Staff Spotlight: Philip Kurz

Program Manager


Did you study abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

In 2006 I started a BA in North American Studies with a concentration on disaster sociology. At that time I took a lot of classes on Hurricane Katrina and decided to go to New Orleans during my semester abroad in 2008 to experience the city first hand.

I’ve been to the US several times before but New Orleans is a special place. Seeing the perseverance by the people who were still struggling three years after disaster struck but also the pride they have in their city was a very powerful experience I wouldn’t trade in for anything.

When I came back I knew I wanted to help international students experience my home city in a similar way.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I’ve visited a lot of great cities around the US and Europe but I honestly think that my favorite travel memories will always be the week-long excursions that are part of every FU-BEST semester.

Sharing my favorite spots in Paris, Prague or Munich with our students is always a lot of fun and kind of makes you experience everything for the first time again.

Apart from that, my road trip from Seattle to San Diego will always hold a special place in my heart.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I believe Berlin to be both the most underrated and overrated destination in Europe. Most people have a set idea of what their “Berlin experience” is going to be – exploring the extensive EDM and alternative art scene or learning about the rich history that is palpable around every corner.

All of these things are true, but it’s the unconventional and maybe even mundane things that grab you. Having a little BBQ in one of the many parks, riding your bike on the runway of the former Tempelhof Airport in the middle of the city, strolling through a Turkish market – they boil down to one thing.

Compared to other European cities, living in Berlin can be incredibly relaxing and I think that is quite rare.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team?

FU-BEST has been steadily growing so I feel especially proud of the fact that more and more students are interested in participating in our academic program – we seem to be doing some things right. But more importantly, as a native of Berlin, I feel proud that our team is able to provide the students with an unforgettable experience of “my” city.

What is the best story you’ve heard from a return student?

It’s hard to choose, but these stories mostly revolve around people falling in love with Berlin or the people they meet here.

We’ve had high school sweethearts meeting again after years because they, unbeknownst to each other, both applied for FU-BEST – they’re now married and having their first child.

Or a student who came here to be closer to her girlfriend at the time – they’re also married and she enrolled in a Master’s program at a Berlin university.