It is June 6, 2015, and summer has officially begun in Freiburg. The midday heat is by far enough to convince me. More importantly however, classes are in full swing, and we’ve started getting down to the nitty-gritty.
The two classes I am taking consist of the Integrative seminar, which focuses primarily on the integration of Turkey and the Balkan states into the European Union, and the Economics elective, which looks at the specific economics of the Balkans and Turkey. Although they’re scheduled crushingly early in the day, the topics are interesting and hold one’s attention. Speaking for myself, I have no previous experience with the European Union. In a way, the lack of experience makes the classes worthwhile, but in another way the lack of experience translates into a good deal of catching up on my part. In any case, I’m enjoying the classes and learning more each day!
But of course, class doesn’t take up all of our time. Last weekend IES took us on a hiking trip through the Black Forest. We started in a small town named St. Peter, which was seemingly built around a gigantic post-enlightenment era cathedral far up on the side of an impressive mountain. After a quick tour of the cathedral, which revealed more statues and murals than one could count, we left the city center and found the beginning of a small trail. The trail ran for at least twelve kilometers, and took us through picturesque hillsides filled with full, leafy trees. On many of the hillsides large pastures had been cleared to provide grazing land for cows of every variety. At the end of our hike we arrived at a small Beer garden, and feasted heavily on some of the best cake you can find in the Black Forest! Tired legs and full bellies helped to ensure a quiet train ride home.
Also in this past week we were given Thursday off, as it was a national holiday. Most all of the program participants took advantage of the time out of class to travel around the area and see something new. I joined a group of five other students, and took Thursday to go over to see the Dachau Concentration Camp memorial site. Having heard about the atrocities of the Holocaust all throughout high school history classes, I had some idea of what to expect; but to actually see the gas chambers, the crematoriums, and barracks where so many people had suffered was staggering. Being able to see the past so clearly for what it was made all of it so much more real to me than ever before. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to see the camp, and I urge anyone who has the chance to see for themselves one of the most important features of our collective history.
It’s been a full two weeks, but I’m ready for more. Looking forward, we have our first Field Study Trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina for which to prepare. It will definitely be interesting, and I can’t wait to see how it goes!
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<p>I'm a sophomore at NC State University studying Materials Science and Engineering. I've lived in North Carolina all my life, but my family and I have traveled all over the U.S. I enjoy spending time with friends, meeting new people, listening and making music, and working with kids through the outreach program the College of Engineering at NC State operates. I love to jump into new things, and can't wait to see what is in store for me in Germany this Summer!</p>