It’s been more than a week since I’ve left Freiburg, but the city and the time I spent there is still often on my mind. The four months that I spent there might have felt long when I was still in the middle of my program, but looking back, it feels as if the past four months of my life have gone by in the blink of an eye.
The fact that studying abroad changes you is a cliche to the point that there’s literally a meme about it, but it remains a cliche for good reason: it's true. There really is nothing quite like studying abroad; the point of life during which you study abroad, the people you study abroad with, the place(s) you study abroad in all make it an experience unlike any other. I am fortunate that all of the above three things for me were exemplary, and that my time abroad was all the more better as a result.
My previous blog post was about tips for studying abroad in Freiburg. Here are five tips for studying abroad in general:
- Cook your own food as much as possible. It’s the healthiest and cheapest option.
- Start saving up money. Start saving up money now.
- Don’t travel outside of your city every weekend. Walk around your city and get to know it well.
- Stay in touch with your friends and family. They might not be explicit about it, but they miss you.
- If you’re on the fence about whether or not to study abroad, lean towards doing it.
It wasn’t that long ago that I thought of attending this program as the culmination of many things in my life, be it the three years that I’ve learned German or the four years that I’ve been deeply interested in politics and international affairs. It’s only now that I realise that I was wrong, that this program wasn’t a culmination but a stepping stone in both my German and political education. Learning German, both inside and outside of the classroom, in Freiburg, has allowed my German to improve whilst simultaneously teaching me the areas I need to work on. And with major upcoming elections in both Europe and the U.S., I have no doubt that my interest in politics will carry on.
Even towards the end of program, there were still mornings when I’d wake up and have to remind myself that I was in Germany. I attribute this to the surreality of being in Germany after being away from it for so long. None of the past four months would have happened without the promise to come back to Germany and study abroad here that I made all those years ago. Unlike my last trip, I don’t have any promises to make. I feel content, for the most part, with the experiences that I had and the things I did in Freiburg, in Germany, and in Europe as a whole. That’s not to say I won’t ever return to those places; quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.
There are a few different ways of saying “bye” in German. Tschuss, the most informal one, is the one that I use the most, but I think auf wiedersehen is the one most appropriate one for this situation. Auf wiedersehen more accurately translates to “see you again,” and I am sure that I will see Freiburg again someday.