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IES Abroad European Union - Semester Program
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IES Abroad European Union - Semester Program

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Learning by traveling

This program is truly amazing. I had always wanted to study abroad in Germany because of ancestral roots and to improve my German language skills. I knew that once I would get there I would want to travel to every possible location I could, but I did not know that I could find a program that would do that for me. I was given the opportunity to fulfill my major requirements and interests by having the ability to study the European Union. However, IES offers the ability to have Europe be your classroom. By traveling to all these different locations you really gain a understanding of how the European Union and different political, economical, and social ties affect these countries on an individual basis. You also get to hear stories from people who have lived in the local area through difficult times. It is also awesome that the faculty and staff are there for you every step of the way. They really care about all of the students and take the time to really talk to everyone. You really feel like a community, which can also be a set back while living in Freiburg. That would be the only real negative thing I would say about the program is it does not integrate enough with Freiburg University so that we can build local relationships. Other than that this was truly an eye opener where I got to take a step out of my comfort zone and expereience new things. I would 100% participate in this program again.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Studying abroad means opportunities and possibilities

For me, the IES Abroad means opportunities and possibilities. Studying abroad through the IES Abroad European Union Program- Freiburg, that opened doors for me that I didn't think were possible. I am thankful and fortunate that I was able to learn about the European Union, to have visited: Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Nederland's, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany and during my stay in these countries see firsthand the issues that these countries face. I would like to let someone who is thinking about studying abroad to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Studying abroad has broadened my mind and my knowledge of the politics of the EU as well as the different cultures in Europe. I have experienced and learned so much about the EU and Europe this past semester.

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience and it should be encouraged for all students to do. I am forever grateful for studying abroad and I have grown immensely because of it. It is due to studying abroad in Germany that I have a greater appreciation for the world, for politics, issues that affect the U.S. don't just affect us but they have global effects as well. Moreover, the most important aspect that I took with me from studying abroad is that we are just one speck on this earth; for there is so much more out in the world than we think there is. There is so much to learn and to share with others. I am thankful that I was able to study abroad this past spring in Freiburg, Germany. Studying abroad has blessed me with many memories, friendships, and connections that will stay with me for the rest of my life. IES Abroad has amazing programs that assist students in learning, broadening their knowledge on issues abroad, experiencing different cultures, traveling to new places, learning a new language, and creating bonds through interactions with people from your program as well as people around you.

In particular, Freiburg is a beautiful place; in the winter there is snow, then comes rain, and in spring time the hills are green and the sun breaks through with warmth. Freiburg is a student town, the German culture is different; it's welcoming, a breath of fresh air, and eye opening. My time abroad, I always felt safe. I also had the opportunity to learn German, which is a goal that I have always wanted to fulfill. I got to participate in the Freiburg Marathon during April with a few of my friends as well as a few faculty members from the program. It was a lot of fun being able to run a 14km through Freiburg. This experience was great; having the people cheer me on as I ran through the city was welcoming, being a part of a team with my friends and professors, and challenging myself by running 14km without stopping and finally crossing that finish line was exhilarating.

Furthermore, I got to participate in another run; Run For Europe. This was my favorite run because I got to run a 5K while running between the borders of Briesach Am Rhein, Baden- Wurttemberg, Germany and Ile de Rhin, France with my friends was amazing! I got to run with others who support a united Europe. In addition, I got the chance to swim in the Mediterranean sea, visit Anne Frank 's house a dream that I have had since I was little, and the most special experience I had was visiting Vatican City. Freiburg will always be a place I call home and if I didn't study abroad I would not have learned more, grown more, visited countries, cities, and met wonderful people. If you would like to learn more about the politics of the European Union, visit the institutions of the European Union, then I highly recommend studying abroad with IES through their European Union Program in Freiburg, Germany.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

An unforgettable semester in Freiburg

I had an amazing experience with the IES Abroad EU program, and there honestly isn't much I can say that was bad about my semester. Not only did I love living in the beautiful, sunny, and student-filled city of Freiburg, but I also learned so much about the EU that I never would have back home at my own university. The course excursions and extensive program travel were a highlight of my semester, and the trips were well-planned, offering us the invaluable opportunity to travel across Europe and visit many cities, while getting a unique political, historical, and cultural perspective on them that I likely wouldn't have gotten by visiting on my own. Both IES Abroad in general and the IES staff at our center in Freiburg were so helpful and organized and really made an effort to make all students feel comfortable and engaged while abroad.

Freiburg is an absolutely wonderful place to study abroad; it is a charming university city bustling with bikers (Freiburg is very eco-friendly!) and there are tons of things to do in one’s free time. Not only are there tons of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bakeries to enjoy if you want to enjoy the wonders of German food, but there are also opportunities for shopping, enjoying local parks and the river Dreisdam, or venturing off on a short train ride into the neighboring Black Forest, where you can bike, hike, or ski! The EU program has so much travel incorporated into the semester, often to large European capitals, so having a home base in Freiburg, where it’s not overrun with tourists, was really great.

I lived in a student apartment complex with five German students and one international student. We each had our own rooms and shared two bathrooms, a kitchen, and living area. This living situation was nice because I had a lot of independence and my own space, but I still was able to engage with German students, practice my speaking, and learn about their lifestyles, studies, and interests.

On the topic of costs, which is often an important factor to studying abroad for many people, I would say that doing this program was really affordable, largely because the cost of living in Freiburg is fairly low. There are many options of where to buy food (stores and the local Münstermarkt), and groceries, toiletries and other living necessities were very inexpensive and much less than what you would pay for the same thing in the US (for instance, I could find a jar of jam for 1 Euro or a loaf of good German bread for 2 Euros). Although I’m vegetarian, I found that there were still many options for food, both eating out and buying food at the store. Freiburg also has tons of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and even a pretty good (and very inexpensive) student cafeteria, so there are lots of options for students at very reasonable prices. I won’t lie, the abundance of bakeries and cafes in Freiburg made me quickly addicted to the large array of delicious fresh German bread, pretzels, and pastries.

Although the course workload was definitely vigorous (probably more than other average abroad programs), I learned so much and gained a greater perspective on the EU, world events, and various European cultures. I might also briefly note is that this program is definitely focused on politics, international relations, and economics, and less so on intensive German-language development, understandably. However, being someone who really wanted to practice my German a lot, as I’ve been studying it for many years, I will say that I was a bit disappointed that most students on the program had little to no German language background, so I could not have those types of language engagements with them. Nonetheless, I still had many opportunities to practice German out in public and at home with my flatmates. I would recommend, however, for anyone thinking about studying abroad - to take a semester of German beforehand or have learned a little bit. It makes getting around and having simple interactions with locals much easier!

Overall, my experience in Freiburg and with the EU program was one that I truly will not forget. From visiting many beautiful and historic cities across the EU, to enjoying the Biergartens in Freiburg, to spontaneously deciding with two other students to venture on a 60km bike trip from Freiburg to France and back, the experiences I had were really irreplaceable. Without any hesitation, I would recommend this program to any student interested in the subject matter or who wants to experience life in an active, but charming German university city!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Have an incredible adventure and be a part of a close knit community of fellow students!

This program was amazing. The classes were engaging but not so challenging that you had to spend all your time on them. You also spend so much time on program excursions doing experiential learning that you really understand the concepts that they're trying to teach you in class. So many of the professors are incredible (and SO funny) and that was such a big part of it. The living situations are really variable, you don't really know how many flat mates you're going to have or what they will be like, but that's the same with any living situation. The social aspect of the program was great, for me, because everyone in the program spent so much time together traveling, hanging out at the center and living in the same neighborhoods and so everyone got really close and socialized a lot with each other and that was enough for me. However, some people were not happy because we had almost no connection with University of Freiburg and thus getting to know local German students was really hard. One of the best parts of the program was the field trips that were paid for by the program. They were seriously amazing and we learned so much! I love IES and I loved this program!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Mit Allem Bitte

I participated in this program in Spring 2017. From the very beginning with our group hike through the Black Forest to the final dinner of my internship program at the Feierling Biergarten, I loved every minute. This program allows you the opportunity to take interesting classes from qualified German professors, as well as integrating a lot of travel into it. The program itself covers the cost of trips to Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels, Prague, Berlin, Strasbourg, and three further cities (I went to Madrid, Barcelona, and Rome). Its a great opportunity to get to travel to many places in Europe at a low cost, as well as to speak to many interesting politicians, diplomats, academics, and leaders of NGOs. For example, we got to speak with the Czech Foreign Minister as well as a MEP from Poland. Additionally, Freiburg is a beautiful city, with an amazing location in the Black Forest and only 30-45 minutes to France and Basel, Switzerland. Overall, I would highly recommend this program, especially if you enjoy travelling and learning about the EU. Also UniKebap has the best döner in Freiburg hands down, just a tip.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    7

Experiencing Europe with IES

During the Spring 2017 semester, I participated in the IES Abroad European Union program based in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany! I really loved my experience, it was invaluable to say the least. I will look back fondly on my time in Europe and the lessons I learned for the rest of my life. I would recommend the program to any student, especially those with an interest in Political Science, International Relations, or Economics.

My living situation was very pleasant. I lived in a modern, student apartment building called Berliner Allee in a flat with 5 flatmates. There was one other IES student living there; otherwise, all of the other flatmates are German students between ages 24-27. Some IES students use this as an opportunity to practice their German, even though I didn't personally! My flat was remarkably clean because of our "putzplan," or cleaning schedule, which is quite common for German living situations. I wasn't too far away from the IES center where we took our classes; it was about a 15 minute commute if that. Though depending on which neighborhood in Freiburg you end up in, the cleanliness of your flat, the number of flatmates, and the distance from the IES center can vary quite a bit.

As far as academics are concerned, if you are looking for an easy-breezy semester abroad, I would not recommend this program. We took all of our classes at the IES EU center. Obviously like any institution, there are easier and harder teachers and professors, but the required 5-class course load means you will definitely be working throughout the week. I wouldn't say it's as hard as a lot of American colleges and universities, but it is certainly no walk in the park. Finally, since the program includes quite a bit of travel, I definitely did my fair share of work on planes and trains. As we are currently in a period where the European Union is in flux, the topic courses I took, EU and the Muslim World, EU-US Relations, and Migration, were very current and interesting.

For me, travel was far-and-away (pun intended) the best aspect of the program. I can guarantee by the end of the program, you will feel like you did not spend enough time in Freiburg. First, there are 21 days of built in travel included in the program. If you plan no additional trips, you will still get to visit 7-9 countries with your classmates. Second, the program schedule includes two "Wanderlust Weekends." These are weeks with no Friday classes to allow you to get an early start on a fun travel weekend. With mine, I went to London, England and Nice, France; both were lovely. Finally, there is a healthy-sized Spring Break to allow for further travel. In total, I visited 14 countries in Europe and North Africa throughout the semester.

One of the most important things I learned on the program is that the more you travel, the more you realize how much more there is to see. Even though I was lucky enough to see some amazing cities, there were many that I wish I had WAY more time in, and even more that I wanted to see but didn't have the time. You really get an idea of how enormous the world is on this program, which is a lesson worth learning.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

IES European Union

Last semester I got the opportunity to live in Freiburg, Germany from August to December with the IES European Union program. The reason I was drawn to the program was the emphasis on political science and our extreme focus on uncovering the EU. I really knew nothing about the EU so having this crash course while living in Germany, an extremely important player within the EU, was a great addition to my college studies. I also loved that the program included 3 weeks of travel to different EU institutions. On those trips we got to visit institutions and meet with important EU players as well as a lot of free time to explore the city on our own (as well as activities provided by the program). Due to that I got to travel to 9 countries that I didn't have to plan at all which is nice - it also brought me to places that I probably wouldn't have visited on my own (like Bucharest and Luxembourg).
Another thing I loved about the program was living in Freiburg. It is not too large of a city that you would feel overwhelmed getting around, but still large enough that there is always something to do. It is also a big university city so there are so many shops, restaurants, and bars/clubs that are geared toward college kids. I also loved the living arrangement. I lived in a flat with one other student on my program plus five German students. It was kind of like a homestead but with college kids. My flatmates were super welcoming and included me in their activities, outings, and parties. Becoming good friends with my flatmates allowed me to meet other German students and really immerse myself in Freiburg, something that I don't think can happen as easily in other programs.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Best decision ever

I struggled a lot when trying to decide on a program to study abroad. IES European Union was one of the first programs that I found, but I was hung up on the fact that it was in Germany (I had no desire to go to Germany at the time) and that it didn't include an internship (all my friends were doing internships). I was practically all signed up to intern in London for the semester, when I spontaneously switched to the EU program. I have never looked back.
While I never thought I would end up in Germany, I quickly fell in love with Freiburg and every other city we visited. My favorite part of the program was by far all the travel. I got to visit 13 European countries and 8 of them were through the included excursions. Some highlights were, seeing the Eiffel Tower light up during boat ride down the Seine, sitting in on a European Parliament session in Strasbourg, and visiting a Roma school in Romania. That being said, even after traveling all over Europe, Freiburg was still my favorite. While Freiburg was not as large or bustling as other cities in Europe, there was a lot to do and explore. I could go on for hours about how much I loved my experience with the IES European Union program, but I will end by saying that study abroad was one of the best thing that I have ever done, and I firmly believe that it would not have been as great if I had chosen a different program.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

My European Union abroad experience

I enrolled in the European Union program in Freiburg to gain a better understanding of European culture through the Political Science and International Relations lens and have the ability to visit famous European cities that were also relevant with our studies.
As a Business major, it would seem that my studies were not exactly compatible with my major. However, I was able to fulfill some of my major requirements while still being able to take some Political Science and International Relations classes that I thought were very interesting and could diversify my academic background.
The semester when I studied, the Fall of 2016, could not have been a better time to study abroad. With Brexit and very similar elections occurring in nearly every major European state coupled with the US elections, the subject matter was relevant to everybody and we had plenty of material to discuss in class and when we visited the different bureaucratic cities.
The relevance of the material we study in class were extremely relevant with the current events and that was vital for me as there was the study aspect in my study abroad and also in practice, as I was able to combine the two together and gain a better understanding for European political culture.
As this program is geared towards Political Science and International Relations majors, there were times where I felt I was out of my element, as I did not possess the foundational knowledge of the subject matter we would study. However, it was still very beneficial for me to study different subjects as a Liberal Arts student.
The program did a fantastic job of balancing class work with our travels, as the professors had a great understanding of our time constraints as our schedule had us outside Freiburg almost every two weeks.
With my college tuition and the study program expense being equal, it was fantastic to be able to visit these cities without paying more out of pocket.
Freiburg is also a vibrant, university-driven town to be in, and in close proximity to France, Switzerland, and other European states.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

A very European semester

My experience with IES Abroad European Union was an invaluable opportunity. As a student of International Relations and History, I was able to explore my passions within a practical context in Europe. Our field trips, by far one of the highlights of the program, took us across Europe; I visited 12 countries, and engaged in meetings with EU officials and academics from a wide variety of fields. Some of my favorite memories include visiting the European Parliament in Strasbourg, hiking in the Alps, and talking about Brexit in Think Tanks in London. Moreover, the base city of the program, Freiburg, is a gorgeous and quaint town. It is easily accessible, due in part to the excellent tram system, and will quickly make you feel at home (and it also has a great selection of restaurants). Additionally, the IES Abroad Staff are some of the most attentive and caring people I've ever met, and they would always make sure that everyone on the program was doing well. My semester abroad was a big leap for me - a push to try something new - and I'm immensely glad I did it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The greatest time of my life

Studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany was the greatest decision I ever made. I was hesitant to choose this program at first, thinking the model EU requirement would be difficult and extra work. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the program, however, and made the program that much more educational and exciting! This program is also ideal because travel is included in the program, and the IES center staff do an incredible job planning the trips, providing suggestions and tips for each city and exposing us to unique speakers and experiences. Overall, I cannot stress enough how great this program was and how much I came to love Freiburg. This city is beautiful and the perfect size. It is not an overwhelmingly large and tourist-filled city, but it is large enough that you can often communicate in English when necessary and stop by Starbucks when you want a little reminder of home.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Life changing semester

During the semester I went to 11 European Countries! I've met people from all over the USA. Since the program is focused on political science, I got an amazing and unique view on not only European, but American politics as well. However, the program works for pretty much all majors. I am finance major and had absolutely the best time even in political science classes. We've visited some major European Union institutions in Brussels. Living situation is excellent; you can either live with other German students or live by yourself. Regardless, it will be convenient and located in a safe area. Definitely recommend the program. Even though it is very heavy on traveling, the semester is built the way that you don't get tired of it!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    3

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

Best semester of my life

This semester was the most fun I've had since being in college. I had so much fun with everyone in the program, and the travel was incredible. A note about life in Freiburg: integrating into German culture is on you!!! You have to make an effort, since you're studying at the IES center and not in a university you're surrounded by Americans all day every day. But it's possible to bond with flatmates and locals, many of my friends did that. My dorm experience was relatively uneventful, but I spent a lot of time at my friend's flat since her flatmates were the best!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

An experience that makes a lifetime impact

Studying abroad in Freiburg im Breisgau, a small city in SüdDeutschland(South Germany) seems like an underrated opportunity so far. But comparing to other IES Programs in Europe it's absolutely unique. People gain both local experience in a typical German town and international experience by taking field trips to other countries in this program. For me, a student major in International Relations it's a mind-opening experience. The courses I took at the IES Center took an in-depth look into European Union, not only were we able to study the institutions, organization, development, policy-making and controversies of the EU, the course design also offered the micro aspect of it. I took a class called Regions in the EU, which focused on how countries adopted the EU legislation and how much legislative freedom they still have under the EU law supremacy. I also took a class about EU and Muslim, which discussed the development and current controversies surrounding the Muslim communities in some of the EU's member states. But what really helped me gain more passion about my studies were the field trips and the model EU. We were able to meet and talk to people who study and work on some of the most concerned current issues in Europe. For example, we met someone from the refugee committee in Athens who gave us the local perspective of the refugee crisis. Another precious part of the experience was being able to look at issues from countries that were often times neglected on mainstream US media. I took a field trip to three Central Eastern European countries: Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, learning about its communist history and the current perspective on issues like EU development and refugee crisis. Representing Finland in my council for model EU also helped me look more into policies of a small state like Finland. It also made me realize how difficult it is to reach agreement while having 28 different voices on the table.
An amazing thing about this program is that it offers opportunity for internship after the program. This program offers a few intern positions working for MEPS in the European Parliament, and it also allows you to apply for an internship in Freiburg, which is what I ended up doing. My German is far away from being proficient, but I was able to work at the Carl-Schurz-Haus, a German-American cultural institute that brings events focusing on both cultures. It's a rewarding experience that allowed me to understand the German organizational culture more and interact with people from the local community. People at my internship site were really nice and I had such a good time. It was also really nice to be able to stay in Freiburg during the summer.
Another reason I would recommend this program is the fact that it's cheaper to live in Freiburg comparing to other cities in Europe(especially like Paris and Copenhagen...Trust me you will miss Freiburg or any other city in Germany after you paid $15 for a Danish hot dog in Copenhagen and $9 for a glass of beer in Helsinki...). The food lacks variety in Germany, that I agree, but I definitely fall in love with German food during my time there. I remember buying currywurst for only 2-3 euros in Munster, grabbing pretzels from the local bakeries, getting gelato for 1 euro/scoop near the tram stop everyday before I headed home from the internship, and buying beer before sitting down in Mensa for the Euro 2016 games. In Freiburg IES students are able to live in student apartment with German student from Freiburg University. The accommodation is way better than my on-campus dorm, there's an actual kitchen where you can really be a chef and host friends. My room at Vauban, the student village was not spacious but still acceptable and big enough to be comfy. Vauban is also 10 minutes walk from the black forest where you can easily go for a weekend hike.
Being in Freiburg means geographically you are almost in the center of western Europe. Even though it's a small city, the fact that you are near the French-Swiss border makes travel quite convenient. It takes a bit more than an hour going to Alsace region in France(Colmar, Mullhouse,Strasbourg) and it's takes similar amount of time going to Basel in Switzerland, where you can take flight to other European destinations from the Euro Airport there. For other flights usually people go to airports in Frankfurt, which is around 1,5 hours by train from Freiburg. Flights in Europe are way cheaper comparing to the ones in US, as there are many cheap flight companies and it's incredibly cheap if you buy tickets in advance. I benefited from such convenience and traveled to 14 countries in total during my time abroad(8 on my own). My favorite trips include going to see Germany vs Slovakia as part of the Euro 2016 in Lille, France. Now I feel like I'm almost a pro traveler and this program really helped me discover my passion for travel!
As you can see, the IES EU program in Freiburg offers way more than what its name might appeal to you. It also offers extra opportunities if you are interested and determined. My time with this program really helped me to grow and become a new person. People should consider this program if they want to discover Europe, EU and themselves.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Best decision I ever made

I've been studying German for about three years in college and going abroad with IES was my first time in Germany and I had the ability to put my German to the test! This opportunity was one of the best decisions I've ever made! I was able to improve and actually use my German, I made new friends, met great people from across the globe, learned so much about the EU (and its relationship with the US), and traveled to so many cool places through this program. I cannot stress enough how much this program has changed me, not only did I have so much fun, but I also grew and changed as a person during my time there.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    10

The discovery of fernweh

fernweh | (n.) when you feel like you have to leave your familiar surroundings to discover new places. it is the need for distance, the wish to experience something far away from home, the urge to escape from your everyday life by travelling

The IES EU Freiburg was the perfect catalyst for finding fernweh. During the program, I was able to visit countless countries and had even more developing experiences! I learned how to really survive on my own, not even counting the whole being-in-a-foreign-country part. I made friends that will last my entire lifetime because we did this amazing thing together!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Best decision of my college career!

My time with the IES EU Program was easily the best four months of my life. Through the program I got to travel to Berlin, Prague, Brussels, Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, Strasbourg, Grindelwald, Riga, Stockholm and London. Not only were these trips extremely well-planned, but we had the opportunity to hear from local politicians, professors, etc. that we wouldn't have had the opportunity to hear from otherwise. With these trips I felt that we got to see the city through the eyes of a local, and really understand the political culture of that particular EU member state.
Aside from the travel, this IES program had so much to offer its students. The program was based out of Freiburg, which was the perfect place to call home. The location was ideal (right in the Black Forest, nestled between Switzerland and France) and had amazing food, hiking, and people.
While the group of students varies semester to semester, I would say the best part of my time abroad was the people I got to spend it with. This program attracts ambitious, interesting, and well-rounded people that I am so lucky I had the pleasure of getting to know. Doing this program was the best decision I could have possibly made in my college career and would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for travel.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    8

Freiburg, Germany (IES EU Program)

Classes:

My IES classes were generally good and not too hard, but they required time-management. I found that there was a fair amount of “busy” work and a few too many tests and papers, but my classes in Freiburg were still easier than the classes I take at my home university.

IES does not allow laptops in class, so if you (like me) like to have your readings in class for reference, you’ll have to print everything. Instead of wasting paper, I ended up taking a lot of reading notes—tedious, but I eventually got used to it.

Overall, I learned a fair amount in my classes and enjoyed them, but I wouldn’t say that they were the highlight of my semester.

Travel:

I visited 9 cities with IES, and had a great time on all of my trips. On most days, we had lectures in the morning (sometimes long and boring, but usually informative) and free time in the afternoon/evening.

If you want to make the most of your free time, you definitely need to do some research in advance. I spent a lot of time on my trips trying to figure out what to do/where to go, so I wish I had taken the time to do some advance planning.

Because I traveled so much with IES, I didn’t end up traveling too much on my own. Once I got back from my IES trips, I was pretty exhausted and preferred to spend my weekends in Freiburg. I also took some day trips around Germany, France and Switzerland (yes, you can go to France or Switzerland for brunch if you want to).

Freiburg:

I absolutely loved Freiburg. It is a university town, so there are tons of young people around and lots of student-friendly places to eat/shop/hang out.

I lived in a flat with 5 other students in a building called Berliner Allee. The flat had 6 single rooms, 2 bathrooms and a shared kitchen. Every student had an assigned bathroom along with assigned kitchen shelves and space in the refrigerators. I was also entered into the flat “putzplan,” or cleaning plan, which rotates weekly.

Due to the German semester system, students in Freiburg tend to move in and out of apartments frequently. When I first moved into my flat, I had 2 flat-mates from Germany, one from Romania, one from France and one from Lithuania. Some of these flat-mates moved out within a few months and their rooms turned over, but I was lucky and ended up liking everyone I lived with.

Learning German:

Before arriving in Freiburg, I did not speak a word of German. This made my transition fairly challenging—I couldn’t read a menu, understand labels in the grocery store or pharmacy or ask basic questions in a store. My German class at IES taught me a fair amount (enough to understand the basics), but I didn’t become as comfortable with the language as I would have liked. German is not the focus of the EU program, and you can get around Freiburg with English. Expect to learn something, but you won’t be fluent in German by the end of the semester.

Meeting Locals:

I met a fair number of German students (flat-mates and others), and became quite close to them. In fact, I had closer connections to Germans than most of my friends from IES because I was more inclined to get out of the “American IES bubble.”

My German friends were wonderful, and they invited me to lots of different events. I went to a German acoustic-punk concert at a local bar—definitely not an event I would have found on my own—and to many dinners and picnics. My German friends enjoyed practicing their English with me, and they helped me a lot with my German. One friend helped me study for my German oral exam and my German flat-mates loved to answer my homework questions.

It is very easy to stick to other Americans in Freiburg, but it is worth it to make an effort to meet Germans. Flat-mates are a great place to start!

Overall Impressions:

I truly enjoyed the IES EU program and would recommend it to other students.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

An unforgettable semester

Before even going to college I knew that at some point, I was going to study abroad. I had always been fascinated with learning about the different places and cultures around the world. The summer before leaving for Carolina I had decided to learn German and began looking for study abroad programs in Germany; that was how I found out about IES:European Union. I was interested in majoring in history or international relations, so it was an added bonus that this program was not only based in Germany but also about an important organization.

IES:EU is located in the small German town of Freiburg, surrounded by the Black Forest. Being from the coastal plains of North Carolina, it was exciting to be living so close to mountains. I lived in Berliner Allee, a student apartment just a 15 minute tram ride away from the IES center. My flatmates were awesome, helping me learn how to cook and constantly correcting my German. Berliner Allee is a short walk away from Seepark, which is great for picnics and walks. It is also conveniently close to a Turkish döner shop and a bakery.

The program is taught in English but does require a German language class. The courses range from history of the EU, to EU policies, and even some business related classes. During one of the three field excursions, the professors arrange guest speakers whose work is related to what is discussed in the class. For my course on migration, I got to visit the European Network Against Racism office in Brussels and learn how the organization works at a multi-level to aid and protect minorities throughout all of the EU’s member states. The field excursions were an amazing opportunity to visit various other European countries. About three weeks was spent traveling with the IES program. While it was great to see famous landmarks and gorgeous castles, returning to Freiburg always put a smile on my face.

I had the time of my life studying abroad. I was able to learn and grow so much in the span of four months. From learning how to cook to speaking German to locals to trying to navigate metros in countries I had no clue how to speak the language. By the end of my stay, I could plan mostly successful trips and not completely panic when lost or almost missing the bus. I met so many amazing people and made great friends. I will miss the quick runs to my favorite bakery in between classes and walking back to Berliner Allee with a gelato in hand on a sunny day.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

A perspective changing semester that was the time of my life

I have always known that I wanted to study abroad, but always imagined myself going to Ireland, never in a million years did I think I would end up in the Southwestern part of Germany. Last minute, I decided to apply to this program because I wanted a unique experience that would push me out of my comfort zone. I ended up getting this and more.

First, Freiburg is quirky town that is the perfect combination of old and new. This is perfectly represented by the McDonald's sign on one of Freiburg landmarks. It also has so much to do from hiking outside of your dorm to shopping at the local mall. The town comes alive in the sunshine. This is when in between classes you can relax at a beer garden that overlooks the entire town or drink a latte (kaffee und kuchen) in the town square. Overall, Freiburg is a wonderful town to make you feel at home while abroad and is amazing to come back to after a long week of traveling.

This program is also the best because it includes 3 weeks of traveling across Europe. The hotel and travel is included in the tuition and then upon arrival in a city we take a walking tour of the city and then they give everyone a list of local landmarks in the city, places to eat, and where to go out at night. I loved this aspect because it took away a lot of the stress of traveling since the administration did all of the hard work and then I got to enjoy my time in each city. The EU program also allows you to see the town from a different perspective than your friends studying with other programs, since in each city you meet with politicians and experts in different fields. This is what sold me on the program. Europe is experiencing a dynamic time in politics and as a member of this program, I got me talk to people that helped write TTIP legislation or a person that is in charge of refugee camps in Athens. Therefore, if you want to travel to 11 countries in four months and be in the hub of political drama, this is the program for you.

Overall, the Freiburg, EU program was the trip of a lifetime. It might seem cliche, but it could not be more true.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The best four months of my life

As a second semester sophomore in college, I never expected to study abroad but I can gratefully say that I had the time of my life. I was facing some difficulties both internally and externally at school at the time and knew that I needed some drastic change and that I was the only one who could act upon that. So in October, one week before the deadline of the program, I blindly applied for the IES European Union Program in Freiburg, Germany.

I know that this program was perfect for me now because I was happy and felt grateful to be there every single day of my abroad experience. Throughout my travel to get to my study destination I never felt scared and immediately found a person in my program when I got to Freiburg. I now consider him one of my best friends.

The way that the program was set up is that we lived in student housing communities alongside German as well as international, students. However, we attended classes only with students that were in the same study abroad program as us. For me, this set up could not have been better. It allowed me to become integrated into German culture by learning from my roommates. It also allowed me to make lifelong friends from all across the United States. Friends that became so close that a mere three weeks after returning home, we had a reunion and many more have unfolded since.

But that’s not all. The program sponsored field trips across Europe to allow us to travel as well as learn from politicians, environmentalists, professors, activists, journalists and many other people about the “world” they live in. I am so grateful that I was not only able to visit ten countries in Europe during my abroad excursion, but that I was able to learn about the people and what lies beneath the tourist traps in a country.

Concerning academics, the classes were rigorous and attendance was mandatory, but remember that you’re there to study abroad, not just to travel. For me, the workload was more than manageable and most of my classmates enjoyed their learning experience.

Looking back on my study abroad experience now I honestly wouldn’t change a single thing, except for the fact that I had to return home.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

An exercise in self-discovery

As a low-income student, the idea of studying abroad was kind of a pipe dream. In addition to my finances, I was going through a personal struggle at home that threatened any possibility of participating in study abroad. However, I had saved the amount of money required for the semester in Germany, and I had already missed registration for classes during the spring semester. I was afraid I would come to regret my experience and my choice to study abroad. I was afraid that I would be too distracted by everything going on at home to even enjoy exploring and learning from my host country. Most of all, I was afraid that I would have wasted time and money on this journey. I could not have been further from the truth.
I made two friends on my first night in Germany, and I met them at what would soon become one of my favorite restaurants in Freiburg. On the first program trip (Berlin and Prague) I found what would soon become my closest friends on the program. On my first day of instruction, I met some of my favorite professors. IES Abroad was able to give me an array of experiences that helped me discover many things about myself. One aspect about myself that I was shown was just how independent I am capable of being. I had always regarded myself as an independent person, but the independence and confidence that comes from studying and living abroad is one of a different nature. Whether it is through engaging in conversation with someone who does not share your language or traveling from Portugal to Germany using eight different modes of transportation, you will find a confidence and comfort in the uncomfortable and strange.
Even though it seemed like the absolute wrong time to go abroad and study, it turned out to be the perfect time for it. If I had to impart one impression or one piece of advice, it would be to simply do it. Take the risk and do it because you won't regret it. Rather, you will learn more about the world and yourself by participating in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Viel Glück!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    6

Top notch experience

I studied abroad with IES Abroad in Freiburg, Germany during my sophomore year for one semester. Studying abroad in Germany was the best time in my life. Through my experiences abroad, I have developed to overcome challenges and gained new perspective to look at the world from various point of view. Student from diverse backgrounds, sitting together at the Augustinerplatz to enjoy the end of the day and picturesque landscape of the gateway to the Black Forest have indeed added charm to my experience in Freiburg. My memories from Germany are filled with limitless joy and happiness. I would highly recommend studying abroad with IES Abroad in Freiburg at the European Union program.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

Exceeding all expectations

When I started my study abroad search, I was seeking a program that combined my interests in social sciences, history, and politics in a practical, hands-on approach. IES Abroad's European Union program seemed like the perfect opportunity, with over 3
weeks of travel and meetings throughout the semester with policy makers, journalists, and lawyers all over EU-member states. My German was also improved, as the center's location in the heart of the Black Forest (in Freiburg) meant that I would get first hand experience for practicing language skills. For roughly 4 months, I was immersed in the local, national, and international political culture of Europe, with visits to Brussels, Prague, and Barcelona, to name a few spots. Freiburg is also close to cities like Heidelberg and Colmar (in France), and they were just a short train ride or bus away. Alongside my 80 classmates, I got the chance of a lifetime to see Europe in a fresh and exciting way, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect program for an adventurous historian with ambitions to work in policy making and law.
In addition to the work and opportunities throughout the semester, the IES EU program also encourages students to find research and internship opportunities in Europe for a greater look into European affairs. In February of my Spring semester, I began applying for internships in Brussels, The Hague, and Geneva after hearing about opportunities from my professors and encouraging speakers. As a result, I spent the summer of 2016 working for an international corporate index tracking organization in Geneva, Switzerland. While Switzerland is not a part of the EU, I feel that my experiences with IES Abroad on international visits and excursions helped me to be properly prepared to live and work abroad in one of the international hubs of European Legal and Human Rights Activities. My work brought me education on patent law, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and compliance with the UN's Social Development Goals (2016-2030). I've even gotten the chance to collaborate on UN legislation and working group documents as an independent observer. I feel that I could not have done these things without the help of IES Abroad's staff and educational resources, and I'm so glad I applied to this program over a year ago.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

IES EU: Semester of a Life Time

This program is everything I could have asked for in a study abroad program. To start, the academic offerings were interesting and pertinent to my major. I took Common Foreign Security Policy, EU and the Muslim World and Conflict in the Black Sea. These classes were very specific, which allowed for deep discussions. All classes were taught in English, except German. Secondly, this program has a large travel component. The program takes you through Europe and you get the chance to meet with professors, government officials, social activist, and student from that place. This is such a unique way to see Europe. Thirdly, this program is in the cutest city. Freiburg is an environmental-conscious student city. There are endless bike paths and hiking trails. Great markets too! The transportation is great and it is convenient to fly out of Basel.