Finding calm in Freiburg

Wow, what a crazy week this has been! Coronavirus has seemingly turned the world upside-down and its certainly a difficult time for all of us. Even the sweet town of Freiburg has been severely affected by the virus. The university in Freiburg has closed the library and classes, people are stocking up on toilet paper and dry goods (though the grocery stores restrain you from buying more than a few boxes of pasta and other dry goods), and events with large groups of people have been canceled until further notice.

However, in the midst of all this trouble and confusion, I have been able to find some peace of mind in Freiburg. The Seepark, which is a lovely outdoor area that is only a few minutes walk from my flat, has been a source of calm in my life in Germany. I go there almost everyday to walk, run, or picnic with friends. There are many reasons why I love the Seepark so much. First, the flora and fauna of the park are spectacular. There many ducks, a pair of swans, and many other kinds of birds that are not typical to places I’ve lived in the US. Also, early spring flowers are in full bloom in the Seepark. Daffodils, daisies, and some pink blooms on trees add color to the scenery. Second, there are always people in the Seepark walking their dogs, riding bikes, running, or just having a good time. There are no evident signs that the coronavirus has changed so much in the world, just people in the park living their lives as normal. Third, the Seepark gives me space to think things through by myself when I am running or walking around the park. I find that alone time extremely important in times of stress and confusion. Even without the virus, I think this is my favorite place in Freiburg so far! Enjoy some pictures of the Seepark:

Afternoon in the Seepark (with Daffodils!)

A sunny Friday afternoon

This swan looked intensely at me as I took its picture

I am looking forward to seeing the Seepark in late Spring and Summer! — Miriam 




Dear Freiburg

Dear Freiburg, you are the first true city I have ever lived in, and you have set the bar very high. It has only been a week and I am already feeling quite comfortable here. Although, that might just have something to do with my recent trip to IKEA where I bought some very cozy blankets…but I suspect there is more to it than that. I have noticed several changes in myself since arriving in the city. First and foremost, I think I am addicted to the public transportation here? I thought I would hate it if I’m being honest. But the trams are so quiet, constant, and reliable I could cry. I have yet to experience a tram being late. They can take you all over the city safely which makes exploring much less daunting. Because of them I have spent a lot of time in the Altstadt where there are an overwhelming number of shops and a popular market by the famous Freiburger Münster. The trams are also an excellent place to secretly eavesdrop on conversations which is a fun way to ramp up my German listening skills! By doing things like this in the first week my German has significantly improved more than I expected. I am continuously putting it to the test. Of course, this has also showed me just how much I have to learn. While I remember words and grammar structures with more ease than I usually do, every time I talk to my flatmates or ask questions in a store, I notice how slow I talk and how limited my vocabulary is compared to native speakers. But so far everyone (except for a couple grumpy men in a phone store) has been so encouraging and helpful that learning the language is more fun than it has ever been!

There are so many things I have already done, and so much more that I am looking forward to doing. IES Abroad took us to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) for a day and it was absolutely beautiful. Makes me want to retire on a wholesome German hillside there. I also went to the BANFF Mountain Film Festival which is always an exciting time. As far as things I plan on doing, there are a bunch of movies in theaters here that I can watch in German now, which is awesome! I’m planning on going to see Jojo Rabbit with some friends from the program in a few days. On Tuesday, I have tickets to go see the very popular German band AnnenMayKantereit…I have been a fan of theirs for a while so let’s just say that I am very stoked to see them live!

It’s so interesting living in an apartment with other German students. They are some of the nicest people I have met here, but it can be stressful communicating with them sometimes. Their English is so much better than my German, but I do my best to speak German with them, even if it means embarrassing myself often! I have a lot of questions for them and they are so patient with my broken speaking skills and sometimes eventual English. They have been super inclusive so far – inviting me to pizza and game night at a friend’s apartment and planning a dinner to cook together! I have a feeling it is going to be pretty darn cute. I cannot wait to make all kinds of memories here in Freiburg!