Sorry for the delay everyone! I have been so busy with academics and travel that I am behind by a week! So what does this mean for you? Glad you asked. This means two blog posts are coming your way next week in a little thing I like to call Double Dose Diana. One post about travel and one post about everything else. This is the post about everything else.
My flatmates are flabbergasted by the price of college in America. This spurred many a conversation so far. The students I have talked with barely pay anything or get paid to attain a higher level of education. In America there are several more affordable options than paying the sticker price for a private school, such as University of Richmond at almost $57,000 a year. For instance UR gives wonderful aid – I attend on full scholarship. There are also 4-year public schools averaging $21,000 a year and community colleges for much less. All told though, the average student debt in 2013 for U.S. college graduates was over $30,000, a decently horrifying number to some Europeans whose governments subsidize post-secondary education. Germany actually just passed a resolution that public college tuition would be free for all German students. Lucky them!
I brought up another issue close to my life and to University of Richmond: rampant sexual assault in colleges. About 12% of female German Uni students experience attempted or completed rape in German colleges vs. 25% of female American college students. So basically, it’s too dang much in both places. It also seemed to me that the German uni students I know rarely have conversations about sexual violence as they had to research what the rates were.
Of course we have also discussed obesity and the general (lack of?) health in America. Simon notably stated, “America has one day of independence and 52 of eating badly… land of the free, home of the fat.” That one stung a bit. I think there is a general lack of healthy food available in America, especially for people who do not make a ton of money. We have a lot of work to do here as a country. Only recently I learned about food deserts in America. These areas have no nearby, accessible grocery stores. Many people in inner city areas like this rely on public transportation, but that isn’t going to take you to the grocery store 20 miles away quickly, if at all. Here in Freiburg, I can walk for 3 minutes and see 2 grocery stores.
Finally, I always knew Europeans eat with their fork in their left and their knife in their right, no matter if they are left or right handed. As a right-handed American I always eat with my fork in my right hand until I need to cut something and switch hands briefly. My flatmates had never noticed this phenomenon! Last night during my weekend travels, I looked down and realized I finally was eating in the European style!
Study Abroad Bucket List
I was supposed to have this list before leaving the US. However, I knew I had no clue what my life would be like and set to settling in first before solidly deciding on an official “I have to do this” list. Here are the top 20 left to do, accompanied by pictures of some of the ones I have already completed so far!
1. Climb the Münster Cathedral Tower
2. Go to the rooftop restaurant, Skyda
3. Eat international food from every stall in the Markthalle
4. Eat a Turkish Döner from Euphrat
5. Try on a dirndl
6. Eat at the most stereotypical restaurant for German food in Freiburg, Martin’s Bräu
7. Hike up to the tower on Schauinsland mountain
8. Go skiing for the first time
9. Take a paddle boat out on Titisee Lake
10. Getting through a meal without the waiter or waitress switching to English
11. Enjoy the thermal baths of Baden-Baden
12. Visit nearby French cities such as Colmar and Strasbourg
13. Slide down the longest tunnel slide in Europe at Baumkronenweg
14. Explore Neuschwanstein castle
15. Travel through the exhibits at the Augustiner Museum
16. Watch a soccer game in the Freiburg stadium
17. Ride a boat on the Rhine River
18. Join a University of Freiburg extracurricular activity
19. Watch a Baltimore Orioles game in an Irish pub called O’Kelly’s
20. Lounge in the botanical gardens
The End of German Class
The last week of German class was much more difficult as we leaned new verbs called separable verbs in addition to learning travel vocabulary. Frau Snuggs made no signs of letting the class off easy, which is wonderful. When a professor expects a lot from me, I tend to work harder. All in all, we made it through 10 of the 12 chapters in our book in just 3 weeks! Our test was on a Wednesday and I’m proud to say my 10 hours of studying paid off. I got a 1,0 on the test and in the class, which is an A! This is how grades work for class:
The morning of our last day, which was two Fridays ago, we went to the student café together for breakfast. Then we had a “graduation ceremony.” This ceremony was pretty awesome as all of the German students for this three week program attended. One of my classmates, Quinn, and his wife sang with a choir in front of the whole crowd. We received our grades afterwards and enjoyed the spread of food and drink the program set out for us. I am so thankful to Frau Snuggs and my other German classmates – this was an amazing beginning on the journey to German fluency.
OH yeah, I also surprised my class by showing up with a completely new hairstyle and color.
A New Class
This past week my first environmental class began, but we only had a three day week! This class is called Ecology and Management of Forest Landscapes in Southwest Germany and the Swiss Alps. The format of this class is very unique. We have lecture and student presentations one day and then the next we go out into the field. This week, we took a bus up Schauinsland mountain and hiked down the rest of the way. We made frequent stops to talk about the history, geology, vegetation, etc. at different altitudes. At the end of the day I was tired and very content to take a hot shower. Hopefully our trip next week to the Rhine River Valley will be a bit less strenuous!
Stop by the blog mid-week as I am planning to post about my travels outside of Freiburg! It will include details and analysis of my solo trip to Brussels and my trip with fellow UR Spider, Masnoon Majeed, in Paris and the Loire Valley. Finally, read some travel tips that come from my recent experiences.