I can't believe it's finally here!

Elizabeth Couse
August 21, 2017

I don't love how overused this word is but I have truly had wanderlust my entire life. I have always been a dreamer and dreamed of grand adventures and travels. My sister studied abroad in London when I was in middle school and we visited her while she was there. The travel bug hit me when I was young and I have always known that I would study abroad. 

The idea of studying abroad has always been so romanticzed to me and I was looking at study abroad programs before I even applied to college. So, after all of this build up, searching hundreds of programs and places, and finally choosing, I cannot believe that it is finally here and I could not be more excited. 

A lot of my friends and family have asked me, why Germany? It does seem quite random and if you had asked me a couple of years ago where I thought I'd study abroad, it certainly would not have been on my list. Last summer, I was volunteering on an organic farm in Costa Rica where I met an amazing friend named Simon. Simon is from Stuttgart, Germany and we bonded over our passion for environmentalism. We read a book together called Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart & William McDonough. It's about environmental innovation and it really challenged my thought about the environmental movement and sustainability.

One of the things in the book that stood out to me was the authors' criticism for cities. They said that cities are like prisons that block out the beauty of the world. I grew up near New York City and it has always been one of my favorite places. I almost went to college there and always pictured myself living there in my young adulthood. After spending 2 months living in the middle of the jungle in a very minimalistic off-the-grid lifestyle in Costa Rica and falling in love with it, I started to question my fondness for cities.

That's when Simon introduced me to Germany's leadership and forward thinking attitude in sustainability and the environmental movement. I honestly knew nothing about it before but Simon explained to me how big sustainability is in Germany and a part of their culture. When I returned from Costa Rica, I started to look into it a little more and found this program through IES Abroad. It seemed perfect for me. Then I watched a documentary called Tomorrow which features awesome projects and movements happening around the world and it featured Freiburg.

I learned in my classes that half of the world population live in cities and that number is rapidly increasing. As much as I woud love for everyone to live in the jungle and grow their own food and live minimally, that's not the reality of the world or sustainable for our population. I want to learn how cities can be sustainable because they are going to have to be.

I also can't wait to explore Europe. There are so many places that I would like to visit and I can't wait to get lost in cities and wander through old cobblestone streets. I know that my study abroad experience won't be quite like the Lizzie McGuire movie and it will challenge me but I can't wait to see how I grow and change. I have done a fair bit of travel in my life but it is much different living somewhere. I want to get to know the spirit of Freiburg and Germany. 

Freiburg, I can't wait to call you my home. See you next week! 

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Elizabeth Couse

<p>Hi! My name is Elizabeth and I am a rising sophomore at Cornell University studying International Agriculture &amp; Rural Development. I am passionate about environmentalism, the food system, and travel, so my studies in college so far have perfectly allowed me to combine them all! My dream is to have my own farm/restaurant/learning center where I can teach people about sustainability, farming, and healthy eating. I love the outdoors, hiking, swimming, or really any type of adventure and I can't wait to explore Freiburg and all it has to offer this fall!</p>

Home University:
Cornell University
Binghamton, NY
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