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

91%
based on 25 reviews
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.2
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 25
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Grace
10/10

FU-BEST is What You Make Of It, So Make It AMAZING!

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

They don't call it fu-BEST for nothing

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
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Nicole
9/10

Worth a Year

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
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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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...