Learning German in Berlin: It's Possible! August 01, 2023

By (Williams College) - abroad from 09/01/2022 to 07/31/2023 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Berlin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I think the biggest thing I can take away is the improvement to my German skills. Additionally, I think it was worthwhile for the experience outside the somewhat stressful academic setting. Having to adapt to German culture and just the expectations around how work, bureacracy, life, etc. gets done was also extremely valuable.

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.

I think Middlebury offered great support in general. The ability to meet with a tutor (called "Babbel Guide") every week is certainly very unique. I appreciated this, but at times I wish I was given more flexibility regarding my work/studying habits and the expection of the program.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I got housing through the program. It was only frustrating at the end because of, for instance, roommates not being clean and stealing food (certainly not the fault of the Middlebury program). It was a little far away from the fun and interesting parts of Berlin, but I was able to adapt to where it was. The housing market is very expensive and in high demand so being able to find any room with good transit connections on your own is unlikely.

* Food:

I had to provide my own food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

In terms of cultural integration: Despite being in Berlin, it is actually meet Germans and get acquainted with the local culture. In terms of social integration: I think the program provided the best infrastructure for meeting people as possible, but I think there being more students would obviously make it easier to find people with similar interests to do things with.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

If I did bring a healthcare need to the Middlebury staff they were very helpful in helping find appointments, but I was also able to do this myself.

* Safety:

I think Berlin in general is very safe; one just has to know how to live in a big city and be conscious of where one is.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I think, to the extent that I did learn a lot of German, having to do *everything* in German was actually perhaps a hindrance to my language learning. I believe that if I were in only one or two courses in German, I would have paid more attention to them when balanced out with courses in English (if I were to do the same program). In this sense I would have possibly been less overwhelmed all the time. In my Summer Semester I barely having time to complete course readings on time, and therefore could have gained more from the German-taught courses, because I was writing four Hausarbeiten in German. Having the ability to balance out an intense academic experience with the familiar setting of an English-speaking course may have been more helpful.


* 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)

This depends completely on who you are as a person, in my instance, I was spending more for social opportunities (going to bars, eating out, etc.) than perhaps the average student, but I think it is easy to live cheap in Berlin if one sacrifices some parts of the lifestyle or knows where to go. Additionally, I noticed that food prices increased significantly in the time that I was in Berlin. I think one can still find a quick, cheap lunch for less than 7 euros, and sometimes 3-5.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 150 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat in a lot more, find bars with cheap alcohol (easy to do in Berlin), make conscious decisions about paying entry to expensive clubs (ask yourself, will I enjoy it a lot?), etc.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? C1.1
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independence
  • Language Learning
  • Student Support
* What could be improved?
  • Communication
  • Academic Flexibility
  • Language Pledge
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How emotionally draining the Berlin winter is. It sounds superficial, and I grew up in a cold place, but it being cold and grey for weeks on end, there not being any sun, and it being dark almost all the time really sucks. I think the winter did impact my experience for some time. To that end, I would recommend going in the summer semester if you think you can sacrifice basically the opportunity to have a summer internship.