Diana in Germany Week One: Travel Nightmares, but Living the Dream

Arrival
So you know how people ask if you want the good or bad news first? We’re starting with the only thing that could be described as “bad” because it came first. Traveling was extremely stressful and full of sleep deprivation. I went a full 25 hours without sleeping and I have never done anything close to that in my life.

The goodbyes were somewhat easy (I didn’t cry! I totally thought I would). Thankfully I traveled with Heather, a girl from my living-learning community “Earth Lodge” from sophomore year. Heather and I both ordered white wine with our dinners on the plane, which marked the first legal drink of our trip. After this, things went downhill for me. I thought I would get 5 hours of sleep or so on the 8 hour flight, however several people kept their lights on or were watching movies the entire time. Regret filled me as I realized I had left my eye mask at home and there was no way I’d be sleeping before I made it all the way to Freiburg.

The train from Frankfurt to Freiburg was the worst part of the journey. Heather and I got in on the completely wrong end of the train and were 9 cars down from where we should have been. A bunch of Germans laughed at us for even trying. Heather helped keep things in perspective for me and we eventually made it to the right seats. Soon we got off, caught a taxi, and visited the IES Freiburg Center to get instructions. 24 hours after I woke up for my flight to Germany, I was finally in my dorm room. I quickly set it up and took a nice long nap before IES took us out for dinner.

 

Housing
My dorm is, in my opinion, the best possible dorm in terms of its “cool factor” and its “awesome flatmate factor.” Plants everywhere, huge shared kitchen, large lounge couches, party space with awesome speakers, very hippie vibe. My dorm room is plain, but who cares when the shared space is so spectacular?! Here are some pictures to really help you visualize this:

The outside of my hippie dorm

The outside of my hippie dorm

Kitchen and living room

Our kitchen and living room

My plain dorm room

My plain dorm room

In terms of my flatmates, they immediately started inviting me out to things. Most of them are German, but they all speak English. They are Conny, Tobi, Sarah, Felix, Theresa, and Lovisa (who actually just left for a month for Algeria and lent me her bike in the meantime!!!). We also have a French guy named Simon who is here for 2 weeks. There is a lot of turnover in the household, especially in October when the “real” semester starts at Uni Freiburg. Apparently, other people in the IES program are not in contact with their flatmates much at all. I do not know a single other one who has a social life with their flatmates, so I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky to have them in my life as friends.

We’ve hiked up mountains, picked fruit, biked, swam in the Flückigersee lake, played games, shared dinner/wine, gone clubbing, and had a trilingual jam session together. In addition one of our neighbors, Judith comes over here a lot. She was the first person to do “cheers” with me, but here in Germany you say “Prost!” She also was the first to “invite” me to join her for ice cream, which here means she invited to pay for me! Thank you, Judith!

Flatmates Simon, Youdid, and Felix with zucchini

Flatmates Simon, Judith, and Felix with zucchini

 

Swimming at Lake Flückingersee

Swimming at Lake Flückingersee

Orientation
IES had small orientation sessions on Monday and Tuesday to give us basic information about the surrounding area, such as where the best places to eat are, where to seek medical attention, where to buy things, and how to stay safe while doing it. Freiburg is relatively safe, but according to one of the IES employees, there has been a rise in thefts recently. We also were asked to attend a presentation on Thursday in order to learn more about getting involved in clubs or volunteering. There is also a Tandem Partner program that allows a German speaker and English speaker to informally practice conversing in the opposite language. I’m considering horseback riding, a cappella, dance, badminton, and am 100% sure that I will be volunteering at some point.

IES so far has mainly functioned as a “home base” in case we need them. I believe that some of my environmental classes later in the semester will be there though. Speaking of which….

 

Academics
German class started on Wednesday. My teacher is Andrea Snuggs (yes, her last name is awesome). She is very sweet, always open to questions, and creates an extremely interactive environment in the classroom. It is crazy, but I can already ask a lot of basic questions or ask how to say things in German without using any English in the process! German class and listening to my flatmates is obviously working. Monday marks our fourth day of class and we are already having a quiz on verb conjugations!

Basic German verbs and their conjugations

Basic German verbs and their conjugations

 

Next week
I will cover more about academics, such as the city of Freiburg and its surrounding, food and drink, stereotypes, and updates about travel and fun I am having. Tschüss!

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