Three months before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe, I came back from Beijing where I had spent the final semester of my Bachelor’s degree. The pandemic had created unique challenges for universities everywhere in the world, but when I arrived at Frankfurt School for my Master’s of Finance in late August, everything possible had been done to ensure a COVID-compliant learning environment. The opening ceremony took place in a hybrid mode allowing new students to take part either online or on campus. This model became a central element in the organization of the studies during the following months.
After some settling-in period the hybrid model worked out quite well and the fact whether you participated in discussions online or in class did not make much difference. For people like me who chose to study on campus, extensive measures against the spread of the virus had been taken. Indeed Frankfurt School carefully ensured that everyone keeps distance, provided hand sanitizer in every corner of the university, and most importantly, handed out small corona tracers which enable FS to immediately trace infection chains in case someone receives a positive test result.
The hybrid model also applied to exams which took place either on campus or at home according to your mode of studying. In order to ensure equal conditions for all students the exams were written on a computer while students at home were proctored via Zoom for the time of the exam. After some initial technical issues during the mid-term exams, the finals ran smoothly without any problems.
Especially in the second half of the semester, social life was notably shut down which meant more time for studying but less opportunities to meet people outside the university in clubs, bars or at private events. Like in almost every area of our daily and professional lives, the pandemic of course also impacted events and services FS provides to its students. For the first time the FS Career Day took place entirely online. Other events such as ceremonies, info sessions and company presentations were held online as well. Frankfurt School successfully managed to transform its excellent support in creating a well-connected community with close contact to the job market into a digital service whenever physical contact was not appropriate or possible.
Since my employer who is located in the very south of Hessen offered me a 2-day working student position prior to the beginning of my studies at Frankfurt School I decided not to move to Frankfurt and commute three times a week from Mannheim, located about 70 kilometers south of Frankfurt. Combining studies with a working student position is something I can strongly recommend, not only from a financial perspective but also in terms of applying your theoretical knowledge in the field. This may sound a bit trite but my impression is that studying and working at the same time engages your brain in two very different ways and significantly improves your efficiency in both areas.
The workload was still manageable even though there have been times when I spent almost the entire day either working or studying. However, there was no need for all-nighters or anything close to it.
Overall, my first semester at Frankfurt School was a great experience, both from an academic point of view and in terms of organization. As a student I feel exceptionally well supported and I am looking forward to three more exciting semesters.