Preparing for Departure

Rosalie Hinke
Rosalie Hinke
July 7, 2024

I’m so excited to be studying abroad in Freiburg this fall! My name is Rosalie and I’m at an interesting part in my journey of studying abroad: I’ve gotten into my program and now I have only a month left to prepare for my trip. I wish I could tell you every day I’m devoting three hours to my packing lists, German practice, and already making best friends in Germany, but unfortunately, I don’t even know if I’m bringing a suitcase or a trunk. 


To introduce myself beyond the pre-departure nerves and innermost thoughts about studying abroad, I just finished my sophomore year at the University of Richmond where I’m double majoring in Environmental Studies and Journalism, along with being involved in a sorority, an acapella group, and two on-campus jobs. To say I’m busy is an understatement. Because of this, I decided to give myself the summer off: I’m working a job for Metro Parks in my hometown, (Nashville, Tennessee), and spending a lot of time with my little sister while simultaneously making myself relax after a busy school year. However, as I contemplate the fall semester that all of my family and friends keep asking me about, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous.


I’ve always been a planner: whether I’m backpacking, creating a spreadsheet for homework, starting a knitting project (my grandma hobby) or going for a run, I know exactly what path I’m going to take, what things I need to do to prepare, and how long each step will take. Studying abroad, though, is a much larger undertaking. 


At this moment, in early July, I’m practicing German through different books, talking in German to my friends and family while they stare at me blankly, and, of course, using Duolingo (although the owl scares me more than I care to admit). I’m also subconsciously planning what outfits I’m going to bring: I’ll throw on my favorite pink top and think to myself, This will look so perfect in Germany. However, tangible lists, packing, and planning meals seem a long way off. But, I have a plan for planning: similar to how I chose my study abroad location, I plan to devote around an hour each day after work to plan studying abroad and the research that accompanies it. 


I chose my study abroad location after months (and months) of research: I went in with zero expectations, too many location recommendations from my sorority sisters, and one major. Funnily enough, I ended up becoming a double major during my second semester of sophomore year because of two classes I took. I also ended up choosing my study abroad location because it correlated with this new major. I’m normally not the person that does things spontaneously, however I knew working in the environment was the right path for me after my first environmental studies class. I grew up half in the city and half on a farm, working with my dad who is a soil microbiologist. From a very young age, my parents taught me the importance of learning about nature, being outside, and understanding humans place in the world not as conquerors but as fellow citizens. This showed up immediately in my environmental studies class. 


Anyways, I chose my study abroad location knowing I wanted to be able to hike, camp, run, and, most importantly, study the environment. I looked through mountains of information about so many different locations, writing indecipherable lists to myself about each place and meeting with my study abroad advisor more times than was probably necessary (or healthy). Finally, after finding a few places I felt moderately excited about, I was scrolling through different locations and decided to open up my search more broadly. I found a place in Germany called Freiburg and after about 30 seconds of research, I was hooked. Over the next few days, I found out more and more information about this program (a cute, German town, neighboring the Black Forest with a course called 21st century Nature Writing?? They might have asked me to design it myself) and made it my life’s greatest mission to get into IES Freiburg. 


I’m sure you can anticipate my excitement after learning I’d gotten in. I immediately dove into research about the area (even visiting my school’s Rare Book Room to read old German books), I was ecstatic to hear that Germany does not require a visa for students, and I started planning financially for meals and travel. That’s about the step that I’m at right now.


For students considering going abroad, I would recommend doing it: even though I have barely begun my journey, I know it’s going to afford me the most incredible experiences, allow me to come more into myself, and, most importantly, challenge me in ways I’ve never even imagined. It’s definitely nerve wracking and at times overwhelming, but extremely worth it. Living in another country is such a privilege and anyone with the opportunity and ability to do so should seriously consider it. My advice would be to start slowly and break it into easier to swallow pieces: look into one area, one program, and slowly figure out what exactly you’re looking for. For me, this worked extremely well and I feel like I found the perfect fit. Overall, my largest piece of advice (that sort of summarizes my other points) is that scary things are often the most rewarding. And things that require energy, time, and effort are equally rewarding. Studying abroad excites me in indescribable ways, but also terrifies me. And that’s what makes it worth it. 


And despite all of the stress and planning that goes into studying abroad, I’m delighted to start my journey soon and document the adventure that awaits me. 

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Rosalie Hinke

Rosalie Hinke

My name is Rosalie and I am a current junior at the University of Richmond where I'm a double major in Environmental Studies and Journalism. In my free time, I love hiking, running, reading, knitting, and backpacking: I love the outdoors! 

2024 Fall
Home University:
University of Richmond
Nashville, Tennessee
Environmental Studies
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