Name: Rachael Glenister
Location of Study: Germany
Program of Study:
Sponsors: Mark Shields
Name: Rachael Glenister
Name: Rachael Glenister
Location of Study: Germany
Program of Study:
Sponsors: Mark Shields
Herzliche Grüße aus Freiburg im Breisgau! Ich kam nach Frankfurt an den 01. Juni 2013, und ich fuhr mit dem Bahn direkt nach Freiburg vom Frankfurt Flughafen. Ich kam ein bisschen zu früh nach Freiburg, besonders zwei Tage bevor ich an der Goethe Institut began. Also, ich hatte bei einer Jugendherberge im Schwarzwald vor zwei Tage geblieben. Wenn ich nach Freiburg ankam, hatte ich gar keine Idee wohin ich gehen musste. Auch hatte ich gar keine Landkarte oder Stadtplan, so es wirklich ein Abenteuer war. Ich konnte auch nicht vergessen, dass an diesem Tag es soviel regnete. Ich hatte auch zwei große Koffer mitgebracht, die sehr schwierig sind. Ich versuchte mein eigenen Weg zu finden, aber nach 20 Minuten war ich total verloren und verwirrt. Es war wirklich schrecklich, aber es war eine interessante Erfahrung. Um es kurz zu machen, ich hatte der richtigen Weg gefunden, und am Morgen war er einen neuen Tag, und alles ging viel besser!
(Greetings from Freiburg im Breisgau! I arrived in Frankfurt on June 1, 2013, and I took the train directly from the Frankfurt Airport to Freiburg. I didn’t realize that I had arrived two days before I was to begin classes at the Goethe Institute, so I stayed at a youth hostel near the Black Forest for a couple of days. When I arrived in Freiburg, I had no idea in which direction I needed to go. I also didn’t have a map of Freiburg with me, so I knew it was sure to be an adventure.I can’t forget to mention that on this particular day in Freiburg it was raining very heavily, and I had two large suitcases with me that were very heavy. I then tried to find my way on my own, but within 20 minutes, I was completely lost and confused. Long story short, I eventually found the right direction, and the next morning, it was a new day, and everything seemed to go much better!)
June 15, 2013
I have only been in Freiburg for two weeks, and I already feel as if I’m becoming a local. Every morning has become routine: I wake up, walk to the small bakery to grab a croissant and a cup of espresso, cross the blue bridge (proceeding with caution, so as to not get hit by a cyclist), go to class, and I am finished by 1 pm. Thus, I have the whole day to explore the Altstadt with a few of the other students from the institute.
I can honestly say that I’m beginning to feel that Freiburg was the perfect place for me to come and study. It’s a fairly large city with a major university, but at the same time, it doesn’t have the same hustle and bustle pace of a city like Munich or Berlin. It is large enough to have a very dense cultural experience, in that there is always something to do, such as the Summer Solstice Festival, live student concerts, hiking in the Black Forest, climbing to the Schlossberg Biergarten, touring the Münster, sitting with all of the local students at the Augustiner Platz, etc. However, it still seems to possess the cozy small town atmosphere to the point that I am starting to recognize the same people, which is comforting to me.
Thus far, I have truly enjoyed my experience here in Freiburg, and I look forward to sharing more encounters as I continue to study! Bis Später!
June 20, 2013
I travelled to Munich this past weekend with my friend Anna. Munich is truly amazing, and my only regret is that we didn’t spend enough time there. When Anna and I arrived at our hostel after a five hour long bus ride, we immediately wanted to explore the Altstadt. As soon as we got off of the S-Bahn at Marienplatz, we were surrounded by people, and there was live jazz music playing right in the center of the square. All around us people were drinking beer, eating dinner, and listening to this live concert. I had goose bumps. It was a cultural experience overload all at once! What a rush! For a few minutes, Anna and I were frozen in place because we simply couldn’t decide which direction we wanted to go. The beautiful old concert house was built in a gothic style, which stood directly before us. To our left was a market with all kinds of hand works, to our right was an art exhibit, and right where we stood was this beautiful concert.
That night we decided to go to the famous Hofbräuhaus, where they play traditional German music to serenade you, and they serve their Hofbräu beer by the liter. The next day, Anna and I decided that we wanted to see as many of the monuments of Munich on our map as possible. We only had about seven hours before our bus was to depart, so we returned to the Altstadt, where we proceeded to see the Frauenkirche, Friedensengel, KarlsThor, Maximillianeum, the Englischergarten, and many more. We stayed for quite a while in the Englischergarten, just relaxing in the sun. We also were able to see this portion of the river in the Englischergarten, which was designed in such a way that it created the perfect wave to surf, so we stayed to watch some amateur surfers rip it up on this small portion of the river. I had never seen anything like it before. The only thing I could think was, wow, what a testament to classic German engineering!
Though all of the monuments, history, and culture of Munich were amazing, my favorite portion of the trip was a short encounter that Anna and I had with this street musician playing the cello. I remember him playing a rendition of “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, and he picked the perfect spot with great acoustical treatment. It was this small tunnel passage, which was somewhat hidden, and we watched him play for twenty minutes. I couldn’t stop listening because he was so talented and precise, and his tone was rich and full. To my untrained ear, I felt that this man should be playing in a renowned orchestra, but to see him dressed in casual clothes collecting euro coins on the street was such a moving experience. Anna and I gave him a few euro coins, and we were on our way back to the bus. Auf Wiedersehen, München!
June 26, 2013
Time seems to be quickly escaping me. The first session of classes has already come to an end, and though I will be here in Freiburg for another four weeks, many of the people that I have just begun to really know and love will be returning to their respective homes all around the world. My parents have always told me that I am a social butterfly, and I have come to find that I truly feed off of the energy of the people around me. I have never encountered such a diverse group of people before coming to study at the Goethe Institute in Freiburg. Not only are my new friends diverse because they come from every part of the world, but they are also unique in their own respective reasons for learning the German language.
Daniel from Monterrey, Mexico is currently studying mechanical engineering at the university in Monterrey, with hopes of transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology next year. He is learning German because he believes that German is truly the language of engineering, therefore he must learn it.
Gastáo from Lisbon, Portugal is a 31-year-old civil engineer, who loves his country dearly, but he feels that he must find work in Germany because the financial crisis has left him without work. Gastáo has been like an older brother to me. I met him within the first few days of classes, and he immediately welcomed me, a stranger, with such kindness, and he proceeded to show me around the city since he had been here for a few months already. Gastáo showed me where I could eat well, but also cheaply, where some of us younger students could go to experience the night life in Freiburg, etc. I have learned to not fear life and its obstacles from Gastáo. He doesn’t even realize that he has shown me that even in the darkest of times, man is so resilient. I am confident that Gastáo will find work in Germany because he is brilliant and full of life.
Anna has truly been my best friend at the Goethe Institute. She is from Singapore, but she studies at this small liberal arts university in Squamish, Canada. Anna is 20 years old, and she hopes to be a kindergarten teacher someday. We would cook together every day, spend hours at the Seepark together, and explore the city. Anna is a free spirit, who pretends that her life is in shambles, but in fact, she’s absolutely brilliant and has it all figured out. Why is she learning German? Just because it would be cool. She lacks the confidence to speak her German even though she’s one of the best non-native speakers that I’ve ever heard. I will miss Anna more than anyone, but I know that I won’t lose touch with her.
The people that I have met here don’t even realize what an impression they have made on my life, and it saddens me this day to have to come to terms with the fact that I won’t see ninety percent of these people again. However, I must have solace in the hope that if I am ever in Madrid, Spain, I will look up Natalia. If I am ever in Turkey, I will seek out my friend Ilker. If I am ever in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I will find Bernardo at his university. If I am ever in Monterrey, Mexico, I will see Felix and Marcelo. If I am ever in Athens, Georgia, I will see Nikolai. Though I am depressed at the inevitable loneliness and separation anxiety that I will feel in the next few days, I am comforted by the fact that I now have a multitude of friends from all around the world. Wherever I may go, there may be someone that I shared these last four weeks with. Farewell, Goethe students from June 2013, I hope that we may meet again someday.
July 20, 2013
In the approach of my final days here in Freiburg, I have been scrambling to do as many cultural activities as possible, see as many sites as possible, and simply attempt to capture the true essence of the area.
In an attempt to do so, I rented a bike today with a few of my friends, and we embarked on a journey to the French border. Today happened to be absolutely perfect for a bike tour of the rural area that surrounds Freiburg, and we thought that we would be fit enough to ride 38 kilometers to Colmar, France. The ride was off to a perfect start. The temperature was temperate, and we were soon surrounded by the beautiful vineyards that sprawl the countryside.
After 15 kilometers, we reached a town with a typical German feel to it. The streets were cobblestone, the markets were selling fresh produce, people were sitting on their balconies drinking coffee. We could tell that this was not your typical tourist attraction, but rather, a great place for an authentic experience. With my makeshift documentation skills, iPhone camera in one hand and steering with the other, I was able to snap a few pictures as we rode through. It was right at about this time that trouble struck.
The cobblestone streets were unforgiving to begin with, in terms of bike riding comfort, but they also have a particular knack for masking certain objects on the streets. Needless to say, I did not see the large shard of glass on the rode as I proceeded to ride right over it, puncturing my front tire. This was just my luck, I thought. We weren’t even halfway through our tour, and something was already terribly wrong. I immediately began to panic. I had no means of fixing a punctured tire, and on top of that, we were in a small town, so I knew that the chances of it having a bike repair shop were slim. My friends and happened to be right across from a super market, so I asked this gentleman working there if there was any place that I could repair this tire. I could tell that the man felt very bad for me, but he couldn’t think of any place in town that could mend my tire. He proceeded to tell us that we would need to ride another 10 kilometers to the next town with hope that there would be a place there.
A little disheartened, we decided that maybe we should just start heading back to Freiburg, and I would walk my bike the 15 kilometers that we had already come. Thinking that this was our best bet, we turned around to head back. Just as we began walking, we encountered an auto repair shop that happened to be open on a Saturday. How serendipitous! With my best possible German, I began to explain my situation to the two men working at the auto shop. They told me that they don’t fix bikes and that they were very busy, and they didn’t think that they would have time. I don’t know what changed their hearts. Perhaps it was the utter desperation and defeat in my eyes, but they decided to assist the helpless American student that stood before them.
I have always known that Germans are very meticulous people, and that they truly take their time to do the job the right way. No shortcuts. I watched in amazement at the amount of concern and care that these two men took as they began to fix what I considered to be a fairly minor and common occurrence; a simple flat tire. The way that they handled my bike looked as if they were fixing a rocket ship engine, in which one little miscalculation could cost lives and millions of dollars. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed.
As they worked, they were very cordial, asking me where I was from, what I was doing in Freiburg; we even cracked a few jokes. Their accents were difficult for me to understand some of what they were saying to me, but they made me feel less self-conscious when they told me that I speak German very well. They said that the language institute must be really paying off. I felt so proud of myself for not copping out to speaking English with them.
After an hour, my bike was ready for the road again, and I pulled my wallet out to pay them for their kindness and service, but they refused my money. I was so thankful for what they did for me, and they told me that if they were ever in Texas, I could repay them by buying them a couple of beers. I promised I would, and we all had a good laugh. They wished me luck, and sent me on my way.
Our bike tour was saved, and 23 kilometers later, we had reached our destination: the border of France.