You want to study abroad, ja? Ja! A true global crossroad, Frankfurt boasts an international reputation that dates back to the Roman settlements that started to emerge along the banks of the Main river. As a massive financial and trading giant on the world stage, it comes as no surprise that Frankfurt is home to the largest annual auto and book exhibitions (as well as many programs for studying abroad!). The European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and headquarters of some of Germany’s largest banks occupy a cluster of skyscrapers and make this metropolis alluring for international students from all walks of life.
Study Abroad Programs in Frankfurt
Study abroad programs and universities in Frankfurt offer a wide array of opportunities for students throughout the year. As Europe’s financial capital, it might go without saying that Frankfurt is a mecca for students studying business and finance. The proximity of universities to the vast array of multinational corporations and banks in the Frankfurt area gives rise to close relationships leading to excellent hands-on experiences and networking opportunities.
It’s not all business, though, as students studying abroad will also find a large course offering in philosophy, arts, and sciences at Frankfurt’s universities and study centers. Frankfurt was the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, inarguably the most celebrated and well-known writer of Germany’s modern era, and continues to be an active contributor to the arts and sciences. The city’s countless museums, lively art scene, and research institutes provide any student studying abroad in Frankfurt real-world applications and up-to-date information.
Frankfurt is home to both Johann Wolfgang Goethe University and Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. While most of the undergraduate course work at universities is only offered in German, there are several courses at universities in Frankfurt that teach in English, especially at the masters level. The good news for business students, however, is that the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management offers courses in English courses due to its emphasis on international business. Courses in Germany are heavily seminar and lecture based, rather than dependent on homework or small assignments, so attendance is quite important to learn the necessary material for the exam period.
While studying at one of these local universities may present an obstacle for those without German language skills, there are tons of summer programs geared toward international students focusing on German language studies, science, legal studies, and more. Frankfurt’s immense foreign population making up half of the city’s residents may be to thank for the wide selection of language schools targeting those looking to learn German.
Life in Frankfurt
Although one of the country’s most expensive cities, this urban jungle is quite student friendly and has also been voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world consistently in the past years by the Economist and the global consultancy, Mercer. The city is well connected with an intricate web of trams, buses, and train systems, and students will have no problem maneuvering with the affordable public transportation system to any of its lively districts. (especially since student use of local public transportation is free!). Other perks, such as museum discounts, help you make the most out of your shoestring budget. If you’re not grabbing a döner kebab after class in in the Bockenheim area, then perhaps the posh streets and lush parks of Westend may draw you in.
Frankfurt boasts Germany’s longest pedestrian shopping street called the Zeil, where any shopping addict would certainly have a tough time fighting temptation. Friendlier towards a student budget is the Flohmarkt, or flea market, that is open every other Saturday in the Museum district along the southern bank of the Main river. The market sells all sorts of knickknacks and treasures and is the perfect place to try your hand at bartering to secure the best deals.
Study abroad students with itchy feet will find Frankfurt to be a prime home base for travel during long holidays. Frankfurt’s central location, colossal main train station and international airport make any travel a cakewalk for those craving a weekend getaway around Germany or even Europe.
Accommodations & Visas
Accommodations play a huge role when you study abroad in Frankfurt, affecting your home base, roommates, quality of sleep, and budget. If your program doesn’t already arrange accommodations in dorms, homestays, or hotels, the house hunting process may seem daunting in such a large, competitive housing market. However, there are countless online resources for housing, and one option especially popular among young people in Germany is a Wohngemeinschaft, often shortened to WG, meaning shared flat. These apartments are often shared with a few other roommates, and it’s the perfect way to have an immersive experience with locals other than with a homestay.
Unless you’re an EU national, you will need to obtain a visa or residence permit for an extended stay in the country. Many programs or universities offer assistance or information for navigating the German bureaucracy. If you’re staying less than 90 days, often times for summer programs, you might not need a visa at all, depending on your country of nationality. If you’re not sure whether Germany requires your country of nationality to obtain a visa for entry, try checking out our Embassy Directory for more information.
Benefits & Challenges
Living in a sprawling metropolis comes with the perks of conveniences and opportunities to get involved in organizations and social events. Although living costs, such as food and clothes, as you study in Frankfurt, Germany are renowned for being quite affordable, rent in a big city can be expensive when compared to surrounding smaller towns. Students should keep in mind that eating out for most meals may not be budget-friendly, but you will be pleasantly surprised to find how inexpensive groceries can be.
In a city used to catering to visitors from all over the world, it’s not difficult to get by speaking only English. Many menus in restaurants in the city center will have translations in English, as does signage in most public spaces. For those who do not speak German, the extra English help eliminates much of the hassle of a language barrier, however this can make it more difficult for students determined to immerse themselves in German. Practicing German in everyday life will require some dedication and persistence so that friendly Germans don’t automatically switch to English to be polite.
Rebuilt after being largely destroyed by bombings during World War II and emerging as a shiny, new product of globalization, Frankfurt has developed into an international model of modernity. Study abroad in Frankfurt, the center of Germany, as you also explore its dynamic global influences.