Why did you choose this program?
I chose this program because of its heavy focus on learning the German language and on immersion. I was excited about the opportunity to take 12 hours of German per week and live with a host-family who could also help me learn more about German language and culture. I was also excited about the possibility to be in Berlin, a city which had a tremendous amount of history around every corner.
FU-BEST offered subject courses which allowed me to explore the city I was living in, like "Berlin: History, Memory, Literature" and "Architecture in Berlin". These courses were another driving factor of my choice--as they allowed me to better understand the rich history surrounding me in this amazing city!
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My university handed submitting my application, arranging my payments, housing, and actually most things about the program. I was responsible for choosing my classes, communicating with FU-BEST once I was accepted, and arranging transportation once I got to Berlin.
After I arrived in Berlin, both my university and FU-BEST provided support and helped me get acclimated to the city.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
There are a few things I would suggest that someone going to Berlin for the semester with FU-BEST.
First, do some research on the city before you get there and create a to-do list for yourself. Berlin is a huge city with LOADS of things to do, and if you don't prioritize your time, things will undoubtedly get lost!
Also, jump on volunteer opportunities, or chances to meet Germans. The program is heavy with American students, so immersion is only really possible when you make it happen for yourself.
Lastly, I would really suggest doing a stay with a host-family. It is the best way to immerse yourself in German culture and to help learn the language. Plus, you can make amazing connections with a family!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I had an around 30-minute commute to the University from my homestay. I would make the commute Monday-Thursday every morning for German Language class until 12:00, then eat lunch in the school cafeteria or at the local döner shop.
had one additional subject course a day, Monday-Wednesday, and then I'd either spend some time exploring Berlin with friends or make my way home for dinner with my host family!
Berlin has so much to do, so I loved spending my time exploring coffee shops or going to one of Berlin's many museums (usually for free with a museum card which is included in your program tuition).
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was most nervous to have so much German class every day. I was worried that I would get frustrated and not pick up on the language, or get incredibly bored. I tried to embrace the language and encouraged myself to speak as much German as I could, with my friends, with my host family.
I told my host family that I was nervous and they were incredibly supportive in the learning process, which made me increasingly excited. My host mom and siblings helped me learn new words, and even answered grammar questions that I had about homework if I was confused.
By the end of the program, my host mom told me she thought I could handle a full German program, and that my German had improved tremendously. It was truly such a rewarding experience!
What was the biggest downside of this program?
I think the biggest downside of this program is that the classes are with only American students, which makes it a bit difficult to meet other German students.
It is definitely do-able, and FU-BEST provides tandem partnerships in order to try to facilitate this, but with a busy semester and German students not right beside you, you tend to get stuck in the bubble of American students!
I don't think this part is detrimental enough to say don't do this program, but it is definitely something to consider when you leave for your study abroad experience!