Thursday, October 6, 2011

One Month In Germany

It has been a little over a month since I have been in Germany. I figured a lot of you might wonder how I have been doing, considering I have not written about it at all while I have been here. Therefore, today's post will only be about my time in Germany. Regularly scheduled content will follow.

Two years ago I spent five months in Berlin, but already this experience has been different. For example, last time I had schnitzel only once, and that was when we took a trip to Poland. If they're not serving schnitzel with potatoes and gravy at the dining hall here, it's meat with potatoes and gravy.  Maybe schnitzel is more of a "southern" thing? They even sell it next to the coldcuts in the grocery stores; pre-made and pre-cooked. Since I have been here in Freiburg, I have probably eaten schnitzel at least once a week, and honestly I have no problem with that. When I unexpectedly die at twenty-three from a coronary artery, they will cut me open and find pan fried chicken and beef. In fact I am eating schnitzel right now!
You probably wish you were me.

I am surprised at how much better my speaking has become since I have been here! Although, I believe that my writing grammar still leaves something to be desired; at the same time, I haven't written as much as I have spoken. I also have been avoiding speaking English. Last time I was surrounded by other American students, this time I have made a point of distancing myself and only speaking to the other international students who do not know English. The semester has not officially started yet, and the student housing buildings aren't teeming with students; so I have not met too many Germans. However, tomorrow I am going to put up bills on the public bulletin boards at the university looking for a German / English tandem partner.

Usually on the weekends I go to the black forest. The student transit card gets us there for free on the weekends, and after two on the weekdays. Downtown is really pretty, but does get old when you are down there every day for class anyways. When a group of fellow UMASS students stopped by in Freiburg after an orientation, they all commented on how much more beautiful the city was compared to where they were, and were surprised that I spent my weekends in the black forest. However I think the latter response was more their surprise at me rather spending my free time alone in the woods than in a club, rather than the availability of transport to the black forest. Oh well.

Other than that  I usually spend my time in Seepark, which is a park around a giant man made lake that is about a block down the street from me. I take my runs there, and it is also a nice place to relax. There is all sorts of students, and people everywhere. You can swim in the lake (although it smells like goose shit), and there is also a beer garden. On Sundays some people gather together on a hill there and sing. I think they might be holding mass, but all I know is that I can hear them from my bedroom.

This time I most likely will not travel as much due to budget constraints. Last time around I went to Erfurt, Weimar (also Buchenwald), Dresden, Prauge, and Fankfurt Oder (to walk into Poland) and all of this was included in the program. However as I mentioned already Freiburg is a beautiful city and I am really ok with not leaving to go somewhere else any time soon.

The quality of food here is high, and is also relatively inexpensive. As a result I usually spend the pocket money I have on döners, Ritter chocolate, marzipan cake, blackforest cake, strong coffee, fresh bread, croissants, and of course schnitzel. You can buy a fresh, flaky croissant for 0.30€ at almost any bakery right down the street. The company Dr. Oetker makes really good frozen pizzas that I will buy when they are on sale. I sometimes felt like a typical American buying them all the time, but I felt better about it when German student professed to me that they were his favorite meal to have for dinner!

Other than that my money gets spent on books:
Yes, I purchased two dictionaries.

I have been doing a good job not spending too much money on these, but then again it is hard to feel bad about buying books. And it's a better investment than a night out drinking. The heard of the German department at my old college told me I should spend as much time as possible in book stores in Germany because it is one of the resources that the U.S. doesn't have. After all if you're a German major, and a multiple stories of German books doesn't get you excited, you might want to reevaluate your priorities.

Nevertheless I have only been here for a month. And I know I had a different impression of Germany my first month in Berlin compared to the end of my trip. Only time will tell if I feel similarly at the end of my year-long stay. Until next time.


  1. Sweet jeebus that sandwich looks tasty.

  2. Those are some fairly large books, have fun reading through 'em :D

  3. My godfather lived in Germany (Munchen) for about 15 years. He loved it. I believe he was brainwashed there. When he came back he was so structured and robot like. His wife HATED it, said she was depressed to see the grey-ish look in the city. The cold people are. How everything seems like people are just going through the motions.
    And on the other hand i have a friend who lived there for a year and LOVED it. So i guess i should go and see it myself. I have a feeling i would like it very much :D

  4. The two big books are dictionaries. :p