Ein Berliner Aufenthalt – July ’19 BUILD Abroad

Before leaving for my exchange, I was the most excited but also the most nervous I had been. I had wanted to go to Berlin for years whilst learning the German language. I was considering doing a semester abroad but finding about the Humboldt University Berlin in the Summer Program, I knew this would be more plausible for me. It was a rush to organise everything within a matter of 2 months which was worthwhile in the end. I got to spend my break immersing myself into a culture I was so intrigued by whilst receiving academic credit for it.

I was scared because I knew I would be alone there. This was my first time overseas by myself, and I did not know anyone else going, but I knew this was what I wanted to do. In my first week there, I really noticed the rugged nature of the city which gave its own character. Everyone dressed how they liked which I really appreciated, as I love to see people’s artistic expression through their style.

East Side Gallery
Warschauer Straße

I was amazed to meet a variety of people from all around the world on my exchange and in my German class. It fascinated me how one program could do this. It amazed me even more knowing that most of their native languages were not English, yet they were onto learning their 3rd languages.

My class was situated on a quaint street tucked away from the buzz of Berlin, but only a few hundred metres away from some of its most popular nightclubs. Nearby was the lovely River Spree, and delightful bakeries where croissants were sold for only 1 euro. I loved how diverse this city was. Residences, nightlife, stores etc were all mixed together with things spread out in the city.

18 Rungestraße

I was living in Kreuzberg, allowing me to experience the 24/7 buzz of Berlin. Street art decorated the old and new buildings, as well as the array of multicultural cuisine and nightlife. Being on the east side of the city really felt like it had more soul, than the west. However, the west had Tiergarten! A truly beautiful sight.

I got to enjoy Biergartens and the famous Berliner Weisse beer (I recommend the grün flavour!) and of course Currywurst. I saw the infamous Bahnof Zoo for myself as seen in ‘Wir Kinder vom Bahnof Zoo’ which I was surprised by how much the same it looked 40 years later.

Biergarten Golgatha

Apart from the rigorous bike riders, I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the German people. Any stereotype I was informed of them being unfriendly was completely thrown out the window. I saw smiles from bus drivers and even those in supermarkets.

I loved the sense of freedom in Berlin. Apart from the fact that I was living by myself, the city felt freer. Police were hardly seen. You did not even need to pass through gates to get on a train – just present your ticket if a controller comes! No lockout laws, less of a reliance on cars, frequent open-air cinemas, bikes – the city just gave a free vibe to me. I really cherished this.

Hackescher Markt

Having class only 3 times a week, I was able to utilise my long weekend! This meant I got to visit Amsterdam and catch up with some friends whilst also visiting Leipzig and Potsdam one week with my newfound friends.

It was difficult at first being on my own, but experiencing this city and forcing myself into uncomfortable situations was the best thing I did for myself. By the end of the month, I didn’t want to leave (except when the weather dropped below 20 degrees!). I know I will definitely be back to Berlin again.

By Beril Akbulut

Berlin In-Country Contemporary study

Tobias Evans

This picture was taken on the last night of my program with a group of people that had been strangers 4 weeks earlier but now became some of my best friends. I went to Berlin not knowing anyone, so being able to leave with friends from all around the world is invaluable, and highlights what a truly amazing experience it was. The social aspect of the trip was incredible, I was never without people to explore the city with during the day and grab many quality German beers with at night, with the University there setting up many events and excursions for students to meet each other. The only downside of hanging out with a group of foreigners was that I left Berlin having learnt more Italian than German, as many of the people I became friends with spoke Italian.

The classes in Berlin were also incredible, with our professor being very against the use of powerpoint in teaching, each class was entirely discussion based which meant that everyone contributed and learnt from one another. We were also made to do multiple presentations, individually and in groups, which helped everyone come out of their shells.

Berlin has many amazing sites, and strangely enough I don’t have photos of everything I saw and went to even though I was sure I took photos. So my tip for people considering this program is to firstly, definitely sign up!!! But also to take lots of photos, as this is an experience you’ll want to remember for years to come.

Gimme all the food – Humboldt University

I know why you are reading this blog. No doubt you’ve read a thousand blogs by every friend who has ever gone overseas, and if you’re anything like me, there is only one thing you really want to hear about. No, not the wholesome excursions to churches and museums. Nor the sudden realisation of what travel really means. It’s the food. The delicious, succulent meals that you would never eat back home, but while you are away, you say ‘why not’ and dig in.

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From the moment I landed in Munich, Germany, my low-carb diet went out the window. In my defense, it was cold, it was snowing and all the restaurants seemed to serve potato and sausage only. Once I had started down that path, there was to be no return.

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Let me tell you about the dish called ‘pork knuckle’. To all the vegetarians reading this, I suggest you skip to the next section. Pork knuckle is pure, succulent, dripping meat, accompanied by a potato dumpling. What is a potato dumpling, you ask? The easiest way to describe it is ten potatoes compressed into one and fried. The heartburn soon ensues, but it is worth it.

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Pretzels were 29 cents in Berlin. 29 cents. What a bargain! Yes, the miser within me cannot resist a good deal, and so every morning I would detour past the supermarket to get my 58 cents worth of salty bread.

Much to the delight of myself and my fellow travelers, doner kebabs were everywhere and they were cheap. Not to mention these doner shops were run with pride, every kebab a work of art.

The other great food of Germany was the pizza. Italian immigrants over the years have established authentic Italian restaurants all over Germany. The one weird thing, however, was they never cut the pizza into slices! It mystified me the first few times, initially thinking that they had forgotten. I mean, it’s not exactly asking much, is it? Despite this, the pizza was fantastic. 

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I did have two pet peeves during my time in Munich and Berlin. One- water was never free. Gone were the days where you walk into a restaurant and are greeted with a chilled glass of tap water- on the house of course. Oh no, even the hard labour of filling a jug from the tap had to be rewarded to the tune of three or four euro.

Following on from this was the lack of public bathrooms. Every bathroom had to be paid for and there was no ducking into Maccas if you were bursting! I was outraged. Isn’t access to toilets an international human right?

All jokes aside, I had an amazing time while overseas. I thoroughly enjoyed my course at Humboldt University in Berlin and would 100000% do it again. I loved meeting new people, and yes, I do have a soft spot for museums and art galleries so I was in paradise. It is an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

HU Berlin - Stephanie Todd 1

HU Berlin - Stephanie Todd 4

-Stephanie

Tschüss to Travels in Berlin

My BUiLD abroad trip was my first time to Europe it was definitely an awesome way to wrap up five years of hard work on my undergrad in law and business (economics). In January I went to Berlin to study ‘Introduction to International Economic Law’ at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (I’ve been told that the name isn’t translated into English normally).

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Three weeks flew by much too quickly with classes, cultural programs and meeting people from all over the world. In my class there were 6 Australians (5 from UTS) as well as people from Indonesia, Poland, Switzerland, South Africa, Brazil and India. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly and by the end of the program we were definitely very sad to part ways.

Classes ran for about 3.5 hours four times a week with a break during each class. Despite the limited time, the classes were well paced and did not feel rushed. The instructor, Hanno Meyer, was excellent and very knowledgeable and created a very open and welcoming classroom atmosphere. The class covered a broad range of international content and included basic economic principles as well as the law. No prior knowledge was needed for this class. It was especially interesting learning about how the civil law system operates. One thing I found extremely surprising is that international laws are binding in Germany and many other civil law countries and is actually higher on the hierarchy than domestic laws.

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The program at Humboldt also included a range of cultural activities including a day trip to Potsdam, ice skating and tours of museums, galleries, the Bundestag (Parliament) and the German Chancellery. As a bonus, Hanno also threw in a trip to the German Historic Museum for us during class time. The cultural activities were a great way to get to know our class mates and learn about German history and culture.

I also got a chance to experience the famed German rail network with a weekend trip to Prague and day trips to Dresden, Hamburg, Erfurt, Hannover and Leipzig with a fellow UTS student. Each and every trip was memorable filled with UNESCO world heritage sites, mediaeval towns and snow (though sadly not as much I thought there would be). Although speaking of snow, it was definitely fun telling ‘horror stories’ to my European class mates about regular 35C+ weather and Sydney recently being the hottest place in the world.

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For anyone concerned about the language and cultural differences, Germans are very friendly and willing to help out a lost tourist, just don’t forget a friendly ‘danke schön’ (thank you) afterwards. A friendly local once noticed that I couldn’t understand the train announcements while I was on the high-speed ICE train and translated them for me. The classes are also taught entirely in English and while travelling I was able to get around with English and only a limited grasp of German. In saying that, enjoy the fact you’re in a different country and embrace all the differences you will encounter. There is also no better way to learn a language than being immersed within in it so take advantage of it and expand your horizons. However, I do have to warn you, public toilets invariably require payment and in Germany, as well as some other European countries, unleashed dogs are allowed in most places including inside shopping centres, restaurants and on public transport. Personally, I loved seeing all the dogs but take care if you have any allergies or are scared of dogs (though every dog I met was extremely friendly and obedient).

My experience at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin was amazing and unforgettable and I highly recommend the program. The university also offers a range of other programs in both the winter and summer school for anyone who would prefer something other than Introduction to International Economic Law.

Berlin 2018

I really enjoyed my time in Berlin at Humboldt University.

The course ‘Introduction to International Economic Law’ was extremely interesting. Our teacher, Hanno, delivered the content in a very enjoyable and understandable way. The classroom atmosphere was relaxed and open, and our classmates gradually became our friends. There were students from all over the world including Indonesia, India, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland and Brazil. In a class of 15 students, there were 6 Aussies and 5 of them from UTS (easily could have formed a voting bloc with these kind of numbers). It was educative to listen to economic issues from the perspectives of different countries and highly entertaining to listen to personal stories of people who have lived such different experiences. I really hope we have a chance to catch up one day and see if our dreams and aspirations have been realised.

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I also enjoyed the cultural aspects of the program including the tour to Potsdam, tour of the Chancellery and the Bundestag, and outdoor ice skating at night. It was a fun way to get to know our classmates better and students in other courses. Of course, we also learnt a lot about German culture and history…and German humour.

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Germany is very different to Australia in many ways and the most obvious one was the weather. I got to escape the series of heat waves of the Australian summer as it was winter in Germany. It’s easy to ‘brag’ that Australia was the hottest place on Earth when you’re far, far away. Watching the snow fall through the classroom window was a simple but mesmerising pleasure on the dew days we were lucky enough to experience snow. One thing I did not enjoy was that you have to pay to use the public toilets in Europe. Also, do not assume that ‘office hours’ means Mon-Fri 9am-5pm because it might mean 8am-9am Tues-Fri (yes I’m looking at you, Janitor of student accommodation).

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I highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking to do a short exchange overseas (or is just looking for an excuse to get away). The program is well structured with classes (3.5 hour classes x 4 days per week) with many cultural activities that you can sign up for if you are interested. You have plenty of free time to go out with your new friends and also travel to neighbouring countries during/ before/ after the program. I travelled with another UTS student to the top of Germany, Zugspitze, and saw some really cool dogs!

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Overall, the BUILD program has heaps of different programs on offer so definitely take the opportunity to get out there!

By Theresa Duong

Adventures in Berlin

Guten tag!

In January, I was lucky enough to study abroad at Humboldt University in Berlin, thanks to BUiLD. It was an incredible adventure that I wouldn’t have experienced if I had just travelled there for a holiday.

At UTS, I study forensic biology but the course I chose to complete in Germany was “Human Rights: Gender, Racism and Social Justice”, which was definitely challenging considering how different it is to science. However, I don’t regret it at all – in fact, I learned so much and I feel far more aware of the issues relating to human rights which I would have otherwise been unaware of.

Humboldt University also organised cultural activities for all students and it really exposed us to Germany’s history and culture. Our timetable allowed us to learn and explore without any stress, which definitely made this trip extremely worthwhile.

I would highly recommend students to participate in a study abroad experience when given the opportunity as it’s a great way to become more independent and learn about different cultures. If you are curious as to what kind of places you can visit in Berlin, click here to watch a video I made about my experience.

VIEW FROM STUDENT APARTMENTS

FOGGY DAY IN BERLIN

BERLINER DOM

BRANDENBURG GATE

BOTANICAL GARDENS

VIEW FROM THE STUDENT APARTMENTS AFTER A NIGHT OF SNOW

 

Tschüss!

Posted by: Veda Raman

Berlin reflections

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Today I begin my final week of the subject “Introduction to International Economic Law” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Humboldt University of Berlin) and thinking back to what my experience has been so far, I feel so privileged to have been given this opportunity.
Studying in another country was a daunting prospect at first, however the subjects offered through the BUILD program made it an easy decision and an experience I will always remember!

As far as the subject itself goes, I am very happy at the choice I made. The content was very interesting and I know I will be able use the knowledge in my studies back home. Moreover, I was very lucky to have the subject taught by an amazing teacher who not only delivered the content in an easy to understand way, but also went to great lengths to make sure we engaged with our peers in- and outside of the classrooms. From engaging class discussions to dinner and drinks with the teacher and peers, it was an amazing subject which I am extremely glad to have selected.
Another aspect about our class that I really enjoyed was the fact I got to meet not only other students from UTS but also students from all over the world. Brazil, India, Indonesia, Switzerland, Poland and South Africa. We were all like-minded individuals who bonded and shared a very memorable experience.

Not only was the subject an amazing one to study, but Humboldt was an amazing University to study at. The University kindly organised a large variety of cultural activities so you are spoilt for choice with things to do. I was involved in Ice Skating which was an awesome way to meet other people studying through the winter school program; a Berlin Walking tour which was lead by a young Welsh woman who had studied German history so it was a great way to see some of main sights and then also hear about the history behind them; and I also had a guided tour of the German Chancellery and tour of Potsdam, home of Sanssouci Palace, among other things.

Berlin is a city fundamentally shaped by both World Wars and the Cold War, as such it is rich in modern history and cultural sights. Studying in a city like this has given me a new perspective on the world. Ultimately, this has been one of the best experiences of my life and I am so glad to have been given the support of the BUILD program! I can’t recommend this experience enough, particularly I would recommend the university and subject that I did.
I’ve gained a new energy that I hope to bring back to my studies at UTS.

– Joshua Culley