The past couple weeks have been especially busy with school work. I have spent most of the time in and around Freiburg, with a couple of small trips within an hour or so of the city.
This past Thursday, we had our class trip to Strasbourg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg), home of the European Parliament. It was actually one of the more worthless trips we have been on, as we only saw about ten minutes of Parliament in session, and then were spoken to by a drunk staffer and one of our professors, who also doubles as a Parliamentary Deputy Chief of Staff. The outskirts of Strasbourg strongly remind me of East St. Louis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_St._Louis). That isn't to say that the trip was a total waste. The center of town is quite nice, and the cathedral (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg_Cathedral) is especially impressive. Also, we got all you can eat flammkuchen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flammkuchen).
The Ill River in Strasbourg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ill_River).
The European Parliament
In other immediate travel news, besides a return visit to Schliengen (see a previous post), I went hiking with two of my flatmates - one French and one German - in the Kaiserstuhl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiserstuhl), a hilly area of vinyards on the French border. Usually I go hiking in the Black Forest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_forest), so this was a new direction - slightly north and significantly west instead of Freiburg, rather than the southeast direction I usually explore. It was a nice area, and it definitely felt significantly different than the Black Forest done - almost as though I was walking on the moors sometimes. The weather has been finally warming up some, which has been quite pleasant. I hope it's a trend that continues.
Two pictures from the Kaiserstuhl.
Starting Friday, I am off on our last main trip for the semester - to Krakow, Prague, and Budapest, with a slight afternoon stopover in Bratislava. I'll be gone for a little over a week on that trip, but it should definitely give me some time to see places I haven't otherwise seen. It will definitely be a downgrade weather wise, and I've been told the cities have the potential to run together if one is not careful, but I am quite excited for the trip altogether. I have finalized another trip to eastern Europe as well - to Croatia (specifically Zagreb and Split) for my study days in early May. So between those two trips and the earlier trek to Estonia, I will have seen much of the former Eastern Bloc.
Lastly, just to let everyone know who might not otherwise know, I have decided on my plan for next year. I will be returning to Minnesota and going to the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota for a Masters in Public Policy. After that, the future is unknown once more, but the next two years are set.