FU-BEST GermanPLUS+

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FU-BEST GermanPLUS+ is THE academic program for all students with advanced German language abilities who are eager or required to study abroad in German. Whether you are studying German Studies / German language or European Studies / history / political science with a German focus, come to Berlin and have a great academic, cultural, and personal experience.

GermanPLUS+ runs on the American calendar and consists of two advanced German language courses and three subject courses taught in German on Berlin theater, German art, and German identity in politics and history (check our website for details). Upon successful completion, participants are awarded 20 ECTS credits from Freie Universität Berlin.

The program also includes accommodation, cultural activities, excursions in Berlin and Europe, and a range of other services. Small classes, expert faculty, and the availability of day-to-day support will enable you to make the most of this unique educational opportunity!

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Reviews

82%
based on 5 reviews
  • Academics 10
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 7.6
  • Housing 6.4
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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Lorene
9/10

GermanPLUS+

After doing one semester with the FU-BEST program I decided to take part in the GermanPLUS+ program which offers five courses instructed in German: C2, Academic Writing, Identity, Theater, and Art History. Due to the small class sizes (between 6-12), the dynamic between the students and instructors was able to be personal and fun, making the strenuous workload of the courses much more manageable. I was pleasantly surprised by every one of these courses, as they were almost all topics that were out of my comfort zone, but the material was presented in not only an accessible way to those with no prior knowledge, but also in such an interesting way that it made me want to engage with it. Additionally, the GermanPLUS+ group tends to be a bit more isolated, as we really only take classes with each other, which in my case worked out really well, as I was able to constantly be practicing my German and learning from them (and I got really lucky, because they were all great). By the end I not only felt so much more comfortable in my language skills, but also had such unique experiences I would have otherwise never had.

How can this program be improved?
The time schedule for the courses was the only thing that I wish would have been different. Sometimes it was nice to have the 4.5 hour break to get work done, but often it felt like more of an inconvenience than a good use of time and did not allow for exploring the city which is particularly disappointing for those who are only abroad for one semester.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Megan
8/10

Academics Based

The GermanPlus program was heavily academic based. Students take Academic Writing in German, and a German language class (c2). Additionally, students take three subject courses: art history, identity and politics, and theater. The classes are part of a package and cannot be changed, and they are split from 9-12, and three days a week subject courses are 4:30-7. We did not enjoy the long break in between because it would be late by the time we would get home every night and between classes there wasn’t enough time to go expplore Berlin. People in lower levels of German had the opportunity to explore more, but often did not take it. I feel we would have used the opportunity better and would have been able to practice our german with the locals. Our german definitely improved a lot, as well as pronunciation, due to all of our classes taking place in german. Our assignments were also in german and because of the support provided our by our german teachers, our written assignments (all in German) had to be top notch. Meanwhile, students in lower levels would often pull together their ten-page research papers the night before they were due since they were in English. You will need to invest much more time than for a traditional study abroad program, or than students in lower levels, but you will improve your language skills significantly. The students in our program were pretty isolated from the rest of the FU-BEST program, but we got along very well and spent most of our time together. We were able to practice german together and help each other. There were six girls officially in the GermanPlus program, meaning taking the german courses and subject courses, but there were several other students from the higher levels of german who were able to enroll in the subject courses. They didn’t receive the support we did for our assignments and often didn’t know how to complete assignments without this help. Also, this led to inconsistencies between professors’ grading because these students were sometimes grades easier and not so much on grammar, whereas we had to pay attention to grammar.

How can this program be improved?
The areas that could use the most improvement are definitely those concerning organization; because there were students not in the GermanPlus german courses, the subject courses were affected. Because of our schedule, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore. I think the german identity and politics course could have been more focused, or at least have concluded with germany’s role in present day politics, within Germany, the EU, and the world. I think the nature of the theater course (for which theater visits and written critiques were required) did not lend itself to the Hausarbeit assignment and I would like to see longer critiques instead of a Hausarbeit. The art history course was helpful for learning german history, as the pieces were visual aides to remember the history. I found the theater course the least current/relevant, although I understand that Brecht and Schiller are classic german literature. However, we are from an American program, and will be able to use this information the least. This course could have been replaced with a German version of the green energy course, as that is a current issue our generation is interested in.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Diane
8/10

German Plus Package

The German Plus Package was an extremely challenging program with all classes taught in German. While it was challenging, it ensured that all students would leave the semester having reached a level of German proficiency that cannot be attained elsewhere. Taking 3 subject courses in the topics Art, Theater, and Politics, as well as a general writing course, allowed one to learn materials that one could immediately use outside of the classroom when exploring Berlin.

Yes, I recommend this program
Margaret
8/10

GermanPLUS+ program

This program is very intense and not for those who are just looking for an easy and relaxed semester abroad. The assignments and readings are challenging, even for those who speak almost fluent German, and it seemed a bit overwhelming at first. It was somewhat frustrating how much time was needed to complete assignments, especially towards the beginning of the program. But it got easier toward the end, and most of the professors were really helpful and understanding. By the end of the program, I felt like my German had improved so much, that it was worth the time spent struggling through essays and readings. It's unbelievably satisfying to look back on the work that you've done throughout the semester, because it really is a huge accomplishment that everything was done in another language! The excursions were great in all of the classes and I think it made my educational experience a lot better. One of the most helpful classes was the academic writing class, which really made the Hausarbeiten a much easier, but it was sometimes a bit too long. (5ish hours on Wednesdays)
Although there was no choice of classes to take, it actually turned out pretty great because I took classes that I never would have normally taken and learned some really cool and interesting new things!
It was nice that the class sizes were so small, which meant we were often helped individually by the professors and also were able to give input into what we wanted to learn.
All in all, Berlin is an amazing city to spend a semester abroad and I think that this program did a pretty good job of teaching us the cultural aspects of Berlin and Germany in general. If you're looking for a rigorous program to improve your German, this is the one for you!

How can this program be improved?
One of the worst parts of the program was probably the schedule. The classes didn't end until 7, and mostly everyone lived about an hour away, which means you get home pretty late every day, which can be exhausting. During the 1st half of the semester, there was a 4 1/2 hour break in between our two classes, which most of us found frustrating. Even during the second half of the semester, I felt that the time to do homework was partioned out a bit oddly and it just seemed like there wasn't enough time in the day to finish everything.
Another thing I would've liked to have was more focus on discussions and debates to really perfect our speaking skills and allow us to express complex ideas more coherently. While this program improved my writing skills immensely, I would've also liked to see such improvement in speaking, especially about current topics that would have come up in actual conversation with other Germans.
Another thing is that I don't think there was much interaction with the locals, which I really would've liked to have had. There's an opportunity to get involved in sports or volunteer, but during the week there's barely enough time to finish homework, and the weekends are always difficult to guarantee that you'll be there if you want to travel. It would've been cool if even just once or twice there was a guest speaker in the class or if we did something similar to the theater workshop, where we interacted with a woman who worked at the Maxim-Gorki theater!
The last thing is that I think many American students generally don't have a great understanding of German history, so it's hard sometimes to get a grasp of more complex ideas and a good cultural understanding when the basics aren't always necessarily there. I think if maybe sort of a general German history class was offered, that would've been nice.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Theresa
8/10

FU BEST 2017

Great group of student Assistents and advisors! Much work in the classes but I really improved my German!
Great experience!
The excursions that took place were also very helpful. Constant speaking in Germany really benefited my word choice and listening. Starting the program off with working on grammar and reading skills helped in the long run with writing the papers.
The professors were very kind and open to all questions. Also willing to work on topics that interested the students so that the class would be more fun!

How can this program be improved?
High expectations regarding writing abilities. A lot to handle writing three 10 page papers... a bit of inconsistency between Dozenten regarding expectations.
Ability to choose classes
Yes, I recommend this program

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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...