To the next excited but anxious student who hops out the train and on to the streets of Freiburg, here’s a little piece of advice I want to give you so that your abroad experience can be lived to it’s fullest. Take care of my city and take a trip (or a million) to Café Herrmann for me.
1. Be the first to say “hello.” Start the conversation. Get to know someone. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to get to know you first. The world is full of interesting people with crazy stories. Learn them.
2. Try all of the foods/drinks. It may look weird or smell weird, but give it a go. You may end up loving Käse Spätzle and hating the Schwarzwald Kirschtorte, but you’ll never know unless you try. And when you find what you like, have absolutely no shame in becoming a regular at a café. Or at a bratwurst stand… “mit Zwiebeln, bitte.”
3. Stumble upon your words and learn new ones. One of the best things for me as I was learning German was to not know all of the words. I was really able to expand my vocabulary by sometimes not knowing how to express myself. Sometimes other students would know the word I was looking for and that’s how I would learn it. Don’t be afraid of not always knowing how to express yourself, and certainly don’t be afraid to not know it all.
4. Understand your environment and know when you need to get out. No matter what city you’re in, it’s always so important to make your safety a priority. If an Airbnb isn’t what it was advertised as and you and your friend feel unsafe, then get out and find somewhere else. Trust your instincts. You are valuable, and there’s no reason to be somewhere that you don’t feel safe.
5. Say “yes”…and also say “no.” Most times it’s worth it to skip the library and go to the Christmas Markets for Kartoffelpuffer and Glühwein. It’s definitely worth it to put your paper on the back burner and go to Schauinsland to see the snow. But it’s also 100% okay for you to say “no” and start your weekend off alone and doing your own thing.
6. Enjoy every part of your experience. Every part. Enjoy the traveling and the beautiful sights. Enjoy the people, food, and languages. Enjoy the challenges. Enjoy the homesickness because it means you’ve figured out what home means to you.
Bis Bald, Freiburg.