Why did you pick this program?
Billy: I chose to study with IES Freiburg because I wanted to be able to focus on improving my german language skills, while living in a beautiful city that was centrally located to allow me to travel around Europe. Freiburg met all of these qualifications. IES's Language and Area Studies greatly helped me become a more proficient speaker, listener and reader, as a great deal of emphasis was placed upon practicing German through classes and integration into the local community.
Freiburg is an absolutely gorgeous city that looks like it's pulled right out of a typical European storybook and its location in the heart of the Black Forest allows for stunning views and vistas from the city. It also provides for fun adventures in the surrounding Baden-Württemburg region. Additionally, Freiburg's very central location in Europe makes travel very easy throughout the whole continent.
What made this experience unique and special?
Billy: There are a number of factors that made this experience truly unique and incredibly special. Firstly, it's the only time in your life when you will be able to get a four month break from a normal college level workload (the classes abroad for me were challenging, but not as strenuous as those at my home school), and be expected to focus primarily on things other than school.
Being able to travel around Europe, and integrate yourself in a new language, culture and city are some things most people will never get to do, much less do when they're 20 or 21 years old.
Going abroad teaches you to become more independent because you are truly living on your own in having to cook for yourself, purchase groceries, commute to and from the city each day etc., which are things I do not have to do at my home university.
But it also means that you can do the things that what you want to do, and not be hindered by too many obligations. The people you meet and become close with are certainly friends you will have for life because you are experiencing all of the difficulties and rewards of living abroad together with them.
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
Billy: One of my favorite days abroad occurred on the second weekend of my program. Everyone on the program was still getting to know each other and getting to know Freiburg itself. We spent Friday night exploring the city by visiting a few bars, enjoying each others company and the company of new German friends we were meeting. The next day we woke up early for a trip organized by IES and boarded a bus headed for the Swiss Alps to hike for the day.
Just two and a half hours later we were traversing above a valley 6,000 feet above sea level, taking in the incredibly gorgeous, scenic vistas and admiring the awe inspiring peaks. We walked through pastures, managing to catch the curiosity of numerous grazing cows and past Swiss Chalets. The experience was seriously unreal. Upon our return to Freiburg, we had a repeat of Friday night and explored Freiburg and its bars some more, this time even trying out a club. Suffice to say, this experience is not one that I could've had in New York City.
What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?
Billy: This trip was meaningful to me because it showed me the value of being open minded towards having new experiences and trying new things. I feel like I was a reasonably open-minded individual before going abroad, but wasn't the best at getting outside my comfort zone and made a full effort to try to do so while I was abroad.
I realized that you're only able to discover excitement and find new things that you enjoy, by doing something you've never done before. Therefore it's really important to say yes and have an optimistic attitude and outlook. This trip also changed my future path in the sense that I now absolutely want to travel more, both abroad and around the U.S., and will actively seek out opportunities to do so.
There's so much out there in the world to experience and do that if I can, I want to be able to take advantage of it. I know this sounds cliche, but going abroad and seeing what the world has to offer really makes me want to keep exploring.