Weeks 8 + 9 (The Academics)

Hi again! Sorry for the delay in my update; like I said at the end of my last post, I had midterms followed by Fall break the last few weeks, so I’ve been busy! But I’m back! Here’s the news. I’ve had three exams, a final, and a test, two of which were the week of the 23rd-27th, and two of which were this week. I’ve also had assorted papers due in this period as well. The system in Europe still surprises me; for the most part, grades are determined solely by one or two exams as well as a few papers. Almost no classes give homework, and each assignment usually accounts for around 25% of your total grade! Reaching all these exams caught me by surprise because I haven’t had the usual homeworks, quizzes, and projects to help me judge how well I know the material. Also, unique to my program is that one of our classes begins and ends early; my seminar class, which has focused on the political situations of the EU, started almost as soon as we arrived, and has ended just this past week. In its place, we now have preparation for the simulation EU meetings that we will be holding at the end of the semester. The program has split us students into two parts; one for the heads of state, which will make up the European Commission, and one of the foreign ministers. I am representing Greece, which is wonderful for a few reasons. The first, I have Greek ancestry, so it’s fun to learn more about a part of my heritage. The second is that so far, I have written 3 papers about Greece while here, and I have at least 1 more to write abou it. I’m feeling like I have a good handle on the country because of my experience so far. I also get the chance to talk a lot and contribute in this preparation and in the actual simulation since Greece is so embedded in the current issues, like immigration and the debt crisis. Like with the mock debate, this is going to push me outside my comfort zone, so I’m doubly excited!

On a personal note, I’ve again been feeling the strain of the semester and being abroad. We had Fall break last week, which was a great time, as I traveled and had a blast. However, usually I use Fall break to sleep, rest, and catch up with my family. Since I am a, in Europe, and b, I chose to travel for break, I’ve been feeling much more tired than I usually do. Coupled with coming back to more exams and stress, I’ve started looking forward to coming home to the US, if only because I need a long period of rest. I’m trying to shake it off; next week I travel yet again – yes, it seems like I’m never atually in Freiburg. I’ll be visiting Spain, Portugal, and Italy, where I’ll be learning about energy and other relevant issues, like the Catalonian question in Spain, and the increase in refugees arriving in Italy. When I come back again, I have about a week or so before finals start, then the week of our EU simulation before I come home again. Hopefully being away from direct academic work while I travel will help me bounce back. If nothing else, I know I’ll be enjoying good food, good weather, and amazing culture. My next post, (probably to come later tonight) will about all my travels and adventures over Fall break. I have lots of stories and pictures to sharem and the tone will probably be more positive 😀

P.S. I got good grades on the two exams I’ve gotten back so far, yay! Just three more to go!