Every week of study abroad is like a month in “normal” time. I am experiencing so much and hopefully I can summarize all of it for you without it being really long!
The City of Freiburg
Probably the most notable landmark in Freiburg is the Münster cathedral. It is a 12th century church with amazing organs (I went to a concert there last week). There is a farmers market in front of it almost every day. There are also shops and restaurants on the square. Two other notable structures are the city gates. I see the one called Martin’s Gate every single day when I get off of my tram stop for school in the morning. The University of Freiburg itself was founded back in 1457 and is one of the oldest universities in Germany. It has buildings scattered throughout the city and many have their own history.
There are little stone paths for water, called Bächle, that crisscross through the streets of Freiburg. They are the old source of water for the town. If you accidentally step into one of these then the legend is that you will marry a Freiburger. This reminds me of the tales of kissing on the gazebo at University of Richmond – if you do not marry the person you kissed, you must walk backwards around Westhampton Lake.
The ways that I access the city are through tram, bike, and by foot. The tram station is only a 3 minute walk from my flat. It takes 10 minutes by tram to get to the Holzmarkt stop, which is a 1 minute walk from my German classroom and a 2-3 minute walk from the IES Abroad office. For longer travel here, there is a large area for trains and buses that meet up by the “Hauptbahnhof” or Central Station. It is amazing how few people drive cars on a day to day basis. I love this custom so much I am beginning to consider only settling down in an area where it will be possible for me to walk, bike, or take public transportation easily. Biking is barely possible on the University of Richmond campus due to the amount of stairs and steep hills that cut off bike paths.
So far I tried many different foods typical in Germany. At Münster market I have eaten bockwurst and bratwurst. Yes, they are different! A bockwurst is basically a hot dog (a LONG hotdog) and the bratwurst is a fried sausage. Both are put into a baguette and you can add beer mustard and curry ketchup, two delicious condiments. One night I ate a a fancier restaurant on the Münster square and got local fish. I tried a piece of someone else’s schnitzel, but still need to go order my own. I will tell you how that goes in my next post for sure! For Heather’s birthday we made a traditional Black Forest cake. It was SO delicious that I ate four pieces. No shame.
On weekdays I tend to eat lunch at Mensa, the student dining hall. It is about 3 Euro for a meal and the portions are so huge that I bring a Tupperware container with me. This saves me a lot of money so I do not feel as bad when I splurge once or twice a week on a meal. I go there with friends Sarah and Dave from my language class and Anne from IES right now. For meals at home, I shop at a store called Rewe. There’s amazing pasta, sauces, fresh baked goods, fruit and vegetables.
I’ve tried a few different beers: Pilsner, Radler (lemonade + beer = yes), and Kristallweizen. Alcohol is plentiful and not as expensive as in the states. The main non-alcoholic drinks here are sparkling water and Apfelsoft or sparkling apple juice. I carry around my own still water from the tap at all times to keep hydrated, though a person may not drink from their water bottle inside a restaurant. You have to pay quite a bit of your own still table water, so my advice is to drink water before and after walking into a restaurant, that’s my advice.
The overall system of education as part of the IES Environmental Studies Program is that we take 5 classes. We only take 1 class at a time for three weeks each. My classes for the semester are as follows:
1) Intensive Elementary German
2) Ecology and Management of Forest Landscapes in Southwest Germany and the Swiss Alps (counts as an Environmental Elective)
3) Environmental Ethics (fulfills this Environmental Studies major requirement)
4) Sustainable Policy (fulfills another Environmental Elective)
5) Freiburg Green City (fulfills the Environmental Economics major requirement)
This past week in German class, we learned how to order food and discuss families and furniture. This video shows me performing the role of Verkäuferin (seller) and Quinn playing the role of Käufer (buyer).
There is an added social aspects outside of the classroom because the Language Institute puts on different programs such as day tips to Switzerland and France, local hiking trips, and other activities. So far I participated in a bar hopping experience and went on a vineyard tour in Tuniberg. This coming week I will be swimming at the University pool, going bowling, going to Titisee, and going on a 10km hike!
I will update you about how all the social events went and the analysis of stereotypes that I left out this week (I had so much to write about)! There may be other topics I explore as well. Tschüs!