The city of Freiburg, Germany awaits! It is hard to believe that after accepting my enrollment in the IES Abroad European Union Program approximately six months ago I would only be one week away from stepping foot in the “Jewel of the Black Forest."
Hello! My name is Elizabeth Thies and I am a rising junior at The George Washington University. There, I study International Affairs with a focus in Security Politics and a minor in Spanish. Seeing as I was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and have spent the past two school years in Washington, D.C., I am no stranger to living far from my family, but I know that a six-hour time difference will not be an easy adjustment. Although, that is all I am really expecting—an adjustment. Of course, I am a little nervous for all the changes, but my excitement vastly outweighs those nerves.
Traveling and experiencing new worlds and cultures is something I have always been very passionate about and I can’t wait to immerse myself in the warmest and sunniest city in Germany. Until then, this last week at home will be filled with homemade meals, my mom’s baking, the last couple coffee dates with friends, and saying “see you later” to my family.
Oh, and then there’s packing… I was struggling for a while to decide how to pack for four months living in a new country with very limited luggage space. Searching the internet and reading the ambassador packing advice on the IES Abroad site page has provided a lot of help. Figuring out the big differences between brands and prices in necessary items helps you decide what is absolutely necessary to bring with you and what you can buy there. A couple of really great items I came across is a duffle bag that can fold up into a tiny pocket when you're done using it, and a water bottle that shrinks down to 4 inches when there is no water. These gems will take up little space and will be super useful while traveling. While these neat finds are certainly useful, it was still hard to select the most important things to take, seeing as you only have two suitcases worth of space. Not too long ago I was given the advice to pick up an item and, "if you can live without it, leave it. Even if you can't live without it, imagine if the locals live without it and leave it. You will get the most out of the experience if you try to live like the locals."
Once all the packing is complete, it will be time to leave and begin the journey. A few things I am looking forward to are meeting other students from all over the nation that share a similar interest in international affairs, getting to know all the local hotspots and hopefully a few locals, program trips, and achieving my goal of visiting 5 additional European cities outside of those in the program trips.
Over this next week, I will be counting down the minutes. I know this will be an incredible semester and I can’t wait to share all the details. Stay tuned!
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<p>My name is Elizabeth Thies and I am originally from Medina, Ohio but I now live in Washington, D.C. as a rising senior at George Washington University studying International Affairs. I am passionate about traveling and learning foreign languages as I speak English and Spanish while learning Russian and German. I also really love staying active and am on GW's Women's Club Volleyball team and am an avid SCUBA diver. Spending time with animals (dogs are my favorite) never fails to make my day! Lastly, I am a huge book geek and am constantly reading my favorite genre of historical non-fiction.</p>