Four months ago I got off the train in Freiburg, tired and nervous about the next four months in this city. But I was also so incredibly excited to get started on this adventure. And what an adventure it has been. Our IES Abroad program officially ended on Saturday, but I am still in Freiburg with the other students who will be staying for university courses. Although I will still be here for another month, this will be my last blog post as I look back on the past four months of living, growing, and thriving in Freiburg.
To summarize these past four months is nearly impossible, as I have learned so much, met so many wonderful people, and experienced so many amazing things. Writing this post feels almost unreal, because it means that I have to acknowledge that many of my new friends are done and home and that others, myself included, will soon be. When I got off the train my first day in Freiburg, June and this post felt like an eternity away. Little did I know how quickly the time would fly by.
The past couple of weeks have passed in a blur of finals, papers, and making the most of every moment. I have eaten so much ice cream (if you aren’t in Europe or following the weather here we’re having a heat wave, and ice cream is a delicious way to beat the heat), gone swimming with friends in a lake near us, and had multiple dinner and card game evenings with friends as we celebrated our time here. The other night during one such dinner we all went around the table and said the Rose, Thorn, and Bud of our experiences in Freiburg. This game has you think of something good (the Rose), something bad (the Thorn), and something you are looking forward to (the Bud).
My Rose of my time in Freiburg has been all of the people I have gotten to meet and form relationships with. Study abroad is a very special experience that links a group of people together very quickly. I came here knowing a couple of people from my home university and quickly made so many friends. I will forever be thankful for these people and our time together. I have met people here who I have connected with more than anyone else I have ever met. I am certain that I will have lifelong relationships with many of the people I have met here.
My Thorn is very hard to think of because, as a whole, my time here has been nothing but a positive experience. I really can’t think of a time in my life when I have felt happier or more fully myself. Even when things haven’t worked out exactly how I thought, something better has come along and proven to me that everything truly happens for a reason. So I think my thorn isn’t necessarily something bad that happened here, but rather that I spent so much time worrying about how things would work out instead of being fully present in the moment.
My Bud is that I still have a month left in this beautiful city. I can’t express how happy I am that I decided to stay for a university course. The idea that I would be sitting at home right now if I hadn’t changed my mind is unfathomable to me. I still have so much I want to see and do here before I go home. I want to make the most of every minute I have left in Freiburg. I have made a list of different cafes I want to visit and activities I want to do, such as climbing the Münster tower.
To think that this journey started four years ago when I came to Germany as a high school exchange student continually amazes me. I knew I would be back even then. And here I am today, having spent the past four months living two hours from where my exchange took place and where I made it a goal to make it back. At the end of that exchange program, as we all tearfully said goodbye to our new friends and host families and got onto the bus, my high school teacher took a moment to talk to all of us about how we were feeling, and he told us something that I will never forget. He said that although it was sad to be saying goodbye and leaving, we needed to remember that it was auf Wiedersehen and not tschüss. The translations of auf Wiedersehen and tschüss both appear to be goodbye, but auf Wiedersehen implies that you will be seeing someone again. Wiedersehen means to see again. I absolutely loved that he pointed it out then, even though it made me cry more at the time, and I still love it four years later today as I am once again faced with the task of saying goodbye. So as painful as it is to leave this city, which has so completely and utterly become my home, and the friends I have made here, I know it is not truly goodbye. I will be back again, even if it takes me another four years. I will keep in touch with those who I have met here and who have touched my heart. Although I can feel tears starting to prick my eyes when I think about leaving, I can look back on the past four months here with the biggest smile and peace in my heart knowing that it is auf Wiedersehen, not tschüss.
German Word of the Day: The final German Word of the Day is auf Wiedersehen which means goodbye, but more literally, until we see each other again. Tschüss means bye.
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<p>I am a sophomore German and Secondary Education major at Susquehanna University. Some of my favorite activities include reading, hiking and being outside, running, and yoga. I am actually a certified yoga teacher! I want to be a German teacher after I graduate. My favorite word in German is Glühbirne which means light bulb, but translates literally to "glowing pear"!</p>