My first week continued with settling into my apartment. Finding toiletries and groceries was an adventure; some things are recognizable in the grocery store, but I had google translate running on my phone as I tried to distinguish shampoo from conditioner from body wash. But hey, now I’ve picked up a few new words!
IES also took us on some cool excursions; we got the chance to explore Vauban, including an area of the city with houses that are entirely green; they actually produce more energy than they consume. There is a reason Freiburg is known as the Green City of Germany! We also went to Titisee, a small town in the Black Forest, about 45 minutes from Freiburg. The town itself is very cute! It has touristy attractions, but also a beautiful, typical German lake right in the middle. It reminded me of scenes from the The Sound of Music movie, all the green, and the beautiful view of the water right outside of the Von Trapp house. We also came across a second body of water, with a sign warning about beavers, how cute (pictured below). While I was very sore the day after, it was a great way to see part of the Black Forest. I’m definitely going back!
After our hike, the group went to cafes to try authentic Black Forest cake. Unfortunately, the cafe my friends and I went to ran out (the insult!) but we still got great food and coffee. Overall, a great first week!
Second week, which just ended, marked the start of the intensive phase, where we were given crash courses in German and EU politics so we could have some basis for the field trip we leave on tomorrow morning. That meant we spent around 5 hours in a classroom (usually in a row) this past week and had an exam in the politic class, but overall, I feel like I actually know what’s going on where I live now, so yay! I’m also picking up on the German, but my accent is atrocious, so I’m basically just asking people “sprechen sie Englisch”, or “do you speak English” at this point. I’ll get better!
As I mentioned earlier, I leave on the first field trip tomorrow morning. The group is going to Berlin and Prague. We’ll be exploring the European Central Bank and Parliament buildings, and meeting with journalists and political scientists to learn some more the history of the European Union, Soviet Union, and current politics. I’ll have more stories and pictures when I get back!