In my last post, I said that I would be discussing my birthday, Berlin, and my Vosges Mountains field trip in the next post. However, it’s now almost June, which means that in a little over one month, I will be leaving Freiburg. I have plenty of mixed emotions about this that I want to talk about instead of the things that I have done this past month. So, here I go. First, I do miss home. I miss my family and my best friend. I miss American comfort fast food chains like Chipotle and &pizza. I miss knowing that I can walk across the street and have bubble tea waiting for me. I miss my queen-sized bed and its fluffy blue comforter. I miss having day trips to Washington, D.C. and walking along the waterfront at Georgetown. I miss the Bronx and the rest of New York City, with its streets that smell like pee and dirty subway stations. I miss going downtown and people-watching at Washington Square Park. I miss the hustle and bustle and the crowded streets. I miss my roommates and our nights in eating sandwiches from Best Deli at 1AM and talking about whatever we had to do the next day. I miss a LOT of things from home.
The thing is, I have really come to love Freiburg. Its laid-back atmosphere, accessibility, parks, trams, döners, young demographic, and walkability are things that I cannot say I will be able to see and experience again when I’m back home. I love that the grocery store is less than a 5-minute walk away, or that the tram is right in front of my building. I love how Seepark and its lake are basically in my backyard, and that I can go there whenever I need to unwind or have a nice after-class hangout with friends. I love the square in front of the library, which is always filled with students lounging around and little kids playing in the fountains. I love the student bars, which don’t have cover fees and offer drinks for less than 5 euros. I love that I can easily rely on there being vegetarian and vegan options on every menu of any restaurant or fast food place. I love that I can get to France and Switzerland in less than two hours. I love that I am surrounded by the Black Forest. But most of all, I love the people that I have met. My roommates, especially Lala (the first one I met when I arrived) have been nothing but nice and accommodating. We get along well, share food, and clean together without any disagreements, which has been great. I can’t imagine what my time here would be like if I did not get along with them. At first, it was a bit awkward trying to talk to everyone, because I knew that they all spoke German and that it might be annoying to speak English to a non-native German speaker like me. But they never really complain, and that makes me feel better. Now, with only one month left to go, I can’t see myself living anywhere else.
And the people in my program. I think I’ll miss them most of all. There are 21 of us in the Environmental Studies program, and all of us have become really good friends. Despite living in different neighborhoods of Freiburg, we always find time to hang out with each other whether it’s going to Mudom, the student bar, at Engelbergerstraße or having a picnic at Seepark in Betzenhausen, which is where I live. Being in the same classes for four months has made us a tight-knit group.There are no cliques. There’s no drama. We all get along without any problems. We are experiencing Freiburg together, and I think that’s what keeps us all so close. Whenever we’re together, there’s no pressure. We’re all American college kids with similar interests in environmental protection, and while we have differences, they are easy to push aside. I think that is my favorite thing about us — that we all manage to be friends despite these differences. There are some people in this group who I know I never would have befriended if I were back home, which is why I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to befriend them here, now. They’re all so funny, nice, comfortable to be around, and great people. I love them all so much, man.
I know that I still have quite a bit of time left here, but it’s going by so fast that I can’t help but already reflect on my experience here and the people that I have met. I’ve slowly begun to prepare myself for how I’ll be feeling come July 7 — the day that I leave. Right now, I know that I will be extremely sad to go back to the U.S. But when I arrive home and get to lay in my own real bed, maybe my sadness will gradually turn into acceptance and bittersweet happiness.