Originally I was interested in studying abroad with a group of students who studied at my college; however, stepping out of my comfort zone and traveling solo proved to be one of the best decisions of my entire life. With the tram system, the Deutsche Bahn railway system and biking, it was so easy to explore the city and beyond its borders, Without having traveled alone before I gained independence and confidence in traveling and managing daily life on my own. Despite being a city, Freiburg feels small and community-oriented, allowing for easy mobility and connections to be made.
Regarding academics, the 4-module system helped me manage my time by focusing intensively on one subject at a time, and we had field excursions in the Black Forest, France and Switzerland, which enabled us to apply our new knowledge to the real world around us. With only 20 students in our program, connections were made quickly and new opportunities opened up, (which I learned to always take advantage of, because for some, this is a once in a lifetime experience!)
As I am the youngest of three daughters, I continually looked up to my two older sisters. In my eyes they were risk-takers and I admired their abilities to grasp any opportunity within reach for an adventure. While only in high school, my sisters shared their study abroad experiences from Kenya, Africa and Glasgow, Scotland, and I was since inspired to study abroad. I will always remember the car ride to the airport, the day my parents were about to drop me off for my 5 month adventure. I couldn't talk the whole ride because I was holding back tears, tears of unknowing-ness, excited-ness, but mostly last minute nervousness and fear of walking through the gate; we arrived at the airport early and had time to sit, and I seriously contemplated turning back and going home. As I hugged my parents goodbye, the tears started streaming but I knew that not stepping through security would be the biggest regret of my life. Scared every step of the way, I remembered the times in my youth when I wanted to quit a sport or stop ice skating, for example, because of fear, but my mom told me me to "put my big girl pants on". Although in those moments those were definitely not the words I wanted to hear, my mom encouraged and continues to encourage me everyday to become stronger and more independent.
In each challenge I faced while abroad, I reminded myself of her words and thought about the things I would miss out on because of fear. If I had not taken that step out of my comfort zone, and if I had turned back from the airport, I would have never experienced another culture and world unknown to me. The experiences I had traveling were unforgettable and I was able to frame each challenge or mishap as an obstacle that I was determined to overcome.