Emily Orell

Contributing Writer

For most college students, studying away is a major goal, as it was for me. After a long decision making process I decided to go through CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) to the Global Institute in Berlin, Germany.

Part of my decision was the school’s Architecture program, and the other part was that I would be able to finish my German minor while abroad.

From day one it has been an adventure.

While Getting on the plane I was very excited. Then the flight was delayed. I missed my connecting flight and got stuck at the Amsterdam airport for five hours. Not off to a good start.

But I was determined not to let the beginning determine the semester. Finally arriving at the school, which was at a brand new location, I felt so privileged to be able to have the opportunity to study abroad.

Contributed Photo/ Emily Orell

Contributed Photo/ Emily Orell

Within the first week I had traveled throughout Berlin every day, and getting lost was a common occurrence. This made me love it even more.

After a month I had still not seen half the city and spent countless hours exploring.

The language barrier most people encounter was not a problem for me. I am finishing my German minor while abroad.

So, although rusty in the language at first, I was able to communicate at least the basics.

Keene State College is debating canceling the minor. Learning German has opened so many doors and made my transition into a new country easier.

Knowing even a good amount of German enhances the experience because even though most people speak a small amount of English, I always feel out of place when I have to talk to locals in English.

Studying abroad is not all fun and games; there is still school work to be done. The school semester at the Institute is set up in blocks, and there are three blocks in a semester.

Which means for most students, they only have to take two classes every five weeks. All courses, except the German classes, only meet a few times a week.

This is set up so that students have time to enjoy the city and can experience their time abroad even more.

However, for the Architecture program, I am on a full semester schedule, with three classes. One contingency with the Institute is that the architecture students also have to take an elective.

For me, that was German, which meets four times a week. This also meant I had Friday classes, a big adjustment from the past two years.

It is a lot of work, but it does not hinder the social aspect of studying abroad.

CIEE sets up a weekly “Stammtisch”where many of the students go to a large neighborhood bar every Wednesday. Many bars in Europe are very small, due to the old and very narrow buildings.

Getting in with large groups of people can be very difficult, and often larger groups will end up having to separate.

The Campus is in Kreuzberg, a neighborhood in Berlin where everyone wants to live. It has the famous Bergmannstraße where there are numerous bars and clubs. It is also only a short subway ride away from places like the East Side Gallery, Potsdamerplatz, the Brandenburger Tor and Alexanderplatz.

Germany is very different from the United States, which I was expecting. You can carry open alcohol around the city, just don’t spill it on the subway.

The social scene starts at eight o’clock in the evening and ends at eight o’clock in the morning at some bars. There are also clubs that are open all weekend, and people stay all weekend.

Traveling around, I went to the bucket list item of Oktoberfest. It was exciting although very crowded, seeing as though I went on opening weekend. I also traveled to Hamburg, three hours from Berlin, for a class field trip for the weekend.

There I studied water filtration using wetlands, but also explored the nightlife and culture. I even saw Beatleplatz: the street that the Beatles were discovered on, now located in a Red Light District.

My study abroad experience so far has been one I won’t forget. Although I have already been in Europe for a little over a month, it has only felt like half that time.

I have traveled, made friends from around the United States and Germany and experienced a new culture.

If I could give one tip for studying abroad it would be to make a list of places to go before you leave.

You are going to want to do everything and there are only so many weekends in a semester.

Emily Orell can be contacted at Emily.Orell@ksc.keene.edu

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