European Studies Program at Freie Universität Berlin

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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.

Questions & Answers


based on 26 reviews
  • Academics 8.4
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 16 - 26 of 26
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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Semester in Berlin

I came across FU-BEST while looking for direct enrollment opportunities on my school’s study abroad website. I was interested in a program that was academically rigorous while also incorporating its environment into the courses to provide a more experiential curriculum. Freie Universitat Berlin’s European Studies Program does just that.

I took two subject courses in addition to intensive German. This program was not my first experience with German but was my first German class. It was a little hard to keep up at first, but my German teacher was absolutely fantastic and brought me up to speed. All courses, subject and language, do excursions throughout Berlin to encourage students to use the city as a resource. This was a great way to get students to see parts of Berlin that they may not experience otherwise, as well as a neat way to make what you are learning about feel more applicable.

Students have several choices for housing—I chose to live in a homestay, which provided me with even more opportunities to connect with the city. There are further opportunities, such as volunteering, language tandems, and additional cultural events that help to facilitate students’ interactions with the city.

Yes, I recommend this program

The Full Berlin Experience

My time in Berlin is one I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. It allowed me to grow as a person, make countless new friends, while still being intellectually pushed. First, I'll speak about the program itself, then more about Berlin as a whole. The program was run by a team of incredibly nice and helpful staff who were always looking out for your best interest. Whether it was the first week where they helped us fill out all necessary paper work or the weekly Stammtisch where we got to see each other in an environment outside the class room. They made it all fun. A fantastic experience was the one week long excursion we took (I was in Poland) where we were lead on walking tours and got to truly experience multiple new cities to the core. It allowed for free time and helped everyone get closer and make even more friends than just in the first weeks.

My classes were also fantastic. Eventhough German was my first language, I still had a lot to learn. My grammar and writing improved significantly and I felt very close with my small and fun class. We went on excursions together and got to explore the city as well as learn all the time. My subject courses were also special. I learned a lot and the teachers were fun, smart, and engaging.

The most important part of the experience though comes down to the city itself, Berlin. A place where anyone can feel welcome. There is something for everyone from museums to some of the coolest nightclubs in the world. Exploring Berlin a treat. The people are nice, cool, and creative. The food is delicious, and every part of the city has something new to offer. You will never be bored in Berlin. Another plus for non German speakers is a lot of people speak English! Believe me when I say you do not want to miss out on an opportunity to go to Berlin for a longer period of time and this program is the way to get it done.

Yes, I recommend this program

An Excellent and Immersive Program

I wanted to come to Germany, specifically to Berlin, for a while now and last year, I finally got my chance. When I first applied for FU-BEST, I did not know anything about the program- I kind of applied simply because I liked its description on my college's study abroad website. As a person who is an international student in the US and who has studied abroad during his sophomore year (ACM Jordan Program), I was ready to go back to my home-continent of Europe and expand my knowledge of its history, culture and languages. I've studied German for a while but was never satisfied with my language acquisition. Upon coming to Germany I was in the range of A2/B1 speaker and now, three months into the program, I can say that I can have a decent, albeit slow, conversation in German (I am a B2 level now). Living in Berlin is a special experience so one can get to know very deep-rooted Prussian-German culture and history, but also the culture of Europe and the EU- Berlin is a hub and a vibrant, and beautiful city which is an ideal place for any English speaker wanting to learn German.

The program itself is academically demanding but it is also very connected with the city so many a time I've found myself wandering the streets of Berlin simply to complete an assignment for my Transatlantic Relations class. Furthermore, the program is quite independent- one is allowed to live independently, but can also choose a homestay or apartments (all excellent choices). I myself chose to live in an apartment and never regretted it! The staff in overall is very supportive and their knowledge of Berlin is impeccable, as well as their English skills. A big part of the staff team are "student assistants" who are German students interning for the program; they are some of the nicest and funniest folks you'll ever meet and I've enjoyed every second spent in their company. Not only are they knowledgeable of Berlin and Germany- they've travelled lots themselves so they have a lot of interesting experiences to share.

In overall, I really enjoyed (and still am!) my time in Berlin and at the FU-BEST program and am definitely intending on coming back and studying in this glorious city.


Yes, I recommend this program
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Non american university student at FU-BEST

I became aware of the FU-BEST program by total chance. I was about to finish my anthropology studies in Bogota, Colombia at the Universidad de los Andes and I didn't want to be over with undergraduate school just yet. I decided, therefore, it would be a good excuse to continue my studies in Germany (preferably in Berlin), while learning german since I've taken some german lesson when I was in high school.One morning, I googled "german lessons and content courses in Berlin" and, to my surprise, I found something that perfectly fitted my interests: FU-BEST.

I was amazed with the possibility of talking content courses in english and german lessons. Since English is not my native language, it was a one in a life time experience that allowed me to learn two languages at the same time. I contacted Dirk and Kristina (the main organizers of the program) and I explained to them my situation. They were not only very nice with me by showing a lot of interest in my case but they also made sure that I received in time all the documents I required for my visa (ir you're a Colombian and you want to travel yo Germany its not very easy to do it, unless you receive help with paper work from a german).

When I arrived to Berlin, I found myself immersed in two different cultures at the same time (the European and the American). It was not very easy at first, but with time I got used to it. I didn't make many friends because I was very focused in my studies (the whole year I stayed in Berlin I had in mind the possibility of staying in Europe in order to do my masters so I wanted to learn German as fast as possible). In the contrary, I found a group of teachers (specially my german teachers) that not also became my friends but that showed me the beauty of the language, of the people and that encouraged me to stay in Berlin.

After my two semesters by FU-BEST, I want it to stay a little bit longer in order to figure out whether I wanted to stay or not. I consulted Dirk, Kristina and my german teachers and they encouraged me to stay and facilitated my transfer to a summer program also given by the Freie Universität.

When I arrived to Berlin, I was at a B2 german level and a year after I was able to take courses in German and to have a fairly interesting conversation with a native speaker.

FU-BEST not only allowed me to learn German and to realize that I want to go back to Berlin for my masters (I decided to return to Colombia for personal matters), it also permitted me to get to know an awesome city; a city full of life, contrasts and history.

I definitely recommend this program and I particularly encourage people from other countries to do the same thing I did. For non american students it is a unique experience that you wont find anywhere else!

How can this program be improved?
– The housing offered by the program should be more central.
– FU-BEST should encourage more actively the involvement of students from other countries.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Finding Intellectual Satisfaction in Berlin

FU-BEST is a program that takes seriously the goal of reinforcing the vacation-like experience of living abroad with rather more than the usual academic rigor. This does not mean that students are bogged down with busy work; in fact, one of the best aspects of the program is its flexibility, which allowed me and my fellows to better explore those things that interested us.

Alongside intensive German language courses, FU-BEST students enroll in several academic “subject courses,” taught in English (a few, open to those with advanced language skills, are offered in German). Almost all focus on the history, culture, and society of Berlin, Germany, or Europe. Each course provides an accessible overview of the topic in question, and for more advanced or particularly curious students, the superb instructors—friendly, accessible, experts in their fields—are an excellent resource. Assigned coursework is manageable enough that program participants are left relatively free to explore on their own particular topics they find interesting. For example, with an enormous amount of help from my history instructor, I was able to begin researching my senior thesis topic while studying in Berlin, making use of the city’s first-rate libraries.

Of course, the incentives to study abroad in Europe are not merely academic. FU-BEST students have plenty of opportunities to soak up local culture. Through the program, we were offered museum and transit passes as well as tickets to a range concerts, opera and ballet performances, and sporting events. I strolled the grounds of Frederick the Great’s palace in Potsdam, saw performances of Dvorak’s New World symphony and Wagner’s Tannhauser, and visited the great Museum Island three times; the costs were covered by my program fees. The friendly staff, who are so good and helping students to work through the problems of everyday life in a foreign country, are also happy to recommend sites and events to investigate, and the program itself organizes city expeditions. Particularly enjoyable are the language class field trips, which included fine guided tours—in German!—of museums and other local points of interest like the Reichstag. Students are also taken on one-week, long-distance excursions to other cities in Europe; I was able to visit Frankfurt, Europe’s financial capital, and Prague, a city of fairy-tale-like beauty. And in addition to all of this structured sightseeing, there is still plenty of time for independent weekend travel.

Berlin is an extraordinarily diverse city, a city which represents, in the mind of every individual, something different. For me, a history student, it was a city of politics and international diplomacy, the capital of Frederick the Great and of Bismarck (not to mention some less savory historical actors)—an utterly fascinating place to study my favorite subject. But for others, it was a different place: a city of modern culture, of music, of art and architecture. Berlin is so large, so grand, that anyone can find there a degree of intellectual satisfaction. I certainly did, and without question, FU-BEST helped me find it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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The Art of Horcruxes

A horcrux is a powerful item where dark wizards place a fragment of his/her soul, as a means of attaining mortality. Lord Voldemort used horcruxes to one day return to life, as he did in the last Harry Potter films.

After 1 year, I undoubtedly believe that I have left a large part of me back in Germany- a horcrux that I hope to return to someday. Months prior to my arrival, FU-BEST was abundantly helpful and kind. From all of the rumors, this was not to be expected by anyone. On top of that, niceness flowed throughout the top and bottom of the administration. They care about their jobs and they care about you as well, so long as you show you care about your time abroad. The program provides ample amount of resources in and out of the program, so it is important to take advantage of these as the program moves along. Amongst all the paperwork and all of the stresses that come along with operating/maintaining a program, it was all nice to wander into "Haus S" or room L205 and see happy faces, delighted to help with any questions, especially from students who had shown initiative by trying to solve an issue on their own first. It was a nice balance of German culture within an American program.

The language class was phenomenal. I don't mean that in an exaggerated way. My personal growth was quickly noticed as I completed A1 (beginner intensive German) in just 8 weeks. By the end of the program, I had reached B2 (intermediate 2). Although I had not taken German before, it was great for me to be in the intensive courses because it had pushed me beyond where I imagined I would go,. I would recommend that if you have had more than 2.5 years in one language then it is best to choose intensive. I learned Spanish for 5 years before coming to this program. Within only 4 weeks, you can begin to construct short, non-complex sentences and people can understand you (more or less). This is very useful at the grocery stores. Don’t use English as a clutch. Try the German, if you can! Take a pause, stutter even, if that’s what it takes for you and you will understand the language better and speak better in the end.
I loved my experience, so much so that I will try to come back. I ventured out and joined a dance school. I checked out the club scene. I traveled to 17 of the 28 E.U. nations. I looked for job opportunities to return to. I met a lot of native speaking friends who helped me improve my German. I went on a few dates because why not? I had a tandem partner, as well as getting close to both the program’s Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 cohorts. The second cohort is where I met my boyfriend! Oh! And food. I ate LOTS of food and took a ton of photos.

I realize many people are scared to put themselves in very uncomfortable situations, but in the end it really can be worth risk. Who knows, you might leave a horcrux or two!

How can this program be improved?
The only critique that I would give to the program is the lack of diverse perspectives amongst students accepted into the program. Germany is still a very homogenous country and the only way to disband that is by promoting diversity, multicultural inclusion, and racial differences as a representation of other needed perspectives. Because many students enroll into this program in pursuit of a holistic understanding of European politics, culture, and life, students of all backgrounds should be made aware of cultural norms. For example, it is normal to receive the “German stare” for an extended amount of time. As time goes on it happens less, but it never really goes away. It is important to mention that if you really would like to have a conversation with a German, and have the time to, then it would probably be best to take the German intensive course. With the stresses of going abroad, many students forget to consider the different types of language barriers. I’d suggest the approach be more along the lines of “how can I immerse myself into this culture and not stick out so much?” I never thought that a German guy would have said to me in Prague that “all blacks go back to Africa!” I come from a low -socioeconomic, African- American family and I can see how many people from such a background would seldom be attracted to put themselves outside of their comfort zone and study in Berlin, or Europe. It’s a great opportunity within a phenomenal city, there are just ways that the program could better prepare resources for ALL students regarding culture shock (including race and LGBT issues), not just the “white” norm. It takes more than putting it in the handbook or sending an email or two.
Yes, I recommend this program
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It is very interesting to take part of classes that have a different focus than the ones offered back home. The professors are very nice and understanding of the American culture and presenting the German culture in a very pragmatic, approachable way.The language course is fantastic. I love the fact that it was intense, because you move along the levels in a very smooth way. I also believe the language classes are very well structured, and the curriculum is very interesting. I would have enjoyed to have more field trips, because it made the class come alive whenever we learned something and we could apply it on the Berlin streets. I believe the orientation was fantastic,and I really enjoyed the boat tour that we took of Berlin. That is a must! I think the trip abroad was also a fantastic experience. Being there for two semesters, I went to Poland and England. I had a really fantastic time in both countries! I especially enjoyed Poland, because I went in places that habitually I would have not picked. I really enjoyed the tours that we had on the trips, as they provided interesting historical and cultural background. I believe one class I really wish I would have taken but wasn't able to (due to my schedule) was Architecture in Berlin. I would absolutely recommend Theatermetropole! It is one of the most interesting classes if you are looking to keep practicing your German and you love humanities.

How can this program be improved?
It would be fantastic if the location changed, ideally near the North American FU Students. That would make for a much better social life for all the American students wanting to improve their German and learning the ways.
Yes, I recommend this program


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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...