Although Berlin is no exception to expensive cities in Germany. Places such as Frankfurt or Munich are cash demanding. Not to mention, how countries like Switzerland and Finland just would require pre-calculations when intending to go there for a visit.


Imagine yourself in a predicament. A financial one, caused by economic differences and less insight one can have on the literal meaning of how much a certain amount of money really weighs or is worth.

Sometimes it takes being in context to understand currencies. I still do not fully understand finances myself but, I found it interested to talk to a few people around me about finances and doing a few personal observations. Since the last 7 months in Germany, I have been doing a lot of comparison. From general things to basic essential things. I find it of course interesting too, to be exploring and attempting to comprehend what it means spending the money I earn as a volunteer.

One of my goals during my stay here has been to be financially conscious and smart. And that is, learning more than just that a euro is equal to 14 South African rand. But understanding a currency from a more practical perspective of how residents use it.

In this blog post, I compare and contrast what one can buy with one euro (1 €) in Germany, as compared to South Africa. This article focuses mainly on Germany alone, particularly as my current destination and a country I am exposed to as a volunteer. I am certain that examples I use here can either apply or not apply to other European countries. For instances, my argument or use of practical cases may not be applicable perhaps in Switzerland and Finland, as these two countries are examples of expensive countries. While, perhaps in Turkey and Greece may proof otherwise.

Although, I am also writing from a more exchange volunteer perspective, this article may come across as useful to students and young travellers.

South Africa currency

The South African currency, plural for Rand, is part of the common monetary currency between South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Namibia. Its code: ZAR and sign: R, is from Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand (South African rand). To date, a rand when compared to a euro is equal to R 14 (fourteen Rand).

A comparison on what you can buy with 1 Euro and 14 Rand: Germany and South Africa

Firstly, in South Africa it seems that with 1 € which one can use it on valuable things like food, for instance. These may include taking a local taxi and buying bread. Or even buying a few fruits as a student to eat in between breaks or as snacks. Of course R 14 cannot change the world or even 1 euro for that matter, but I am extremely amazed how a euro can not literally be of help during any emergencies in Germany. Even tablets against headache are not at a cost less than a euro. This may be the case, but a few things that may such as Colgate toothpaste and DM branded lip balm are commonly cheaper than a euro at cosmetic store called DM and perhaps at the others too.

Looking into a store called Euroshop, selling different house hold utensils is definitely a place to get things at this cost or less. The question to ask, if things offered in this store are good quality?

The following list is also not limited. I have mainly focused on these items as the most pin-pointed things by people I was in conversations with.

Chewing gum, Chocolate, 3-4 Rolls, and a small bottle of water

Items you can buy in South Africa with 1 €/ R14

While in South Africa, 14 rand makes huge differences. It goes a long way. This amount of money can buy: a small bag of maize meal which can be cooked for one night for a family of 4 to 5 people. A bag of 4-6 potatoes or onions or even tomatoes at this price are possible to buy. The packaging of how much potatoes or any of these vegetables one can get depends of course of how big these vegetables are. But on a normal basis, it is possible to buy one of these options, often including something else.

14 rand for many commuters enables one to get to the city’s central business district (CBD), often taking an approximated 30 minutes from Soweto, the township I come from. Whereas in Germany, a less than 20 minutes trip would cost you a little above 1 euro. To about 1,80 €.

As a student, one can catch a snack in between like buying fruits at the costs of 2 rand each or so. It is even possible to catch one local taxi at 8 rand. Meaning one would need 1,30 € to and fro going somewhere locally. For example, going to a mall, a clinic or another neighbourhood.

Some of other essential things 1 € can buy in South Africa includes bread (white and brown bread), which in this case, brown bread turns to be cheaper than white bread with a difference of 1 rand or 50 cents. A bathing bar soap, a small box of powder soap and township fast food like kota. Which is almost a similar version of ”Döner” in Germany, which costs from at least 3 € (42 rand).

Besides food, I find it interesting also that my German volunteer friends during their time in South Africa embraced that fact that they could cut their hair in Kliptown at about R 10.

My chronicles have unfolded in this order: Exacted from my Facebook.

Some of the unfavourable things about living in Germany, Europe, is realising that although R14,57 cents which makes a complete difference in South Africa enabling one to buy a loaf of bread and tomatoes or even get a hair cut at a salon stand (mainly for guys), is not at all possible here. All this is not possible here. To get a hair cut costs at least 20-35 € (R 290- R 500) or more, 8 tomatoes at 2,40€ (basically 30 something rand) and bread that never costs anything to a euro. Although R 14 is equal to 1 euro, there is no so much that one can do here with a euro. Even coke “buddy” does not amount to this. Instead it is between 1,50 to 2 €. (20-30 rand).

Perhaps one can be able to spot items less than a euro but probably not during an emergency or even so, less important things like candy. Some of the things you can expect to pay incredibly for are:

*Monthly travel tickets which can amount to 105€ (R 1 531) in Frankfurt and around 57 € and 75 € in other places, which in my understanding seems to always surpass R 500.
*Maintaining dreadlocks here is like starving yourself all in the name of beauty. Attempting to get my hair done, ridiculous charged prices between 80€ to 200€ , 1 166 to 2 915 rand. Derived from the length, thickness and if you want to do get half or full the head done.

Just thinking out loud.



A concrete jungle of culture,

diversity and a different indifference,

embedded in influential educational institutions- talk about Goethe University and the like,

A financial hub of commerce and culture…

from busy to not busy streets, less experience to expensive, to men in less formal to formality.

A metropolis, to which explored.

Frankfurt am main. A city culturally and ethically diverse. From a shift from a busy street, dirtied by waste from food stands and small businesses; to less crowds and sounds of people in conversations; to posh, big business skyscrapers, suits and further, a mixer of both spheres.

So is my view after my 2nd visit in Frankfurt am Main. My first visit was unintentional and a quick stop during my trip to Karlsruhe for my second seminar aimed at teaching about politics in Germany.

It was due to the Deutsche Bahn (abbreviated for DB), Germany´s railway company. I and a colleague were inconvenienced with a train to break down at just know-where. According to announcements after what seemed to be an over 1 hour 30 minutes stop, we were stuck 10 minutes or so away from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Which, with so much delay was to at least try to get to the main station, allowing passengers to find alternative transports or connections.

Our arrival there meant trying to get a connection to Karlsruhe without noting what Frankfurt am Main looked like. I at least spotted a few things. We finally got a train in what was so chaotic with travel times changing. One could see how one broken train can cause a sudden disturbance to other travelling trains.

This was my experience. Even so, during my first experience using Intercity Express (ICE). I had been waiting in anticipation, perhaps.

But soon even without knowing, I had started planning a trip heading there. This time intention and aimed at better view of Frankfurt am Main and a few days excursions.

It was fantastic and of course these my experiences and maybe through my own, I can make suggestions to the next generation of volunteers, young tourists and people who are avidly touring. This is a list of different places to visit or what to eat and or generally can do do when visiting this city. The list will be continuously amended, expanding it.

  • Bahnhofsviertel (city district)
  • Münchener Straße
  • Willy Brandt Platz
  • Alte Oper
  • Goethe Platz und Denkmal (memorial)
  • Zeil
  • Kleinmarkthalle und Fleischwurst bei Frau Schreiber (Market hall and sausages sold by Mrs. Schreiber)
  • Frankfurter Paulskirche
  • Römer
  • Altsachsenhausen (city district)
  • Bornheim (city district)
  • Apfelwein Solzer
  • Handkäs’ mit Musik

Food and drinks (traditional)

  • Grüne Soße (Green sauce)
  • Apfelwein (Apple wine)

*Photo credit: Frankfurt Skyline


Aachen, also known as Spa of Kings, is a city in far middle east of Germany next to boarders of Belgium and Netherlands. Full of student energy. Perhaps, a great city to visit if you miss being on campus or a youth driven atmosphere.  Given the presence of Aachen University, at least 50 percent of people residing there are young and go to the university, while the other half accommodates other people outside this category.

Besides this, I am so trilled how Aachen has an amazing chieftaincy embedded history. This history about it leaves it’s visitors spell bound.

My impression of this city is that should one visit Aachen, these are a must do:

1 Three-Country Point 


I suspect Aachen feels more or less like a three country boarder place than just typically a city as known. It feels like a city in three countries given its connection and link to Belgium and Netherlands. The Three Country Boarder, know as Drieländerpunkt (in German) is one of the worlds popular triple points. The Three-Country Point is located is located on Vaalserberg (“Mount Vaals”). Vaals is a city on southeastern part of the Netherlands and only 5 km (3.1 mi) west of the city centre of Aachen. There is convenient buses to this location but I think one of the interesting parts of this journey is when you walk through borders on foot. The position where these two countries are separated is interesting to see. Walking for a couple of minutes to the highest point of Vaalserberg can enable you to visit each of these countries from there. There is a tower offering a grand panorama of the surrounding landscape there. You can go to the roof of this tower, which is 300 higher, and have a great view of all these three country at a same time. In addition, there is a symbolic circle where three flags of these countries hanged and people do photography with them. That is a unique experience to be in three different countries and a specific point of time.


2 Aachen Cathedral


Talk about a sacred destination. And, this cathedral is an example of one of the most famous occidental architecture. Well according to Aachen´s tourism offices, this cathedral is “It is the coronation church of more than 30 German kings, burial site of Charlemagne, major pilgrimage church and cathedral church of the Aachen diocese since 1930”. And that, when the Emperor Charlemagne built his representative “Pfalz”, the Palace, before 800, he started to make his dream of Aachen as a “new Rome” come true.


You need not be religious, this site is worth seeing.

Of course there is more than just these two favourite two things I saw in Aachen. The list is endless. For suggestions, I think seeing the The Elisa Fountain would be great. It was a mecca for the royalty of Europe keen to take the cure. Trying a bit of cultural food in Aachen is also ideal. I tried some Aachen Printen, which I bought home too to my host family. This is a kind of hard, spicy biscuit, made in a mould and bearing an imprint of a person or scene. Delicious! They bake it with a delicious mix of cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice and ginger (the proportions are secret). Although, I am no fan of cinnamon, I think this is a great flavour combination.

Ending this on a good note, I think I would like to term Aachen as not just a city but a city in three, literally cutting across three countries: Germany, Belgium and Netherlands.





…..Are you constructively and productively make use of your time. And yes, when you are having fun.

I am astonished about how today officially marks my first month in Berlin. It was only six weeks ago or so when I was told my departure is on the 14th of September. I had one week to set my things into order. You know, the packing and all. Before I knew it, my luggage was full and I was ready to leave home. It all happen so fast. Next think I knew, I was boarding for my first time flight to Berlin, inter-connecting flights at Zurich, Switzerland to my destination.

After some 13 hours or so, here I was…in Berlin meeting up with my host mother Julia who had been patiently waiting for approximately 20 minutes. What a good kicked started welcome and unpacking.

I have done so much for one month and I think included in this, is my many attempts to speak German. I have took in so much from everyone regarding the language. I have also seen much than I expected for one moth. A bit of moving around, trying new food, meeting new people, getting a hang of my new voluntary work and of course settling in.

Have I thought? I feel content. In my second week I felt like I had lived here before and like I knew my host family. It never so completely new. I am so free. I am home.

Given than its the end of my first month, I can say, I have settled. And here are typical things that are a proof of this:

  1. I rode the bike back home from work alone on my first day. I had only been shown by my host sisters my way there. Its relatively 20 minutes. I did it and I had no internet to navigate my way or even had a functional number to make calls. I probably took my own way back home somehow but I found it. This was epic.
    Second Left: My bike is a new member in the Schad household

    My friend helping me get from A to B, rain or not. 
  2. By end of my first week, I already had memorised and understood one prayer in German.
  3. I went to a store after about 2 days during my break to by a lip cream. Looking up things on my own and attempting to ask in stores can be a bit not easy and also funny but this is a good language practice.
  4. Like everyone else, rain does not stop one from using the bike. To be part of the community. I have also used the bike every single day to and back from work regardless. The more stronger I have felt.
  5. Travelling some 46 minutes by bus and then S-Bahn to central Berlin to meet a friend. It sounds complicated at some point but I have found this extremely easy. Thanks to my host mother who literally can explain to simplicity.
  6. Watching movies in German was always something I tried in South Africa but, I really did not enjoy it. This time my family invited me to join them watch a movie with their family friends. I mean…cinema right at home. The big screen, the sound, lights out and snacks. Without anticipation, I enjoyed this movie. I actually understood it more than I thought I would. Thanks too to my host father for giving my a brief heads up on its story line. I am sire the excitement also came about because there were scenes in South Africa, particularly in Cape Town. It was epic! It was comedy after all.
  7. It sounds like everything is nearly perfect and lit. But no, I nearly bumped into an old lady one morning on the bike to work. I was riding fast and trying so hard to be on time. She appeared from no where. I was wondering how possible this month could be so perfect without a mistake. Well, I did really did not bump her, I nearly did. I said I am sorry and found my focus again.

What a month! Bliss…lit and epic.

What is your view? Do you think I have settled in already?