Metropolitan and Urban Studies Class Reviews

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Sylvia Waechter
May 25, 2024
A you woman sitting against a tree in a park looking at a notebook.

A key part of studying abroad is, well, studying, but picking classes can be a stressful affair. Hopefully a guide from a former student can help you out!

GR 101 -  German Language in Context: Novice Abroad I

I originally wasn’t planning on taking German during my time in Berlin. But after our first couple German-intensive classes during orientation I decided to pick it up. I’m really glad that I took it because it made me feel more immersed in daily life in Berlin. Although I didn’t learn as much German as I hoped to (the longest interaction I can have in German is ordering a Döner), this class gave me a better understanding of German culture and customs. All of the German instructors are absolutely amazing, I had Maria and she made every class an exciting experience. It was a relatively low-effort class, with short homework assignments and only a midterm and final exam. If you’re planning on taking German, I would definitely recommend you find friends in your class to practice and study with before exams!

US/SO 366 - The Politics of Urban Space

This class is perfect for anyone who wants a better understanding of the economic, social, and political factors at play in Berlin. I absolutely loved this class, it really challenged the way I think about processes such as immigration and gentrification in an urban setting. This class is truly an urban studies class and delves into many factors of Berlin's urban form. Although the weekly readings can be incredibly dense and theoretical, the class discussions are always focused on understanding the texts, so you definitely need to read them, but not necessarily completely understand them. The professor, Bariş, includes several field trips around Berlin giving real-life examples of the topics from the readings. Assignments include a midterm paper and exam, as well as a final case-study and exam, however these are seen as an opportunity to express your (research backed) opinion on class topics.

US 375 - Evolution of the Modern City: Urban Development and Architecture

Evolution of the Modern City was the most informative class I took this semester. Jan, the professor, is incredibly knowledgeable about Berlin’s urban and architectural development, giving insight into what historical factors influenced Berlin’s urban planning and architecture. Field trips include in-depth explanations of famous Berlin landmarks such as Karl-Marx-Allee, the Kulturforum, and Museuminsel. This class also delved into the urban development of other major cities in comparison to Berlin, such as Paris, New York, and Istanbul. Although weekly readings are assigned, the majority of information comes in the form of in-class lectures with very little time dedicated to discussions. This class was relatively work intensive, with a midterm paper and exam as well as a final paper and exam. My best advice is to take lots of notes during each lecture to reference for the exams, since the questions are directly drawn from lectures.

ES/SO 360 - Global Pillars Project: Designing the Sustainable City

Not to be confused with “Urban Design and Sustainability” this is a project-based class focused on finding solutions to urban issues in Berlin. Read more about it here.


IN 397 - Global Internship Seminar

The Internship Seminar takes the place of your fifth class if you decide on pursuing an internship abroad. This is a pretty light class, with easy weekly readings and a short weekly journal entry. Weekly class topics included everything from stress management, to an overview of German school and welfare systems. Read more about getting an internship here.

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Sylvia Waechter

Guten tag! My name is Sylvia, I'm an Urban Studies student at the University of Illinois - Chicago and I'll be studying in Berlin, Germany this semester! I'm a total public transportation nerd and love to write reviews of different transit systems that I ride on. Follow along as I explore Berlin, travel around Europe, and continue my education as an 'Urbanist in training'.

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Urban Studies
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