Berlin Consortium for German Studies - BCGS
100% Rating
(16 Reviews)

Berlin Consortium for German Studies - BCGS

The Berlin Consortium for German Studies (U Chicago, Columbia U, Cornell U, Johns Hopkins U, U Pennsylvania, Princeton U) is an academic-year or spring semester program dedicated to helping students improve their German language skills by providing intensive language training, encouraging them to function independently in the German university system, and offering a program that allows them to fully experience German life, customs, and culture.

Students enroll at the Freie Universität Berlin, which hosts a broad variety of departments. Students may also consider taking select courses at other universities in Berlin. Studying in Berlin for the full year opens the possibility of arranging full-time internships during the semester break in February and March.

The equivalent of at least two years of college-level German is required to apply to the program. The academic year program runs from September to July, while the spring semester program runs February to July.

Locations
Europe » Germany » Berlin
Europe » Germany
Subject Areas
Accounting
African Studies
African-American Studies
American Studies
Art History
Asian Studies
Biochemistry
Chemistry
Communications
Conflict Studies
Cultural Studies
Earth Sciences
East Asian Studies
Ecology
Economics
European Studies
Finance
Geography
Geology
Global Studies
Health Sciences
Hispanic Studies
History
International Relations
Latin American Studies
Liberal Arts
Life Sciences
Meteorology
Middle Eastern Studies
Natural Sciences
Peace Studies
Philosophy
Physics
Political Science
Religious Studies
Theology
U.S. Studies
Women's Studies
Degree Level
Bachelors
Timeframe
Academic Year
Spring
Accommodation
Apartment
Host Family
Hostel
Language
German
Steps
Online Application
Writing Sample
Statement of Purpose
Official Transcripts
Letters of Recommendation
Language Requirement
GPA Requirement
Health Requirement
Visa Requirement
Starting Price
$15,000.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
BCGS member students (U Chicago, Columbia U, Cornell U, Johns Hopkins U, U Pennsylvania, Princeton U, U Notre Dame, Vassar College) pay tuition and fees to their home institutions. Financial aid, with the exception of federal work study, may be applied to study overseas.

Visiting students pay tuition to Columbia University. Visiting students should consult with their home institutions to see whether their financial aid is transferable to the BCGS program.

BCGS member students: Home-school tuition rate
Visiting students: $17,400 per semester (Fall 2016/Spring 2017)

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Academics
    96%
  • Support
    99%
  • Fun
    93%
  • Housing
    97%
  • Safety
    99%

Program Reviews (16)

Default avatar
Laura
Female
22 years old
Berlin, Germany
Princeton University

Berlin: A Semester Lengthened to a Year (and maybe a Master's?)

10/10

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at BCGS so much that I decided to extend my semester to a year (and might come back when I graduate)!
Here are some reasons why:
1. Program support
The preparatory language course was very rigorous, and without it, I would not have been prepared to write the final papers. I thought I had reached a plateau in my German language skills, but I was wrong. After the course, my German was significantly better. In addition, I had lists of "Redemittel"--academic formulations and expressions to use in papers. Now I never write anything without my Redemittel at my side.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the BCGS program is the tutor system. Having a weekly individual meeting with a dynamic, engaging, knowledgeable and approachable tutor works miracles on your academic work. The thorough feedback they give you on your final papers allows you to turn in your work with confidence and notice errors you make repeatedly (allowing you to avoid these yourself in future writing assignments).
In addition, Carmen is perhaps the most organized and attentive individual I have ever met. Carmen and Niko (whom I simply do not know as well because he was away my first semester) provide guidance with everything from health insurance to matriculation and organize excursions and events (even a Thanksgiving dinner!). They respond to emails within seconds, follow up on their own initiative if they know you have had a problem and remember things their students tell them.
2. Freie Universität
I get a huge sense of pride directly enrolling in classes with German students, giving oral presentations and writing research papers to the true German standard (not in a parallel program designed just for exchange students). I also love the system of not doing constant busy work (there are not little quizzes and short responses over the course of the semester) but instead really gaining deep knowledge of a topic through a rigorous final paper (one of my seminar paper topics has now inspired my thesis topic).
3. Berlin
I love Berlin. I love that my life does not only revolve around the university campus and that most of my friends are not students. I have met and become close friends with people from every continent, with native Germans and refugees and expats of all ages. I am involved in interesting activities in the Berlin community that are not university-affiliated (which is a huge contrast to my home university, where everyone and everything lived and took place on campus). My entire social life is in German, which has perhaps improved my language skills more than my coursework.
I would recommend a year. My classmates who only did a semester still had a fantastic time, improved their German and had time to do sightseeing! Just keep in mind that if you stay for a semester, you'll be so busy finding a WG and getting your visa and writing your final papers under a huge time crunch that you might find yourself wishing you had more time to enjoy the city and deepen your connections with the locals.
Enjoy every minute!

J.Y.
Female

Amazing experience.

10/10

BCGS was 10/10 in every aspect. The teachers, academic program, students, city, and overall experience was irreplaceable. I highly recommend this program to anyone and everyone. I can confidently say it will be a memorable life-time experience, and one that will stay with you (and, I guess, "help" you post-program if that's a specific concern). It's impossible to pick a favorite memory! Berlin is still my favorite city. Feel free to reach me for more questions at www.jychun.work

Default avatar
Ryan
Male
26 years old
Hong Kong
University of Pennsylvania

BCGS Review

10/10

BCGS was a wonderful experience and the best semester I've had during my college years. Carmen and Niko are simply fantastic and I still keep in touch with them! The program offers great opportunity for students to get familiar with the German culture and city of Berlin, before students participate in the full semester study at Berlin Free University. Berlin is also a city where a lot of things are happening, so the students can get an all-rounded experience of what it's like being a student in Germany.

Definitely recommend this to everyone who has interests in German studies.

Default avatar
Miranda
Female
22 years old
Berlin
Columbia University

What a great program!

10/10

I loved my time at BCGS (1 year). BCGS distinguishes itself from other study abroad programs in that it is academically rigorous, and completely immersive in terms of language, culture, and course load. I took classes at a local university with German students (although courses with other students still learning German are available, lived with a German host-family, and eventually transitioned into an apartment with other German students. Of course, a full immersion program can raise extra challenges (language learning, culture shock, etc.), but if you're prepared to tackle-them head on, the program is incredibly rewarding. And you won't be facing it alone- Carmen and Niko offer enough support throughout the year to help you stay on your feet, and the program is structured so that you gradually become more independent. You start with an intensive language course (with your American peers), and do weekly trips around Berlin/Germany, and then go home to your homestay. After the first 4-6 weeks, when hopefully things have become a little more comfortable, you start doing things on your own, like enrolling for university courses, maybe starting an internship, finding an apartment, etc.

I think BCGS is a great program for anyone who is looking for a challenging study abroad program, and is excited about the growth that will come from it. Yes- it may not coddle you with English language courses, or furnish a downtown apartment for you- but you'll also leave Berlin as a fluent speaker who feels confident and independent living abroad!

Default avatar
Leander
Male
22 years old
Baltimore, Maryland
Johns Hopkins University

Best Semester in College

10/10

My semester with the BCGS was truly an amazing experience, both in terms of my language abilities and personal growth. The challenge of living in the city and being surrounded by German speakers was more rewarding than I could’ve asked for. For anyone looking to master German, I would highly recommend the BCGS. The program was impressively well organized and despite having the freedom to do whatever I wanted, I never felt alone and I knew I could always ask Carmen or Niko about anything and receive a helpful answer. Just the city of Berlin is enough of a reason to sign up for the program: living there was like having an endless supply of new activities, which meant there wasn’t a single moment when I felt bored or as if I had nothing to do. Even walking around the city was an adventure. With so many different neighborhoods to explore, I barely scratched the surface in my 6 months there, even though I would walk to a new area at least once a week. After my experience with the BCGS, I will definitely be returning to Berlin.

Matthew
Male
37 years old
Washington, DC / New Delhi, India
University of Pennsylvania

Berlin - The Beginning of my Diplomatic Journey

10/10

My 2001 Spring Semester abroad with the Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS) was an invaluable part of my undergraduate education and diplomatic journey.

BCGS provides its students with a great support network to facilitate the transition from an American to a German education system: an organized home stay, language classes, a cultural immersion program, mentoring and tutoring resources, and a program office complete with modern teaching and learning facilities. While based at the Free University, students are able to attend courses at any of the three universities in Berlin; I took my courses at the Humboldt University. Reading, writing and speaking in German about Prussian architecture, German literature, democratic theory and Cold War history alongside German students was challenging; however, immensely rewarding. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to conduct primary research in German on a topic, the German response to Sputnik, which would serve as the basis for my senior thesis.

My BCGS study abroad experience paved the way for my return the following summer to work as an EMGIP fellow in the German parliament and my graduate studies at the London School of Economics in European Politics.

I credit my experiences in Germany as one of the reasons for my acceptance to the United States Foreign Service. I began my career in Lahore, Pakistan and my second assignment was as a Consular Officer in Munich, Germany, where I re-launched the Non-immigrant Visa Unit after more than a decade’s absence. I took my Lederhosen with me the next summer to Kunduz, Afghanistan, where I served as a Provincial Reconstruction Team Officer with the German Bundeswehr and Foreign Office. (Read more about my experiences on the German-led PRT here - https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/asada/pages/17/attachments/origin…).

I am currently serving as the First Secretary for Exchanges and Education at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. Here, I have the amazing opportunity to manage all of the U.S. government’s short- and long-term exchange programs with India, Bhutan, and the Tibetan community. I also am responsible for the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to promote student mobility and higher education partnerships between the U.S. and India. My experiences as a high school exchange student, college study abroad student (BCGS), and Atlantik-Brücke Young Leader continue to inform and inspire my work as an American diplomat (Read more about the importance of exchange programs to the transatlantic relationship here - http://www.afsa.org/sites/default/files/Portals/0/asada_atlantik-brueck…).

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Domenic
Male
25 years old
New York City
Columbia University

Life Changing Year in Berlin

10/10

The Berlin Consortium for German Studies is an amazing opportunity to master the German language, deepen your studies and knowledge of German culture and society, and mature into a well-rounded adult while residing in one of the most exciting cities in the Western world.

Unlike most other study abroad programs, BCGS is dedicated to the complete integration of the students into German academic life, the German language, and living in Berlin as a resident rather than as a guest, visitor, or tourist. Rather than relegated to boring and belittling classes taught in English for international students or living altogether with other study abroad students in a large compound or dorm, this program allows students to explore independently their course of study and seminars at the various universities in Berlin and requires participants to immerse themselves into the city by finding one's own apartment with German residents, while at the same time providing ample logistical, bureaucratic, and emotional support to be able to feel at home in a foreign country and to eventually thrive.

The most unique and attractive aspect of the program is the requirement to take the same seminars as any other normal German student would at the university. Although challenging, it's an excellent way to improve one's spoken and written Germany as well as to acquire a different way of viewing the world and learning in higher education. The seminars I attended at the Free University were instrumental in preparing myself for PhD programs and becoming a future professor of German studies.

Additionally, the program has an excellent array of extracurricular events and trips, ranging from seeing new plays in avant-garde theaters in Berlin to traveling as a group to Cologne, Dresden, or Nuremberg. All of these events are included in the program fees, so there is no extra cost for exploring other areas of the country and enjoying the fine arts.

Default avatar
Katharine
Female
23 years old
Texas
Columbia University

Choose Berlin! Choose BCGS!

10/10

The Berlin Consortium for German Studies is language-intensive and academically challenging. Students are directly enrolled at the Freie Universität and take classes in the German university system. I took courses on: the meaning behind the German word "Heimat," the history of imperialism, Japanese imperialism, death in German language poetry in the 20th century, Chinese society after 1949 as reflected in the art at the time... (all in German). Although I only ended up taking classes at the FU, I do know that other BCGS students were also able to take classes at the Humboldt Universität and the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler.

It may seem a little daunting at first to give a presentation in German in front of a room full of other German students or to write a 10+ page Hausarbeit completely in German at the end of each term. But it's worth it in the end as you prove to yourself what you are capable of. When I came back to the US after my year abroad in Berlin and was particularly dreading writing my essays or starting my assignments, I could say to myself: you've written many a 15-page Hausarbeit in German before haven't you? You can surely write a 5-page essay auf Englisch now, can't you???!

In any case, you shouldn't let the Hausarbeit or the Referat intimidate you because BCGS builds a great support system around you. First of all, each student meets with a tutor one-on-one each week to help with assignments, readings, any questions one might have, and ultimately, the Hausarbeit! Second, Carmen and Niko are there for you should you need help or advice with your academics, with your housing, or with anything at all. I can vouch for them. My parents can vouch for them. In fact, my dad told me specifically that Carmen and Niko are very professional, caring, and responsive, and their presence reassured him that I would not be completely alone while I was abroad in a new country.

That is not to say that everything will simply be taken care of for you. BCGS offers the support, should you need it, but you are also given a great deal of independence and room for personal growth. What you do with your time outside of classes is up to you. Berlin is an incredible city to explore and an amazing place to develop independence. Its rich offerings in arts and culture are very accessible, and I especially appreciated the many discounts in museums, gardens, events, and the like available to students and young people. For the musically inclined, there's the ClassicCard, a program that allows people under 30 to visit operas, classical music concerts, and ballet theaters at around ten Euros each performance. For inspiration from nature, there's the Natural History Museum, little parks tucked away everywhere, and larger gardens like the lovely Britzer Garten--where I went to see the most beautiful exhibit of dahlias. And around the same area at the Schloss Britz, I once saw a small exhibition curated specially for the bullfighting-themed prints of Picasso and Goya.

The best thing about being in such a city with so much to offer was the fact that, with a semester ticket/student ID, I could use Berlin's extensive transportation system (including buses, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, trains, trams) for free. I was not daunted by the cost of seeing what I wanted to see, going where I wanted to go. When I got back to New York City, I kept thinking to myself about how the MTA should take note...

There's something for everyone in Berlin, and all you need to do is find out what you're interested in and pursue it. If you choose to go for a full year like I did, you'll find you have considerably more time to discover what you want to do in this city. BCGS provides the academic structure to guide you lightly, but from there it's all up to you. It's a very liberating and empowering experience.

Default avatar
Kate
Female
25 years old
Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania

BCGS - Best Opportunity to Study Abroad in Germany!

10/10

It's difficult to describe how wonderful the BCGS program is. Carmen and Niko have developed a truly top-notch study abroad program that cares for its students and provides them with the best and most meaningful study abroad experience. If you are looking for quality academics, a supportive and caring abroad program, and a city rich in culture, BCGS is the program for you! I personally could not have had a better study abroad experience, and here's a few reasons why:

1. Support from BCGS

I can't emphasize enough how supportive and attentive Carmen and Niko are to each student. They would both go out of their way to make sure each student was doing well - be that confirming that each student found housing in Berlin, organizing a BCGS group trip to another German city, or just talking to us in the BCGS office. Not only is the program extremely professional and well-run, Carmen and Niko take the time to get to know the BCGS students. For example, in the middle of the semester, I was in the hallway of the BCGS program, making a quick phone call to a friend. After I hung up, Carmen popped out of her office to tell me that my German had already improved, and she could tell via the quick phone call. For Carmen to 1) have given active attention to my personal development in German and 2) taken the time to let me know its improvement only goes to show how caring the program is about its students! This one example merely highlights the quality of the program and its desire to help each student have a wonderful abroad experience, both academically and personally.

2. Integration into Berlin

To help students meet local Berlin families and get used to Berlin, Carmen and Niko set up each student with a host family for the first six weeks. Then, after those 6 weeks, you search to find your own apartment (WG) to live with local Berliners. BCGS strikes the ideal balance between allowing its students the independence to explore Berlin and gain personal development, and providing the constant support for homework, apartment hunting, adjusting to life abroad, and more. I would not have had as amazing an experience without the core group of BCGS that Carmen and Niko fostered. By creating such an open and caring community, all the BCGS students become very close, creating great friendships that carried over after the semester abroad.

3. Academics

Carmen and Niko have found the perfect balance between pushing a student to learn and giving them the freedom to explore class options. For the first 6 weeks of the program, you take intensive language courses at BCGS, where you are able to get to know the other BCGS students and improve your German. After that, you are able to enroll in courses at Freie Universität, and Carmen and Niko are there to support you throughout the semester. I was particularly grateful for the student tutors they supplied throughout the semester, who helped us immensely with our final papers (Hausarbeit). While the coursework remained challenging, my German improved so much over 5 months, and I was able to take a variety of courses that interested me and fulfilled some requirements for my major. BCGS remains flexible to accommodate any major!

In short, Carmen and Niko create the ultimate abroad experience - full of interesting classes, cultural immersion, never-ending support, and life-long friends. If you're looking to go abroad, BCGS provides the best opportunity to do so. With BCGS, you will not regret your decision to go abroad and instead have the best semester or year of your life!

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Rebecca
Female
25 years old
Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania

Don't look anywhere else for your Berlin study abroad experience

10/10

After already having completed several different study abroad/homestay language experiences, I was looking for something a bit more independent for my semester abroad in Berlin. Like most college students, I looked forward to living with native speakers in a fun flat and having a supportive community in a vibrant city.

BCGS checked all of those boxes and more. I'm sure everyone reading this is already sold on Berlin as a city (this deserves its own separate post!), and is now just choosing between BCGS vs. other study abroad programs. Well, if your goal is to come out of the program with 1) the highest level of German 2) the infallible support of an incredible community of exchange students and program directors 3) experience Berlin like a local by living with Berliners, then this is the program for you.

I can't think of a single other program (Berlin-based or not) that encourages exchange students to actively seek out their own "WG" (shared apartment) with locals (not just other exchange students!), while still gives them the resources and safety net of living with a host family during the first month as they embark on that apartment search.

Additionally, not only were we NOT placed in an "island program" with other exchange students and instead took our classes alongside native German speakers, we were even equipped with outstanding private tutors to make sure that we were fully up-to-speed with our written assignments. For me, the personalized attention and incredible support system really differentiated this study abroad experience from the many others I have had in the past.

How can this program be improved?

No program is perfect, except for BCGS ;)

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Tiana
Female
24 years old
Berlin, Germany
Barnard College

A One-of-a-Kind Study Abroad Experience!

10/10

It is hard for me to sum up the 12 truly life-changing months I had in Berlin through BCGS! I have nothing but love for this program that is incredibly near & dear to my heart.

From what I know about other friends' study abroad experiences, I have compiled a list of unique things about BCGS that truly sets it apart from other study abroad programs:
1. Academics: First and foremost, it is truly a "study" abroad program. It is MANY other things as well, but the academics are rigorous and rewarding. All BCGS students are directly enrolled in the Freie Universität with the possibility of taking classes at a number of other institutions in Berlin. This opportunity is very unique to Berlin and to BCGS & I highly urge everyone to take advantage of it. No matter what your major- BCGS will work with you to accommodate it!
2. TIME (Length/Duration): You have the option of going for one semester or for the whole year (even the one semester option is 5+ months which is considerably longer than your average study abroad program). BONUS: if you go for one year, you can take advantage of the ~6 week break between semesters to do an internship, work or travel! My co-BCGS students did some incredible internships while they were in Berlin.
3. Excursions: BCGS plans exciting excursions each semester. These are a great way to see other German cities (or, if you're lucky, perhaps even an international destination!) & have incredible itineraries at your fingertips! Just a few examples: visiting the NDR Studios in Hamburg, doing a "Hafenrundfahrt," and going to the opera in Munich! Oh and lots of great ART & HISTORY.
4. Housing: The living arrangements: unlike other study abroad programs, you have the freedom to find your own housing. You are not holed up in an Erasmus Wohnheim, nor are you "stuck" with a host family for 12 months. You have the option of being paired with a host family (who are all carefully selected & screened) for your first month (which I highly recommend! I am still in regular touch with mine) while you acclimate to Berlin, get settled, and begin your apartment (room) hunt. Your beautiful room awaits you at a bargain basement price!! PROS: you pick WHERE you want to live & WHO you want to live with (this is a great way to meet other Germans!). Once you have found a room, you gain even more independence & automatically begin an even fuller immersion experience. BONUS: if you ever return to Berlin (which you probably will because BCGS will have made you fall in love with it), you will have mastered the art of the wg-gesucht e-mail & be an expert at "WG-Castings."
5. Improvement: Your language skills will improve so much. This goes for anyone at any level! Every BCGS student takes “German Discourse and Culture” for the first 6 weeks of the program. This is a language intensive that will drastically improve your German reading, writing, and speaking skills & is carefully tailored to help you improve in your weak areas. It serves not only as a great refresher but also as excellent preparation for your experience taking regular university classes (all in German!). And German Discourse & Culture is only the first 6 weeks! BCGS is designed to keep you speaking German both in and out of the classroom.
6. Location: I would argue that Berlin is pretty much the best place to study abroad. Not only is it young, hip, safe, and affordable, but, as Germany’s capital, it is both a historically relevant and politically active city filled with museums, culture, nightlife, restaurants, exhibits, operas (3!), theaters, festivals, start-ups, and many many students. As Germany’s largest city (more than twice as big, in terms of population, as the runner up: Hamburg), there are endless amounts of interesting people to meet and opportunities to explore. BONUS: Your student ID is not only your ticket to free transportation, but you also get discounts with it all over the city. Use it well!
7. No other program has a Carmen and a Niko! I cannot emphasize how much the people make a program. At BCGS you will be in the very best hands. Nothing is scarier and more challenging than diving into a different culture, navigating a new city, and communicating in a foreign language. Everyone at BCGS knows that, and they have over 20 years (!) of experience working with students. Carmen and Niko (as well as the rotating academic directors and tutors) provide the very best guidance and support one can ask for. You are completely independent, yet anything but completely alone. BONUS: You get an extremely informative welcome (survival) packet upon arrival (this thing seriously saved me and it will be your best friend in the beginning- read it!).

As you might have noticed from reading the previous reviews, this program truly has the potential to change your life. So many of us have returned to work at our dream jobs, to write books, to pursue a Masters, or even to get married! I myself have just finished my first semester of medical school in Berlin. A year or even a semester at BCGS will challenge you in ways that you have never experienced, will connect you with people you never would’ve met otherwise (some of whom will be lifelong friends), and will empower you in ways you could never have even imagined before going to Berlin. So what are you waiting for? Go! Go! GO!

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Rhea
Female
25 years old
Brooklyn, New York
Barnard College

Home Away From Home

10/10

Simply put, BCGS is home. A home that supports, nurtures, encourages, educates, and most importantly: lets go. We’re let go to discover OUR Berlin, make mistakes, make them again, and grow. The independence BCGS fosters is unequivocally central to the program’s success. But should the going get too tough, and the German too rough… BCGS will always be there, doors wide open, with Carmen and Niko on the inside, eager to help you get back on track.

BCGS takeaways: Lifelong friends (from within the program as well as local) and a new sense of empowerment.

How can this program be improved?

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Anna
Female
25 years old
Munich
University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

BCGS - True Excellence in Study Abroad

10/10

I loved reading others' reviews of the BCGS program because I think we all felt the same enthusiasm for this incredible program. BCGS is really a community in that way. You will meet wonderful, motivated people who will inspire and challenge you and who will continue to support you even after the program ends.

I'm writing this review from Munich, Germany, where I'm in my third month of a German-language internship at a small company focused on Munich's tech start-up scene. After my internship concludes, I'll be studying for my Masters in Political Science at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I feel ready to take on the German university courses and my "Masterarbeit" including originial research in Berlin because BCGS taught me how! The academics were rigorous but all the requirements of BCGS are designed for your maximum growth and self-improvement (lingual, personal etc.). You will appreciate this extremely well-designed and well-managed study abroad program. It's a testament to the wonderful work of Carmen and Niko as program coordinators. They've created something that is so much more than a typical "vacation" study abroad semester.

I certainly wouldn't be where I am right now if not for BCGS! BCGS gave me the language skills, cultural competence and confidence to know that I can make it in Germany--that I can live here, work here, and even navigate the bureaucracy. BCGS gave me just the right amount of support so that I never felt lost but also taught me to be couragous in my experiences abroad.

I was searching for apartments in Berlin last weekend (something that I'm glad to say I know how to do- again BCGS) and met up with another BCGSer from my year. I found out that next semester, there will be 5 of us living in Berlin--and that's just from our program year alone! People love their experience with BCGS and with the city of Berlin and they actively look for ways to come back. Do BCGS if you want to build real, lasting ties with a new culture, a new city, and great new people. I have nothing but positive feedback-BCGS is simply the best!

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Rebecca
Female
24 years old
New Haven, Connecticut
Yale University

A Life-Changing Immersion Experience

10/10

Having already spent a gap year in Germany, I was looking for a program that would offer academic rigor and balanced independence. The BCGS program with Carmen and Niko was exactly that and so much more.

The one-month German Culture and Discourse class offered the ideal transition into the German academic setting. Never before had I been so challenged in a German language course. The daily discussions, the Referat, and the mini-Hausarbeit equipped me with the language skills to take on my FU courses. The workload was also well balanced and left plenty of time for students to bond and explore the city together. My fellow BCGS students were adamant about sticking to the language commitment, and that made our collective experience so much more enriching.

As classes started up and people found their own apartments and WGs, students became increasingly independent. However, BCGS provided a constant support structure that students could rely on. Carmen and Niko are the most incredible program coordinators, and they were there to catch us when we fell. If any issues arose with professors, housing, or paperwork, we knew that Carmen and Niko were on our side and would make every effort to help us. BCGS is also staffed with 3-4 writing tutors who meet with students one-on-one. These sessions helped me stay on top of deadlines and produce high quality work.

I was lucky enough to be matched with a host in her late 20s. Though she was technically my "host mom", the dynamic between us was much more like that of a WG. We got along so well that I decided to stay with her for the rest of my time in Berlin. To this day, Kathi remains my closest friend in Germany and we write to each other weekly. Through her, I met several native Berliners; but I was also able to take advantage of the social network built by other BCGS students. By spending time with the housemates of other BCGS students, I was able to meet a wide variety of local Berliners.

The diversity within our BCGS class was incredibly refreshing. Despite our different backgrounds and interests, we loved spending time with each other. While we each developed our own circle of native German friends, we regularly met up at parties or for picnics at Tempelhofer Feld. Many of us are still close friends; and I can't imagine a more fun and open-hearted group to have explored Berlin with.

It is hard to fully convey how life-changing the BCGS program has been. With the support of BCGS, I was able to take full advantage of everything Berlin had to offer. I met my current boyfriend that semester and went on to spend the following summer interning at Boston Consulting Group's Berlin office. I am now looking to join many of my fellow BCGS students in Germany after graduation. The BCGS program helped each of us gain the confidence to take on life in Germany, and I cannot thank Carmen and Niko enough for all that they've done.

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Naomi
Female
25 years old
Berlin, Germany
Barnard College

Incredible Study Abroad Experience

10/10

WHY BCGS:
With most of my close friends accepted to year-long study abroad programs, and with the prospect of being without them for a year on my campus, I thought it was the opportune time to change my setting as well. My research led me to BCGS: It was located in Berlin, was an immersive program, and provided support for students. I applied, and was on my way to Berlin. I didn't know then what a life changing decision this would be.

FIRST SIX WEEKS:
The first few days upon arrival are spent with introductions, debriefing about the various german bureaucratic steps you need to take, and a short introduction to the German university system. You then have the option of being placed with a host family for the duration of the first 6 weeks of your stay. I chose not to take part in that aspect of the program, but regretted it, as having a host family seemed to be a really lovely support system for my fellow students; they had interactions far beyond the 6 weeks, being invited to dinners and holidays as the year went on. During these first 6 weeks, you are participating in a language intensive. You have class every day of the week, and exciting excursions. This 6 week intensive was fantastic and led to a rapid improvement in all of our German language skills. I finished off the six weeks feeling confident about my upcoming semester.

GERMAN UNIVERSITY
With the BCGS program, you receive incredible academic support and are fully matriculated into the Freie Universität. Although being matriculated might seem like a minor detail, it makes it possible to really become immersed in the culture and language. You are an exchange student, not an erasmus student, and your professors respect you a lot for that difference. As a German Literature Major, the courses offered at the FU were so interesting and diverse. One of my favorite classes was called "Der Tod in Venedig –Thomas Manns Novelle und das Venedig-Bild in der Literatur-Geschichte" (Death in Venice-Thomas Mann's Novella and the Venice image in literary history) and with the help of my BCGS tutor, I was able to write a 15 page 1.5 spaced A4 Hausarbeit. Something unthinkable when I first arrived.

THE FULL YEAR
A BCGS alum convinced me to do the program for a year, instead of just a semester, and that was the defining difference for me. After my first semester, I had just found which supermarket carried my favorite products, which cafe had the best Kuchen, which restaurant made the best Pad Thai, and where to find bagels. I wasn't ready to leave. I also had one semester of the German education system behind me, and finally knew what I needed to do to succeed--and I wanted to have another go at it! Going for the full year, I was also able to find an internship. And I am currently working as a jr. producer at the same tv/film production company I interned with during my year abroad.

IN SUMMARY
You will love Berlin, you will explore Europe and the city, you will be challenged academically and achieve things you thought impossible. Half of the students who did the BCGS year program with me are now back in Berlin. I think that desire to return speaks volumes for the success of our experiences.

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Patrick
Male
24 years old
Berlin, Germany
Cornell University

The Best German Exchange Program in the U.S.

10/10

BCGS provides the perfect balance of support and independence for students who want the most out of their time abroad. The somewhat rigorous first weeks of the program involve an intensive German language class and a guest-stay at a local family's home. I remember waking up each day genuinely enthusiastic about heading to the university to see what was next on the agenda. And that enthusiasm carried over into the lectures and seminars later on in the semester, when I could comfortably participate in class discussions and prepare oral presentations.
I made lots of local friends both through the university and a men's rugby club that I joined my very first week in Berlin. From concerts, to operas, to summer festivals, I constantly had the almost overwhelming feeling of not having enough time to accomplish everything.
But on the other hand, there was also something quite special about becoming part of the day-to-day lifestyle of Berlin. As my attention gradually shifted from music, parties, and museums to grocery shopping and recycling, I found myself feeling truly at home in Germany's capital.
At the end of the program, thanks to the superb teaching at BCGS, I qualified for C.1 German proficiency and I am now pursuing a master's degree in Berlin. I honestly believe that I accomplished much thanks solely to this program, and that there would have been no better way to spend my junior year of college.

About The Provider

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The Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS) is a joint venture of the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University in association with the University of Notre Dame and Vassar College.

Since its founding in

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