It’s been super busy this past week, and a lot has happened!
First, my Kindle broke. Then my iPod semi-broke. To keep the theme going, I broke my sunglasses… and after that my Internet went out.
So! Now I’m blogging from a cafe with WiFi in one of the malls here in Prague. The malls here seem taller than the ones at home – they’re usually around 4 or 5 floors. This way, they’ll fit better with the compact European buildings.
This has been one of the most amazing times, and greatest of opportunities, of my life. I have absolutely loved my time spent abroad studying Germany and the European Union.
I had the great fortune to be able to travel to lots of different cities and countries this semester – sometimes with my study program and sometimes on my own. I spent so much time making all these great memories and the rest of my time cramming for school…. And sometimes, I didn’t get the chance to blog about it all.
SO! My plan for after I get to the US of A: finish blogging and fill in the gaps. There’s still a lot about study abroad and my experiences that I can’t wait to share with you guys! Stay tuned for….
Recycling in Germany can be precise. It took a while for me to get the hang of it, during which time I started collecting recyclables in my room….
The situation soon got desperate, and it was time to figure out German recycling. It’s especially important here in Freiburg, known for being one of the prominent ‘green’ European cities.
There’s lots of recycling bins outside the dorm. You’ve got your white glass, your brown glass, your green glass, and on the left is the bin for clothes/shoes/fabrics….
Then there’s another set of bins for your paper (Grüne Tonne, or “green bin”), plastics/metals (Gelber Sack, or “yellow bag”), and a catch-all for organic wastes and things that don’t fit in the other bins (Restmülltonne, or “waste bin”).
But the coolest thing about recycling in Germany: returning your bottles where you buy them. Turn your empty bottles back in to the cafes/markets/cafeteria where you bought them, and you’ll get your deposit back! (It’s been around .15-.25 euro cents everywhere I’ve gone).
I get a lot of bottles from the Penny-Markt near my dorm, and they have return machines to scan them….
…and you get a receipt in return to pay towards your next purchase!
The German recycling system is pretty complicated, but all the sorting and the deposit method for bottles really encourages the green initiative – Germany has one of the highest recycling rates in Europe and the world (Eurostat).
The weather is so nice this week in Freiburg! It’s inspiring me to take more walks. Although I usually hop on the tram in the mornings, I like to do the 30 minute walk back to my dorm after classes. I love the sights and smells of springtime Germany in the evening. : )
I’ve talked before about getting around Germany, where the train is definitely my go-to mode of transport. But sometimes I also get the chance to take buses on the autobahn, or German highway.
The interesting thing about the autobahn in the area where I live: no official, federal speed limit! Generally, the advice is to stay under 75 or 80 mph, but it’s a funny feeling never seeing a speed limit sign on the interstate.
Cool fact I learned: Germany has the third longest interstate in the world.
I love riding through the German countryside. And here in Baden–Württemberg, there are always mountains along the horizon in the distance. J’adore. : )
It’s starting to look a lot like springtime around Freiburg. And with the warmer weather, restaurants and cafes are officially using all their outdoor tables. The streets are packed with people enjoying these sunny days. : )
PS – You can find the rest of the ‘Compare and Contrast’ series here.
I got a such a good question on twitter about how I get around Germany that I decided to do a blog post on it!
Within Freiburg, the Straßenbahn, or street trams, are perfect for getting around town. Freiburg has four electric tram lines and they are a major source of transportation for Freiburgers.
The other transportation means of choice are… bicycles! They ‘re everywhere!
For longer trips outside of Freiburg (but still within the Breisgau area between the Rhine river and the Black Forest), the S-bahn, or above-ground regional trains, are great. They run frequently and aren’t too expensive.
And for the longest trips, I usually book my train tickets through bahn.com – the Deutsche Bahn, or German train. DB dominates the train industry in Germany.
Back home in the States, I mostly drive a car to get everywhere. Here in Germany, however, I have no car – but it’s still no trouble getting around. There are plenty of options for ways to travel, and I don’t miss my car at all!
It’s been sooo busy these past few days here in Freiburg! Everyone had a lot of projects, papers, and presentations due this week, which meant a lot of hours at the library and in the computer lab.
Last week, I went to Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris to study institutions of the European Union and enjoy the sights of the cities. We met a lot of interesting people employed by the EU as well as experts from both economic and foreign policy think tanks. I can’t wait to post more about it asap! : )
In the meantime – here’s a photo from Brussels, Belgium….
That’s the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral in the background. We got to spend about half an hour in a small park in front – enjoying the view and the unusually nice weather of Brussels that day.