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IES Abroad Freiburg - Environmental Studies & Sustainability Semester/Year Program
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IES Abroad Freiburg - Environmental Studies & Sustainability Semester/Year Program

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

My Ideal Lifestyle

Studying abroad in Freiburg with IES, I experienced perhaps the most ideal lifestyle as a college student. I lived in a suite-style apartment with six Germans and one other American on my program -- communal living, hiking and becoming very close with both Germans and Americans made my time unique. I bought a bike and was beautifully mobile, getting from point A to point B as the Freiburgers do (along with walking and taking the light-rail tram). Freiburg's urban planning is a green exemplar for the world. It's nestled into the Black Forest, where we would hike almost every weekend and during the week, often based on suggestions from our IES staff. And the IES staff in Freiburg were truly wonderful -- helpful and caring to the utmost degree. They crafted our time there so we were not too overwhelmed in the beginning, gradually introducing more information and opportunities as we were there to explore the city, the surrounding areas, and meet Germans and learn the language and culture. My experience in Freiburg was a surreal chapter in my life that I will always look back on fondly.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

My perfect semester abroad

The time I spent abroad on my IES Freiburg trip was the best time of my life. I ended up on the program in Germany partially by accident; I hadn’t actually been looking to go to Germany, but I happened to find the IES program, and I immediately fell in love with it! The classes were amazing: my program had an innovative course schedule, where students would focus on one course for weeks at a time, instead of taking several classes at once. This structure allowed me to really delve deep into the subjects we were learning about - I was taking classes on the environment and sustainability - and it allowed me to have a lot of time to learn outside the classroom as well.

IES did an amazing job of scheduling trips and excursions for my program to go on. We were situated in the Black Forest region of Freiburg, and there were many program-led trips to hike into the forest during the course of my semester. Our program also took us hiking in the Vosges mountains of France, and we event took a class trip to the Swiss Alps, where we got to study the forestry and management practices of scientists within Switzerland! Of course, not all of our trips were focused on hiking. We had multiple class excursions to France to see the Christmas markets in the winter before we left, and we also were given the chance to take tours of our city and learn more about its history and culture. The trips I went on with my program were awesome, and I don’t think I will forget a single one!

Finally, the people running my IES program were some of the most amazing and helpful people I’ve ever had the opportunity to interact with. My program director, Katie, made herself available 24/7 to help us adjust to life in Freiburg. She was there to give us tips on where to eat, which clubs to go to, and she even helped me buy a cell phone when I first got there! She really made an effort to get to know us all and listen to our suggestions for programming and events, and that made my experience 100 times better. And though I didn’t get to see the rest of the IES staff as much, the interactions I had with them were all super helpful and helped me have an incredible time in my city!

Overall, I cannot express enough the gratitude I have towards IES for creating such an amazing experience for me abroad. I made lasting friends, had incredible experiences, and learned lessons - both inside the classroom and out - that I will never forget.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

ESS Freiburg Fall 2016

Living in Freiburg with the ESS program was one of the best experiences of my life. The city is beautiful, culturally and historically rich, and absolutely made for college students -- almost every day for lunch I went to the student dining hall to eat with my new friends, both German and American. The academics of the ESS program were surprisingly good: I came out of the program with new tangible skills like GIS and plant identification, and had so much fun learning while I was there. We went on field trips for every class, including seeing local windmills and going on a three-day hiking expedition in the Swiss Alps! The IES administration was always extremely cheerful, helpful, and eager to give advice on what to see and do in the region. The program helped me thoroughly explore Freiburg and the surrounding Schwarzwald, make many new German friends, and learn so much more about German culture than I ever expected.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Home away from home

Freiburg will forever be one of my favorite places. I felt at home there; the people are so welcoming and hospitable, and I felt as if I was truly part of the culture for the brief time I got to live there. I arrived in Freiburg having absolutely no idea what to expect, only armed with the knowledge that it was widely considered to be the "sunniest city in Germany," but it is so much more than that. Four 3-week long modules meant I was out of class by early afternoon (save for days when we had awesome field trips, like a bike tour through Freiburg, a hike through the Black Forest, or an overnight in the Swiss Alps), and we were allowed time to explore the city, really getting a sense and feel for it. There were not that many people on the program (only about 21), but we were a very tight-knit group, and I walked away with life-long friendships. The teachers and professors are interested in what they teach, leading to classes that are intriguing and stimulating. Classes were often discussion-based, and I think one of my favorite things of the whole program was the field trips. The workload is definitely manageable, and the IES Center’s staff are the friendliest people who really are there to make sure all is well. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in studying sustainability in one of the best places to do just that.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Community

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    10

An Outdoor Classroom

Studying in Freiburg was life changing in the best of ways. Students are immersed in a society of outdoorsy, friendly, green-living people. Classes are starkly different than their American counterparts: a module system allows you to focus entirely on one subject for 3 weeks before moving onto the next. Although the classes broach challenging subjects, their interactive, discussion-based style allows for easy absorption of material (and many class days spent applying knowledge in the field while hiking!). Minimal work was required outside of class which allowed us to wander the cobblestone streets, throw potluck dinners and bonfires, and explore Europe.

Aside from introducing you to the green lifestyle and educating you on international forestry subjects, this program offers guided excursion and the perfect location to travel on the weekends (or a plethora of hiking trails and cool places to explore within walking/biking distance!). I've returned home with a new perspective on forestry, diversity, and international relations, along with German conversational skills. More importantly, I made life-long memories and friendships.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Excellent Semester in Freiburg

I had an amazing time in Freiburg and the region. My German language skills improved, thanks to formal instruction and casual conversation. My travel skills improved, thanks to excursions in the Black Forest, Munich, Berlin, France, and Switzerland. The program office was very supportive and helpful as I adjusted to life here. I built connections to the people, organizations, and places in Freiburg.

The most important experience so far was learning about and participating in a green lifestyle. Freiburg is renowned for its sustainability and environmental awareness. My locally and internationally based course content was supplemented by real-life actions: using the extensive bicycle and public transportation networks, purchasing fresh local food, participating in climate-conscious events and rallies, meeting community leaders, experiencing sustainable urban development. I was able to prioritize how I spent my time and energy.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Community

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    4

Studying Abroad in Freiburg, Germany

When I first arrived in Freiburg, it was weird. It didn't feel like I was in Germany at all. The first week was a blur of meeting new people, exploring everything in the city that I possibly could, and adjusting to the time change. After the first month, I had made my friends and become comfortable in my new city. My classes were easy, so I was able to spend a lot of time outside with my friends and travel as much as I wanted.
I lived in Vauban, which was an area with a bunch of student apartments. It was a hippie town and I loved it. I lived in an apartment with 5 other Germans from all over the country. I became really close with two of them, Manu and Laura. They introduced me to their friends and allowed me to come to parties with them and go out with them. Laura even let me use her extra bike after mine got stolen in the first month.
Traveling was one of the most amazing things about going abroad. I went to Berlin, Munich, Prague, Cologne, Vienna, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, Colmar, and near by towns with my classes. I also got to go hiking in the Swiss Alps and the Vosges Mountains.
I always thought that when I would go abroad, my whole life would be put on pause and I would just go to a foreign country and have a fantastic time without having to worry, but that's not the case. And I think it's better that way, because it really allows you to LIVE in another country instead of just being a visitor. You must find constants in your new city without allowing yourself to fall into a routine. If you fall into a routine, then you will never experience spontaneity like biking through the nearby towns and villages just to see a different place or challenging yourself to swim in every body of water you see, no matter how cold they are.
Going abroad made me more mature and allowed me to solidify what I want for my future.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Adventures Abroad

Freiburg is an amazing city which has many different aspects to offer. It is also very international and is extremely close to France and Switzerland. I really liked the outdoor activities that Freiburg had to offer. Hiking, swimming, rock climbing, and more. The program was great because it fit well into my major, but the classes were lacking rigor. I would say that this is good for a study abroad program though. The social life was great, but it was hard to integrate into german culture because we didn't have that many interactions with german students. I had two tandem/speaking partners which at least allowed me to get to know a few more german people better. I would highly recommend having a tandem partner. If you are there to learn german I would suggest branching off from the people in your program because otherwise you will just end up hanging out with only americans. I would say that one of the only major problems would be that there was not any time off to travel within the programs. We had class every day of the week, and only 3 three day weekends which meant that you could only do a 2 day trip anywhere. Another problem is that the classes are very time consuming and are not equally challenging. Overall it was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend everyone to take part in some study abroad program.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Alyssa's review

My time spent in Freiburg, Germany through the Environmental Studies & Sustainability program was a dream come true! Freiburg is a small but lively city that has made vast changes in recent decades to make it one of the most environmentally progressive towns in the world. Learning about the efforts made throughout the region to prioritize environmental and social issues was truly inspiring. I left my time in Freiburg with a broadened perspective and confidence in the possibility for positive change to happen in society.

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    4

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Community

    6

A time of independence

Studying Abroad was a time that I will never forget. It was filled with mixed emotions, but it was all a growing experience that I will be able to look back on for the rest of my life and realize, "hey, I went to Europe not knowing anyone in my program, going to a country where I did not speak the language in the slightest, and I survived with flying colors." People may think that studying abroad is a time to just take advantage of Europe and the different culture it has to offer, but it is also about finding yourself and what matters to you most when you're in a place far away from home and your comfort zone.