I strongly recommend those interested in studying abroad to consider spending a full year in Berlin. With the second semester, I was able to leverage the experience, knowledge, and improvement in language abilities acquired in the first.
In my mind, education is about more than ideas--it’s about becoming a citizen of the world and, in so doing, recognizing that your fate is deeply and beautifully entangled with the fate of others.
My experience in Berlin has informed my future career plans after graduation; in particular, the inspiration and encouragement I found in vibrant community art scenes has led me to consider more seriously entering the field of art education alongside a professional career as a musician.
It feels good, and gives me confidence in myself, to know that I can move to another city, country, and continent and make a life for myself there in just four months.
I want to try my hand at things I could be bad at. I want to take risks and to keep taking on an active role in my own life, in seeking out opportunities to let go of what I know in favor of what could be bigger or better or more well-suited for my talents and interests.
It is clear to me that this program has changed the course of my personal and professional life, not to mention fulfilling the tall order of being the best summer I have ever had.
There are few things more satisfying and reassuring than grappling with the challenges of study abroad and emerging victorious.
"It was a great way to get to know other students from different courses and years."
In selecting a study abroad program, I was most intrigued by the possibility of immersion in a foreign culture. I was looking for a deeper exposure to culture and more personal responsibility, which is why I chose the BCGS.
"Crucially, my time in Venice reaffirmed that art history was what I wanted to pursue as a major."
" I learned more about community engagement while gathering public input on streetscape projects in the pouring rain than I have in classrooms or offices."
"Going abroad helped me understand new environments, interact with local communities, and be comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone it was my first step in setting my newfound path into motion."
To combat the general discomfort I felt, I created and surrounded myself in physical and mental environments that I wanted to be and thrive in. Immersing my mind in positive thinking and poetry helped to greatly enhance my time abroad.
It’s not just in America where the strongest ties that bind are formed by our values.
...we have to get sore before we get strong, and I came out of the experience much more conscious of my place, and responsibility, in the world as an American than before.
"Coming from a minority perspective forced me to see things in a different light and take a critical look at my own assumptions, thought processes and fundamental beliefs."
"Beyond the language component, the classes I took through BCGS exposed me to topics and intellectual discussions that fascinate and engage me to this day."
"My day-to-day experience was vibrant. I would share each breakfast and dinner chatting with my host mom about politics, the city, and new art installations at museums—she was my biggest resource in terms of connecting to the culture."
...all of my previous experiences in Paris could not prepare me for the one I had at Reid Hall – a place that opened a vast world of history, thought, and cultural life to which I was, until that point, little more than a doting outsider.
Returning to Paris from Cannes, I was distinctly aware that I would never have another experience like this one. Truth be told, my entire time spent at Reid Hall was full of adventures as extraordinary as this one, full of people and places that changed me for the better.
When I left Paris, beyond the joy I felt for the great memories I took with me, I also recognized that I had gained a set of tools I can now use to solve problems in the future.
The type of housing you select may have a significant impact on your experience abroad, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
My BCGS study abroad experience paved the way for my return the following summer to work as an EMGIP fellow in the German parliament and my graduate studies at the London School of Economics in European Politics.
I am grateful to BCGS, as the year I spent in Berlin has academically and socially prepared my life after college.
It was BCGS that built my confidence to live and work in Germany permanently after graduation.
"I think the most impactful experiences for me were those in which I didn’t just learn about a culture, a tradition, history, politics, or language, but actually encountered them and experienced them outside the classroom."
"Spending a year abroad at Oxford certainly taught me a lot not just about my major, but about myself and my identity."
BCGS was a challenge in all the best ways possible. We were pushed outside our comfort zones, but the triumph and sense of accomplishment we felt afterwards, was perhaps the most rewarding part of all.
If you want to make studying abroad a thought-provoking experience, I encourage you to keep track of every little culture shock as well!
Spending time in Athens, Nafplio, and the island of Syros, I was able to delve deeper into my academic passion of Art History, while also learning about other disciplines, and gaining new friendships and cultural understanding.
"Only being there for a semester, I was prepared to do things I would have been too afraid of doing at Columbia."
Studying abroad allowed me to gain insights on issues that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise – through seeing things I that otherwise wouldn’t have.
Study abroad provided me with the mechanism to not only enrich my language learning experience, and my understanding of the world, but also to rediscover some of the hidden beauty in everyday life.
What I study at Columbia is completely different than most of what I was studying in Kenya, but it didn’t matter.
My fears were replaced with pure excitement and anticipation of all that I would then see and do over the next six months.
“One of the biggest reasons that I recommend studying in Berlin for a whole year is the way it allows you to immerse yourself in the culture during the first semester and really reap the benefits your second semester.”
...My favorite experiences abroad were made so meaningful simply because I engaged with the people around me.
“I came back realizing that these four years aren’t about becoming something great or discovering your destiny but about learning how to be a better person and how to be a member of a community, locally or globally.”