I truly think time has never gone faster in my life, which was surprising because I’ve been in college for a while. I’ve experienced the semester as a length of time. My theory is that the concept of 5 months abroad sounds a lot more intimidating and life changing and all-encompassing than it actually is, but simultaneously (because it feels like re-starting college) I think I somehow expected it to last 4 years. But it won’t and soon I suspect it’ll feel like a strange dream.

Again, this isn’t to say I haven’t changed or had amazing experiences and learned about myself and accomplished what I come here to do. It’s just unbelievable that I’ll be leaving in exactly a week and I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ll miss as well: Laugenbrötchen, my room and its windows and beautiful light and hardwood floors, my friends & meeting new people so often.

Recently, I went to Hohenzollern and then up north to the Göttingen/Hannover area. Seeing Hohenzollern from afar over the hills and on the train and then finally being able to walk up to it, slowly curving around its passages, was my favorite part. For those counting at home, this brings my castle count to 5 (Tübingen, Heidelberg, Prague, Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern)!

I stayed with my former exchange partner near Göttingen and we went to Hannover for the day to enjoy touristy activities. Highly recommend Herrenhäuser Gärten! We also took lots of walks with her dog, made pizza, laughed through a few bad sci fi movies and watched the WM finale. I’m glad I had the opportunity to see her again at the end of my trip, because I helped me think about how much I’ve grown since I was first there 4 years ago.

My final weekend in Tübingen has consisted of going out to Kuckuck once more, using up the Gutscheine from the booklet that the city gives you, taking finals and writing papers.


It’s starting to feel like the end of the semester and everyone around me seems to be working hard and reflecting on how they feel about still being abroad. I definitely came with the intention of viewing this like a trial period, to see if I’d like to return and stay/study here for an extended period of time. At the moment, I can wholeheartedly say yes, but I’m unsure if that’s just because my routine here has become very normal. However, I don’t really miss America in general. Part of this probably stems from the fact that Germany isn’t all that different in terms of fundamental ways of living (food, apartment, grocery shopping). I’d also guess that I’m somewhat used to keeping in touch with my family from afar, so it’s fairly irrelevant whether I’m 2 hours away or across the ocean. Certainly I miss my friends, but I almost wish they were here in Tübingen, instead of wishing I was in America with them. And I really miss my dog, even more than I knew I would.

That said, I’m really excited to return to Mount Holyoke specifically, because Tübingen classes, while similar, have different standards and less work (which is fun until you’re worried you’ve forgotten how to write). I’ve noticed here how appreciative I am of what my MHC classes have taught me and how I can apply my writing skills.

Lately I have been noticing that I’m better at standing up for myself (in German, no less)! I got overcharged for nectarines and went back and talked to the information desk, which resulted in my money being returned. Instead of giving up when I lost my student ID card, I went around and asked at desks in the library until I found it. I recently went to Freiburg for the day by myself and talked to new people. None of this would have been possible for me the first time I went to Germany. I feel like the girl on month 3 of her study abroad program in this Chris Fleming video. Grüß Gott! Radler ist kein Alkohol!

June has been pretty laid back in terms of travel for me; the only major trip has been to the Donautal with StudIT, which was great. I highly recommend signing up for their emails so you know which trips you should keep an eye out for. It was the perfect amount of time to spend on an outdoors trip, not too exhausting, but definitely an adventure. We hiked among and around cliffs and then the next day canoed 21 kilometers! Our canoe only flipped once (more than some you may say, but an achievement none the less). And we got to enjoy a German breakfast spread staying at the hostel, which I’m always thankful for.  I’d also highly recommend the Schloss Sigmaringen! It was the first furnished castle I’d been to here and just as opulent as you’d expect.

In June I also did a day of solo travel to Freiburg on the day of their CSD. It was a cool realization that when traveling on your own, you’re the only one voting on the decisions! After so much group travel it was really different, even if only for a day. I went to the Alter Friedhof to visit the famous ‘schlafende Schöne aus Stein’, got ice cream, hung out in Platz der Alter Synagogue and talked to a few Freiburg students, one of whom was from Brazil and the other from Germany. The Freiburg library was a beautiful and comfy place to relax and charge my phone before my FlixBus back that night.


I’ve continued to explore both across borders and close to home in May. A few activities that I discovered in Tübingen:


The first Tübingen festival I’ve been! A friend and I strolled around the city after dark, went up to the Schloss to try on VR goggles and see exhibits, went to a performance art piece hosted by Café Haag, went to the Stadtmusuem and watched a fire dance performance. It was great German practice and definitely motivated me to keep an eye out for more festival opportunities close to home here. We got a wristband that gave us access to everything for 9 Euro, but most of the things we ended up seeing were actually free or donation based, so I recommend checking out the schedule and deciding if you want to buy the wristband or not. Attending Kulturnacht also made me wish I had more time when I was in Western Mass to attend similar events. There’s always something happening in university towns, no matter where you are in the world.

Fields & Tierheim & Österberg   

Although not a cohesive “event” my friend and I took a spontaneous adventure around Tübingen. We started out deciding to find an animal shelter, which led to a walk in the lush fields. After grabbing ice cream in the Altstadt we continued our adventure as both of us realized we’d never been inside the Stiftskirche, despite being here for months! We then hiked up to the Österberg area, where we saw the various Verein houses. I’m curious to look into how similar these are to American frat houses – They seem extravagant and old fashioned and probably have similar problems to the American ones, unfortunately.


Before the biggest event of the season, my friends and I made brunch with egg casserole, croissants and mimosas (pretty cheap and feeds a lot of people). The Stocherkahnrennen lived up to expectations and was absolutely packed with people. If we hadn’t eaten before, I’d recommend getting there early and picnicking on the banks of the Neckar. Besides the actual race, the costume race was fun and goofy too!

 Trip with Shanon

While I’ve honestly been struggling with my feelings about not traveling as much as I’ve seen other study abroad students do, my trip to Prague made me glad I was really focusing on what I wanted to see (for my own sake). Coupled with an opportunity to show off Tübingen to a friend from home, I had a perfect Pfingstferien. Shano arrived on Saturday, we grocery shopped (don’t do this on Saturday night! There was no more oatmeal at Edekal!) and promptly collapsed after eating an enormous amount of watermelon.

Unfortunately, as it’s Germany (maybe specifically Baden Wurttemberg), there’s an incessant number of holidays and both Sunday and Monday were Feiertage. We still managed to see Tübingen, since the Schloss and Stadmusuem are open and ice cream is pretty available no matter what day. We also went to Bebenhausen of course! On Monday we walked around the fields across the road from FV, then had a bread filled picnic in the park by the Hauptbahnhof. Schwarzes Schaf was also a must (get the peach iced tea or peach smoothie) and then we went to Neckarmueller to have some traditional German food.

Tuesday was the first time I’d been to Stuttgart and we fit a ton in! I’ve always wanted to go the Stadtbibliothek (it’s on all the listicles of best libraries, unsurprisingly!) I read Woolf’s Orlando in German with my English copy alongside me. As the rain started to pour, we ducked into the National Musuem, which had free entry to permanent exhibits, including one massive one that took you through the history of Baden-Württemberg from the Stone Age to the present. Afterwards, we unexpectedly found the main indoor market in Stuttgart and cobbled together a cool meal of bread, herbed Frischkäse and strawberries and ate it on the steps of a church.

On our route to Prague, I had my first FlixBus difficulties. We chose to take an overnight bus, which I’m still glad we did, but it was over an hour later, causing us to wait at the Hauptbahnhof in the middle of the night, and then almost miss our connection in Stuttgart.

While in Prague, we saw the Old Town, got a student pass to Prag Castle/St. Vitus Cathedral/Golden Lane, visited the free National Gallery, the Czech Music Museum and walked over the Charles Bridge every night. We also took a free tour of the city, visited the Jewish Quarter, Strahov Monastary, Letna Park, and unexpectedly walked up to Petrin Hill and the gorgeous rose garden, saw a concert in the Waldstein Palace gardens, and took a ton of pictures at the Dripstone Wall. In regard to food, we went everywhere from an open farmer’s market, a Vinothek with 1 Euro wine, and cute homemade pasta place to an endearingly atmospheric (read: filled with only old Czech men) pub.

As soon as we got there, we grabbed maps, as we knew even less than we thought we did. And, although we both rolled our eyes a map emblazoned “Prague for young travelers” it turned out to be super and we went to quite a few of the places!! We spent all four days on our feet exploring the city, but I’d go back in a heartbeat. I’d love to experience it (& Germany) in the winter.


I spent a significant portion of May focusing on traveling in Germany and exploring Tübingen. It’s nice to know that even though I’ve been here for a few months, there’s still lots to discover and check off my list. I still haven’t made it to the Freibad or been on a Stocherkahn so those are goals for the next couple weeks! Study abroad isn’t all big dramatic RyanAir flights, which is actually very nice.

A group of friends and I went to Heidelberg for an overnight, which included taking a boat cruise, climbing up to the Philosophenweg and checking out the castle. We had wonderful weather the whole time and it was a not too stressful trip, only a FlixBus ride away. Shorter trips are better when you’re with a large group of people (the decisions and opinions just multiply!!) This time, our hostel was part of the Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk network/chain, which means that you have to purchase a membership card for a small fee when you first stay with them, but the rooms are great and the free breakfast is amazing and extensive.

[Although I mainly use this blog to describe my own, lighthearted personal experiences, it’s irresponsible to not note their historical and cultural context. While I was looking up the name of the DJH just now for this post, I learned (unsurprisingly) of its merger with Hitler Youth in 1933. The seeming benignness of a hosteling association/outdoors group functions as a reminder of how fascism and anti-Semitism can take root in “ordinary” institutions.]

The next weekend, we went to Frühlingsfest in Stuttgart. Through purchasing the tickets as a group at the Hbf, our round trip cost 15 euros. The similarities between Frühlingsfest and American state fairs/carnivals were pretty apparent, with vendors hawking fried food and somewhat suspicious looking rides. I had Krauterwurst, a type of fried dough with Nutella and went on an 80m meter high chair swing ride. The only striking difference was the prevalence of alcohol, which probably wouldn’t fly in the US! Before I got to Germany I’d seen pictures of other study abroad students wearing dirndls and drinking liters of beer, which to be perfectly honest, I thought was cliché and Tired. However, I think because we were in Stuttgart (not München or similar) and it was Frühlingsfest (not Oktoberfest), it was a little different and certainly mainly populated by German tourists, rather than Americans. Because we also did our tent & mass of beer experience before evening, it was less hectic and stereotypical.

I also used the beginning of May to brainstorm everything else I want to do while I’m here. I’m back in contact with my old exchange partner, a friend from home came to visit over spring break and I’m hoping to see a friend that goes to school in England.


Classes have officially begun just as the trees and bushes are blooming all over Tübingen! This semester I’m taking 5 classes, two Advanced English Proseminare and three Deutsch als Fremdsprache Kurse at level B2. My DaF courses (Franz Kafka: Kurzprosa, Migrations-Literatur, und Grammatik und Konversation) have not yet begun, and I anticipate they’ll have more busy work/smaller projects. While this is one more course than I would typically take at Mount Holyoke, the courses only meet once a week, allowing for much more unstructured time to finish work or picnic outside with friends.

Upon entering “Homosexuality and Homophobia in Gothic Fiction,” the class appeared eerily similar to the every other English seminar I’ve taken. Students greeted each other, pulled out their notebooks and chatted while we waited for the lecturer to arrive. Apart from the fact that I was introducing myself to my neighbor in German, it could have been an ordinary interaction on the first day of a course at Mount Holyoke. The structure of the first class was also familiar; we went over the syllabus and then did a quick group close reading, on a text that none of us had prepared beforehand. It definitely makes a difference that the course was a smaller sized seminar and ultimately in this situation it didn’t matter that it was a large, coed research university versus my small historically women’s liberal art’s college.

At over one month in, I’m glad I’m interacting with a few German students as well. Previously it was impressed on me that Germans general kept their class life and personal life separate, but I haven’t found this to be the case so far. My presentation group and I formed quickly, despite the fact that I was an exchange student. Although I mostly speak English with my friends from STARTKurs, I’ve really been trying to only speak German to others, at least when I first meet them.

A number of small things about the education system have been surprising to me. To my horror, I discovered that my presentation partners had never heard of Google Docs!! This seems to belay a more intense focus on privacy in Germany, even among young people. I’m used to this wariness from older people, but it was pretty strange to hear from my classmates!

On a more general level, I feel like it’s very difficult to tell what I have learned or become accustomed to in Germany, since my transition has been rather gradual. I’m having a hard time separating myself from what I’m experiencing in the moment, which has been helpful, but also lends itself less to reflection. It’s definitely true that things become routine quite quickly.


STARTKurs occupied the majority of March and gave me some much needed time to settle in. After the multiple choice + speaking assessment (don’t stress about it!) I was placed in the 4th class, along with people who had been speaking German their entire lives, but also others who had only been taking it 2 years. This diversity of experience really helped me and ensured that we learned well collaboratively. Although I managed to nail down some aspects of grammar that had always been hazy for me, the most helpful part of the course was meeting and talking to new people. I recommend that you spend the lunch and breakfast break chatting with others over a Schokocroissant. I know plenty of people who are now traveling during the break between STARTKurs and the semester with people they met in the course.


The UMass orientation in the Black Forest was beautiful, filled with Apfelschorle, mountains and cats. It was also nice to meet up with a fellow Mount Holyoke student studying in Heidelberg. This trip also forced to me to solidify my course schedule and draft emails to professors. Registration for classes differs depending on the type of course. In my case, I was aiming for enrollment in 2 English literature courses, which already appeared pretty full on CAMPUS (the University system). However, I simply emailed the instructors, explaining why I wanted to take the course and how my background prepared me, and both admitted me. Instructors often keep open places in their courses for international students, or at least sympathize with the fact that you can’t register at the same time as everyone else. I am also taking 3 courses in the Deutsch als Fremdsprache department, which requires a different method of registration (explained in STARTKurs).


Following STARTKurs, I left Tübingen to travel to Berlin with a friend from Mount Holyoke who is studying abroad in Greece. We stayed in a hostel (8 bed room!) in Mitte, and made it a goal to do as many free activities as possible. We visited Musuem Knoblauchhaus, took an architecture tour of the Bauhaus Archiv (only free because they are closing for renovation soon), walked around Alexanderplatz, and hit up the Flohmarket am Mauerpark, among other excursions. Although it was Easter weekend, we still found lots to do. Even though I don’t know Berlin well, it was fun to show my friend a German city and use my language knowledge to help us get around.

We then took RyanAir to Athens, where we stayed at her apartment for a few days, before spending Greek Orthodox Easter weekend on the island of Syros.  Although it admittedly isn’t the cheapest destination to fly to from Germany, Greece was amazing, nostalgic (my mother’s family is Greek) and very special to me. If you by chance have somewhere to stay in Athens, I highly recommend it, especially in early April, when it is still the shoulder season, but so warm (70s F°!!). After braving the snow and sleet in Berlin, it was a welcome change. In Athens, you can also get into the Acropolis for free with your Universität Tübingen ID (it usually costs 20 Euro!).

Now I’m back in Tübingen (after flying RyanAir back to Frankfurt, then a FlixBus), gearing up for classes and keeping connected with Mount Holyoke through planning my senior fall.


At this point, I’ve already been in Tübingen over a month, but I wanted to post about my arrival, just to give an idea of both chronological and emotional progression! I’ve also been thinking about what I want to achieve with this blog and although it is helpful to chart my own experience, above all I want it to be a possible resource for other international students coming to Tübingen. Honestly, I spent a lot of time scouring other UMass study abroad blogs for Tübingen and all of the little details were so helpful, since students often know what other students are interested in.

To detail my arrival:

I would second other advice that tells you to arrive with other students from UMass also traveling to Tübingen (or other 5 college students, in my case). After being on the go for over 12 hours, things start to get a little confusing and it’s nice to have someone else to lean on. Our plane was actually delayed over the weekend, due to a huge storm in Ireland, so I’d had some extra time to consider what I needed to pack. I was really happy I brought a cheap router (TP link from Amazon) and also glad that I had a few snacks.  If you plan to take the bus right when you get to Tübingen make sure you have coins!!

Once we actually got underway, we flew first to Dublin and then to Frankfurt (much cheaper than Stuttgart, although takes longer to get to Tübingen). From Frankfurt we took an ICE train to Stuttgart (booked approx. 5 days in advance? We also got the FlexPreis ticket, but I’ve since used Spar Preis and it’s worked out fine), then a regional train from Stuttgart to Tübingen. From the Tübingen Hauptbahnhof, we took a taxi to Fichtenweg 5 (about 14 Euro), where we were met by another UMass student who had been there for a week already. Up to this point, everything had gone well, but it was also around 3 pm.

Since I needed to get my keys from the Hausmeister in the Französisches Viertel before 4, I was practically pushed onto the bus by the Fichtenweg office who gave me printed directions that did not reflect the actual bus stops. After some emotional distress and riding the bus around town, 4pm passed and I decided to try to make my way back to WHO, where I knew others from the program lived. I eventually found my way back, 50 lb suitcase and all and stayed with another UMass girl for the night.

Based on this, I’d say: If you arrive late/with barely enough time to pick up your keys, don’t try to figure out the bus system immediately after traveling for 12 + hours with no food or sleep! Have realistic expectations for yourself and be a self-advocate. Although it’s the object of study abroad to challenge yourself, defining your limits is also important. Creating a contingency plan also helps you grow!


Just like everyone who’s ever studied abroad before told me, my way to Tübingen has been a year long process paved with endless paperwork and emails. I officially chose to study abroad here last March after considering the University of Leipzig, where my home school, Mount Holyoke, offers a program, as well as the other BW programs offered by UMass.

Conceptually, I’ve been making the decision to commit to study in Germany over and over again since 7th grade, when I started learning the language. Since then, I’ve participated in a  exchange program with a Gymnasium near Göttingen and hit a few major cities on a fairly chaperoned 3 week excursion.  This time, I chose Tübingen as an alternative to my time in Northern Germany and as a chance to undertake a more independent experience. Based on past study abroad blogs and MHC students who also participated in UMass programs, Tübingen seemed like an appropriate place to receive some support while abroad, while also figuring out everything from buying groceries to traveling around Germany by myself.

I know Tübingen is considered a “diverse” university city, but I am curious how this is similar or different from my past liberal arts college experience. Will it be multicultural solely on the surface or in a committed way? How does German academia investigate/parse societal problems? I expect to learn more about methods of “German” literary analysis (as opposed to those favored in  American universities) and to prepare for more independent work.  After browsing the course catalog for English department courses,  I’ve found a lot of fresh, different courses than MHC!  In regard to language learning, I  anticipate my German courses to be immersive and tough, but I’m excited because I feel I’ve plateaued a bit in my language progress in the past year.

While I’m glad to be leaving behind my MHC comfort zone,  I’m also naturally apprehensive about distancing myself from my friends, favorite library study spots and of course, my dog.  I also know I’ll be physically leaving America and our rising populism, but am not naively optimistic and expect a similar political climate in Germany, especially with the right wing AfD’s showing in the polls in the 2017 election. I think it will be interesting to see connections between the countries, but also observe America from a distance.

Essentially, I’m ready to be back in classes and a little nervous in Tübingen, rather than on a long vacation in Massachusetts!