IES Abroad European Union

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About

Taught in English, the IES Abroad European Union Program gives you the chance to study Politics, Economics, Business, and International Relations like you never have before.

The program features an integrative seminar that incorporates approximately 21 days of field study to travel to numerous countries inside and outside of the EU. As you visit each new country, you develop your understanding of the European Union, its history, and its institutions.

Europe will be your classroom. Imagine visiting the European Parliament and discussing current social and political issues with EU officials, or meeting with leaders of multinational corporations to learn about international trade. Welcome to study abroad!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 52 reviews
  • Academics 8.1
  • Support 9
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 31 - 45 of 52
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Spencer
10/10

A Very European Experience

I know I will sound like a broken record but deciding to study abroad in Freiburg on the European Union program was one of the best decisions of my life. The program incorporates everything I possibly could have looked for in a study abroad. I got a chance to break out of all the comforts I know from the US and live somewhere completely new. When I got there I was probably about as nervous as I’ve been for anything in my life. The minute you check in though the IES staff is already taking amazing care of you. Day 1 the office administrators are already completely invested in making sure you have a fantastic time abroad. The way they make you feel welcome and included from the first day to the last is truly very remarkable.

As for academics I would say the teachers you learn from are about as qualified as it gets. IES brings in experts from various political or economic backgrounds to teach these courses. Not only do these experts really know what they are talking about but they are also super approachable. If you ever need help or are interested in learning more beyond what you are learning in class, they are happy to engage with and guide you. By the end of the semester your professors will go beyond being your teachers and become mentors for more than just academic work. I met with almost all my teachers at least once outside of class to hang out and get to know each other better either as a class or individually.

The value of this program goes well beyond the classroom though, culturally and socially Freiburg is an awesome place to be. As a middle sized college town in south west Germany you get lots of incredible authentic experiences such as the Weihnachtsmarkt (world famous German Christmas markets that are pretty much a constant source of merriment once they start up). In terms of daily life there are loads of amazing pubs or restaurants to go to where you can meet locals or just relax and hang out with friends. In particular, the Irish Pub O’Kelly’s is an awesome spot. As for the food in the restaurants I could go on and on forever but what I will say is that it is incredible and very affordable. I got hooked on several things there that I have mild to moderate withdrawals from now.

One of the most unique features of this program is the academically integrated field study trips. Throughout the semester there are a few day trips and three week long trips to various member states and institutions in the European Union. Not only does this mean the program organizes all the travel with all of your friends from the program for you, but you also get to hear from people actively working with the concepts and within the structures you are learning about. Not to mention that since Freiburg is so centrally located with easy access to an airport travelling in smaller groups on the weekends is incredibly easy to organize. I went to 14 countries (including multiple cities in a couple of them) 9 of which were with the program. Basically if you are looking to see a lot of Europe this is a great program to do it. Plus, you learn stuff about the places you are going to that would be very hard to do on your own.

I will wrap up with a little more about the community IES sets up on this program. Beyond being friendly the staff at the center does a great job taking this huge group of students from all over the US with different backgrounds and bringing us together. By the end I felt really friendly with almost everyone on the program and there were 69 of us so that’s saying something. Over the course of 3 and a half months being there I not only learned a ton about the European Union but had an amazing time making fantastic memories doing it. The program is pretty politics heavy academically, but if you can go on this program I highly recommend you do. Freiburg and the people I met there will always have a special place in my memory. I grew in many ways I never would have expected when I left but am so happy I was able to. If you choose this program and go with an open mind, I will basically guarantee you will have a magnificent time too!

How can this program be improved?
Missed classes often get rescheduled from 6:15-7:45 if they could try to avoid this time period for class that would be great. It is hard to focus when class is exactly when you would normally be eating dinner. I often got very hungry and couldn't really focus or they could provide food so that we weren't hungry all through class. However this is a very small complaint because this program is excellent.
Yes, I recommend
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Marisa
10/10

A Wonderful Study Abroad Program

The IES EU Program is the program to choose if your main goal of studying abroad is to travel and experience more of the world. Not only will you be able to travel an incredible amount with this program but this travel will be essentially free and extremely well-organized, allowing you to hit all of the sites to see and to meet local officials and professionals who can give you great insight into their country. In the EU Program, you take 3 long course excursions to amazing destinations such as Berlin, Prague, Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Athens, Budapest, Bucharest, Riga, London, and Latvia. Everything about these trips is paid for except for lunch and dinner, which the program will sometimes even pay for as well (for Thanksgiving Dinner they rented us out a restaurant). Outside of the trips, Freiburg itself is a wonderful city and a place that you will surely fall in love with quickly. Academics are very interesting and relevant to the hot current events in Europe. By the end of the program, you will undoubtedly walk away with a comprehensive and deep understanding of the project that is the European Union. This knowledge is very useful for anyone interested in international relations and economics, or for anyone who wants to better understand one of the most important political bodies in the world.

Yes, I recommend
Brette
10/10

Beyond Amazing

The program offers in-dept understanding of the EU. All the classes are taught by passionate professors with interesting and diverse pasts. The town is perfect for studying abroad as it is a city that offers plenty to do, while also being perfectly located for traveling across Europe. It is a safe town with a tram system while also having a large train station for long distance traveling. The program offers 3 field study trips that plan all aspects of the trips from the hotel to travel. The field study trips allow students to apply their coursework.

Yes, I recommend
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Mia
10/10

The Best Decision I've Made So Far

Choosing to study abroad on the European Union program with IES Abroad was the best study abroad program I could've picked. I have few complaints about the program, and the experience far exceeded every expectation I had- and I don't seem to be alone in this regard. Almost every student on my program shared such a positive experience, and we all long to go back and do it all over again.

Situated in Freiburg, Germany, the European Union semester program takes advantage of everything this quaint little German town has to offer. Students are housed in dormitories or apartments with other University of Freiburg students (mostly German, but some international and some Americans on other study abroad programs) so that you see the typical student life in Freiburg. It also provides the opportunity to practice your German language skills with your flatmates, as German is a required course with the program. Depending on where you live, the dorms are a short walk or tram ride to the city center, and each dorm has a student bar.

The city of Freiburg itself is very young and student friendly, with cheap prices, great restaurants, and a bustling nightlife. Typical student activities included going to the Münster markets for lunch for a bratwurst, going on runs in many of Freiburg's parks and lakes, talking for hours at beer gardens, hiking up the Schlossburg with a gorgeous view of the city, and frequenting regular cafes, bars, and clubs. It lives up to its name as the "greenest city in Germany"; the city is very eco-friendly, most food is organic, and clean. It also lives up to its other title as the sunniest city in Germany; the cold and snow at the beginning of the spring semester only lasted around March and the city came alive with outdoor cafes, beergardens, and trips to the park. To top if off, I always felt safe in the city, even in the middle of the night. It is easy to travel from Freiburg, too- the Kaiserstuhl neighboring area offers many hikes and wineries, the Black Forest is fun to explore and has great skiing in the winter months, and it is only a short train ride from large German cities and the Basel and Frankfurt airports for easy weekend trips. After returning from the many field study trips, Freiburg quickly felt like "home."

The academics at the European Union program are very interesting and subject specific. All my classes were European focused, including one on the history of Europe, migration patterns, and regions that exist within Europe, in addition to the required EU Seminar and German language course. This program does not require prerequisite knowledge of the European Union itself, as the Seminar course ranges from beginner to intermediate EU studies based on each student's prior knowledge or experience with European studies, so that every student eventually has the same level of basic understanding of the EU institutions. Our accumulated experience was rounded out with the Model EU capstone project at the end of the semester, where students prepared the whole semester representing a member country in various council topics. It was a lot of work, but every student was still talking about the Ukraine crisis, EU border control and immigration, or corporate tax avoidance until the day we flew home.

The selling point of the program are the field studies unique to the program. In one semester, we visited 9 countries and 10 cities- more travel than I could've hoped to do on my own. The administration is very transparent and clear about the program trips, and students didn't have to worry about logistical planning for any of the trips- IES found accommodation, city tours, transportation passes, travel to and from city to city, and meetings and events, on an organized schedule given to us at the beginning of the trip. On every trip, students went to meetings at institutions, think tanks, or other organizations. Students were split into three groups based on your school major and interests, and attended subject specific meetings in each city (for example, I am an International Affairs major and was in a group that focused on international politics and foreign policy; our meetings included going to the French Foreign Ministry in Paris, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, and meeting with experts in Prague on the Czech Republic's government transition from communism to democracy). It is the perfect combination of classroom experience and real world experience- and provides students with an unparalleled understanding of the EU institutions and a richer travel experience than if I had organized travel on my own.

My study abroad experience was extended with an internship at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. This internship program is offered through the IES program, and I interviewed with staff members in Freiburg after submitting a written application. Seven students including myself had the opportunity to intern with a parliamentary member at the European Parliament for the month of June, and we took a complimentary course during May on cross-cultural communication and working in foreign environments. The internship program was a fantastic experience, and provided me with valuable work skills, an increased understanding of EU institutions and policy-making, and forced me to examine my own culture and how I present myself in foreign environments- all while exploring a new home in Brussels. I highly recommend applying to the internship program, which is also offered in Freiburg if students would like to intern at other organizations.

All in all, I couldn't imagine studying abroad with a different program. For me, this program had everything I was looking for- a program focused solely on European matters, a way to practice my German language, and a chance to cross off many places on my travel bucket list- and I was lucky to meet some of my new best friends in the process. Although it is subject specific and may deter from "traditional" study abroad experiences, you only need an interest in travel and trying new things to enjoy this program. In conversations with other students from my home university who studied abroad, I seem to have had the most enriching experience. No other program provides you with hands-on learning, a hybrid of classroom and real world experience, and extensive travel quite like the European Union program with IES.

Yes, I recommend
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Frances
9/10

Germany and Beyond

I arrived in Freiburg, Germany with zero expectations and that was the best way to go about my study abroad experience.

Location:
Freiburg is the quintessential German college town. It's located in the heart of the Black Forest and is known as the sunniest city in Germany. The size of the town is about 200,000, which perfect to explore the ins and outs of it without being overwhelmed. Freiburg is also mostly students, so international students are not uncommon, which is relieving for those who are unfamiliar with the language. It's close to Switzerland and France, making day trips easy and a great option on the weekends.

Academics:
Classes and the workload that comes with them is reasonable. European politics and studying the European Union may seem confusing at first, but once you understand what the Parliament, Council, and Commission are, you'll be in good shape. There are also a variety of classes to choose from, such as understanding conflict in the Balkans and migration in the EU. The field trips that are included in the program are also an excellent way to get direct exposure to hot-button issues.

Housing:
Students live in apartments owned by the University of Freiburg, which gives them a great opportunity to interact with German students. Although I wasn't too happy about my housing situation because of the condition of my apartment, I was glad I got to know my flat mates and became friends with some of them.

Overall:
Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I've made in my life so far. I made some great friends that I know I'll keep in touch with and had some major revelations while in Freiburg. I highly recommend this program, especially for people who love traveling and aren't afraid to go outside of their comfort zone.

How can this program be improved?
The program administration wasn't always the most organized, which often confused students. The program should also better consider which students from the program to match as flat mates.
Yes, I recommend
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Nell
9/10

I met some of the best friends of my life

Location:
Freiburg is the German version of a college town. At first I was a little worried that I wouldnt be in a big city like Heidelberg, Munich, or Berlin, but I very quickly found out that Freiburg was the perfect size. Having a population of around 200,000, Freiburg felt like the perfect size. Campus and downtown were always bustling and there was always something going on, yet there were numerous hills, trails, parks and lakes that were quiet and not packed at all, so that you could have some nice alone time. With a great public transportation system, you could get to every corner of Freiburg in about 25-30 minutes. The city is known for being one of the wealthier areas of Germany and it is really evident that the city is well kept and aesthetically pleasing. The atmosphere of the city is great because it is very German, yet very multicultural and very student oriented, yet family friendly. It is important to note that I never ever felt unsafe in the city. Even walking 30 minutes home at 3 AM, I always felt safe in the city!

Academics:
This program is so unique because it mixes classroom learning with real world experiences. This blend of knowledge, centering around everything European Union related, is designed in a way for students to get the most out of the program. At first I was nervous about having to learn in a European system with European professors because their values and norms are so different, but I found out that IES really tries to cater to Americans. The best part of the program was the learning. Now hey - that sounds really nerdy of me, but everyone on the program was nerdy in some way. We would spend a couple weeks in class learning about current events and EU institutions. Then, what really brought it to life, we would visit the places that we talked about in class. It was super unique to see these things in real life, because how many people can say they have been to the Council of Europe?
The field study trips that accompanied the program were some of the best times of my life. Just with organized IES field trips, I got the opportunity to visit 10 different countries! Everything was planned perfectly and organized expertly. The travel was always on time, comfortable and not too long. The accommodation was clean, comfortable and always in a good location. We had a walking tour in every city we visited right when we got there, so that we could learn about the history, culture and layout of the city. We also had about three or four academic meetings in each city where we learned about the political culture and government of the city and country. This is where we got to meet very high up, important people who held good positions. We learned so much from just discussing and listening to these people. Although all of that sounds really academic, we still had so much free time. We had almost all afternoons and evenings off, so we could pick our own dinner restaurants, go see all of the touristy sites and then go out and experience the local nightlife. The truth is, even if you plan your own travel throughout Europe, it will never be as cheap and well planned as the IES trips.

People:
I met some of my best friends this semester! Studying abroad is kind of like your first month at college: nobody knows anyone and everyone is looking for friends immediately. I made incredible, lifelong friends through this program. The people are more academically driven than your usual university student. The kids are all quirky, nerdy, weird and fun. This basically means that during the day we would have political discussions and would watch John Oliver together, but at night we would go to bars and clubs together. The people come from many different universities all throughout the country, so it was really unique to share experiences. We all got so close that we are planning a reunion this year. The people really helped out on limiting home sickness and eliminating the side effects of cultural shock.

Housing:
We got to live in student housing! I was really excited about this prospect because we spent so much time with American IES students on the program that we didnt get to meet many Germans. The housing opportunity allowed us to meet and interact with German university students who were in the same boat as us! It really gave me a chance to compare and contrast American vs. German life. This was an added plus for the program.

Overall:
Even though places like France, Spain, Italy and England sound like the most popular places to study abroad in Europe, Germany is the hidden gem. Germany is right in the middle of Europe so travel is incredibly easy because everything is so close. Germany is also doing well economically so the country is thriving, yet prices are not too expensive. My favorite thing about the country is that it is very punctual and very orderly, so you know exactly what you are getting. I would recommend this program to many different types of students - as it really is a fantastic experience!

How can this program be improved?
There needs to be more interaction between us and german students. We kind of got into an IES bubble that entrapped us into only hanging out with American students. I wish IES did more to get us involved with the German University in Freiburg.
Yes, I recommend
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PB
10/10

Just Do It!

Location:
Freiburg is the biggest town in the area with around 200,000 residents and a lot of them are college kids. It's very walkable and the public transportation makes it even easier to get around. You will get to know the city pretty quick as it isn't that big, but you definitely won't get bored of it. Definitely take advantage of the Schlossburg and the numerous biergartens around it during nice weather. The best Döner kebab place is most definitely Uni Döner in downtown. There is a train station in town which can get you to some major cities around the area, but you will have to travel via train to either Basel or Frankfurt for the closest airport which some view as a hassle.
Academics:
You will come out of this program with a much better understanding of the EU than most EU citizens. The syllabi may look intimidating, but don't let that deter you. The papers are meaningful and related to the coursework and the professors are not overly harsh graders. I definitely encourage people who want a challenge to take the Leadership course with Kerstin. That has been the best class I have ever taken, including high school and college. The only aspect of the academics I was disappointed with was the lack of business courses, however, that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and take classes, like Environmental Policies, I otherwise would have never taken. The Field Trips are incredible. You have one or two academic meetings in the day where you learn about different topics relating to the EU from people who are experts in those fields, which is much better than having your professor make you read those chapters in a text book. Then you have the nights free to explore the city. My friends were so jealous of all the travel I experienced through my program and how I didn't have to worry about any of the logistics of those week long trips.
People:
My program had the largest amount of people they have ever had with over 90 students so there was a wide variety of interests and personalities which I loved. From my experience, the kids enrolled in this program are more academically driven than your average college student. The kids on the program are going to be holding some high positions in the political, business, and international affairs world in a couple years so it is a great place to do some networking. That being said, they also know how to have a lot of fun.
Overall:
Incredible experience. You mostly hang out with other Americans on your program so if you want to meet Germans, get involved with some pick up sports and or another program on campus!

Yes, I recommend
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Tyler
9/10

The European Experience

The program overall was a great experience. It definitely changed the way that I see American culture and the "way we do things" here in America. It helps to broaden your horizons about life in general. Living in a completely different culture gives you a great opportunity to reflect on yourself and grow as a person. The academics overall were pretty good, as well. I really liked the leadership class taught by Kerstin Spurk. Of course, German beer is fantastic (for those of you who are 16, which most likely any of you are) and the food is also amazing. The people you meet are a huge part of the experience, as well. You create bonds with people that will never be broken. Having an experience together like studying abroad creates a deep relationship with friends you never knew before. When I entered into this program, I was not a political science major, nor did I take any political science courses beforehand in college (the traveling really hooked me). For those of you who love political science, this is definitely a go-to. And for those who aren't into political science, like I was, it is cool to learn about political science from a European perspective. The European Union is fascinating (and also falling apart), so definitely keep an open mind. Flatmates are very good resources for friendship, German language, German knowledge, and just about anything else that you need to know about Freiburg. The travel was probably the best experience I had while in this program. I don't want to spoil too much, but get ready for seeing some of the biggest European cities and get ready to explore some of the coolest towns and architectural sites known to man!

How can this program be improved?
It would be cool if everyone could live in one area (instead of being separated into Vauban, Engleberger, Berlinerallee, etc.)
Yes, I recommend
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Kimberly
10/10

11 Countries in 4 Months! Travelling with the program is incomparable!

The IES European Union program was a phenomenal and unique experience. Located in Freiburg, Germany, we were afforded the chance to call a beautiful, safe, and convenient German town home, while spending a large portion of our semester travelling through the European Union. The program took us on 3 week-long field trips on which we took all that we'd learned in our EU seminar in Freiburg and applied it to each new city and country we visited.

Taking "off" the week from scheduled classes, we had 1-3 meetings or presentations scheduled almost every day of the field study in government buildings, media outlets, and IES centers to meet with/hear from government officials, topic specialists, and civilians alike. Once we stepped out of our meeting, we stepped onto the streets, each new city at the disposal of (in my case) 84 eager Americans.

We spent the evenings and lunch hours exploring, trying local cuisine, meeting locals, taking walking city tours, and enjoying all that European night life has to offer. Freiburg was the perfect launching pad and host city, having a good night life and day time experience of its own, and also being located within an hour of both France and Switzerland and close to other major German cities.

Advice for anyone reading this: GO ABROAD... and if you find yourself on the IES EU program, enjoy EVERY bit!!! (But I don't have to tell you that... because you will!)

Yes, I recommend
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Owen
9/10

Amazing Experience in an Amazing City

There are many aspects of the IES European Union program that appealed to me. First of all, the program was situated in Freiburg, Germany, a city of approximately 220,000 people located in heart of the Black Forest on the Swiss and French borders in Southwest Germany. I was attracted to a smaller city, as opposed to Berlin or Vienna in Austria, because I felt I would be more intimately immersed in the culture and have more opportunities to meet and establish friendships with locals, as well as strengthen my German language skills.

I also appreciated the extensive travel that was included in the program. We took three trips that covered a large portion of the European continent and met with a variety of European Union representatives and political activists. In addition, the travel allowed us to spend time in some of Europe's most extravagant cities, including Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, and many more. Although there wasn't an abundance of time set aside for independent travel, I was still pleased our group's excursions to some of Central Europe's most prominent sites.

Learning in the program was extensive and occasionally could be quite intense. Those who were not well informed of European politics before entering the program left with a vast knowledge of institutions, policies, and issues of the European Union. The Model European Union simulation that was held in the final weeks of the program also enhanced this experience.

Becoming immersed within another culture is one of the greatest benefits of studying abroad. By attending cultural immersion classes upon arrival in Germany, I was better prepared to move in with my flatmates. Language courses, which differ according to the ability of students, were also held four days a week. These classes allowed me to pick up some simple German phrases that I could use in restaurants or other day-to-day interactions with the German people. For me personally, the living environment was definitely one of the highlights of the program. Living with German students from the local university provided me with wonderful opportunities to establish friendships with locals. I enjoyed learning how German students spend their leisure time while improving my communication skills through conversations with them.

In addition, I found the IES staff to be incredibly helpful and friendly. Staff members were always willing to assistant students regardless of the situation at hand. Throughout the semester, I developed great relationships with both the IES staff and professors. It was not uncommon for them to personally show students around Freiburg or even to invite them to join them for lunch or dinner.

The IES European Union program provided me with fantastic opportunities for travel, cultural immersion, building new friendships, and exposure to diverse learning experiences. Although the workload from classes could sometimes feel overwhelming, every student with whom I spoke described his/her experience as "life changing." That was certainly the case for me. For all of us who participated in the program, Freiburg will always be our German hometown. I would recommend this program, without reservation, to any student who has the desire to learn more about the European Union and to see the world.

How can this program be improved?
The academics were often more difficult than they needed to be with absences from class carrying heavy grading consequences in addition to some difficult grading.

Independent travel is also difficult as there are no major breaks and class attendance requirements are strict.
Yes, I recommend
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Yi
10/10

I would go back to this program again and again, with a moment's hesitation

I absolutely loved my time in the EU program where I had the happiest four months in my life.
-TRAVEL
Traveling is what first attracted me to the EU program. The program itself took us to 3 different field trips and 8 different cities over 3.5 weeks. The trips were very well organized with different activities/lectures to learn about the EU and the local culture. We always got clear schedules, maps, and recommendation for places to visit in each city. I also took several weakens to travel to different countries with my friends. It's just so easy to travel in Europe!
-ACADEMICS
The classes we had at the center were very well-connected with the things we learnt from the field trips. In the end, I was surprised by how much I learnt about the EU in just one semester. Even though the classes were generally easier than those at my home institution, I still got much out of my classes. The professors were very interesting people too. They came to field trips with us and I really got to know some of them very well!
-LIVE
We lived in University of Freiburg student dorms with German students. All the dorms are very nice and my room was huge! We had a nice living room/kitchen where my friends and I cooked a lot. My German suite mates were wonderful people. They were extremely helpful and great to talk to. We had dinners and hangouts at the student bar together. Freiburg is an amazing city with lots of students and a gorgeous view everywhere you go. You will find great restaurants, shopping malls, bars, and clubs here!
-CULTURAL IMMERSION
Because the EU program is taught in English, most student don't come knowing German already. We don't have classes in the University of Freiburg or with the German students, which could be a downside to cultural immersion. However, I believe most student didn't choose this program for intensive language training and the program already did its best by arranging us to live with German students. I still had many chances to immerse myself in the culture, just by talking to my professors, talking to local restaurant owners, and exploring the different corners of the city. If you're driven to learn more about the culture here, trust me, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so!
-STAFF
The staff at the EU center were amazing. They were very responsive and helpful to all problems. You will love them!

How can this program be improved?
Only improvement I can think of is to let students enroll in optional courses at the University of Freiburg (perhaps those taught in English) so that people can get to know more German students and know what it's like to take a class in the university.
Yes, I recommend
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Kelsey
9/10

This program speaks for itself

I had the privilege of studying abroad in the cozy town of Freiburg, Germany, situated right on the outskirts of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Living in Freiburg is reason enough for you to take part of this program; this is a very green, active city. They have activities ranging from hiking through the Black Forest, taking a stroll around the beautiful Seepark, getting lost while weaving through the cobblestone streets of downtown Freiburg, or stuffing your face with yummy sausages, and other regional delicacies. Freiburg is also a university town so there is plenty to do throughout the weeks you are there.

As far as academics go while on this program, I think IES provides a decent range of diverse topics you can take classes on. If you are a political science major, this program has your name written all over it. While there, you can your fellow classmates partake in three different field study trips, traveling to places like Prague, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Athens and many others. What is nice about these field study trips is that they try to tailor them to your interests in your major. For example, I am an International Business major so while traveling, we met with officials and went to offices that related to potential fields I would be interested in working in and that related back to the course work I was taking while abroad.

Overall, the perfect combination of German culture, diverse field study travel, engaging professors and classwork, and the city of Freiburg itself, made for the best semester of my college career. You only have the opportunity to study abroad once in your lifetime, and choosing IES Abroad European Union is definitely worthwhile. This trip positively influenced my global perspective and I will forever be grateful for the friends, memories, and experiences I had during my time abroad in Freiburg.

How can this program be improved?
The only think I wish could be improved on the program would be the frequency of grade updates by professors. While they are understanding of our hectic schedules filled with traveling and other coursework, they expect us to complete our assignments in a timely manner, so I wish that their grade turnaround rate would have been faster than the minimal grade updates online they actually did throughout the program.
Yes, I recommend
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Anthony
10/10

Best four months of my life...

I can't even begin to express how I feel about the IES Abroad European Union program. At risk of sounding cliché, I can comfortably say that my semester was the best four months of my life. Seriously. I forged lasting friendships, experienced a wide variety of new cultures, and formed a new perspective on the world. Getting on the plane to leave was one of the hardest things that I think that I've ever had to do.

LOCATION
Freiburg is the ultimate city in which to study abroad. Not too small, not too large, and in the middle of Europe. It truly is an incredible "home base"--Deutsche Bahn trains are within easy reach and EuroAirport Basel is close by. Freiburg is authentic but cosmopolitan, fresh but refined, young but diverse. Which should come as no surprise. It's been called the greenest city in Germany, and it's a major university town. In keeping with that, it's bar/club scene is fantastic. The student bars (StuSie, Mudom, and Vaubar) in particular are quite fun.

ACADEMICS
Much more time-consuming than you may expect. Classes were not necessarily more difficult than my classes at my home institution, but they were certainly more work. I've never had to write two 15-20 page papers in a single academic term. But in Germany I did. Which, given their system and culture, I probably should have expected. Regardless, it was a big struggle. I didn't really mind, but I do think that it's important to keep in mind that this is a more academically rigorous program than most. Also, you will have class on Fridays. There's no way around that.

FIELD TRIPS
So insanely awesome. The program includes 22 days of field travel. I traveled with the program to Berlin, Prague, Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, Strasbourg, Lucerne, London, Stockholm, and Tallinn. In each city, various course-related and general meetings were required. While some were snoozers, others were incredibly stimulating intellectually. Our meetings with the European Commission or the European Court of Justice come to mind. Even more amazing, I think of our candid meetings with representatives of the Permanent Delegations of Russia and Turkey to the EU. The meeting with Russia's diplomats came right during the Ukraine crisis. What an incredible opportunity! His perspective was interesting and comparing it to the EU/U.S. perspective was even more fascinating.

HOUSING
I lived in a student housing complex in Vauban, where I shared a flat. Everyone gets a single room and shares a kitchen and bathroom with German and other international students. You may have someone in your program in your flat, but you might not. That said, you'll definitely have at least ten members of your program in your housing complex, and that means that group dinners and parties will become a fact of life. Get to know your German roommates! Not only are they likely super cool (especially if they live in Vauban), but they also are a wealth of knowledge about Freiburg and Germany. Some of the best conversations I had were spur of the moment and unexpected conversations with Germans about the United States, Europe, and international relations. One particular conversation about gun control will always stick in my mind.

SOCIAL LIFE
God. I couldn't have wanted anything more. While IES EU is not set up in a way that would invite a high degree of intercultural dialogue and interaction, it certainly is set up such that you will become great friends with the other Americans on your program. That's not a problem. In fact, it's a huge blessing. I made friends who I will be keeping in touch with for some time to come, and I expect many others would do the same. We went on trips, out to clubs/bars, and on short hikes/daytrips together. With only 60 people or so, it's no surprise that you'll become really good friends with your American classmates. Just don't expect a hugely high amount of intercultural interaction, unless you consciously seek it out. (For example, several of my friends played ultimate with the local team while in Freiburg, but they had to look for these opportunities themselves.) You also need not travel outside the program, although you totally can and should at some point. I went to Rome and Munich and couldn't have been more pleased. Other people visited Amsterdam, Dublin, and even Kiev. Bear in mind that almost anything is possible; you just have to find time (and money!) to make it happen.

OVERALL
I could not recommend this program enough. It's one thing to say that study abroad changed your life. Everyone says that. It's another for a program to actually do it. I seriously can't think of one regret I had in going abroad, and I'm glad that that's the case. If you want a high degree of cultural interaction and to become fluent in German, don't apply to this program. But if you want to work hard/play hard, experience Europe while engaging with decision makers and thought-leaders and making incredible friends all at the same time, then stop reading this review and go apply.

How can this program be improved?
Communication between instructors and administration. It seemed like sometimes the two were on totally separate pages. Or even different books entirely. It would be nice if the instructors themselves could coordinate their syllabi so as not to cluster many long assignments within a single week.

It would also be nice to more informed about goings-on in Freiburg. Not knowing English, I felt like some opportunities were out of reach simply because I couldn't understand the calendar. Even a weekly email outlining what's going on that week in Freiburg would be sufficient.

What about starting the program a bit earlier? Even a week would allow a lot more flexibility. Currently, the fall program begins September 3, and by a week later, you're leaving on your first field trip. The intensive week of orientation adds a lot of stress. Starting the semester a week or two earlier would add a lot more flexibility in the program and allow classes to be more spread out/have more time for assignments. In fact, it might even allow three-day weekends...how nice would that be?
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kacy
8/10

Not Just Germany

Freiburg is an exciting college town nestled in the Black Forest, which makes for great hiking, lined with cobblestone streets and the beloved Bächle (the little streams scattered around the city where you often see children playing). The feeling of this home city is indescribable, but trust me there is no better place to go home to after each field study trip. Freiburg has something for everyone whether you prefer bars or the theater.

And let's not forget about those trips. The most unique part of this program is not only do you have the opportunity to learn about the European Union while living in Germany, but you get to experience it for yourself through first-hand witness of a variety of places in the EU. The trips that are included in the program include relevant meetings that integrate classwork into 'real-life' encounters while providing the time needed to see each city and its wonders!

How can this program be improved?
The coursework is overwhelming at times. The professors warn you from the beginning and do their best to avoid it, but there are certain weeks usually right before a couple of the trips that seem to cause more stress than usual. In the end, the grading seems to take this into account.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Eddie
8/10

European Union

This is one of the most unique programs in the study abroad world I have personally encountered. Meet representatives from all different types of governments and learn about Europe in a way no one else will by seeing how various governments all function uniquely under the EU. Meet with think tanks, ministers, and locals as they all explain their experiences and stories to help you have a comprehensive understanding of the difficulties their specific region or city has faced historically or in the present. Three weeks of built in travel is one of the nicest and most convenient aspects of the program as well, especially since the last trip has a few options for students to pick their area of study.

How can this program be improved?
Classes on Friday should be optional, not mandatory for every single person. Class times are long and difficult, much more so than other study abroad programs. The city doesn't really come alive until the students return in mid/late October, so it is a little bit of an adjustment until then.
Yes, I recommend

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IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student...