Der erste Monat

Trip Start Aug 27, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's now been about my first month in Germany, and it's all been amazing so far.  Freiburg is beautiful, and every day has been an adventure.  Between a language course during the week, excursions to Switzerland or France on the weekends, and discovering Freiburg itself during all of the time in between, it's been very busy.  It's difficult to summarize or just note a few things from this last month considering how much has happened, but I'll try to come up with something.

I should mention that even though I still have a lot to discover, Freiburg already feels like home for the year.  It's been rather easy for me personally to adapt to what life is like here.  The people are generally friendly and very accepting.  In fact, I have so far found Freiburg to be very comparable to Madison, or maybe as something of a German equivalent at least.  It's a liberal university city of similar size, and it's easy to see how Freiburg and Madison are sister cities

There are some specific things about Freiburg that I have found particularly enjoyable so far.  The type of diversity found here is something different and interesting.  Freiburg is extremely green, and the environmental consciousness around the city is evident.  The Straßenbahn, or streetcar public transportation found here is outstanding.  Despite any German stereotypes of being uptight or stressful, I have found life here to be pretty relaxed.

A few highlights from my experiences in Freiburg so far:

Our first Saturday in Freiburg, my program traveled as a group to the Schauinsland.  It's a mountain in the Black Forest with a peak at 1,284 meters.  It was a nice hike to the summit followed by a scenic gondola back down to the bottom.

The following Sunday much of my program attended Sport-Club Freiburg soccer game.  It was the team's third game of the season and resulted in a barn-burning 5:3 win against 1899 Hoffenheim, the first victory of the season for SC Freiburg.  The professional team plays in the 1. Bundesliga, featuring the highest level of play found throughout Germany.  The atmosphere was electric with singing fans, waving flags, and pounding drums.

One day after class we came across a jazz group playing in front of the Stadtheater (city theater).  It was probably their cover of Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise" that drew most of us in in the first place, but I was very impressed by how good they were and the crowd they were gathering.  Within ten minutes, fifty to one hundred spectators had gathered to watch.  People here seem to be very receptive to street performers and other public displays, which I think is pretty cool.

Simply exploring the city of Freiburg every chance I get has been a lot of fun as well.  Outside of the constantly bustling areas around the citycenter there seem to be countless backstreets and niches, all with something different to offer.  The citycenter and old city have had their medieval layout and feel largely preserved, despite being very modern in fact.  Nearly every building other than the Minster had previously been destroyed in World War II air raids.

As for my German, I have felt improvements in every area so far.  Already my vocabulary, speaking, and comprehension among other things have improved, but I think most importantly I have already become a lot more comfortable around the language from being constantly exposed to it.  Of course there is still a lot of work to do.  This next week will be the last of my four-week language course.  I will then have a few weeks off before beginning regular courses for the Winter Semester at the University of Freiburg.

Those are just a few thoughts that come to mind from my time here so far.  If the months to come are as enjoyable as this last one has been, I think I'm in for an incredible year.

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