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Cafes, Grammar, and Spinach: My First Two Weeks in Freiburg

March 12, 2019

This week I am writing to you all from Freiburg! It has been two weeks since I left the United States and so much has happened. Upon arriving at the airport before my flight the anxiety really started setting in. I really do not like to fly and it was suddenly very clear to me that I would be doing a good amount of it very soon. I am so thankful that I was travelling with my good friend Rachel who is also studying in Freiburg. Our itinerary took us from Newark International Airport to Barcelona where we had a two-hour layover. Then we hopped on another plane heading for Paris. We stayed overnight in Paris which was a really neat experience. I don’t speak any French and it definitely could’ve come in handy! We ate dinner in a French café and made many Ratatouille jokes before catching the train the next morning from Paris to Karlsruhe, then Karlsruhe to Freiburg.

It felt great to finally arrive in Freiburg and to be able to speak German. After settling in to my apartment I had dinner with the other IES Abroad students who live in my housing area and our housing tutor. It was so fun to talk about differences and similarities between the USA and Germany. We all clicked right away and we have continued to develop some awesome friendships. Since that first evening here in Freiburg I have been so busy. We’ve had multiple orientation adventures and a couple of day trips. Last Monday our first week of intensive language classes started. They have definitely been living up to their name, but despite this they have been really helpful for brushing up on certain grammar skills that may have fallen by the wayside.

Aside from classes, presentations, and tours we have also embarked on the exciting challenge of actually LIVING in a foreign country. For me this hasn’t been so much of a challenge, but rather an adventure. Sure there have been some challenging moments like nearly being locked out of my WG (Wohngemeinschaft)—which is like a suite-style dorm—when I couldn’t figure out my keys. I ended up meeting one of my flatmates this way when I frantically texted her in German asking how to get in. Aside from little hiccups like this I am definitely starting to feel at home here. There are three other Germans that I live with and one international student from China. For the most part our conversations have been in German and it has been so much fun getting to speak German with native speakers my age. Most of us usually end up cooking and eating dinner around the same time and it has been a really great way to get to know each other.

That brings me to my next favorite thing so far about living in Freiburg: food. And being able to cook food. At my home university it isn’t easy for me to cook every meal for myself because we have a meal plan and full kitchens are only in certain housing options. So as someone who loves cooking and baking I was so excited to come here and get to do it every day. I can say that so far my expectations of cooking have definitely been met. There is a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays a block from my housing and a market every day except Sundays around the Münster, which is a huge cathedral in the old city. At these markets I have been able to buy fresh fruits and veggies at really affordable prices. Last week I bought a half kilo of spinach for about 1,50 €. For anyone who is reading this and living in the USA you may be like me and really not have any perception of how much spinach weighs in kilos. A half kilo of spinach is a LOT of spinach, especially for one person. I didn’t quite realize this when I asked for it at the market as I was more concerned with asking correctly in German and making sure I paid. Thankfully I found a couple of friends who were willing to take some and none of it rotted. Next time I go to the market for spinach however, I think I’ll order a smaller amount. Other fun food adventures aside from my own cooking have been slowly but surely trying different cafes and bakeries here. Cafes are some of my favorite places and I have made it one of my mini goals to try as many cafes as possible while I am here. My go-to beverages are either a chai latte or a Milchkaffee which is half coffee half steamed milk. 

Once the initial anxiety and exhaustion wore off I immediately felt so at home here and excited for the next four months. To help me get to know the city and myself better, I have decided to set little goals for each week. An example was my goal from last week to ride on the tram to and from class. I hope that these goals will help me to prioritize the things I want to do and experience here. 

German Word of the Day: die Bäckerei (die Bäckereien plural) or the bakery! Bäckereien are common all over Germany and Freiburg is no exception! At a Bäckerei you can buy all sorts of goodies from regular bread and rolls to the ever popular Brezel or sweeter treats like chocolate croissants or Berliners which are jelly doughnuts covered in sugar.

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