A Journey of Discovery: Studying Abroad in Berlin

Guest Post By: Derek Lu, a Junior studying Finance and Marketing. He is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and he studied abroad through IES Abroad Berlin during Winter Quarter 2024.

Studying abroad in Berlin is one of the best decisions I made in college. As a senior student who will graduate soon, I am really glad that I have attend this study abroad program that enriches my college life. During those two months, I not only have the opportunity to travel to different countries beside Germany to expand my horizon, but I am also able to make new friends and experience the local cultural that you will never learn from textbook. Although I have been to Europe once when I was little, this time in Europe by myself without my parent is a whole new experience.

First of all, I am able to go traveling around different countries while studying at the same time. Since the fee of the flights within European countries is not too expensive compared to the national flights within America, not to mention how close those countries are, I have a lot of chances of exploring different areas on weekends. Besides Berlin, I have traveled to Prague, Rome, London, Amsterdam, and Athens. During these trips, aside from the opportunity to visit the historical sites such as Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, and Big Ben to learn more about the European history, I could also experience the local culture by trying their food and talking to the local people. I can still remember the time I was on the cruise in the canal of Amsterdam. I was talking to a local who sat next to me. We started talking where we from and all the cultural experiences. Since then, I feel like I have a deeper connection with this land.

One of the first things that struck me upon arriving in Berlin was its diversity. People from all corners of the globe call this city home, creating a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and perspectives. As a student, this diversity provided me with a unique opportunity to broaden my worldview and challenge my preconceptions. The classes I took in IES offer me a new perspective to business and German culture. One of the classes I took is German Popular culture. In this class, we are not just learning the German history and culture through books and lectures. Our professor would take us to neighborhoods, museums, and shows to experience the “German Life” in person. Living on this territory for two months, I somehow find myself being part of it now. From Berlin Wall to techno music, the way of how people live is just so different from America. 

As my time in Berlin drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the profound impact that studying abroad had made on me. Beyond the academic knowledge gained in classrooms, it was the intangible lessons – the moments of connection, the challenges overcome, the perspectives gained – that truly shaped my experience. Berlin had become more than just a destination; it was a home away from home, a place where I had laughed, learned, and grown in ways I never thought possible.

Studying abroad in Berlin was more than just a chapter in my academic journey – it was a transformative experience that left an indelible mark on my life. As I bid farewell to this vibrant city, I carry with me not only memories and friendships but also a newfound sense of curiosity, resilience, and appreciation for the world around me. Berlin will always hold a special place in my heart as the backdrop to a journey of discovery, learning, and personal growth that I will carry with me wherever I go.