Indiana University Overseas Study


Today is one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen in quite some time. The sky is crisp and clear; it radiates such a vibrant blue that it almost hurts to look directly at it without turbo strength sunglasses. I think the weather here is what I’ve grown to love the most about Freiburg.

Every day is straight out of a movie. The sun shines and the breeze joins in as a gentle relief and reminder that the world continues to breathe without my awareness. On beautiful days like today, it is easy to see how the German people love to socialize in the sun. Everyone flocks to outdoor cafes and beer gardens to soak up the warm rays that they so desperately longed for all winter. It is evident that German people make time in their busy day to simply sit and enjoy life and the company of their friends.

During my lunch break on Friday, Julie, Jack and I wandered throughout the streets while taking in the fresh air. I thought to myself how lucky I am to study in this city and how I am able to live as close to a German life as possible. I am at such an incredible moment in my life where I am always reminded how traveling enhances not only my understanding of other cultures but an understanding of myself as well.

Over the last few weeks I have definitely tried to immerse myself in German culture by cooking German cuisine, watching German films, sitting in the parks eating ice cream, and just enjoying life. What I didn’t expect however was how much I would get to experience culture from all over the world! In my German course alone, I have been fortunate to meet some of my best friends—from Italy, Brazil, Japan, and Russia!

A perfect example of this culture mash up was today at lunch. After spending the majority of my morning cleaning my room and doing my laundry, I was at a loss for what to eat for lunch. As if she read my mind, my floor mate, Fredrika asked me if I wanted to join her and her friends for lunch. How could I possibly say no to authentic Italian lasagna? Answer is: I couldn’t.

Although my contribution only consisted of my company, I joined Fredrika, her four Italian girl friends, their two friends from Spain, and one of my other flat mates, Wanky, from India. For lunch I ate lasagna with bread from Italy, beans and salami from Spain, and curry from India. It was such an amazing meal! It is unbelievable how wonderfully sweet and generous my flat mates are. We are always cooking together and chatting. Usually, what I think is a simple trip to the kitchen ends up turning into a three hour conversation about politics, culture, or food. But let’s be real, it’s always about food.

Over the last week, I have seen two movies at the movie theater. It’s a comforting ritual. At home, because there isn’t a lot to do where I come from—we go to see movies. Although a German cinema is a little bit of a culture shock, the act itself is still a comfort. In German movie theaters, the biggest difference is that instead of showing up and picking any seat, you are assigned a seat. This, at times, can be aggravating. Instead of the ‘savsies’ method I’ve been using all my life, you have to buy your tickets all together with your friends. That means no showing up late and no skipping advertisements and trailers. That’s right. In Germany, there are 30 minutes of pure commercials and then the trailers come. I personally don’t mind them because I think German commercials are hysterical and I get to practice my German at the same time.

The two movies I saw in the last few weeks were “Türkisch für Anfängers” and Die “Tributen von Panem”. “Türkisch für Anfängers” is a German film which of course didn’t require any subtitles. If you ever get a chance to see or rent this movie in the US with subtitles, do it. It is hands down one of the funniest-side-splitting-laughing-until-I-cry movies I have seen. The premise of the film is that two families, one Turkish, one German, get separated on a tropical island after a plane crash. The German mom and Turkish dad fall in love as well as the Turkish son and German daughter. The kids not only run into dangerous situations because of cannibals and poisonous animals but their cultural differences are problematic. I have never seen a film that has so closely matched my sense of humor. Every two minutes I had to catch my breath from laughing so hard. It’s definitely going down in the books as one of my favorite films of all time.

“The Hunger Games” (“Die Tributen von Panem”) was also a great movie, but it was hard to compare to “Türkisch für Anfängers.” Since it is an American made film, the film was shown with dubbed voices. The Germans do a great job dubbing voices in the film. There isn’t a huge time delay between the movement of the actors and the voices of the German voice actors. It does, however, create a disconnect that makes it difficult to really become immersed in the movie. I understand the majority of the dialogue, but when I hear ‘Wie heißt du’ in German but then see the actor’s lips move to ‘What’s your name,” I am immediately reminded that it’s only a movie and I am not actually watching the Hunger Games being played in the futuristic land of Panem.

This week looks to be a very busy one. Sadly it’s the last week of my language course but it is the weekend I head to Berlin with Monique and Julie. I am very excited to revisit and explore the city now that I am a 20-something equipped with a better understanding of history, culture, and German. Monique and I were hoping to make a day trip over to Poland, but I’m not sure that’s physically possible. I’m hoping my spontaneous side will show up this week—who knows? I might end up in Italy or France. Until then, stay curious!

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