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.

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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>

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