Madeleine Waltman - 2013 Program Participant 

Visiting Colmar, France

Madeleine spent a day roaming around Colmar and visiting the museums. She even tried escargot!

What led you to study abroad?

Not only was it a requirement from my home school, but I’ve always wanted to go to Germany, and IES Abroad and Susquehanna University made it happen for me.

Why did you choose to study in Freiburg?

It was in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and I didn’t want to be in a huge bustling city. I knew we would be going to Berlin at some point, and I could do some exploring there. But I could explore the Alps, go to France and Switzerland, and go hiking in the mountains and hills surrounding the valley.

What attracted you to IES Abroad?

I chose IES Abroad for the opportunities within the curriculum and the location. I am a German and International Studies double-major with a Film minor, and all the classes would transfer for me.

Where did you live in Freiburg? What did you like about your housing arrangement?

I was in a flat. All of my mates were really nice, but our schedules were so different that we didn’t see too much of each other. I did get close to my friends’ flatmates though, and we had Auflauf nights and spaghetti nights together.

Describe a typical day for you in Freiburg.

We would all wake up to get ready for the day, then walk to our center, which was really close. Depending on the day, we would grab lunch at the nearest Chinese place, or Doener place (that was popular!), and head back to the center for more learning. Then we would go exploring for the rest of the day or head to the local gym. On weekends, we just kept exploring.

Study abroad students in Germany on Thanksgiving

Two of Madeleine’s new friends she met through the program. They celebrated Thanksgiving together that IES Abroad held and had a wonderful time!

What is your most memorable experience from studying abroad in Germany?

Probably the day I hit a bicyclist with my backpack as we were walking down a road through the Alps. It was the worst experience, but I was the only one prepared with a First Aid kit. I owe that to my mother. I then became known as the “mother” of the group because of that situation. I gave that poor girl advil, band-aids, water - anything I could think of. My “award” from the group was then the “Motherly Care” award, decorated with the Red Cross logo, band-aids, and everything else accident-related.

What was the biggest personal challenge you faced abroad?

I have post-concussive disorder, which in the simplest explanation, means I have chronic headaches and neck pain and receive Botox injections for it. I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive a three-month adventure in another country, but IES Abroad was very accomodating and I felt safe there.

What was your favorite part about Freiburg?

The Muensterplatz, the open-air market surrounding the Muenster cathedral in the Altstadt. Our group loved going there for the sights, the smells, the tastes. Everything about Freiburg I just loved.

How has studying abroad left a lasting impact on your life?

I am such a big advocate for study abroad. I have worked at my college’s cross-cultural office and have helped students find a program that fits their needs. I can’t even look at the German flag the same way again. I always feel longing for the country and my city.

Would you recommend IES Abroad’s program in Freiburg to other students? 

Of course! The classes were great, the faculty and staff were amazing, there were so many opportunities for travel and fun. You can learn so much without feeling like you’re trapped in a school.

Hiking in the Alps

There really is nothing like feeling on top of the world- especially when you're hiking in the Alps!

What tips do you have for future study abroad students?

Don’t be afraid, whether that’s asking questions or going off on your own to explore for a day. Fear will get you nowhere.

If you had the chance to study abroad again, where would you go?

Anywhere in Germany. I love the different senses of culture and daily life. If I had to choose though, I would spend more time in Heidelberg.

Did you feel like you had culture shock when you returned to the U.S.?

Yes, and it’s hard to talk about sometimes. My friend facilitates a Facebook group called Students of Study Abroad, and asked me about Germany. It took a lot for me not to cry.