Taking on Germany's Green City

Month: April 2019

First Unikurs!

Hi, everyone!

I had my first seminar at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg on Thursday. It was very interesting. In case I didn’t mention it in a previous blog post, the name of the course (translated into English) is Sociological Explanations of Xenophobia and Racism. Pretty deep, right? I decided to take this course because both racism and xenophobia have taken the world by the throat. As a person of color currently living in a foreign country, both of these are especially important.  It will also be interesting learning the German terms for things involving race, as this is something that I have struggled with as a German learner.  It’s a bit intimidating, though… courses at the university are with native speakers, not other American students. This affects a few things. For example, the professors speak more quickly in comparison with the professors at IES. The reading material is also for native speakers, so the level is considerably higher. Despite these differences, I am looking forward to taking this class. I actually met another international student who’s taking the course; she’s from Finland and is part of the EU’s Erasmus program. There are two people of color in the class (including myself), so I am interested in seeing how classroom discussions play out.

Aside from the course, I finally have tandem partners for all of the languages I can speak: German, Italian, and French. This is excellent news because I’ll have people to practice with on a regular basis! There are lots of French people and Italians in Freiburg because of the city’s close proximity to the French border as well as the fact that Italians come to Germany looking for work. I also have an interview for my internship at the Rotteck Gymnasium (that’s like a high school) on Monday. Wish me luck!

Until next week!

Derrick 🙂



Still in the Osterpause… Zürich!

Hi, everyone! 🙂

I’m in Zurich! While it isn’t the capital of Switzerland, this is its largest city. Being here has been interesting for me linguistically, since I can speak three of the languages that are spoken here: German, French and Italian. Zurich is a part of the country that speaks Swiss German, but most business is conducted in High German (the kind I speak). All signs and announcements are provided in all of these languages – along with English, of course.

Zurich is a very beautiful city that’s also quite clean. However, like everywhere else in Switzerland, things here are incredibly expensive. This is by no means an exaggeration. It’s due to the higher cost of living which is meant to maintain the country’s high quality of life  – Switzerland has one of the highest living standards in the world. While Switzerland’s currency is officially the Swiss Franc, most (if not all) places accept the Euro. This is due to the fact that the country benefits greatly from the economic aspects of the European Union (without becoming a member, of course).

I got to visit the Landesmuseum, and there was a really cool exhibition called Sündenbock (“Scapegoat”). Essentially, the exhibitionist wanted to show us that scapegoats have been used throughout human history – from ritual sacrifices to blaming foreigners for domestic political issues. I found this very interesting because in today’s political climate scapegoats are becoming more and more of a trend.

I leave tomorrow morning for Freiburg. Monday also starts my Instagram Takeover, so be sure to check that out!

Until next week!


I’m in London!

Hi, everyone! 🙂

Apologies for late post. I am currently in London because of our Easter break. I left Freiburg bright and early Friday morning. Getting here was surprisingly smooth, but there were multiple legs involved in getting here. I had to book a taxi to take me to Freiburg’s main train station, which serves as the port of departure for the FlixBus  to Basel-Mulhouse Airport. The flight was very quick (under two hours), but then I had to take the train from London Gatwick Airport as well as the Underground in order to reach my friend’s apartment in Shoreditch.

London has been really nice so far, even though it does feel a bit weird having to speak English all the time. I’ve been forcing myself to read things in German and text my German friends sometimes so that my brain stays locked into “German mode”. Zurich will be better since everyone there can speak German, though it is an entirely different dialect. We went to Westminster yesterday, and today we visited Brick Lane, a very busy market that’s only open on Sundays. It’s interesting that things here in London are open on Sunday; in Germany, people tend to do all of their shopping on Saturday because every business is closed (or has restricted hours) on Sundays.

I landed an interview for an internship position I applied for at a school in Freiburg. That’ll take place on Monday the 29th, so I’m really looking forward to it. Wish me luck!

I’ll be back next week with another post. Thanks for reading!

Derrick 🙂

A Walk Along the Dreisam and Snow in April… And an Uni Course! :)

Hallo, lovely readers!

On Monday of this week, my tandem partner and I went for a walk along the Dreisam, a 29 km long river which flows through the city. It was a beautiful and sunny day; it felt like spring was finally here (even though it technically has been here for a bit, the weather has been questionable). We happened to come across a spot in the Wiehre district where a lot of graffiti was on display. Another thing that I noticed was that homeless people tend to sleep near the river; homelessness is something that I normally wouldn’t associate with Germany considering how big the country’s social safety net is. Over the past week, I have learned quite a bit from Germans about the country’s social issues.

We got snow on Thursday… and no, it wasn’t a light snow shower! Some of the snowflakes were oppressively large. It was very difficult getting up that morning for my 9 am German class, but I forced myself to deal with it. It’s amazing how much the weather can fluctuate here; it reminds me a lot of Chicago (my hometown). On Friday, I met up with another tandem partner — but for Italian! Italian is actually my second language, but I never get the opportunity to practice with a native speaker back in the States. It was a lot of fun!

I also happened to get accepted into a course at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. It was kind of nerve-wracking because I had to send a very over-the-top formal email asking to join the course, but I got a very quick and pleasant response from the Dozent (instructor, not always a professor) The name of the course (translated from German) is “Sociological Explanations of Xenophobia and Racism”. Both of these topics are very much relevant in the United States as well as in Germany; I hope that this seminar will teach me some new things as well as give me the opportunity to share my own perspective as a person of color from the United States. Due to their country’s history, Germans tend not to discuss racism/related topics in everyday life. However, there are plenty of ethnic minorities who identify as Germans; such conversations simply need to be had.  can have these sorts of discussions with my flatmates because all of them are very much into social justice, but it will be interesting to see what other Germans have to say about their country’s politics where race and ethnicity are concerned.

Other than that, I’m looking forward to the Osterpause (Easter break), because I’ll be visiting London and Zurich!

I’ll be back next week with another update. Tschüss and thanks for reading!

Derrick 🙂


A snowy day at Münsterplatz

Graffiti in Wiehre

  The Dreisam

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