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.