Matthew Bodwell (’18) on his Fall semester in Freiburg

Freiburg, as seen from the Schloßberg, a small hill on the edge of the city center. (Photo: Matthew Bodwell)

I was privileged to spend the fall 2016 semester of my junior year studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany, completing the IES Freiburg Language and Area Studies program. While I had many wonderful experiences, I will share five of my favorite memories during my time in Freiburg, in no particular order.

The Black Forest is a natural wonderland a short train ride away from Freiburg. (Photo: Matthew Bodwell)

1. Exploring the Black Forest (Schwarzwald)

On one of my first days in Freiburg, I was given a tour of the Schwarzwald by my host father, Bernd. The trees, mountains, rolling hills, valleys and small villages were a calming welcome to a beautiful region. Bernd told me he loved Freiburg because one can enjoy both the city life and the great outdoors with ease in the same day – and I soon learned how special this made Freiburg.

 

2. Turning 21 Years Old

On the night of my 21st birthday, I headed back home from my evening film class at the UB (the university library downtown) for what I thought would be a quick stop to drop off my things. Instead, I was surprised with gifts from Karin (my host mother) and Bernd. They gave me a beautiful book on Freiburg, as well as a bottle of white wine from a local winery – a treat, as southwest Germany is known for its wine. We shared the wine, listened to music, and chatted well into the night.

 

Matthew with his friends attending a SC Freiburg soccer match in Freiburg. (Photo: Matthew Bodwell)

3. Attending an SC Freiburg Match

One of my goals while studying abroad was to attend a game between teams playing in the Bundesliga, the top soccer league in Germany and one of the top leagues in the world. Toward the end of my stay, a few of my friends in the program and I were able to land tickets for a match between SC Freiburg (Freiburg’s soccer team) and SV Darmstadt 98 at Freiburg’s Stadium, Schwarzwald-Stadion. Our tickets were cheap but allowed us to stand in the home fans section (Stehplatz), where we enjoyed a game with rowdy fans that ended in a nail-biting 1-0 Freiburg victory on a penalty kick.

 

Matthew enjoying Glühwein at a Freiburg Christmas market with his host sister Stella. (Photo: Matthew Bodwell)

4. Strolling through the Christmas Markets

The Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) in Freiburg always provided a good time. At the Christmas markets, one can shop for different hand-made goods, drink Glühwein (a sweet, warm wine), watch street musicians perform and enjoy a variety of snacks such as sweet, roasted almonds (gebrannte Mandeln). I was shown the Christmas markets by my host sister Stella, and visited them other times with friends, family, and even a professor after our final class meeting!

 

5. Litfass

Litfass is a wonderful hole-in-the-wall pub in Freiburg that some of my friends and I would frequent for a relaxing evening. Here we enjoyed Hefeweizen beers, watched live music, and shared our study abroad experiences with each other.

Honorable Mentions: Eating döner, running alongside the Dreisam river, and skateboarding in the Dietenbach park in Freiburg.

Bonus

Just because your time studying abroad ends does not mean that you lose contact with those you met during your time abroad. In June 2017, my host parents Karin and Bernd were visiting friends in the United States and were able to stop in my hometown of Concord, New Hampshire and spend time with my family. During their stay, we shopped in Concord, explored the White Mountains, and swam in Silver Lake.

Matthew’s hostparents Karin and Bernd atop Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire during their June 2017 visit to the United States. (Photo: Matthew Bodwell)