Nicole (middle) spend time with friends in downtown Freiburg during the German carnival celebration called Fasnacht.
Overseas Study Program
Nicoles’s major: Human Development and Family Studies
Year abroad: Spring 2010
Reason you chose this program: I chose this program because I was interested in spending a semester in Germany but did not know German. This program was taught in English, gave me enough German instruction to get around town, and also offered an immense amount of traveling throughout Europe.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would... make more of an effort to reach out to my German suitemates. They are normally excited that you are there, so make connections with them.
What you know now that you didn't know before going abroad: The small differences between cultures are what make them fascinating. Try to take in as much as you can when you travel and you will take back with you a whole new perspective on your way of life at home.
Greatest Challenge: Staying focused on classes. There are a lot of distractions and you want to see so much, but remember that school is important and trust me, you will have plenty of time to travel in this program (on field-study trips and on your own).
Favorite classes: EU-U.S. Relations: A Multi-Dimensional Partnership; EU Seminar
Describe the housing situation: I lived in a five-person suite in a university residence hall. I had my own room, sharing a bathroom and kitchen with four German university students. (They loved to help me with my German homework and practice their English with me!)
Advice to Future Study Abroad Participants: Really get to know Freiburg and enjoy what the beautiful and exciting city! Also, take advantage of all of the opportunities IES offers you, such as day trips to go hiking or cooking classes that will allow you to learn how to cook a traditional German meal.
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: Because I did not know the language I did go through a bit of culture shock. IES is great at helping you adjust, they even took us to the grocery store to learn how to find everything we needed, and if you have questions ASK! Also, remember that Freiburg is a university town and most people know English, and love to practice it with you.
Best Memory: Taking a five-day road trip throughout Italy with a group of friends, in a very tiny mini-van.
What I wish I knew before I left: You should really follow the programs advice on packing. With all the traveling you will be doing you don’t want to have a ton to carry and you will want space to bring back a lot.