Willkommen to Germany and the European Union

Posted on September 14th, 2009 by

Guten Tag Friends, Family, Faculty, Gusties, and those interested in worldly travels,

My name is Eric Cronin and I am a junior at Gustavus but this Fall of 2009 I am studying in Freiburg, Germany which is a city in southwest Germany in the Black Forest.  I am one of three Gustavus students who happen to be on my study abroad program, as we all just happen to be going on the same program. For those die hard blog followers, I am sorry for joining my Gustavus students in their blogging endeavours so late comparatively, but I assure you all I hope to and will make up for starting late in the long run with my attempt at being Minnesota boy in the German Black forest with adventures across Europe.  

 For this Fall semester, I am studying in Freiburg under the Institute for the International Education of Students (or IES Abroad) studying the European Union and their policies, history, politics, and cultural aspects.  Such a topic fits perfectly for this engaged Gustie with my history major with a geography minor so I can dive right into the history and geography of Germany and the European Union.  For those of you unfamiliar with the European Union, it is a large political and economic community or union of 27 European countries (See the map below as the green countries are in the European Union). The Union is committed to the regional integration of Europe by making the economies and governmental policies of European countries more open and free trade like.  Their goals are for Peace and Prosperity in Europe (pretty high ideals, granted they don’t have have five core values, but I suppose to have those they have to have been started by the Swedes and not the French and Germans).  Of course, there is no way to describe how incredible this experience has been over a blog post, while I tried with this extensive first post to get you all up to speed faster than it takes to go down a snowy Old Main Hill on a Caf tray, so here is my attempt at that.  Also to help to catalog my travels, I have a photo album service through Picasa on Google for you to peruse the numerous photos I have taken and the website is: http://picasaweb.google.com/papaericcronin/

Once again, I must express my apologies for not getting started on this blog earlier, as I just signed up to do this on September 10th on a whim, so for those who wanted to get the anxious lead up to my flight and the preparing to leave nerves, I must disappoint you as I have been in Germany for the last two weeks. To catch you all up, I flew out from Minneapolis at 11:30AM on Northwest on Friday August 28th, with a short layover in Detroit then I was off on a Delta/Northwest flight at 5:20PM so that I could arrive in Frankfurt at 7:40AM after a nine hour flight. The flight was great, first they served us peanuts and soda, then later they served us dinner and breakfast. All of which were surprising really good for airline food, those jokes about airplane food might not be so true anymore after all. The flight had radio music channels we could listen too on our chair screens and we go to watch movies and TV shows on the screens to all for free too all good for someone going to FREIburg (Frei means free)!

Upon arriving in Frankfurt, after I got my bag, I got a cab to my hotel and ventured into the great unknown. The cab driver was a friendly man from Afghanistan who asked me how the U.S. economy was doing now, almost right after I said where I was from and what brought me to Germany, I guess I really do need to be an informed American when going abroad, but it pays to have a good liberal arts education as I could formulate a reasoned argument for him, thanks blue book essay test, I guess they have real world applications.  The taxi brought to to Frankfurt where I would be for the next three days (over the weekend) until I would go by train to Freiburg on September 1st to being my true studies and not just a sight seeing excursion.  Again for those who desire more from a blog, I promise that I will get to more detailed retellings of my Frankfurt days and the rest of my first two weeks in Freiburg as soon as I have time. 

But now I must tell you more about my IES European Union program. As I said I study the Politics, policies, history, cultures, migrations, and economics of the European Union, with most of it going toward my Gustavus degree to boot, so studying abroad has been ideal for me academically. I will tell you more about classes and study like that in later posts.  What you might care to know is that because of its focus on the European Union which deals with all of European and whose Democratic institutions and government bodies are through out the continent, my program does extensive traveling, so that means a lot of different places to see and read about for you and me.  For example so far we went hiking in the Black Forest near Freiburg for a Sunday Afternoon and yesterday (Sunday) we went to the Lake of Konstanz on the German, Swiss and Austrian Borders for an afternoon at a castle on the lake and in the towns of Meersbourg and Koinstanz. 

But we also do big trips across Europe like I will be going to Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, and Strausbourg to see the Governmental institutions of the E.U., and then to Southwestern Europe to Andorra (small country between France and Spain), Italy, and Spain to study themes of regionalism and migration. But first we go to Berlin and the Baltic countries which means Berlin and the Riga, the capital of Latvia on the Baltic Sea (under Finland) starting tomorrow on September 15th until I return from the East on the 20th. I hope to have tales to tell of the wonders of Berlin and Eastern Europe  In Berlin, I meet with 3 representatives, visit the Brandenburg Gate, The Topography of Terror Museum and the Bundersrat which is the German Parliament, and meet a Turkish ambassador for a class, then in Riga we see the government and talk to some officials which should be good because Latvia is undergoing big  governmental changes as the economic collapse caused big recession there and even riots apparently.  So Berlin will be civil and cool and Riga edgy and interesting.  With all of my travels I hope to keep you up to date on things when I can, but as you see I am a little behind on this blogging experience and have a back log of stories to tell (assuming there exists a desire to tell, read,  and hear them)

  But anywho, should it interest you to learn more about my program from a general standpoint, here is the website for my program: https://www.iesabroad.org/IES/Programs/EuropeanUnion/EuropeanUnion/europeanUnion.html

But in conclusion (of this post at least, can you tell I am a liberal arts student well versed in the writing of long papers), I will keep this updated when I can get around to it otherwise follow my photo albums online at http://picasaweb.google.com/papaericcronin/ for those who desire visual confirmation that I am actually in Germany and not just sitting in the Gustavus Marketplace between classes letting my imagination run wild. 

So for the first post, this is Eric Cronin ’11 saying “Auf Wiedersehen!”



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