FU-BEST logo in blue and yellow

FU-BEST

About

FU-BEST (Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program) is a semester program of Freie Universität Berlin for incoming students based on the American calendar. FU-BEST is offered in Fall (late August through mid-December) and Spring (February through mid-May) and features a combination of university-standard German language instruction on all levels and a large menu of subject courses (primarily in the humanities and social sciences) taught mostly in English. All courses make practical use of Berlin as a resource and have a strong focus on Berlin, Germany, and Europe in their respective subjects. Student services, cultural offerings, a week-long excursion to German and European destinations, and accommodation in homestays or studio apartments add to an intensive, enriching academic and intercultural learning experience for over 300 students each academic year.

Website
www.fubest.org
Founded
2005
Headquarters

Maltseserstraße 74-100, Haus S
12249 Berlin
Germany

Reviews

Default avatar
Grace
10/10

I spent two semester (one full academic year) with FU-BEST in Berlin. I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking for an educational experience presented in a unique perspective (through a German/European lens) and excited to experience everything the city has to offer.
I had an amazing time with FU-BEST and in Germany in general but I know others may be more critical to certain aspects, such as not being on the main Freie University campus or the distant apartment housing (though everything in Berlin takes about an hour to get to, so the commute really not that bad)
The bottom line is this: FU-BEST is a program where YOU shape the experience. You can have an amazing time if you take advantage of the opportunities given and take the initiative to find interesting/entertaining people, places, & events.
Academically, the professors are highly knowledgeable in their subjects and are often former government, diplomatic, scholarship, or business leaders. This means expectations are moderately high; this is not a program where students can just skate by. Professors are passionate about their work and appreciate students who are there to learn and engage with the material.
Socially, the onus is on you to meet people and form relationships, especially with German students. There is a tandem partner program offered but not everyone receives one. If you do, keep up with meeting and practicing your language skills or ask them for advice of fun things to do in Berlin. My tandem partner was one of my closest friends throughout my abroad experience; she helped me with German, brought me to concerts, restaurants, festivals, and parks, and we remained in touch when I returned to the States. If you do not have a tandem partner, don't be afraid to meet the locals by joining a sports team or volunteering. My other close German friends were made out of chance as one of them found my student-ID and sent me a message. Then, through her, I met several other students from the main FU campus. Be open-minded, social, and excited :)
FU-BEST staff is amazing; there is a weekly Thursday get-together for all students which is hosted at different local bar every time. A newsletter is provided monthly with upcoming activities and events. Everyone is helpful, eager to answer any questions, and readily available. I got pink eye on a excursion to Brussels and, within an hour of notifying the program director, was assisted on what to do and where to find a prescription. A handbook is presented at the beginning of every semester filled with relevant information that is very helpful. The program assistants are fun and want to ensure participants are having an exciting, safe, and unique experience. 10/10 for the planning and execution of the overall program administration!
Housing is adequate; the apartments my year were small and cosy and included a single room which had a futon, desk, sink/hot plates, and side bathroom. I participated in a homestay my second semester and LOVED it; my family became an important part of my life and I urge everyone to take the opportunity to live with residents of the city, especially if you are looking to improve your language skills. As I mentioned earlier, transportation can be annoying due to the length of time but the U/S-bahns and busses run on time and are much more functional than other public transportation systems in the U.S. that I've experienced (particularly the DC-metro).
The excursions are fun and allow you to see more of the continent and I would suggest attending most if not all of the activities listed as they are usually fun, informative, and allow you a deeper insight in the countries. I went on the Amsterdam/Brussels and Hamburg/Copenhagen excursions and had a blast but the location options change every semester. This is also a time when you form close bonds with other students in the program so make friends with those in your hostel!
Berlin is a great city and, as a former mayor once famously stated, "poor but sexy". It's cheap for a European capital (much more so than Munich), filled with museums and memorials, has a sizable immigrant population (so lots of diversity), and often considered an anomaly within Germany. People usually love it or very much dislike it and it's definitely not everybody's cup of tea but if you are interested in history, culture, nightlife, politics, and often progressive causes, Berlin is the place for you.
I would return to Berlin and FU-BEST in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
Providing more opportunities to meet locals, perhaps through a Stammtisch where main campus students have an open invitation.
Yes, I recommend
Melanie
10/10

Doing two semesters of FU-BEST in Berlin was one of the best decisions ever! During fall semester, I learned so much about Berlin through FU-BEST, and by spring semester I was able to navigate the city and take full advantage of field trips, excursions, and free time. Fall semester in Berlin included Oktoberfest and Christmas markets, and with the warm weather towards the end of spring, Berlin felt like a completely different city. The program newsletter gave great suggestions for activities throughout the year, provided interesting Friday field trips, and most of all, exciting excursions throughout Germany and surrounding countries. The staff was always so nice and helpful and knew everyone well enough to give personalized advice, help with any issue, or give recommendations. Classes also felt personalized since they were only about 15 students large, so it was easy to get to know the teachers and other students and get the most out of the subject. My favorite thing about the program was that it was small enough to feel personalized, but still large enough that it was always possible to meet someone new and never feel confined. The program has lots of resources that make it possible to meet other Berliners and practice your German. I'm so thankful for everything I learned in my classes and living in Berlin and I highly recommend this program to get the fullest experience of Berlin!

How can this program be improved?
I would've preferred having classes at the Dahlem campus, because Lankwitz felt a bit isolated at times.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lorene
9/10

After doing one semester with the FU-BEST program I decided to take part in the GermanPLUS+ program which offers five courses instructed in German: C2, Academic Writing, Identity, Theater, and Art History. Due to the small class sizes (between 6-12), the dynamic between the students and instructors was able to be personal and fun, making the strenuous workload of the courses much more manageable. I was pleasantly surprised by every one of these courses, as they were almost all topics that were out of my comfort zone, but the material was presented in not only an accessible way to those with no prior knowledge, but also in such an interesting way that it made me want to engage with it. Additionally, the GermanPLUS+ group tends to be a bit more isolated, as we really only take classes with each other, which in my case worked out really well, as I was able to constantly be practicing my German and learning from them (and I got really lucky, because they were all great). By the end I not only felt so much more comfortable in my language skills, but also had such unique experiences I would have otherwise never had.

How can this program be improved?
The time schedule for the courses was the only thing that I wish would have been different. Sometimes it was nice to have the 4.5 hour break to get work done, but often it felt like more of an inconvenience than a good use of time and did not allow for exploring the city which is particularly disappointing for those who are only abroad for one semester.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Nicole
9/10

I spent 2 semesters and my whole Junior year with the FU-BEST program and it was absolutely worth it. Their academic program had so many classes relevant to my International Relations major and their professors are so experienced and well versed in their subject matter. It was so interesting learning about Germany through my history and political classes while being in Germany and being taught by German professors; it put a whole new perspective on things that I had been learning about for years. The program support staff are so friendly and welcoming and you never feel like you're alone in this program; you can go to them with any problem and they will help find a solution. There are excursions that are offered each semester for our week long break and they are a blast and a great bonding experience with other kids on the program. There are plenty of opportunities offered to explore Berlin more as well, and despite it being a huge city you get to see a lot just from the program sets up and events they alert you to. Berlin and Germany are amazing places to visit and I have loved getting to know this place that I can now call a second home.
Lastly, the home stays are an amazing option and mine has become a second family to me. It is a great way to really immerse yourself in the culture, learn more German and live with a family that can teach you so much more than if you lived alone.

How can this program be improved?
For the second level of German that I took the class was rather imbalanced so maybe alter the interview process a bit, at least for the higher level classes.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Megan
8/10

The GermanPlus program was heavily academic based. Students take Academic Writing in German, and a German language class (c2). Additionally, students take three subject courses: art history, identity and politics, and theater. The classes are part of a package and cannot be changed, and they are split from 9-12, and three days a week subject courses are 4:30-7. We did not enjoy the long break in between because it would be late by the time we would get home every night and between classes there wasn’t enough time to go expplore Berlin. People in lower levels of German had the opportunity to explore more, but often did not take it. I feel we would have used the opportunity better and would have been able to practice our german with the locals. Our german definitely improved a lot, as well as pronunciation, due to all of our classes taking place in german. Our assignments were also in german and because of the support provided our by our german teachers, our written assignments (all in German) had to be top notch. Meanwhile, students in lower levels would often pull together their ten-page research papers the night before they were due since they were in English. You will need to invest much more time than for a traditional study abroad program, or than students in lower levels, but you will improve your language skills significantly. The students in our program were pretty isolated from the rest of the FU-BEST program, but we got along very well and spent most of our time together. We were able to practice german together and help each other. There were six girls officially in the GermanPlus program, meaning taking the german courses and subject courses, but there were several other students from the higher levels of german who were able to enroll in the subject courses. They didn’t receive the support we did for our assignments and often didn’t know how to complete assignments without this help. Also, this led to inconsistencies between professors’ grading because these students were sometimes grades easier and not so much on grammar, whereas we had to pay attention to grammar.

How can this program be improved?
The areas that could use the most improvement are definitely those concerning organization; because there were students not in the GermanPlus german courses, the subject courses were affected. Because of our schedule, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore. I think the german identity and politics course could have been more focused, or at least have concluded with germany’s role in present day politics, within Germany, the EU, and the world. I think the nature of the theater course (for which theater visits and written critiques were required) did not lend itself to the Hausarbeit assignment and I would like to see longer critiques instead of a Hausarbeit. The art history course was helpful for learning german history, as the pieces were visual aides to remember the history. I found the theater course the least current/relevant, although I understand that Brecht and Schiller are classic german literature. However, we are from an American program, and will be able to use this information the least. This course could have been replaced with a German version of the green energy course, as that is a current issue our generation is interested in.
Yes, I recommend

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