IES Abroad Freiburg '67 alumnus Ronald Reddig shares his memories of his time abroad.
The IES Freiburg class of 1967 was probably the last one to cross the Atlantic to Europe by sea. Our adventure began on September 13, 1966. The M.V. Seven Seas limped into Rotterdam after ten stormy days instead of the scheduled seven. Many waves were higher than the mast and not everyone turned up for all the meals. Twenty-two of us were met by our advisor who did an excellent job throughout the year of supervising our academic and not so academic endeavors. During the bus trip up the Rhine we received our first taste of European culture: art, architecture, traffic, food and customs.
The rooms of the Institute in the Weberstrasse were our headquarters for meetings, tutorials and preparations for our numerous excursions. Lodging for the group was in a wide variety of private homes and dormitories. Refrigerators and kitchens were tiny; most preferred to have their main meals prepared at the university or church-affiliated cafeterias. The dollar/mark exchange rate was a very favorable 1 to 4. Ten years later it was down to 1 to 2.3. However, the months were always longer than the monthly allowance paid out in cash.
Studies during the two semesters were very intense, some, but not all courses were tutored. Proficiency in the German language dictated how much tutorial assistance was necessary. Some course examples: Popes and Emperors in the Middle Ages, Goethe, Gothic Architecture, Probability and Statistics, Real Analysis, French for Beginners.
Extracurricular activities were at least as intense. The most memorable group outings were to the Le Corbusier Cathedral in Ronchamp, skiing in the Austrian Alps, Museums, Opera and the Wall in Berlin, and a fabulous two week tour of Italy, first passing the Matterhorn in Switzerland and then: Florence, just after the terrible flood of Nov. 1966, Sienna, Orvieto, Rome, Ravenna and Venice.
The lecture-free period between German university semesters has to be used academically by those studying for a degree. For us American students these breaks provided additional opportunities for the study of European culture. Some examples: Fasnacht in Basel, Opera in Munich, hiking in the Black Forest, touring through Greece, including downtown Athens during the military putsch of April 21, 1967, additional tours of Paris, East Berlin, Stockholm and Amsterdam.
We returned by air to finish university and graduate studies, just in time for the protests beginning in 1968 and the turbulence of the Vietnam War. At least three of the group found German spouses. For everyone the year abroad was exciting, challenging and enriching; for others it was life changing.
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