Who am I, what does it mean to be from where I’m from, and how do I explain that to people who are not from the U.S.?” — Kirsten Koehler

I think it’s safe to say that Kirsten Koehler enjoys Germany, and learning German. You’d have to, to spend 11 months there. 

Kirsten lived in the town of Freiburg where she was able to take day trips to France and Switzerland. She taught, she interned, she learned, and she walks us through every step of the way in this detailed tale of a year in Freiburg, Germany… PROST! 


  • Spending a year in Germany [1:11]
  • Knowing she wanted to study abroad from the start [1:47]
  • Getting the funding to study abroad for a year [3:30]
    • Madison/Freiburg sister city stipend for housing
    • “It was cheaper for me to go to Germany than it was for me to stay on UW-Madison’s campus”
  • Getting prepared to stay for an entire year [5:14]
    • Making the decision to come home in the middle
  • Coincidentally knowing someone who was going through the same program [6:31]
  • Average day in the life in Freiburg [7:53]
    • A wohngemeinschaft, or, WG
      • “If a dorm room were connected to a hallway with four other dorm rooms”
    • Having the opportunity to take classes through many different schools
    • University of Freiburg
    • Meeting new people and making new friends
  • The places Kirsten visited during her 11 months in Europe [13:18]
    • France and Switzerland in a day
    • The intricacies of the trains and buses in western Europe
    • Meeting up with a friend from Scotland
  • Getting off to a rocky start (Chicago to Freiburg) [16:23]
    • “The most abrupt transition to Germany that I could’ve imagined”
  • German Cuisine with a gastarbeiter (guest worker) influence [21:26]
    • Turkey, Italy Yugoslavia, Greece
    • “I’d always get the falafel delicious burrito with everything”
  • How living in Germany for 11 months affected Kirsten’s view of the world [23:33]
    • Comparing her German before and after; “it didn’t click like it does now”
    • Explaining the U.S. politics to Europeans
  • Future plans & why Kirsten chose to attend UW-Madison [26:05]
    • Realizing the campus was different than what she was used to after taking the tour
  • Recommendations [28:48]
  • Advice if you’re thinking about studying abroad [31:22]
    • “Don’t do it if you’re looking for an extended vacation”
  • Interning at a gimnasium as an English language teaching assistant [34:00]
  • Alpadia [36:20]

“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.” – Amy Chua

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