Meet our students

Master Student and FU-BEST Alum: Connor Ruby

After graduating from Clark University, Connor Ruby used FU-BEST as an opportunity to learn German and as a stepping stone to pursuing a Master's in Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin.


Why did you choose to study abroad in Germany? I’ve been interested in studying in Germany since I started learning German in high school.

Why did you choose Freie Universität Berlin/FU-BEST and what did you study there? Although FU-BEST is generally for undergraduates studying abroad, it was a great program for me to prepare to start my master. I am now a full time Master student at FU Berlin, where I study Political Science. All of my classes are in German, and without participating in the FU-BEST program and internship the previous semester, I may not have reached the level of German that I needed to qualify for my current program.

How did you learn about study and research opportunities for international students at Freie Universitaet Berlin? I originally found the FU-BEST program while researching potential graduate programs. Once at FU, the FU-BEST team was also very helpful in making sure participants know about the available resources.


How would you describe student life at Freie Universität Berlin? FU Berlin has very dynamic student life. As an international student, you will be in good company as your peers will not only be from Germany but countries all over the world. The university’s international club is a great resource to get involved in life at FU Berlin and grow your social circle.

What did you find most rewarding about your time in Germany? What did you find most challenging? The greatest challenge turned out to also be the greatest reward: adjusting not only to a new program of study but a new country in which to study. I found that this requires commitment, social and cultural awareness, and a desire to learn - not only a different language, but a different work and study environment.

What was, as you see it, your most “German” experience? My internship was with an organization which sponsored PhD candidates from Central Asia and the Caucasus to receive mentoring from German professors. The PhD candidates came to Berlin to attend a conference where they had the opportunity to speak to and network with others in their field. In helping prepare for the conference, I saw the extent to which it was painstakingly well-organized down to the detail in classic-German style. I would call this conference my most “German” experience because it exemplifies one of the things I like best about German academia: well-planned, well-organized, and meticulously executed and promoting a forward-thinking, worldly approach.


How did studying abroad impact your academic and professional goals? Doing my Master in Germany had been a goal of mine for several years, and participating in the FU-BEST program helped me get there. At FU-BEST, I received excellent German language instruction and also found an internship through FU-BEST that I would otherwise not have heard about. Interning in a German workplace helped me practice the language skills that I had worked on in FU-BEST classes, and the combination was invaluable in preparing me to start my Master in German.

What are your academic/career-related plans after you complete your program at Freie Universität Berlin? My semester with FU-BEST has come and gone, but I am now in the first semester as a full-time student at FU Berlin. As I will be in Berlin for at least two more years, it is too early to say what comes next. However, I can say that FU-BEST did a great deal to help get me where I am.


What advice do you have for prospective students considering studying abroad in Berlin/Germany? You don’t need to know German to be a student here, however, the more you learn the better your experience will be and the more options you will have.

Joanna Pope