Let’s Get Real: IES Abroad Berlin Students Share Study Abroad Advice

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IES Abroad
April 26, 2018
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Curious about making Berlin your home away from home? Hear from IES Abroad students about the ins and outs of studying abroad in Berlin.

Why study abroad in Berlin?

As one of the largest and most diverse cities in Europe, Berlin has something to offer everyone. From global economics and politics to groundbreaking art and culture, this city is at the center of world issues.

Berlin is also home to a rich and complex history that has fundamentally shaped modern Europe. You’ll never run out of historic and modern places to explore around the city. “There is so much to do here,” says Taylor Strege (University of Minnesota). “There is so much history from all different time periods.”

Is it difficult to speak German in Berlin?

Both beginning and advanced German language students will grow comfortable in and out of the classroom when studying abroad in Berlin. As an international and multi-cultural city, a variety of languages are spoken. Most local residents speak fluent English and are happy to accommodate language learners, so even beginning German speakers are able to thrive.

Jennie Baker (Tulane University) describes Berliners as people who “will stick with you (and help you learn the language) even if you make mistakes. And it’s really nice when that happens.”

Your German language professors are here to help you connect your academic instruction to real-world conversation skills. To learn more about IES Abroad’s innovative theoretical and pedagogical approaches to teaching language abroad, refer to the IES Abroad MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication.

What is it like living with local residents in Berlin?

The housing opportunities in Berlin are as diverse as the city itself. Our students have lived with local university students, families, and even prominent German artists. Living with a local resident is one of the best ways to practice the language and experience what life is truly like as a Berliner.

Jonathan Ho (University of Southern California), shares his specific housing experience: “Right now I am living with a working Berlin artist, who is very involved in the Berlin art scene,” he says. "Living with him has really helped me integrate myself into the berlin art scene as well.”

What should I know before studying abroad in Berlin?

Studying abroad in Berlin is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to push themselves out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in a different culture.

Take advantage of local events, join IES Abroad field trips, befriend German and international students, and, as Shummi Chowdhury (Emory University) says, “Let yourself be surprised by the city.” At the end of the day, you can define the study abroad experience you want: “It’s up to you to get out of your comfort zone. Push yourself from within,” says Hunter Ashburn (Claremont Mckenna College).

How do I meet local residents in Berlin?

IES Abroad students can meet Berliners through a variety of opportunities: take a class at a local university, live with a local resident, or pair up with a German partner in a language course. Our IES Abroad Berlin staff is always ready to help you make connections in the community, so don’t hesitate to ask! Taylor Strege (University of Minnesota) says she wanted to meet local students, so she “decided to take two sport courses at the local university.”

Still have questions about studying abroad in Germany? Contact a student Ambassador who has recently returned from an IES Abroad Berlin program.

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