Upcoming Website Maintenance

This Wednesday morning US Central Time, the IES Abroad website will be down for scheduled site maintenance. During this time login and account creation will be unavailable, but we expect this disruption to be brief. Thank you for your patience.

From Frankfurt to Freiburg: An Odyssey of Missed Train Connections

Isabelle McCarthy
September 6, 2015

I have been in Germany for less than a week, and I could probably fill a book with my adventures already.

For starters, I didn’t have the easiest time finding Freiburg. My flight arrived in Frankfurt, which is supposedly an hour train ride away, on Tuesday at 7:30 am. I finally found my way to the IES Abroad Center for check-in a little after 3 pm. I am not incompetent or directionally challenged, but knowing very little German and lugging around a medium sized suitcase in America, a.k.a. a ginormous suitcase in Europe, didn’t make things any easier.

After purchasing my ticket, I went to the information and asked in broken German, I only knew about ten words at this point, what track my train was on. I barely made it. After sitting on the train for about half an hour, a conductor came up to me and told me that I had got on the wrong train. I was headed to Munich. After getting off and switching trains, heading back to Frankfurt, I felt like an utterly stupid American lost in another country.

Back at Frankfurt, I took a train in the direction of Freiburg (finally!). After a few stops on this train, I got nervous and decided to get off. The trains don’t give any warning as to what stop is next, and I couldn’t understand anyway if they had. I switched trains yet again to a regional train that was very slow, and eventually arrived in Freiburg. I took a taxi to the address I knew the IES Center was supposed to be at, but there was construction on the street and I ended up walking around a city I didn’t know with my big red bag for about an hour. I was very frustrated with myself. I’m supposed to know how to navigate public transportation—after all, I take trains all the time in New York.

It was all worth it though. After only a day in, I had a totally different, positive outlook on Freiburg. I had already navigated my way, mostly unaided, through the city. I knew which tram to take to where I lived, I had actually met a few people and made some friends, and could speak a little bit more German. I’m still obviously very Americanish, but I’m working on being more integrated. Definitely not taking my bulky red luggage anywhere, if I can help it.

So far, I’m still exploring the city. Getting lost intentionally and trying to find my way around is so much nicer than getting lost unintentionally; and I plan on doing much more of the former.

Isabelle McCarthy

<p>Hi! My name is Isabelle McCarthy. I am currently double-majoring in Earth &amp; Environmental Science and English at Lehigh University. Even though I&#39;m from Brooklyn, NY and might be referred to as a &quot;city kid&quot;, I also love the outdoors and exploring. I&#39;m a big risk taker and am always down to do something out of my comfort zone. I am so looking forward to gaining some incredible experiences in Freiburg!</p>

Home university:
Lehigh University
Environmental Studies
Explore Blogs