B.A. Student in Berlin: Ivan Imsland
There are many reasons I decided to study in Germany...
...and at the Freie Universität in particular. I always knew that I wanted to work in the Foreign Service, so when I completed high school, I looked at some of the best universities that could help me reach that goal. After completing a year abroad in a German high school with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, I wanted to stay in the region of my host town. I was originally accepted into a international studies program in the United States, one of the top programs in the country, but after some deep thought, I realized that Germany would be the best option for me. Not only could I advance my knowledge of the German language, but I could go to a top university for next to nothing.
I applied to four different universities in Germany, and was accepted to all. However, I did not want to give up my spot at my American university until I was admitted into the best possible program in Germany; that program was North American Studies at the Freie Universität. FU is not only one of the best universities in Germany, a German equivalent to an Ivy League school, it also provided me with the chance to fully immerse myself further in German and European culture and to afford me connections and experiences not possible in the United States. My studies are completely in English, and there are multiple options for all types of students within my major, such as literature, political science, economics, or history.
My experience here has been one I will never forget or be able to experience again.
Most students I meet at my institute come from all over the world, whether it be Italy, Lithuania, Russia, Canada, France, Brazil, South Africa, or the US, like myself. One thing that makes studying in Germany particularly great for Americans and Canadians is the tuition costs. All students, including foreigners, do not have to pay tuition to attend! There are no pesky scholarship applications, hidden fees, or textbook costs. When North American universities are reaching 60,000 dollars a year or more, it makes an even stronger case to attend college abroad. Even if you plan to move back to the United States, three years abroad will be impressive to not only employers, but top ranked graduate universities in the United States as well. You will be prepared for anything that could possibly come your way; you have adapted, learned a new language, lived abroad, and obtained your degree from a great school! What else could possibly come your way that you cannot tackle?
The friends and connections you will make in Germany are unparalleled to anywhere else you could study, especially in the United States and Canada.
Some of the things I have experienced here in Germany and at Freie Universität are truly unforgettable. I have created so many memories that people only think exist in Hollywood movies. I’ve woken up at 4 in the morning to a call from one of my friends telling me to come outside and hop in the car. Next thing I knew, I was driving to Amsterdam with a Syrian, an Italian, and a German.
At a German university, you will find yourself among the best and brightest students around Europe. Not only is this a positive learning environment, but it also allows you to create friendships that enrich your lives and teach you about cultures that you would never have expected to learn about. Better yet, you will be able to share your culture and life with others who are interested in you as well.
Everyone at the FU is there to help you grow.
I remember when I first arrived in Germany and attended the Orientation meetings for my major. Everyone was confused as to how everything could possibly function, especially in German! After the meeting, I announced that anyone having trouble enrolling in classes could come with me. We all went to the library, picked out classes, and successfully enrolled only minutes before the deadline. It was so packed and I was constantly being poked and talked to that I thought I might be going crazy, but I knew that in the long run, we all would be a family within our major and help each other out whenever we needed it. People like me are everywhere, and I have come to see that throughout my first year at the Institute where I study. All faces are friendly faces here, no exceptions.
The best tip I have is to research what you want to study and be determined to complete your degree. Sometimes it can be distracting because you are in Europe and want to travel everywhere you can, but remember that your main goal is to obtain good grades and learn as much as you can. It is an investment in your life. When applying, make sure you have excellent grades, ACT or SAT scores, and AP scores. Go above and beyond by submitting a letter of recommendation with your application and maybe take a German class as well. Do not be mediocre, if you are studying in a foreign country, you simply are not average. You are determined, active, intelligent, and creating a platform for your future where you are ahead of other graduates and are debt free!
Ivan Imsland is currently enrolled as a full-time Bachelor student of North American Studies at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Freie Universität Berlin. Prior to her studies, she has been awarded the CBYX scholarship to spend a year in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, from 2015 to 2016.