Dear Freiburg, you are the first true city I have ever lived in, and you have set the bar very high. It has only been a week and I am already feeling quite comfortable here. Although, that might just have something to do with my recent trip to IKEA where I bought some very cozy blankets…but I suspect there is more to it than that. I have noticed several changes in myself since arriving in the city. First and foremost, I think I am addicted to the public transportation here? I thought I would hate it if I'm being honest. But the trams are so quiet, constant, and reliable I could cry. I have yet to experience a tram being late. They can take you all over the city safely which makes exploring much less daunting. Because of them I have spent a lot of time in the Altstadt where there are an overwhelming number of shops and a popular market by the famous Freiburger Münster. The trams are also an excellent place to secretly eavesdrop on conversations which is a fun way to ramp up my German listening skills! By doing things like this in the first week my German has significantly improved more than I expected. I am continuously putting it to the test. Of course, this has also shown me just how much I have to learn. While I remember words and grammar structures with more ease than I usually do, every time I talk to my flatmates or ask questions in a store, I notice how slow I talk and how limited my vocabulary is compared to native speakers. But so far everyone (except for a couple of grumpy men in a phone store) has been so encouraging and helpful that learning the language is more fun than it has ever been!
There are so many things I have already done, and so much more that I am looking forward to doing. IES Abroad took us to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) for a day and it was absolutely beautiful. It makes me want to retire on a wholesome German hillside there. I also went to the BANFF Mountain Film Festival which is always an exciting time. As far as things I plan on doing, there are a bunch of movies in theaters here that I can watch in German now, which is awesome! I’m planning on going to see Jojo Rabbit with some friends from the program in a few days. On Tuesday, I have tickets to go see the very popular German band AnnenMayKantereit…I have been a fan of theirs for a while so let’s just say that I am very stoked to see them live!
It’s so interesting living in an apartment with other German students. They are some of the nicest people I have met here, but it can be stressful communicating with them sometimes. Their English is so much better than my German, but I do my best to speak German with them, even if it means embarrassing myself often! I have a lot of questions for them and they are so patient with my broken speaking skills and sometimes eventual English. They have been super inclusive so far – inviting me to pizza and game night at a friend’s apartment and planning a dinner to cook together! I have a feeling it is going to be pretty darn cute. I cannot wait to make all kinds of memories here in Freiburg!
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<p>My name is Kiara Paninos and I am a Junior German Studies major at Whitman College! I originally hail from rural Wyoming. I love it out there in the wilderness, but I got a bit tired of the three other people from my home state so I am embarking out to see the rest of the world! I am a big fan of meeting new people and learning new things. I also love being creative and I excel at pushing through awkward social interactions of my own creation.</p>