So it's almost been a month, and I'm pretty settled here. I've got a plant for my room, I know where the grocery stores are, and I've met all my flatmates, which is pretty darn cool.
In my one month of living in Germany, I've learned all sorts of stuff. It feels weird to think that because what's unfamiliar has become habit now. I guess that's exactly what happens when EVERYTHING is unfamiliar... you have to make it familiar. Atleast for someone like me who can't function without some kind of routine.
I'm writing this particular post to share some things I've learned about Freiburg, and maybe just about studying/living abroad in general that might help you when you come here!
For whatever reason public transportation and I do not get along. I've overslept and missed an early morning bus, I've confused the 24-hour clock and bought a ticket for the morning instead of the evening... stuff like this is gonna happen. However, I have managed to figure out the tram system (S-Bahn) in Freiburg. It's actually super great even though I'm not used to it where I'm from. Every morning, my two friends that live a building over and I meet at 8:55 to walk to the tram to take to the city center. The trams can be pretty crowded in the morning, so you just have to hold on to whatever bar is closest to you.
Tip #1 for the trams: Don't be the person that falls. The trams can take off pretty suddenly, so once you board, grab ahold of something and stand with you legs apart if you have to. Just don't fall over. That would be embarrassing. It hasn't happened to me yet, but I've seen some close calls.
Tip #2 for trams: Always have your tram card with you. There are undercover-card checker people who can pop out of nowhere and ask to see your card; if you don't have it on you then you'll have to pay a fine...and you don't want to pay a fine becaus that's your pretzel money down the drain.
Tip #3 for trams: If you're crossing the street where tram lines are and the tram is coming they might blow the horn at you... which is a good thing when you don't realize you're about to be run over by the tram. Just be aware of the trams and always double check before crossing the tram lines.
The first week or two I was in Freiburg, I definitely went a little crazy with the food. I feel like that's probably common... I mean seriously the bakeries are irresistable. They have fresh bread, decadent pastries, quiche, little sandwiches... pretty much everything you can dream of. For a while I bought a cute little sandwich and coffee everyday on my break between classes. Partly because I didn't have groceries and partly becasue they were so tasty.
Tip #1 for food: Don't eat out everyday. The little sandwiches and coffee were good, but 2.50 for a sandwich and 2.50 for Milchkaffee adds up. I now go grocery shopping every week and buy food for snacks and lunches on the go (try making your own sandwich or get some fruit and nuts!) Also, the Milchkaffee is pretty good but to save some money I just bought some instant coffee; it gets the job done!
Also, I've explored my grocery store options since I've been here. There's the Penny market that is cheap but doesn't have everything you might need for a specific recipe, the Edeka three stops down tramline 1 that has a wider variety of foods, the health food store is in the city center, and Daria international food market has a unique selection of goods and yummy peanut butter.
Tip #2 for food: Make sure you have a way to translate words before or during shopping! Sometimes I translate a whole ingredient list before I go out to save time and data, and the employees at the store may not speak English.
Tip #3 for food: Bring your own bag. I brought a nice canvas bag from home, but I also bought one at the store; they're super handy to have anyway for carrying things over to a friend's apartment to cook, too! Speaking of cooking with friends.. do it! Especially if you're homesick or just craving a taste of home. Feasting together on Brunswick stew and cornbread is good for the soul (and exactly what I'm planning to do tonight with my friends).
Tip #4 for food: If you plan on cooking abroad you may need to bring you're own measuring tools. I didn't think about it until I got here and saw a scale in the kitchen that I realized recipes might look a little different. I started to regret not bringing a simple and lightweight half-cup measurement with me (which would be super easy) but then realized I could just choose recipes that don't necesarily need exact measurements, like soup, or just eyeball it and get close enough. I made a whole loaf of banana bread with my palm and a teacup as my measuremants and it turned out great.
Tip #5 for food: Branch out and shop at the market! The market at Münsterplatz happens Monday through Saturday and is absolutely amazing. They have produce, nuts, meats, cheese, and even snacks to munch on while you shop. It's super thoughtful to support locals and also farm-fresh food is always tastier and usually more sustainable!
3. Feeling like Home:
I love my room in Freiburg; it has a huge window and bright white walls. But I decided I needed it to be a little bit more cozy and me.
Tip #1 for homemaking: Buy a few things to make you love your room! I bought a small but colorful rug for my room at Ikea as well as white curtains to replace the ones provided for me. I also bought a beautiful plant at the market and picked some flowers that were growing out of the sidewalk and keep them both on my desk. Some bright golden rod and some wild yaro can really remind you of home (I live on a flower farm so I always need flowers!)
Tip #2 for homemaking: Bring some things from home. Packing some pictures to put up on your walls would be super easy, although I didn't think about it. However, I did pack a little watercolor kit and paper pad (thanks Mom), sketchbook, and colored pencils and these have saved me! I had some free time in the last week and decided to watercolor; it was a nice calming activity and now I have some colorful art for my walls, and it didn't cost me a thing!
Tip #3 for homemaking: If you forgot it at home you can most likely buy it here, so don't freak out. Since I've been here, my hairdryer broke, I got a cold, and I needed more washcloths...and I was able to find everything that I needed here! There's plenty of shopping in the city with Müller, which is basically a mini mall and a Walmart combined, and the DM, which is like a small Walgreens or CVS. Pretty handy.
4. Day and Weekend trips:
A small group of us took our first day trip to Lake Constance!
Tip #1 for trips: Go on as many as you can. Just say yes. I'll be talking more about travel in my later blog posts, but for now I'll just leave you with they're pretty fun! Even if you miss your bus, have to book a train, and then almost get kicked off your train because the picture of your ticket won't load....
Anyway, that's all for now!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi! My name is Emma, and I'm currently studying sustainability at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. I LOVE being outside doing anything from running, climbing, traveling, gardening, reading, taking pictures of my family's flower farm, cooking, or eating. If I am inside, I have to be near a window or natural light, a speak a little bit of Spanish and German (and love learning languages), and I really enjoy learning about cultures through language, food, and exploring!</p>