I did my exchange semester in Berlin and I could not have chosen any better; Berlin has fulfilled all my expectations and more. The city is full of attractions, events, clubs and bars so it never gets boring, and the price level is considerably lower than in Finland which makes Berlin a student friendly destination. I was living in a dorm in East Berlin and my rent was less than half what I paid in Finland and it was just a quick 15 minute bus and S-Bahn ride to the city.
Dorm in Biesdorf and part of HTW Treskowallee campus.
My school was Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (HTW) located about 30 minute commute away from the dorm. I planned my courses in a way I only had to go to lectures 2 or 3 times per week which was convenient and gave me extra free time that I used exploring Berlin. Studying itself was very similar to Finland, a lot of group projects and relatively easy to pass courses if you participate in lectures once in a while and see some effort for the final exam. The staff at the International Office were super helpful with everything and made life easy for exchange students by taking care of a lot of bureaucracy. Before the semester started everyone had to attend a two-week mandatory German intensive course which was useful since knowing even a bit of German makes life in Berlin so much easier.
Chilling in Kreuzberg on the Tag der deutschen Einheit.
Enjoying a sunny October day in Mauerpark with friends, karaoke and Glühwein.
Free time was spent, after seeing all the mandatory tourist attractions, mainly going out with friends in East Berlin. Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Neukölln are my favorite districts full of good food, drinks, people and happenings. Berlin never sleeps and for a city of almost 3,5 million inhabitants it felt surprisingly safe to walk the streets even alone during night time. The atmosphere in Berlin is very liberal and relaxed, this is a place where you can really come as you are since the city and Berliners have already seen it all (you will too if you stay in Berlin for a while). I also noticed rather soon after my arrival that deutsche pünktlichkeit does not involve Berlin.
Das Bier. Had a few during my exchange.
Döner, miss you already.
Best place to spend Thursday nights is Salami Social club, craft beer and 1eur per slice for excellent pizza.
It really is.
I can warmly recommend Berlin for a semester abroad, just warning that you might not want to leave… I know I’m returning as soon as I get a chance!