Germany: Early Days

Horace Wang
January 15, 2019

I’ve been in Freiburg for a little over a week now, and it still hasn’t fully settled in that this is the place that I’m going to call home for the next four months. Maybe it’s the fact that, between the hustle and bustle of orientation and classes, I’ve only just fully unpacked my suitcases; either that, or it’s the fact that I still occasionally get lost wandering around the city and can’t find my way to the nearest tram station without wandering around a little bit more. Although I can definitively say it’s not the jet lag (I’d be concerned if it was).


But even then, I think it’s unfair to assume that Freiburg would feel like home in a week’s time.  In more ways than one, starting this program has reminded me of what it was like to start college. Both college and study abroad start with orientation. Both college and study abroad expose you to people from all sorts of places, some of which you’ve never even heard of. Both college and study abroad bring your social life, for the most part, back to square one (coincidentally, I didn't know that there was another person from Bowdoin until I got here). Even choosing classes — a process that undoubtedly should be familiar to a junior like myself — feels different. As a politics junkie, looking over the list of politics and policy-intensive classes makes me feel like I’m back in my first-year of college.


Perhaps the other side of it is that the sheer excitement of being in Freiburg and in Germany hasn’t fully settled in yet. It’s not my first time visiting Germany, but this trip to Germany is vastly different from my first. For starters, I’m now semi-fluent in German. What started as a brief stint with Duolingo with a couple of my best friends and a vocabulary that really didn't extend beyond “Apfel” and “Wasser” (the German words for apple and water, respectively) has evolved into having five semesters of college-level German under my belt, reading German texts, and being able to hold conversations in German.


As of now, I’m only days away before traveling to Berlin, Warsaw, and Paris. It’ll be my first time in Warsaw, but I’ve been to both Paris and Berlin and have fond memories of both cities. I love Paris (unpopular opinion, I know), but Berlin is perhaps my favorite city in all of Europe. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be here in Freiburg, writing these words, if it wasn’t for that middle school trip to Berlin — my first and only experience with traveling to Germany before this program. It’s because of that trip that, many years later, I decided to study German as a third language in my first semester of college, that I decided to apply to this program to study the European Union and put my German skills to the test.  During that middle school trip, I was only in Germany for three days, and in those three days I only stayed in Berlin, but I was fascinated by Germany: by German food, by German history, by German politics… everything, really. That small taste of Germany was enough to make me hungry to return.


I left that trip promising to return to Germany someday. Now that I’ve fulfilled that promise, I’m excited for what comes next.

Horace Wang

<p>I was born and lived in Hong Kong my entire life before coming to the United States for college. My three favorite things in life are currently politics, comic books, and Kpop, although not necessarily in that order. I like to write, read, draw, and work out in my free time.</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Bowdoin College
Hong Kong
Environmental Studies
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