Written by: D’Arcy Sampson, Chandler Windom, and Nick Phandinh
Thursday, June 9
To start off our first day in Riva San Vitale, we met in the Steger Center’s new classrooms and recapped our experiences of Freiburg’s transportation system. The class discussed how students were surprised by some positive aspects of the system; the car-free areas throughout the city, the integration of nature in living spaces and infrastructure, the widely used tram system, and many of Freiburg’s social dimensions of sustainability. Professor Buehler gave a lecture on “Mode of Choice” transportation, which sparked a discussion on sustainable transport and development. Students split into groups and gave mock presentations on the Vauban neighborhood to hypothetical stakeholders interested in adopting similar policies in the U.S. Each presentation gave us insight into how Freiburg’s policies could be globally applied.
We spent some time in the afternoon working on our first assignment, researching numerous aspects of Freiburg’s sustainable transportation policies and preparing for our individual presentations the following day. After several days of intense traveling and learning, a number of students went to the small beach in Riva San Vitale on Lake Lugano to swim, relax, and enjoy the view from a small dock in the middle of the lake. Some students had dinner at the Steger Center, and a few others tried out their Italian at a local restaurant. We celebrated Nick’s birthday with pizza and paninis; Buone Feste, Nick!
Friday, June 10
We woke up to ringing church bells from the Baptistery across the street, and after breakfast started our individual presentations on our research. Students gave presentations on Freiburg’s transportation, with topics including biking, walking, public transit, housing, accessibility, social equity, and land use. Every presentation was interesting, and students were eager to ask questions to further their understanding. Presentations were followed by our final lecture from Professor Buehler on policy change. We discussed the barriers to policy change in the U.S. and ways to overcome them and create meaningful policy change. Our class had a thought-provoking discussion on if Millennials have different opinions from past generations’ views on sustainability.
After class, some students started the weekend by spending the afternoon at the lake again, relaxing and making friends with some locals. For the evening, we took the tram into Lugano for dinner and a night on the town. We strolled the steep hills to get down to the city center. We ate dinner outside at an Italian/Swiss restaurant, with pizza, pasta, and risotto. Afterwards, we found some live music in a square and enjoyed the waterfront of Lake Lugano.
Our days in class were followed by a free weekend where students split up and traveled all over. Students explored and shopped in Milan, went hiking in the Alps, watched a futball (soccer) match in Lugano, went down a mountain coaster on Monte Tamaro, and saw the castles of Bellinzona. We said goodbye and many thanks to Professor Buehler after an amazing experience in Freiburg and Riva San Vitale, and are excited for the rest of our time with Professor Schenk.