This summer, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Berlin, Germany with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). My experience was nothing short of amazing and it was really fun meeting new people and learning about German culture. We spent 2 weeks in an amazing city and took classes involving European public policy at the Hertie School of Governance.
Let me just say, Berlin is a beautiful city. There are several beautiful buildings constructed with intricate architectural designs. Our study abroad group definitely looked like a bunch of tourists as we snapped pictures of almost every building we saw. Our surroundings in Berlin ranged from intricate, beautiful European cathedrals to small, hidden areas filled with creations from aspiring artists. Another noticeable aspect of the German culture is the wide array of graffiti. The graffiti is not the destructive type like you are probably thinking. It actually is very artistic and beautiful in its own, unique way. There are no regulations on graffiti in Germany so you pretty much see it wherever you walk.
Adjusting to German culture was definitely an experience within itself. Although several Germans speak English, the language barrier was still difficult to overcome. I went into this program barely knowing any German so this was definitely a struggle, especially when it came to learning the subway system. The large map was quite intimidating and the fact that we could not even pronounce the subway stops was even scarier! The cool thing about this program was the sense of independence we were given. We learned the subway system by ourselves and although it was a challenge at first, we were pros by the end!
When studying abroad, it is important to make the most of the experience. Let's be honest, one of the best parts of studying abroad is the food. If you take a trip to Germany, you have to try the doner. A doner is essentially the Turkish version of the gyro. It consists of grilled ciabatta bread filled with various veggies, your choice of sauce (I go for garlic), and veal. It then is grilled like a panini. Let me tell you, I am not a huge meat fan but this local food is delicious and most people from the area will agree! It is pretty cheap too, only about 2 Euro so my friends and I probably ate a lot more doners more than we should have.
The education portion of the trip was pretty interesting as well. We were there for two weeks and had two classes every day involving a wide range of topics involving European public policy. We took classes to cater to everyone's interest ranging among finance, German culture, environmental studies, and the education system. We weren't tested on the topics but we have to submit a paper in August depicting an aspect we learned about public policy. We were lectured by a wide range of professors and even got to visit various ministries! A ministry is a governmental building so it was really cool hearing from such knowledgeable people.
Clearly, Berlin was an amazing experience. I have a new love for this marvelous city and can't wait to return in the future! I made many new friends and learned so much about the European lifestyle and culture. If you are interested in studying abroad with SPEA (or just studying abroad in general), I strongly suggest you take advantage of the opportunity! It is an unique experience and a great excuse to travel with your peers. It is a really fun experience and you will learn so much!
New friends and I exploring
Being goofy with some of the other students on the trip
a Doner, so delicious!