to really explore Frankfurt’s local nature. Within just half an hour, you can be at the foot of the mountains, ready to hike, discover castles and see the breath-taking views over the city. And what’s more, you don’t need a car to get there! At a time when we’ve never been indoors more and have taken one too many walks at our local parks, it’s a luxury to practically have the Taunus mountains on my doorstep, whilst living in Frankfurt city centre.

You can walk everywhere (almost)

Even when travelling to the other side of the city, you can still go by foot. Yes, you need to factor in the extra time, but it beats using public transport when we’re supposed to be social distancing. Plus, the extra steps are great when you’ve been sitting indoors all week. Ok, walking everywhere might be a stretch, but Frankfurt’s close proximity means that you don’t usually have to travel too far, and you can do at least one stretch of the journey by foot.

People stroll through the Mönchbruch nature reserve near Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

Safety during the pandemic

I personally feel very safe in Frankfurt when it comes to the pandemic. Wearing masks was introduced fairly early, and even though being in another lockdown is tough, I do feel safe knowing that precautions are being taken.

There’s social distancing in London too

Funnily enough, rather than missing being able to go home, what I’ve actually missed more is friends and family not being able to visit me here.

The one-hour flight from London to Frankfurt means that, when there’s no pandemic, I host regular visitors throughout the year. I love taking my friends around Frankfurt and going on day trips to different towns and cities. Whilst I do miss my friends and family, being in London wouldn’t make socialising much easier, as social distancing rules apply there too.

Community

Although social meet-ups are currently few and far between, there is a strong community of international people in Frankfurt.

People having an open mind and a willingness to offer a helping hand has enabled me to build a community here. A friend once said that when you live abroad, your closest friends become your family, and this is a family that I’m not ready to leave behind yet.

READ ALSO: More than business: Why Frankfurt is an ideal city to live and work in

The pandemic was obviously an unexpected part of my living abroad experience. Although I had always planned to move to Germany, it was work that brought me to Frankfurt. When the nature of working life changed in a way that no one saw coming, I had the extra time to reflect on my experience in Frankfurt and what it is about this city that makes me happy. 

It can be quite daunting when work, where I’ve spent most of my time since moving abroad, changes and you suddenly don’t have all the add-ons, such as regular social contact and  events, that come with it. If I am honest, I am just glad to have realised that there’s been more to my time in Frankfurt than “No long commutes, no overpriced rent and a slower pace of life.”

Even if it has taken me four years to discover it!

You can reach more of Alisa Jordan's writing through her blog Alisa Jordan Writes, detailing life as an international resident in Frankfurt.

 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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