Freiburg, I Love You, But…

I love the sound of the trams in Freiburg, as long as it isn’t the one I just missed. It reminds me I don’t have to sit in traffic anymore to get where I’m going. No more rush hour stress, but perhaps a little “will I make it to the tram on time” stress.

I love the sound of the church bells chiming in the distance, even though I don’t attend. Whether it’s Sunday morning, faintly ringing, not loud enough to wake me up, or random weekday mornings as I rush to the tram stop on my way to class, they make me feel like I’ve traveled back in time.

I love never having to look for a parking space, but I miss the solitude of driving. Singing badly to cheesy 80s tunes is just a bit less acceptable on a public tram amongst dozens of strangers than within the confines of my car. Especially since there are no cheesy 80s tunes playing in the tram.

I love how easy it is to get around by bicycle, but I’m too afraid of getting run over to ride mine.

I love it when I can understand a few words someone says in German, but I miss the ease of conversation. Speaking in English is just natural to me, a reflex. Although managing to purchase vegetables or cheese from someone who speaks no English is a triumph I’m trying to give more credit to.

I love the simplicity of German food, even though it often lacks the spiciness I crave. We brought spices back from Turkey, chili peppers are now a must for me during my weekly vegetable purchases, and I’m growing a habanero pepper plant on our balcony. I will add spice to the food myself and continue making my own salsa and guacamole.

I love the international mix of new friends I have, but they can’t replace my friends in the US. A gathering can easily involve friends from Germany, New Zealand, Australia, UK, Spain, Canada, and the US, two or three languages spinning around the table. But we don’t have any history yet, no shared memories, no vault of protected secrets.

I love having a second chance at finding my passion, even if I still don’t quite know what I want to be when I grow up. I know I want to do something in travel, something that involves photography. I’m trying to be a writer. I AM A WRITER.

I love how organized things are here, but the language has so many parts that don’t make sense. Trash and recycling are divided up into more categories than I can count, people get antsy if a train is even a minute late, but there are virtually no rules in the language about whether a noun is masculine, feminine or neutral. Der/Die/Das has become a constant battle I fear I will never win.

I love the pace of life here, but it annoys me that almost everything is closed on Sundays.

I love how easy it is to reach a different country or culture, but I still feel confined by the practicalities of my visa-mandated German class and Andy’s office job. Yes, he gets five weeks of vacation a year, more than either of us had in the US, but it’s still never really enough, is it? We were meant to travel, and we WILL find a way to do more.

I love my new life here, though I realize every day that it will take longer than I had hoped to fully adjust to living in Germany. The simplest thing seems much harder, takes more effort. But every day is also progress, and one of these days I won’t have to say, Freiburg, I love you, but