First, a cultural note: In Freiburg, people don’t jaywalk, and they definitely don’t get kaffe to go.
With over 20,000 students at the University of Freiburg alone, there’s a housing crunch in this city, said J&RS student advisor Edward Fernbach. When the exchange program began, the Berklee students had to stay in a hotel—a very nice hotel, true, but a semester is kind of a long time for that. Fortunately, J&RS discovered “the Goethe”: the dorm of the Goethe-Institut, where students come from all over the world to learn German. It’s just a few blocks from the Jazz & Rock Schulen.
I’m having a few technical issues so a thousand words* will have to substitute for a photo.
* (Not really 1,000.)
Berklee student Drew Wendt showed me his dorm room, which has a twin bed, a desk, a wardrobe, a bookshelf, and a private bathroom. There is a bike room packed with bikes, and a laundry that may or may not be better than the public laundromat down the street. The Goethe provides a workout room with a grand seven-foot climbing wall. Barely anyone from Berklee uses it, Drew said, but it’s inspired some people to join a real gym. The Berklee students are grouped into two hallways—one with nicer views, the other with internet access. (The less-nice view is of cute little bungalows with plant-festooned back patios. Not too shabby.)
Berklee and Goethe students spend hours in the first-floor common room (second floor in U.S. parlance) cooking, Skyping friends and family, watching YouTube videos, flipping bottle caps, and debating which of the block’s three doner kebap houses is the best. The Ali Baba has the edge, though students are a little bummed it’s running low on the pizza boxes that show a guy who looks exactly like George Clooney.
At the Goethe, “There’s people from everywhere,” said voice principal Tara Porter. She’s spending time with a group of girls from Russia, Holland, and Brazil. “It blows my mind. It’s so fun.”
To a visitor, the Berklee group seems pretty tight. Sure, “we get on each other’s nerves,” Tara said, but super-small classes and the dorm living create camaraderie.
More news about those small classes as events. . . well, you get the drill.