Writing Papers in Berlin: a Sojourn July 27, 2022

By (Political Science, Middlebury College) - abroad from 03/29/2022 to 07/22/2022 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Berlin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was worthwhile for sure! I loved living in Berlin, it is an incredible city with many experiences to offer- there's really something for everyone here. I learned a lot in my classes and noticeably improved my German, which were after all my primary reasons for coming, so I'm by no means disappointed.

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.

Generally good, but held back by an imbalanced workload- almost nothing in the first half of the semester and far too much in the second.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very satisfied. Administrators and staff were always available and perfectly helpful, friendly, and gracious.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Not bad and fairly priced. I was very grateful to obtain a single room. I wish we could've had a subway connection to the university- the bus service was dreadful.

* Food:

Decent and fairly priced. About the same quality as the food at Midd, if not better, since the lows were never quite as low, and the highs were comparable.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Not very, although this was also my fault- I did not try very hard to integrate since this was not really my goal in going to Berlin; I knew I couldn't get integrated in a semester anyway. Still, I did not feel completely estranged from the local culture, hence the rating.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had cause to seek medical help, so I cannot rate the quality of the healthcare itself; however, when I got a cold and had to stay home and put work on hold for a week, my program very graciously granted me an extension on my papers. For that it earns five stars.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe but I also tended to avoid the less safe areas. I took care of my possessions and was never robbed; I don't know if I was ever in danger of that. One piece of advice for my posterity: if you live in the dorms, there are residents there who are able to pick the locks on your (everyone's) door. Generally they are a positive, as they can and will help you if you get locked out. Since the locks are so vulnerable however, I would caution against leaving valuables unattended in your room for long periods, letting it be known that you'll be out of town for a while, etc.

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

It was a good program, there isn't much to complain about. I was definitely expecting to not have to work quite this hard, and I wouldn't characterize myself as someone who slacks off a lot. I would say this program was more work-intensive than an average semester at Midd, certainly in my major. Writing three research papers in German at the same time while not having full mastery of the language and needing to learn German academic writing norms from scratch (believe me, they are quite different from American norms and the Midd German department does not prepare you for this) in 2/2.5 months is no joke. Especially if like me you choose paper topics that are fairly complex and require a lot of research. Still, it was fun overall.

Finances

* 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)

Pretty easy, I did not spend more than I was expecting to.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $70
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a plan on how much you'll spend overall and stick to it. I was able to pay for rent, food, a bunch of optional expenses etc. with a budget of just over $3000, which is all in all not bad.

Language

* 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

It was required to speak German virtually at all times.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 400-level
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? I did a lot of reading in German before going to Berlin, starting with easier texts and moving to more advanced ones. That certainly helped. Most of all I would say, be confident and just speak. After a certain point your brain will find all the right words for you once you start speaking, but you might have to overcome the anxiety that you won't be able to find them.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the city
  • the helpfulness of the admin
  • the city again, it's just the best (also, the ease of choosing and registering for classes)
* What could be improved?
  • better communication as to the workload, timeframes etc.
  • the preliminary academic writing course they made us attend was a joke- mindnumbingly boring and taught us barely anything practically useful about German academic writing standards. It should be reworked or removed
  • a very minor point, but all the restaurants they chose for our official dinners etc. were quite poor
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? In particular, that I should've maximized the use of my free time in the first half of the program when it was plentiful, because in the second it would become very scarce. An age-old mistake, but there it is.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Au├čenpolitikanalyse: Deutsche Au├čenpolitik im Vergleich

Course Department: political science
Instructor: Dr. Ingo Peters
Instruction Language: German
Comments: Good course, it was sometimes difficult to understand exactly what the professor wanted for an assignment, but he was always willing to explain.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Markt und Staat

Course Department: Political Science
Instructor: Dr. Thomas Rixen
Instruction Language: German
Comments: Good, fun course. Learned a lot.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Justinian und das westliche Mittelmeerraum im 6. Jahrhundert

Course Department: History
Instructor: Dr. Gerda Rummel-Heydemann
Instruction Language: German
Comments: Good course and fun. Made me fall in love with Late Antiquity.
Credit Transfer Issues: