I can hardly believe that I have already spent four weeks in Freiburg! Although I miss my husband and family acutely, I am grateful that in a sense that I am only halfway finished with my language training. At the beginning of the course, I greatly overestimated how comfortable I would be speaking German after four weeks; I can interact with the local population on a very basic level, but I still must resort to English for any exchange of detailed or complicated information. At the same time, I feel more comfortable attempting to speak in German, even if I am not certain that my grammar is 100% perfect. Much of the information that I have learned in class has proved extremely useful for daily life, and the classroom also provides a “safe” place for me and my classmates to try new things, make mistakes, and learn how to speak or write correctly. We recently learned the dative and accusative cases, as well one of the past tenses, which greatly increases what we are able to talk about.
Around the beginning of the third week, I contracted a virus that was circulating in my class; although being sick was itself unpleasant, I had the opportunity to visit one of the many pharmacies (die Apotheke[n]) that dot the city streets. Germans cannot buy o.t.c. medications from the supermarket, as we do in America, which explains why there are so many pharmacies (whereas in the US, I find it a little confusing that there are so many Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, when we can easily get medication from grocery stores). Given my limited vocabulary, I could not explain my symptoms in German, but fortunately an English-speaking employee directed me toward the pain-killer, decongestant, and throat lozenges. Of course I had to take her word for it that these were the appropriate medications, since I could not read the labels, but I decided that the medications were likely quite safe, since Germany is such a modern and developed country.
In addition to attending class and completing homework assignments, I have had the opportunity to explore Freiburg, visit several of the city’s museums, and occasionally hike in the Scholssberg (although the prodigious amount of rain that we have received has limited the accessibility of the hiking trails). On April 20 I went with some students from the Goethe Institut to tour Freiburg’s Münster tower; the inside of the Münster is breathtakingly beautiful, as is the view from the tower. We were fortunate enough to visit the Münster on a sunny, clear day, and were able to see the whole city, as well as some of the surrounding region, from our lofty vantage point. I also later visited the Museum of Modern art, which is currently featuring the work of Peter Zimmermann, and the Freiburg Mundenhof. I look forward to visiting the Museum für Stadgeschichte and the Museum Natur und Mensch, as well as Staufen, the Titisee, and the Triberger Wasserfälle.