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 56 reviews
  • Academics 8.1
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 46 - 56 of 56
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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European
9/10

Explore Europe

This program is surreal. You get to see, taste and experience so much in one semester. The people on the trip are so nice and knowledgeable; the professors are good and the speakers are so interesting! Please make sure that when you're thinking about this program, to ask yourself whether you want to gain some intercultural competence, because this program allows you to also do that. You gain confidence, travel to 10+ countries and 20+ cities-- it is amazing. You also learn more about some of the European capitals and the way they function within the EU. The Black Forest is just around the corner and you can visit it whenever you want. The nearest airport is an hour away and can lead you to some sweet escapes into some of the best places that Europe has to offer.

How can this program be improved?
There should be more transparency about hidden fees, such as class fees and book fees. These are things omitted from the manual.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Brittany
10/10

Ahead of the Curve

My experience with the IES Freiburg-EU program was nothing short of amazing. The center staff became our family in Freiburg, helping us with everything from how to manage the Strassenbahn (street car system), to carefully planning our three, week long "field trips". They provided just the right amount of guidance to get us started in our new environment without crossing over to "hand-holding".

What I enjoyed most about this program was that it was more than just living abroad for a year--it was about learning and experiencing things which you do not have the opportunity to at your home school. The EU program offers courses dedicated to the understanding of the European Union--and not just through theory! Everything you learn in class is connected to real, on-the-ground applications. Through the three field trips throughout the many European Union member states, you have the opportunity to see and experience theories and institutions in practice.

On top of the wonderful memories and life-long friendships that IES Freiburg-EU fosters, this program keeps ahead of the curve in developing a study abroad experience that will influence your life for years to come.

How can this program be improved?
Greater interaction with the local University's events and programs.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Tate
9/10

Choose the IES EU!

Program is set up perfect to build close bonds with others in the program but you must really reach out in order to meet the locals. The EU program takes it's students on several trips around Europe!

How can this program be improved?
Because so much time is spent traveling with the program that does not allow for much room for students to plan and take personal trips throughout Europe as the amount of classes one can miss is zero.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Haley
10/10

The Best Place on Earth

The IES Abroad European Union Program located in Freiburg, Germany was everything I could have wanted and more. Not only is Freiburg an exciting University town filled with fun bars, affordable restaurants, tons of outdoor activities, and friendly locals, the program itself is extremely unique. Three huge trips are built into the program allowing students to put the knowledge they learned in the classroom to fruition by seeing European political and economic systems at work across the continent. Through conferences, meetings, tours, and speeches, the students are able to apply their studies firsthand and really understand the cultural underpinnings of diverse European societies. I would go back in a heartbeat!

How can this program be improved?
I would get rid of Friday classes to allow the students to more easily travel on the weekends!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jessica
9/10

360 Degree Learning

The IES EU study abroad program was the spark that ignited my flame for wanting to learn from everyone and everything. The staff and faculty were the most caring people who were willing not only to support me in my new lifestyle but also were absolutely up to the challenge of listening to my desires to engage in the community and allow me the opportunity for it to happen. Freiburg was a beautiful community, and there was no shortage of people who wanted to assist me to become part of the community. I found that because my fellow US American students had various goals, it would have been nice to incorporate students from other countries into the program as well. That said, we had a lot of fun with EU simulations and model conferences which were great exposure to our core studies.

How can this program be improved?
From what I experienced, the ideal student for this program was extremely independent and self-motivated. As in many situations, you have to take charge of your own learning and do some exploring on instead of relying on fellow students and staff to do it for you. It's one of the greatest parts of 360 degree learning that so many people experience abroad!
Yes, I recommend this program
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IES-EU
8/10

An excellent introduction to the EU

Pros: The IES EU program in Freiburg gave me an experience that had an impact on my future plans. I loved the many days we spent traveling around Europe and meeting with high level officials of EU members states and the EU itself. The staff members did an amazing job handling the travel logistics of more than 60 people. It was nearly stress free for me. Our meeting with high level officials were efficient and worth our time in most cases.

My dorm was comfortable. My dorm-mates were very tolerant, inviting and easy to get along with. They influenced my philosophy in life. They made want to enjoy life while seeking to reach full potential. My professors were easy going and very approachable.

Cons: The library inside the IES building was too small especially because Freiburg University library was in construction at the time and the temporary library was a 15 minute train ride. Plus, it was limited hours for non-University student.

The academic challenges of the program were not up to the same standard as my home school, but I am glad it was not. If it was, it would have made the traveling aspect of the program very difficult. Professor could have been more aggressive in asking tough questions and challenging how we go about thinking through the class material.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Embo
10/10

Amazing European Experience

So much to say.
1. Academics: All about the EU, one German class (plus more if you want), similar to high school: small assignments for every class, plus quizzes, tests, presentations. Not too time-consuming though, plenty of time for fun. Not supposed to miss more than two classes or else your grade goes down.
2. Housing: Lived with German roommates in a really nice suite. Lovely city, walkable and also a tram. Grocery store was a 5 minute walk away.
3. Immersion: Not the best program if you want to immerse yourself in German culture. Most time spent with classmates in same program. All classes together, in one building. On the upside, it results in a pretty tight-knit group and is a lot of fun.
4. A lot of time is spent traveling. ~10 day field study trips all over Europe, transportation and lodging included in cost of program, amazing way to travel with your whole group and see different cities, but be warned there are mandatory presentations and lectures during these trips, which doesn't leave a lot of time for thorough sightseeing. Also fun day trips at extra cost, like sledding in the Swiss Alps. Definitely go on that trip, so fun. Finally, weekends and spring break to travel on your own. Take advantage, traveling was one of the best parts of this program!
5. Internship: I did the EP internship in Brussels for one month. Amazing experience to live there and go to work at the European Parliament everyday. Downside: work is what you make of it, some offices you get assigned to will not be as encouraging in giving you meaningful assignments. Also costs a lot of extra money.

Top Reasons to do this program:
-Lots of travel around Europe
-Freiburg is a beautiful university city surrounded by the Black Forest, small enough to be comfortable and not intimidating, big enough to offer nightlife, restaurants, festivals, history, etc.
-Format of program allows you to learn a lot about the EU, also make good friends with everyone else on the program. Staff are great, very helpful

Yes, I recommend this program

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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...