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3 Countries, 4 Cities, 5 Days

I arrived in Freiburg on Wednesday afternoon, after having spent Tuesday in Zürich, Switzerland. After navigating the German train system and regretting the amount of clothing I packed and had to lug around, I was relieved to have finally made it!

My first five days in Freiburg (and among other places) have been absolutely wonderful! So far, I have not been let down. The food has been great and the cobblestones are as quaint as I had imagined. My favorite food so far that I’ve tried in Freiburg has been a Döner, and I have to be honest, I was a little bit disappointed with the Spätzle that I tried, but I definitely will give it more tries at other restaurants!

Wednesday was mostly used for making it to my house and unpacking. I had dinner with another student and his host family, as my host mom was on vacation. I retired early and already started to miss air conditioning, as it was about 85 degrees that day and stayed pretty warm through out the night. Overall, however, it was a good day.

Thursday and Friday were a little more exciting and busy. We had basic orientation sessions, followed by tours around Freiburg. The weather wasn’t nearly as beautiful as it had been on Wednesday, and we toured the city with 65 degrees and rainy weather. However, the weather didn’t have too much of an effect on the attitudes of the other students; I think it’s safe to say we were all just excited to be getting to know our new home. Initially, I was a little afraid of the size of Freiburg, as it is much bigger than my hometown. But as a group of students and I wandered around to try and “get lost,” we soon discovered that the inner city is big enough to offer many different restaurants, cafés, and stores, but small enough to where it would be very difficult to be completely lost in. I also soon discovered that public transportation wouldn’t be that hard to navigate. It’s definitely a change for me to have a commute to school that is half an hour long and includes both walking and riding on an S-Bahn (street train or tram), but it was really easy to catch on to. Such a relief for a small town girl like me!

On Saturday, students had the option of taking a trip to Ikea before having to go to a meeting with their housing tutors. However, I don’t have a housing tutor since I live with a family. Two other girls that also live with host families, Claudia and Sarah, and I decided to make the most of our time and take a day trip to Strasbourg, France. We found bus tickets for less than 25 Euros and woke up early Saturday morning to take the hour bus ride to France. The morning started off a little bit rainy but cleared up to be another beautiful day by the afternoon. We spent the day wandering the ally-ways and taking too many pictures of the precious bakeries…and of course we dropped in to buy macarons, chocolate, and cakes along the way. We ended the afternoon with a tour of the European Union Parliament building before loading back on the bus to come to Freiburg. I even discovered that one of my new travel buddies is also my sister (we’re both in the same sorority)!

Sunday was also filled with adventure! The entire IES Abroad Language and Area Studies group took a bus ride to the Swiss Alps (Kandersteg, Switzerland) for the Day. We were on the bus for roughly two hours, chatting and learning more about one another before ending up in the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. We then hiked to Oeschinensee, a breath-taking, very blue lake, stopping to say hello to Swiss cows along the way. Initially, the weather was cold, but as we kept moving along, it ended up being very comfortable. We ended the day at a restaurant by the lake before taking the gondola back down the mountain to load back on the bus and continue fun conversation.

This week will be more of a return to “real life,” as we begin our intensive German language courses; however, if the rest of my semester goes as well as the first five days I’ve been in Freiburg, then I know I’ll most definitely enjoy my time here! Let’s see where all the semester takes me!