Here I sit at my desk for the first time in what feels like ages. Freiburg is bustling with thousands of college students like I’ve never seen it before. At the start of September, I was greeted by a quaint, but quiet city. Now, it’s in full blast. The restaurants and bars are bustling, the tram is often packed, and the streets are abuzz with excitement. Students enjoy an extended holiday through the months of August, September and some of October in Germany. So, unlike the American Fall/Spring semester system, their semester falls under Winter/Summer.
My IES Abroad courses began about a month ago, but now, I’m mixing in some university courses. My schedule is undergoing its final changes, but I like the way it’s all coming together. It’s funny though, the second I feel settled in Freiburg, I’m back on the road, traveling about. I just returned from a trip to Italy—Venice, Verona and Padua.
What a place! Venice was incredible. I’ve never seen such a beautiful city, jutting out of the water. It’s romantic, it’s charming, and of course, it’s an easy place to lose yourself. I must have been holding my map upside down for most of the visit because I never quite mastered the winding canals and alleyways. But, that’s all part of the fun! Of course with every great adventure, comes a great mistake… or two. On this trip, we experienced such great weather, that all I hoped to do was move closer to the canal. As I went to sit beside the water, with a scoop of gelato in hand, I heard a sudden splash. I looked into the water and screamed, my iPhone was sinking… fast. I surveyed about and realized I had forgotten to zip my purse in all of my excitement. Gelato and sunshine and Italy—how could I not be distracted? So as my iPhone sank, I took a deep breath and a minute to realize my lifeline was kaputt, but overall, I didn’t have much to feel disappointed about.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying fresh pasta, seafood, an Aperol Spritz or two, and most of all, the breathtaking architecture. For the first time in years, actually, years, I was present in the moment. I wasn’t scanning beautiful buildings or landscapes for potential Instagram perfection… I was seeing buildings in all of their present glory. I was eavesdropping on Italian conversation, quite unsuccessfully I might add, instead of tuning into my iPod. I can’t say I know much Italian, but I did eventually master “mi scusi”!
Naturally, I’ve lost my biggest investment to date, but not to fear, I connected with the world again. With a new Handy—the German term for cell phone, I am back in the loop… at least as far as SMS and phone calls in Deutschland go. I learned today my phone has an alarm and a memo function, too! Also, Sudoku? Got it. With a generous roommate, I’ve got an iPod now, too. So, a little distance from Instagram and Snapchat may be the best thing. I’m no longer a crazed, WiFi hungry woman, but instead, starting to see again. I’m noticing small details as I ride on the tram through the city, I’m learning how to read a map (miss you, Google maps!), and I’m definitely starting to talk more with the people around me.
Hopefully, all of my losses in the future end up with some benefits after the fact. I can only hope to be so lucky!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hallo! I am Haley Wilhelm, a Junior at Scripps College from the Midwest. I enjoy reading, writing, traveling, and most of all, eating! I can't wait to explore all that Freiburg has to offer, as well as many other European cities during my academic year abroad.</span></p>