FU-BEST (Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program)

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About

While Berlin is THE city to explore in Europe, FU-BEST is the academic program to help you make the most out of this experience both academically and personally. Come for a semester or two and combine university-level German language instruction on all levels with exciting and eye-opening subject courses from the humanities and social sciences, taught mainly in English. Learn more about Berlin, German, and European history, politics, culture, music, media, film, religions, business, law, economy and much more!
When not studying indoors, make Berlin your classroom - we will take you to important historic and cultural sites, provide you with concert, opera, ballet, or soccer tickets, give you a museum pass and point you to places unknown to tourists. One semester highlight is the weeklong excursion we make to German and European destinations.
All of this is wrapped in the service you need and the freedom you want. Accommodation is in single apartments or homestays.

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Reviews

90%
based on 22 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.1
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 15 of 22
Lita
10/10

Great Program!

If you make the effort to immerse yourself with Berliners then you will definitely have the best time. The FU-BEST program itself helps you to get to know the city with monthly field trips, museum passes and weekly Stammtisch! The academic program incorporates field trips/ excursions so that you can get to see more of the city while also discussing the material.
Great support from the student advisors and the teachers too.
The only thing is, the program was just for American students, so it was hard to get to know other German students in the university. And the program is in the Lankwitz campus which is more isolated and less student-oriented than the Dahlem campus for sure.

Viel Spaß!

Yes, I recommend
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Thomas
9/10

Fall 2017

Choosing to participate in FU-BEST was the best decision I made as an undergraduate. It is what I will remember most from my time in college. Each weekend that my friends and I traveled around Europe, by the end, we were ready and anxious to get back to Berlin. I wish everyone could have the privilege to study in such a unique, cool city. It was the most amazing experience and better than I could have ever imagined it being.

How can this program be improved?
More housing options closer to campus
Yes, I recommend
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Robert
9/10

Great Program

Overall great program. Comes with great excursions including a full week trip to a nearby Country. Would be better if it were on main campus to meet more germans but that is a minor issue. Intensive German was a annoying too. I relearned most of the grammer and at an easier standard. Besides that, a lot of fun and great people. Berlin is an up and coming city. There is always something to do and something to see.

How can this program be improved?
Fix German. Move to Main Campus
Yes, I recommend
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Caitlin
9/10

Amazing City Accentuated by Great Program

Berlin is by far the most fascinating city I have ever visited. Filled with an immeasurable supply of history, architecture old and new, and an incredible network of public transportation, Germany's capital city was a blast to explore. Though overwhelming at first, it was fun to gradually expand my knowledge of a new city map. The museums are fantastic, the bars and clubs are endless, and they come in every variety, and the people are wonderful. That stereotype of Germans being cold and unfriendly is generally false, and I felt very welcomed. I couldn't even speak a word of German but found no trouble communicating with almost anyone with whom I interacted. The exploration of this incredible city was assisted by the FU-BEST program and the program staff. With newsletters and cultural excursions and week-long international trips, FU-BEST helped me to make the most of my semester abroad. One of my favorite things that the program provided was complementary tickets to my choice of an opera and ballet, furthering my cultural immersion.

Perhaps even greater than all of this was the individuals who made my experience special. I chose to participate in a homestay, and I was so happy with my decision. My host family was welcoming, generous, and helpful, and everybody truly made me feel at home in this new city. I'm sure it would have been easy to feel lost when trying to orient myself in an extremely new situation, but my host family ensured that I never felt that way. The classmates that I met in FU-BEST, too, were some of the greatest people I've ever met. Coming from a relatively small school, the opportunity to get to know a wide variety of fascinating new (American) students was so exciting, and the friendships were so easy to form - we were all thrilled to be studying similar subjects in a new city, as well as looking for friends to explore Europe with. In fact, I liked one of them so much that I decided to date him and still am! You will learn so much from these new friends and you will experience so much life with them, and for me, that was one of the best parts about being in Berlin.

I would not change anything about my experience with FU-BEST. I am grateful that this program brought me to Berlin and for the opportunity of a lifetime. I will certainly be back.

How can this program be improved?
As others have mentioned, the location of the apartments was less than ideal. While I did not live there, I know that it took many of my friends about an hour to commute to campus. The facility itself was relatively nice.

The academics were also a bit overly rigorous. Having three 10-page papers due within 2 weeks of final exams was overwhelming. I would have preferred the assignments to have been spaced better; however, the courses were interesting.
Yes, I recommend
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Beatrice
10/10

Fall 2017 - The Ultimate Berlin Experience

The Fu-Best program at Freie Universität in Berlin offers so many great and fun opportunities to get to know Berlin, Germany, and the surrounding countries. The Fu-Best courses were more interesting than my home university's courses! I was very fortunate to travel to Prague through the FU week-long excursion. They organized plenty of tours and activities for us while we explored this historic city! Also, what was really great about FU was that they took care of all of our visas and documents so we never had to worry about being deported. Our public transportation pass was also included so we could ride any U-bahn, S-Bahn, bus or tram wherever and whenever we wanted in Berlin (depending on the hours of the night of course).
Living in a home-stay was absolutely amazing because my host mom and her 3 adult kids really accepted me as part of the family. We spoke in German while they taught me about their culture and traditions! They took me on two Spree river tours! Once for a wedding party and the second for a birthday party! They also knew about the best clubs and hangout spots in Berlin.
I was also able to travel to other countries easily and often because of the EU laws. I traveled to the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and the Czech republic.
FU is an incredible program and my only regret is that I didn't stay for an entire year!

Yes, I recommend
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Stefani
7/10

Challenging academics but overall a great time

I have been to Germany a couple times before this program, but having the opportunity to stay in Berlin for a few months made it a unique experience. Berlin is a city unlike any other. The courses at FU-BEST are challenging but well worth the difficulty as the faculty care about the students learning while abroad. I also made lasting friendships with other students in the program and improved my German language skills by taking the intensive course.

Yes, I recommend
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Devon
7/10

Amazing German Language Program

FU-BEST is a great program to learn the German Language while living in the amazing city of Berlin. The Home-Stay option was one of the highlights of my trip--I was able to practice my language while being immersed in the lifestyle of a German family. Subject courses allowed me to dive into the history of Berlin and Europe, and made me feel incredibly connected to the city I was living in. I would highly suggest the program, but be aware that in order to meet German students you will have to go out of your way a bit.

How can this program be improved?
The program includes classes of only American students. The biggest improvement to the program would be to find a way to integrate these American students into the normal FU more to allow for American students to meet more German students. Additionally, to provide more opportunities for American students to meet German students in other ways (ie having combined field trips, dinners, or Stamtisch)
Yes, I recommend
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Lia
8/10

Cultural Emersion

FU-BEST offered a comprehensive study abroad program that allowed students to apply what they learned in the classroom to the history of Berlin. The program also provided us plenty of opportunities to explore the city. My favorite part of the program was going to Stammtisch, our weekly social gatherings. I also liked the week long excursions that are a built-in part of the program. We took many day trips so I got to see more of Germany than just Berlin.

How can this program be improved?
I wish that we had more opportunities to be integrated with the German students at Freie Universität.
Yes, I recommend
Paul
9/10

I Lived Here For A Year And Well Yeah It Was Fun

I spent my Junior year in Berlin and could not have been happier about my decision to study at FUBEST. While a year away from the US may seem a lot, I'd posit two semesters as the bare minimum time spent in Berlin to start understanding some of the various anxieties or issues currently holding the city's attention; this sort of year is a really (I think) healthy way to imagine transatlantic/world interactions in a honest, truthful light. A lot of the conversations happening in Berlin (immigration, rises in abhorrent Nationalism) are occurring in Berlin and happen in a really engaging way given Berlin's long history of activism/progressivism. Being in Berlin right now is a really great experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Chris
8/10

Good Program, Mediocre Housing

Berlin itself is a great city. FU-BEST is a good program overall, but like anything has a few flaws. The biggest I'd say came from the housing. It is a student apartment complex relatively far from the city center and took approximately one hour to get to classes and 45 minutes to get to clubs/bars. I liked my professors and the administration was always willing to help out! They are great at organizing group events and Stammtisch was a great tradition in which we would meet at a bar on Thursday nights. The cultural excursions were informative and the city events (I chose a soccer game and an opera) were an awesome experience. Overall, I'd recommend the program to others and suggest they consider doing a homestay.

How can this program be improved?
Better housing amenities/location.
Classes on a satellite campus made it difficult to meet German students
Yes, I recommend
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Tino
9/10

Berlin Berlin Berlin

Berlin is like no other city in the world!
Before going to Berlin, I knew about the intense history of the city but it wasn’t until I studied in Berlin for a year was I truly able to understand Berlin, its people, and one of the most unique places in the world. The FU-BEST program only made the experience better. All my courses were extremely relevant to issues in today’s world and so it was really interesting to be able to connect my courses to current events. Most of the professors are really into their topics and so it makes the courses more easy going as interesting discussions arose almost every course. I thought the mandatory German courses were awesome. Most German courses were really fun but also intense enough to where I was able to learn a lot. The staff was super helpful and if we ever had any problems we could go to anyone and they would do as much as possible to help us out. The added weekly get togethers were awesome and it was a great way to get to know more people within the program while exploring new Berlin bars. The week-long excursion was also awesome as we went to interesting cities and were able to explore a lot on our own. For housing, I would highly recommend homestays. Almost everyone I know loved their family and thought it was much better than the apartments.
Berlin itself is such an incredible city. It is filled with endless amounts of art, music, fashion, etc. Anyone is able to find their own little funky niche because Berlin is meant for everyone and anyone. The restaurants in Berlin are all so good and you can eat out without breaking the bank. I think Berlin is the cheapest (big) city in Europe! Definitely don’t be afraid to try new doner places. The bars and clubs are all so unique and constantly playing different kinds of EDM. Though Berlin might seem overwhelming, it is such an amazing city and is filled with the coolest art, the best food, an awesome night life, and people from all over the world open to anything. I can't wait to get back to Berlin!!

How can this program be improved?
The apartment situation is not the best but everyone makes the best out of it and it turns out to be pretty fun!
Yes, I recommend
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Selene
9/10

Great Program!

The program was great! The staff was very helpful with everything. The classes were all structured the same which was not the best for some subjects. Beware of the schedule. I did not consider how exhausting going to school all day on Wednesday would be. The classes all offered 2-3 excursions which were fun because it helped us explore the city more. The week long excursion was fun and I got the opportunity to visit cities that I wouldn't have gone to on my own.

How can this program be improved?
I had independent housing which I loved. I found it through the FU-BEST website. However, most of my friends and classmates really disliked the apartments offered by the program. I think the program could be improved by offering another apartment building.
Yes, I recommend
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Ana
8/10

A Year in Berlin

I chose to come to Berlin for the entire academic year primarily because I had the space for it in my schedule and FU-BEST's course offerings would allow me to fit two minors into my degree. FU-BEST is set up in a way that allows your study abroad experience to be both experiential and academic; the subject courses offer a good introduction into different fields and are not extremely demanding, thus giving you plenty of space to explore Berlin and Europe. The courses act more as survey courses in order to accommodate a wide variety of academic backgrounds from students, and as such, might not appeal to those who are used to working in-depth in their field. (That being said, the subject courses are a great opportunity to take something outside of one's field and learn more about Germany and Europe while you're at it.)

For those interested in the language component, FU-BEST operates best when you "make the most of it as you will." While I found the Intensive German courses good for learning vocabulary and more refined sentence structures, (non-beginning) students who came to the program without a good preexisting grasp of grammar basics definitely seemed to struggle more. The homestay option was my biggest asset in becoming more comfortable with the language, and I highly recommend it for students looking to improve their German. One of the biggest complaints I heard was students feeling discouraged about practicing their German in the city, but opportunities are certainly there if you look and persist. (:

The program exists in a bit of a (mostly) American bubble because it is not a direct enrollment program, but I appreciated the fact that it is not a school-specific program so that you can meet students from different campuses. In addition, the FU-BEST staff are wonderful to work with and easy to talk to!

If you have the option to go abroad for a year, then definitely consider coming to Berlin. You'll never be bored, and being abroad for two semesters means that you won't feel stressed about fitting everything into one.

How can this program be improved?
The apartments were not as accommodating as advertised and far from campus. Homestay might be a better option whether or not you're interested in the language component.
Yes, I recommend
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Collin
9/10

An intercultural experience

FU-BEST was an extremely well-run program, in everything I noticed from start to finish. I am grateful for all the work the program director and staff do to make our experience here the best it can be. My favorite part about the program set-up was probably the week long excursion towards the end of the semester. After so much small-group travel, it was really great to have everything planned out for us for a week while traveling around a few new cities.

Yes, I recommend
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carla
9/10

Think Berlin

I was at Freie Universität in Berlin during the spring semester, I had such good teachers in the classes I took! And I loved to have had the opportunity to go with the other people studying with me to the full week excursion, that was one of my favorite parts of being part of this program. I lived in the apartments and I think they have the perfect size for one person, but they are far from school. I didn't like the long distance that much; but I did get the feeling, when I got back from travels, that I was getting home by getting to my apartment. Fu-Best program is very well organized and has many options of very interesting classes as well as very interesting excursions; and it is in Berlin! I have to say Berlin has definitely become my favorite city in Europe. Living in Berlin is an amazing experience, there are so many things to do, you never stop discovering new interesting and fun places! If you re a student looking for an exchange program in Europe I would really recommend Berlin as destination and Fu-Best is a very good option to do so.

How can this program be improved?
I think the apartments are too far from school and I would've loved to have classes in the other campus. But still it was a very good experience.
Yes, I recommend

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About FU-BEST

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...