Madeleine - Humboldt University of Berlin

Bachelor of Arts
Semester 1, 2018
An opportunity to make the most of during your bachelor studies, to be able to witness another culture different to yours, to experience living independently away from familiarity, and to gain more insight into what you want to do with your future.

Academic experience

I studied American Studies (a course on the cultural politics of Barbie; one on the relationship between humans and animals; one on linguistics; and one on atheism in America. These are all formatted as seminars, in which the students play the main role of shaping the discussion and layout of each session - this was something I had never encountered before and it was nice to experience something different. The enrolment process was quite challenging, as in the university system it‘s usual to be rejected from all the courses you apply for online, and to then have to show up to the first few sessions until there’s a place available for you - it all usually works out in the end, but is stressful nonetheless.

Personal experience

I used this exchange as an opportunity to improve my German language skills, and that has been one of the most rewarding things for me - to develop knowledge of a language in a country where it is spoken is a unique and very helpful experience. I also utilised living in Berlin as an opportunity to travel to other places in Europe. Overall, I think exchange helped me solidify my independence (especially regarding travel and living alone) and also given me a chance to intimately get to know another city that is so different from my own.

Accommodation

Finding accommodation in Berlin is really hard - I chose not to use the university-provided accommodation, as sharing a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen with that many people is not ideal for me (even if it's pretty cheap), and I managed to find something twice on a popular website called WG-Gesucht. I lived in two (very) different suburbs during my time in Berlin, just so that I could experience different atmospheres, and both experiences were very enjoyable - although not so cheap. For future students, I would recommend finding your own accommodation through a website like WG-Gesucht, and also trying to be organised with this so that you have something sorted out ahead of time.

Costs

The rent for accommodation in a shared apartment in the more central areas should range from around €550-800, transport is paid for with your university semester ticket (around €350), food is usually €5-15 to buy a meal out, and a ticket to the movies, for example, around €8-12.

Professional Development

Students at the host university are often required to use their oral speaking skills in presentations or in oral exams as assessment - a requirement which has helped me to become more comfortable with public speaking (something I don't normally do too often).

Highlight

Having my loved ones come to visit and travelling with them.

Top tips

Leave electives for your exchange semester if you can, as it makes it a lot easier to find subjects to study at your host university; do some research about your exchange city before you go, just so you know a bit about the history and what things you might want to visit there; and most importantly, if it is a non-english speaking country, study the language spoken there for at least a few months before you go!