An extremely valuable growth experience Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 10/01/2018 to 02/15/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Berlin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to be independent. For the first time in my life, I was responsible my own living space. I was also forced to learn to cook. I left for Berlin feeling like a young adult and returned feeling like an adult.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The German system can lull you into a sense of complacency. There is less coursework compared to the US and most classes only meet once a week. However, because the academic calendars don't align perfectly, Middlebury students have less time than their German peers to complete their Hausarbeits. This can lead to significantly more stress later in the program, especially if you haven't managed your time effectively towards the beginning of the semester. That being said, there is more than enough time to complete the required work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program staff were fantastic. They were extremely supportive and able to assist us with any problems that arose. They also regularly checked in with us to make sure we were doing okay.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I got extremely lucky with my housing situation and managed to find accommodation through a family friend. However, other people in my program were not so lucky. Be aware that it is extremely difficult to find accommodation in Berlin, so get started with the housing search as soon as possible.

* Food:

Food options are very affordable and abundant in Berlin. Eating out is not nearly as expensive as in other major cities. That being said, grocery shopping is also relatively inexpensive, especially at Lidl and Aldi. Therefore, I cooked pretty much the entire time without spending too much money.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This was probably the most challenging part of the program. For students who are not used to the German system, this will come as a shock. It is very difficult to meet German students unless you are part of a club or have something in common. I met a lot of people through sports, although I would say that our interaction was limited to practice and little else. Don't be shy and take initiative. Otherwise, loneliness can be an issue.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health issues while I was abroad.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe during my time in Berlin. However, I would point out that Berlin is a big city, and in any big city, you are may feel uncomfortable at times.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Being in an immersive environment is the only way to learn a language. My German improved tremendously while I was abroad, and this alone made it all worth it. The immersive aspect is what sets the Middlebury program apart from other study abroad programs.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Berlin is an extremely affordable city for students. Costs for public transport are covered by the university and there is a host of affordable food options. Be prepared to pay in cash though, many stores and restaurants don't accept credit cards.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook at home as much as possible. Going out is relatively inexpensive, but still not as cheap.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

I made a concerted effort to stick to the language pledge, and it made a real difference.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 400
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Change your phone language to German. Read German newspapers and magazines. Most importantly, find an activity you can do with other young Germans.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Program staff
  • Writing guides
  • Level of immersion
* What could be improved?
  • Academic calendar
  • More group activities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How challenging study abroad can be. Everyone raves about study abroad when they come back, but I feel like that is only one side of the story.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Das politische System Deutschlands im internationalen Vergleich

Course Department: Political Science
Instructor: Christoph Nguyen
Instruction Language: German
Comments: This course offered a very good introduction to the German political system. The professor was very kind and approachable. Some coursework was required, but the major form of assessment was a Hausarbeit.
Credit Transfer Issues: Have no checked yet
Course Name/Rating:

Außenpolitikanalyse: Deutsche Außenpolitik im Vergleich

Course Department: Political Science
Instructor: Ingo Peters
Instruction Language: German
Comments: Will the course is very informative, it is quite challenging to keep up with the discussion at times, especially if you are not used to taking German university courses. However, Professor Peters gives us ample feedback and is very familiar with the Middlebury program. The primary form of assessment is a Hausarbeit, but there was other required coursework.
Credit Transfer Issues: Have not tried
Course Name/Rating:

Europäische Integration im Vergleich – Einführung in die vergleichende Regionalismusforschung

Course Department: Political Science
Instructor: Lisa van Hoof-Maurer
Instruction Language: German
Comments: It is important to note that this course is primarily discussion based. For students that are reluctant to speak in class, I would not recommend this course. However, I enjoyed the course a lot and grew in confidence significantly as the semester went on. The primary form of assessment is a Hausarbeit and students are also required to lead a discussion.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not done yet