A mixed experience February 14, 2024

By (Geology, Middlebury College) - abroad from 03/27/2023 to 07/23/2023 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Berlin

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about my personal preferences, goals and values. I learned how to spend time by myself, navigate new and complex situations alone, pushed my limits in many ways, and met new people.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I think the educational experience was overall positive. I enjoyed being fully integrated into the university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, the program director was amazing and the Berlin specific aids were very helpful, however I often felt they lacked in knowledge about the FU. For example, I went through I complex bureaucratic registration with the university for certain courses because I was led to believe that I needed to. However, I later found out I did not need to. It would have been helpful if the program directors new what I was asking about.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing was very bad, the only redeeming quality of it is that it is very affordable. It is not very clean (my room smelled like smoke for a week or two when I moved in), the kitchen was smelly and not conducive for more than one person cooking and one person eating. The location was very poor, 20-50 minutes from the University depending on connections, and at least 45 mins from most of the exciting parts of Berlin. I grew to enjoy Lankwitz, the neighborhood in which it is located, but I had to put effort in order to enjoy it.

* Food:

There are many food options throughout Berlin and summer festivals are a great way to explore some of them. The food at the university was inexpensive but not great. Groceries were cheap, bread was delicious and there is a grocery store just 100m from the housing (which helped make up for having very little storage space in the refrigerator).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I struggled to feel integrated, in part because it was difficult to find a lot of opportunities to speak German. I felt integrated in classes and I was lucky to go on field trips with classes, where it was easier to get to know classmates.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Experiences with healthcare varied. I cannot recommend the psychiatrists that Middlebury initially recommended, however Geoblue put me in contact with one that was very helpful. However, Geoblue limited my visits with her greatly.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Germany and Berlin.

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

I would love to live in Germany and maybe near Berlin again, but the housing was very rough. It was difficult to meet friends with it and he location was not very enjoyable. I would do Potsdam if I could do it again.


* 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)

Groceries were relatively inexpensive, $40 a week and you do not need to pay for commute in Berlin. There are plenty of things to do in Berlin for free, although I quickly spent much more on eating out and activities.


* 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? Advanced
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
  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Fully integrated classes
  • Writing workshop class with babble guide
  • Being in a city
* What could be improved?
  • Housing
  • Knowledge of onsite administrators of the Freie Universitaet
  • Programs and recommendations to meet people
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You will spend a lot more time alone than you are used to and to just be as patient as possible.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Erfurt im Mittlealter

Course Department: Kunstgeschichte
Instructor: Tina Bawden
Instruction Language: German
Comments: This class was not especially challenging, although the language of course made it very difficult.
Credit Transfer Issues: nope
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Geologie
Instructor: Mark Handy
Instruction Language: German
Comments: Was very challenging but the instructor was very helpful as was the TA. I think the Geologie department was overall very helpful and accommodating. There were weekly lectures followed by lab period, one lab from the semester counted to grade and there was one written final exam.
Credit Transfer Issues: Nope