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Berlin Immersion:

Free University Berlin
Humboldt University Berlin
Technical University Berlin

- Fall
- Pre-ILP + Fall
- Pre-ILP + Spring
- Pre-ILP + Year
- Spring
- Spring (Advanced Only)
- Year
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
Academic Information
Program Overview

Pre-Intensive Language Program (Pre-ILP)

If you need additional German instruction to meet the language prerequisite requirements you can enroll in the Pre-ILP prior to your semester or year in Berlin. The Pre-ILP is specifically designed to provide the equivalent of second-year language proficiency. This intensive program is offered through FUBiS, an affiliate of Free University. You are placed in the appropriate language level after taking an online placement test and completing a short oral interview on the first day of class.
To participate in the summer Pre-ILP you must have completed three quarters/two semesters of university level German. Summer Pre-ILP classes are held daily, Monday through Friday. To participate in the winter Pre-ILP you must have completed four quarters/three semesters of university level German.  Winter Pre-ILP classes are held Monday through Thursday.
If you receive a B- or below as the final pre-ILP grade, you will be required to meet with the Study Center representative to discuss progress and conditions of continuation.

Intensive Language Program (ILP)

You will participate in the six week intensive language program (ILP) before the regular semester begins. The ILP concentrates on providing an introduction to German contemporary culture and history, and developing German writing, conversation, and grammar skills. The ILP also prepares you for the demands of regular university course work. The only students not required to take the ILP are those participating in the spring advanced only program. If you recieve a grade of B- or below in the ILP you will be required to take additional language instruction during the semester.

Fall, Spring, and Year Program 

During the semester you attend regular university courses at Free, Humboldt, or Technical in a wide range of fields. Instruction is usually in German, although some courses taught in English may be available. Technical University specializes in sciences, math, engineering, environmental studies, and architecture. While most disciplines are equally available at Free University and Humboldt University, there are some differences in their curricula and specialization. For a detailed comparison please refer to UC Subject Areas at Free University and Humboldt University.
You must complete a minimum of 18 UC quarter units (12 semester units) each semester; most students take at least four courses each semester.
Academic Culture

Academic organization in German universities differs from that of the UC system. For example, there are no general education or breadth requirements. When German students enroll in a university, they are generally at the equivalent of upper-division level. They have already attended a university-preparatory high school or Gymnasium (some of which still include a 13th grade). The last two or three years of this school are more or less equivalent to lower-division college work in the U.S.
At the university, German students choose a Fach (major subject) and follow a prescribed course of study that typically does not involve courses in other fields. Students are allowed to choose their Fach based on the results of a highly competitive exam taken at the end of the Gymnasium.

Course Structure

University courses take the form of Vorlesungen, Übungen, Proseminare, and Hauptseminare. Vorlesungen are similar to American lecture courses. Übungen and Proseminare are similar to discussion sessions or seminars in which professors lead lectures and discussions. In Proseminare, students are encouraged to participate in discussions and are often required to present material to the group. Hauptseminare, similar to Proseminare, are more advanced and comparable to graduate-level seminars in America. UCEAP undergraduate students normally do not enroll in Hauptseminare.
With the introduction of the bachelor degree, most courses are now organized into Modules. A module is usually composed of two or more components (e.g. a lecture and a seminar), and German students have to complete both components in order to receive a grade for the whole module. International students are commonly allowed to take individual components for a letter grade, but there have been exceptions, most notably with the “Institut für deutsche Literatur” at Humboldt University, where students do have to take all module components and receive a single grade.
Class sizes can vary from five students to hundreds of students depending on the course. Classes can be lectures, seminars, labs, or tutorials. A typical seminar will have between twenty to thirty students; however, the more popular seminars can have fifty students or more.
Classes typically meet once a week. If a class has different components, such as a lecture plus a tutorial or a lecture plus a lab, these might occur on different days of the week. There is a type of course called a “Blockseminar” which meets for one or more “blocks” of class throughout the term instead of on a weekly basis.
The German university system requires students to study independently. Study groups are not as common as in the U.S. but students can organize them on their own. One of the greatest academic challenges for past UCEAP students has been learning self-discipline. Because there are few or no assignments during the semester and few hours in class per week, some UCEAP students think that studying in Germany is easy. This may become a problem when those students have not prepared themselves for the final exam. UCEAP students who have a high degree of self-motivation will do well in the German university system.

Libraries and Textbooks

Your required readings will be assigned to you once you are enrolled in your courses in Germany. Many classes require students to buy a “reader” (which combines readings from different authors) instead of or in addition to textbooks. A number of university courses have a reserved shelf with the required readings in the library, the Handapparat. Although readings will be assigned in German texts, some UCEAP students find it helpful to take their English textbooks as reference tools.
A good, comprehensive dictionary is important to have while abroad. The Study Center recommends the Deutsches Universalwörterbuch A-Z (Duden). Langenscheidt and Pon are two good German-English dictionaries. Good online German-English dictionaries that are easy to use are the Leo Deutsch-Englisch Wörterbuch and
Berlin immersion students can use all university libraries free of charge by registering with the libraries outside their host institution. The national library as well as the public libraries often have copies of books if they are unavailable in the university libraries; student membership cards are inexpensive. Most libraries have quiet study areas.


You should not be shy about approaching instructors. Remember to be persistent in discussing evaluations and grading with your professors throughout the semester.
Course Information
Course offerings and exact course descriptions for the year are usually not available until after arrival; do not expect specific courses to be offered each year. A good source for relevant course information is the MyEAP Course Catalog, which outlines courses students have previously taken. In addition to the courses in the catalog, other new courses will be available, and you are encouraged to visit classes, talk with other students and professors, and choose your courses carefully.
You are allowed to take courses at one of the UCEAP-affiliated universities other than the one you are attending: Free University, Humboldt University, or Technical University. However, you should take the majority of your courses at the host university you applied for.
Each semester Free University offers a selection of courses focusing on German culture and history that are designed specifically for international students. Many of these courses can be cross-listed for different departments in the UCEAP course catalog (German, History, Political Science, Architecture etc.) so they can be widely applicable towards requirements on your home campus. Students in the past have enjoyed these courses and have appreciated taking a course with a distinctively German perspective.

Registering for Courses

You will register for your courses after you arrive in Berlin. You will use the Vorlesungsverzeichnis and the departmental Kommentiertes Vorlesungsverzeichnis to select courses that you think will fit well with your academic goals. You will use the first few weeks to attend the first lecture of any courses that you may want to take. You should go to as many lectures as possible in the first two weeks so that you have lots to choose from. A sign-up list is usually passed around and you need to make sure your name is on that list. Increasingly, online registration is also being used; however, the online systems at the Berlin Universities are new and not as advanced as the UC online course registration systems.
When you are looking through courses, you may encounter various categories of classes, including Bachelor or Master Studiengänge​, as well as different levels of difficulty. These categories are for normal degree students, and normally the requirements and restrictions for signing up for these courses do not apply to exchange students. You should be aware that Hauptseminare and Master courses are taught at the graduate level. You must get permission from UCEAP in order to take these courses and the professor needs to verify that you have the necessary prerequisites to take the course.
Getting into classes differs from university to university, from department to department, and from professor to professor. You need to make sure that you introduce yourself to the professor of your courses so that you can register for the course properly. You will receive additional information on the registration process at your Academic Advising meeting in Berlin.
Final Exams and Grades
Contact your instructors at the very beginning of the term to find out what is required to obtain a benoteten Schein (a paper certificate with a grade). The Study Center will also be in contact with the instructors to explain your status and request grades. You will be informed about the procedure and urged to follow up with the instructor to ensure timely grade reporting.
For students in the Humanities and Social Sciences, final term papers in Germany are usually extensive research papers. Oftentimes students encounter problems because they do not understand the academic nature that their papers should have. Professors have commented that UCEAP students have merely reviewed or repeated information rather than doing research and then organizing their own arguments and drawing their own conclusions. The Study Center conducts a tutorial on how to properly write a term paper in Germany. Students should take this tutorial very seriously and apply it to their final work for their courses.
The German academic calendar begins late in the fall and examination periods extend much longer than is typical for a UC campus (exams run through March for the fall semester and July for the spring semester). Due to this late end date, grades are generally not posted until April/May for the fall semester and October/November for the spring semester. Every effort is made to process the academic records as soon as possible, but do not expect to apply for graduation or have UC transcripts available until the quarter or semester following your participation on the program.  
For more information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Internships and Volunteer Opportunities
Extending UCEAP Participation
Deadlines to Submit Extension Forms:
  • Berlin fall immersion (HU, TU, or FU) to Berlin year immersion: November 15
Approval is based on a number of factors, including academic performance, the support of your UC campus department, language acquisition, and available space at the host institution.
Once your extension has been approved, UCEAP will notify your home campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office. For information about the steps you need to take with regard to finances, see the Extension of Participation chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Cultural Awareness
Get Aquainted
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Your program will begin with an orientation at the UCEAP Study Center in Berlin. The orientation is designed to inform you on practical aspects of living in Germany.
Notify UCEAP of your travel plans by completing the Travel Itinerary Form in your Predeparture Checklist by the posted due date.  
Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country

Arrival in Berlin

If you fly directly into Berlin, you will land at either Tegel or Schönefeld airport, both of which have good public transportation connections. If you have opted for a dorm, your dorm/housing office will e-mail you specific instructions for arrival and check-in. Further details are indicated on the Arrival Information sheet included in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist.
Travel Documents

Residence Permit

In order to obtain a residence permit once in Germany, you must first register with the city of Berlin at the Bürgeramt (a department within the Berlin city administration). You can only do this after you have found a permanent residence. You must register with the city within two weeks of moving into the apartment. The residence permit costs approximately €60 to €100, depending on the length of the stay. 
If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need to obtain a residence permit within three months of entering Germany. You will fill out the necessary forms during the UCEAP on-site orientation. There are two ways of obtaining a residence permit: 1) make an appointment with the Ausländerbehörde, go in person, and receive the residence permit after your appointment is over; or, 2) use the visa service at your host university’s International Office, which will assist you with the process and offers a service for obtaining the residence permit. If you choose the second option, you will need to submit your passport for the time it takes to process the permit (approximately three weeks). Do not plan to travel outside of Germany during this time. This is German law, and no exceptions will be made. You should also make plans to exchange enough money in advance to last for this time (money exchange usually requires a passport). Use this time without a passport to familiarize yourself with the local neighborhoods or other cities within Germany.
Packing Tips
Return Travel
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget


Handling Money Abroad
It is important to be aware of how much money (in euros) will be needed immediately. Plan on having available at least €1,200 to €1,500 via ATM for initial expenses during the first month. These can include: dorm or apartment rent and deposit, funds to open a bank account, initial meals, transportation, registration fees, Semesterticket, residence permit fees, and books.


Once you arrive in Berlin, you can open a bank account. Usually opening a bank account is free of charge with proof of student status, and most banks do not charge students monthly fees. No initial deposit is necessary, but you will need your passport to open an account. Some banks also require proof of police registration.
If you have a German bank account, you will receive a plastic card that works as a debit card and is widely accepted.  
Communications Abroad

Internet Access



On-Campus Access 

All universities in Berlin have computer pools on campus. You can apply for an e-mail account and use these facilities once you are registered with the university (you might get a temporary login during the ILP, before the regular semester begins).
During the ILP you have access to a computer room near the classroom area. Free University students staying at the Internationales Studienzentrum Berlin (ISB) have access to the dorm’s own computer pool, which does not require matriculation. Students with laptops can use wireless LAN. The universities have free LAN and WLAN connections in nearly all of their buildings, but you will need some time to be enrolled and processed. In general, free public WLAN access is widely available in Germany. In addition to the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz, many cafés offer free WLAN access.
Be sure to pay all your phone bills before leaving Germany. If you leave without paying your final phone bill, your UC registration and records will be blocked until the bill is paid in full.
Mail & Shipments
You can receive mail at your residence address once it is known. Students can also receive mail at the UCEAP Study Center, as long as “University of California, EAP” is included in the address.
Housing & Meals
Students who withdraw after the withdrawal deadline may be liable for unrecoverable housing and other costs incurred by UCEAP.
Housing upon Arrival (Pre-ILP and ILP)
During the program, you have the option of finding your own housing or staying in the dormitories. Please read through all of the information in this chapter before making your final decision.

Pre-ILP Housing

Students participating in the pre-ILP with FUBiS in Berlin will have multiple options for housing during the pre-ILP:
  1. single room in a shared apartment
  2. single-occupancy apartment
  3. homestay with host family
  4. Seminaris Campus Hotel (not available for spring Pre-ILP) 
Prices and more information are in the online Predeparture Checklist. See the FUBiS website for additional details. After you have sent your application to FUBiS, they will send you a bill for the housing, excursions, and any additional insurance you choose to purchase. You must pay FUBiS directly for these fees since they are not included in your UCEAP fees. Additionally, you have the option of finding your own housing, but all arrangements must be made independently. Neither FUBiS nor the UCEAP Study Center will assist in the search for private housing.
Your pre-ILP housing will start on the program-arrival day and run through the end of the pre-ILP, at which point you will need to move into your accommodations for the remainder of the semester/year.

ILP Housing

There is no dorm option for the ILP only. If you want to stay in the dorms for the ILP, you will be entering into a contract for the entire semester/year.

Temporary Accommodations

Most students will need to stay in temporary accommodations while searching for more permanent housing for the semester or year. Here are the most popular options for temporary accommodations:
  • Zwischenmiete: While looking for a WG room, many students choose to do a “Zwischenmiete,” meaning that you sublease the room of one of the people living in the apartment while they are abroad or pursuing an internship in a different city. The advantages in this case are that the room will be furnished, you usually won’t need to sign a lease, and you don’t necessarily have to be there in person to set it up (Skype calls are one option). In addition, your temporary roommates are usually a great source of information that will help you get accustomed to the city and search for permanent housing. You can tell that the room is “zur Zwischenmiete” by looking at the “Auszugsdatum” category on the WG websites (StudentenWG, WG-Gesucht, etc.). If a date is filled in, then the room will be available “zur Zwischenmiete” until that date.
  • Hostel: Many students also stay in youth hostels while searching for apartments. Visit websites such as Hostel World to see what is available.
  • Studentenhotel: The Studentenwerk Berlin offers the option to stay in its Studentenhotel, Delbrückstraße 24, 14193, Berlin. These rooms can be rented on a daily basis between March and September. Once the semester starts, from October to February, the rooms can only be rented on a monthly basis. See the Studentenhotel website for rental rates.
Private Apartments (WG)
The Study Center encourages you to consider living in private housing in Berlin. It is a great way to experience the active student life in Berlin and be fully immersed in German culture. You also are more likely to find a room in one of the more desirable parts of town. A large majority of students choose this option. If you plan to seek your own housing, it is best to arrive at least two weeks before the start date of your program.
The Study Center recommends that you find a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), or collective living situation, with German-speaking students. It is the best way to become fluent and to connect to German student life.
Although the Study Center recommends living in a WG, you must be prepared to put a significant amount of effort into finding your housing. Berlin’s WG market is becoming more and more competitive and the search for a room in a WG might prove frustrating at times. The Study Center staff are a great source of information and help; however, you will need to do research on your own. It is common for students to depart for Berlin with the intention of finding a place to live after they arrive. If you do not feel comfortable waiting until you arrive in Berlin to secure your housing, consider signing up for the dorms (which is only possible in conjunction with submitting your university application and not at a later point in time).
While it understandably feels better to have housing already secured before you come to Berlin, UCEAP strongly discourages you from signing a long-term lease and/or making any payments before you have seen the apartment in person. Make sure you inspect your room before you move in and thoroughly record anything that is damaged to avoid having to pay for things in need of repair due to previous tenants when you move out.
How to Find an Apartment
If you want to find a room in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), you won’t be able to fully begin your search until you get to Berlin and can meet with potential housemates in person. You will need to arrange temporary housing for the first weeks after your arrival in Berlin while you are looking for a WG (see Temporary Accommodation in this chapter for more information). For students attending the ILP, it is to your advantage that you will be in Berlin before the semester starts. The search is a great chance to see how students in Germany live.
Some options for finding private housing include blackboards posted in the main university buildings, often near the mensa; newspapers and magazines; or online at:
Typically, you will search for your WGs online. On some WG sites, such as, you can also post your own ad and include the time period for which you need a room and any other technical or social requirements, such as maximum rent and minimum size. Simply click on “Gesuch aufgeben” (all instructions and explanations are available in English, but there is no translation of this term).
Members of a WG generally interview prospective new roommates. Competition for the more desirable apartments is sometimes tough; do not be surprised or discouraged if you are not accepted at your first, second, or even third choice (German students have to go through this as well). Recent students have reported that those advertising rooms will respond much more quickly to a phone call than an e-mail.
In addition, the Berlin Welcome Booklet that you will receive during your orientation includes links to several housing websites and search engines. If you are attending Free University, you should also register through the Auslandsamt prior to departure in order to get a password to FU’s excellent “Distributed Campus” website, which contains information about housing and many other aspects of life in Berlin.
Housing Payments
You will be paying rent directly to your landlord. You may be required to pay a deposit up front; be sure to work out the details with your landlord before you enter into an agreement. Typically the landlord will not charge individual tenants but will charge the entire WG together. You and your roommates will need to decide whose account will be charged for rent and how you will get your deposit back, preferably before leaving the country.
Avoid Scams
Just as with any apartment search, you must ensure that the apartment listings are legitimate. To avoid scams, do not send any personal information such as passport numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers etc. to potential landlords in Berlin prior to your arrival. Under no circumstances should you send money (via wire transfer, credit card transaction, etc.) to Berlin before arrival. Do not enter into any agreement without first seeing the apartment in person. Be wary of ads that seem suspicious to you, for example an offer with very attractive conditions coupled with a request for an overseas money transfer. Contact the Study Center if you are uncertain about the legitimacy of an offer. If the landlord asks you to provide a security deposit, only proceed with the payments after you have seen the apartment, signed the lease, and met the owner. Never sign a contract from the U.S.
University Dormitories
Previous students discourage living in the dorms, as they are outside of the city center; tend to be isolated and distant from the universities, shops, clubs, cheap ethnic restaurants, and other desirable aspects of student life; and they seldom offer an interactive community as is common in UC dorms.
On the other hand, dormitories can be arranged before departure and they are comparatively cheap.
There are three main dormitory options in Berlin:
  • Studentenwerk
  • Apartments on Celsiusstrasse
  • Studentendorf Schlachtensee
Please read through the following detailed descriptions for each of these options.
These are the main dormitories in Berlin; they are managed by an organization called the Studentenwerk, or student services, which is separate from the university you are attending. Dormitories are located throughout Berlin, with the larger dormitories located in the south and the east. Dorms are furnished, but you must provide bedding, towels, and dishes. All amenities can be easily purchased in Berlin.
In Studentenwerk dormitories, students are housed in single rooms, usually about 12–15 square meters. The rooms might be conjoined with others to form a suite. Bathrooms (usually) and kitchens (always) are shared. Amenities, location, and price vary widely. For details about dorms, see the Studentenwerk website.
Apartments on Celsiusstrasse
When you apply for a dorm, this option will appear on the menu as “Arwobau GmbH.” According to recent students, these single rooms with individual showers are nice; unfortunately, they are also considerably more expensive at about €360 per month. They are not in the center of town, but have good transportation connections.
Studentendorf Schlachtensee
There is also the option of staying in a student dormitory co-operative on the outskirts of Berlin with furnished single rooms or shared apartments. Bedding and towels may be rented per month. The website makes the Studentendorf Schlachtensee look attractive and the prices are low, but some students have been unhappy with this housing. Main complaints in the past have been about its remote location and unfriendly staff. The dorm is located in a very quiet and green part of town, with a scenic lake in walking distance (great for swimming in the summer). However, it takes about half an hour (with public transportation) to get to FU, about 50 minutes to TU, and an hour to HU.
The Studentendorf is not part of the Studentenwerk network of dorms. Students are not allowed to break their contracts and move out to other dorms or private housing. On the plus side, students have noted the positive social experience of living with a large number of other students, many of whom come from different countries.

How to Apply for a Dorm

Free University
After you submit your application for admission, you will be contacted by Free University directly regarding your housing. The university will pass your information on to the Studentenwerk. Be sure to indicate that you are a participant in the University of California EAP program to avoid paying a €400 deposit upfront. Indicate your preference on the forms under Additional Comments. Most dorm rooms are not equipped with Internet access or landline phones. You must note on your housing application form that you will be taking the pre-semester language course (ILP) and that you will require housing during that time. This allows you to move into your dormitory at the start of the program.
If you opt for a dorm, you will be placed in one of two Studentenwerk dormitories: Halbauer Weg 19/21 or Goerzallee 119–135. Descriptions of both dorms are available online. The dorms in Halbauer Weg and Goerzallee are fairly remote and accessible only by bus, which runs infrequently on the weekends.
Costs for these rooms are modest (€160 to €200 per month), especially by California standards. You can find detailed information about the housing options, amenities, prices, and more; view pictures of dorms; and access the housing application on the Free University website.
Humboldt University
If you decide you would like to stay in the dorms, you must indicate this on your online Humboldt University application. You will be contacted by the university to set up your housing. You will most likely be placed in one of four dorms: 1) Allee der Kosmonauten, 2) Sewan Strasse, 3) Aristoteles Steig, or 4) Wohnheim am Ostbahnhof (Franz Mehringplatz).
Unfortunately, the first three dorms listed above are in the extreme eastern part of the city. There are links via public transportation to the HU campus and the central part of Berlin, but expect to spend about 45 minutes commuting each way. The eastern parts of Berlin are also considered less safe. The Wohnheim am Ostbahnhof is considerably closer to campus and the center of town, and is a five- to eight-minute walk from a major train station. The neighborhood is not particularly charming, nor is the building, an 18-story GDR-era high rise (all four dorms are GDR-era cement housing blocks). The dorm has also received some negative reports regarding cleanliness and noise. It is cheap and convenient, at least, so this may well be the best of the four options.
Technical University
If you intend to live in a dorm, you must complete the Application for a Dorm Room as part of your application for admission to Technical University. See your online Predeparture Checklist for more information. Most Technical University students are placed in the Humboldt dormitories, though there may be dorms available closer to TU. See the Humboldt University section for more detailed information on the HU dorms.
Dorm Housing Payments
In some cases, you are required to send a preliminary security deposit in order to reserve student housing. This deposit will likely be due prior to your arrival in Germany. If you fail to pay this deposit on time, you may lose your housing reservation for the semester. Please refer to your online Predeparture Checklist for more information about your specific program and payment deadline.
Free University may waive this deposit if you indicate that you are part of UCEAP; however, you may have to pay if you back out at the last minute.
Humboldt University requires €220 up front, which is only used by HU to reserve your spot. You will be refunded that money as soon as you pay your deposit to the Studentenwerk.
You must pay the deposit and the first month’s rent within a few days of moving into the dorm. A deposit (Kaution) equivalent to one month’s rent is standard. You must establish a bank account and provide the account information to the housing office. Thereafter, monthly rent payments are automatically taken out of your German bank account. In some situations, such as the housing in Werneuchener Strasse, the Studentenwerk does not charge each room individually, but for a suite of two or more rooms. In this case, you will have to work out with your suitemates whose account will be charged the rent and how you will get your deposit back.
Supplies Needed
Generally, you need to take your own towels. At some dormitories in Berlin you will need to bring a set of bed linens or buy one upon arrival. If you need other supplies, such as dishes, these can be easily purchased after arrival as well. For more information, see the descriptions of the individual dormitories in the previous section.
Dorms do not provide sheets or cooking utensils; however, the Studentenwerk offers a package, including sheets, a pillow, and a blanket for about €50. A small cookware dining set costs about €20. These packages can be purchased from the housing office (Wohnheimverwaltung) or custodian (Hausmeister) when you pick up your keys. It is also easy to find cheaper sheets and utensils at local stores.
Exception: For Free University students who will be at the Internationales Studienzentrum Berlin, the ISB provides bed sheets and blankets; there are communal cooking utensils.


In Berlin, most dormitories and apartments have their own kitchen facilities, although you may have to buy your own cooking utensils. There are plenty of university cafeterias (mensas), which are ideal for lunch. Mensas offer meals at reasonable prices, generally between €2 and €3.
If you are participating in the Berlin FU-BEST program and choose the homestay option, you have two meals included each day (usually breakfast and dinner), seven days a week. You will usually have access to kitchen facilities at your homestay for additional cooking. If you are staying in a homestay, you are a guest of your host family. As such, you should clearly communicate with them on eating schedules and whether you plan on missing any meals.
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
You will purchase a Semesterticket, which allows you to take virtually all forms of public transportation in Berlin, Potsdam, and parts of Brandenburg. The ticket costs around €150-180 for each semester, and you are required to purchase it when you pay your semester fees.
Since the Semesterticket for the winter semester begins on October 1, fall and year students will need to purchase their own ticket for the month of September. For this transitional period, purchase a monthly pass that costs €77 (immersion students may be able to get a student discount for this ticket with their ILP student IDs, but you will have to speak to the transportation authority in person to request this). The Semesterticket is valid for buses, S-Bahn, streetcars, the subway, and some ferries throughout most of Berlin. Purchase the pass immediately on arrival.
Extracurricular Activities
Students with Disabilities
In general, each university has a counselor dedicated to working with students with disabilities. If you are have a disability, contact the Study Center immediately so they can provide you with the name of the “Behindertenbeauftragten” for further counseling and detailed information.
Strong advocacy for students with disabilities exists at all Berlin universities. Studentenwerk Berlin offers counseling for students with disabilities at all three Berlin universities.
Frau Bloom
Franz-Mehring-Platz 2
10245 Berlin (Friederichshain)
Phone: (030) 939 39 8441
Office Hours: Thursdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and by appointment
FU–Counseling for students with disabilities
Frau Illing, Room 100
Thielallee 38-14195 Berlin (Dahelm)
Phone: (030) 939 39 9020
Office Hours: Mondays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and by appointment
For more information, visit FU’s Advocate for Students with Disabilities website. The FU also has a disabled students’ advocacy group, called the Interessengemeinschaft behinderter Studierender an der FU Berlin. For more details, visit their website.
Frau Gomm
Hardenbergstr. 34
10623 Berlin (Charlottenburg)
Phone: (030) 939 39 8416
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and by appointment
Studentenwerk (FU, HU, and TU) Klaus-Peter Drechsel
Franz-Mehring-Platz 2
10243 Berlin
Phone: (030) 29 30 2 283
Each university also has a Commissioner for Students with disabilities:
For students with a vision disability at Free University:
Elisabeth Wunderl Thielallee 38, room no. 209/211
14195 Berlin
Phone: (030) 838-52122 and (030) 838-53229 (Tutor)
Travel Sign-out Form
Working in Germany
UCEAP Insurance
All UCEAP participants are covered by the mandatory UCEAP Insurance Plan, which includes non-medical benefits. Read it, understand the terms of coverage, and share it with your parents.

Free, Humboldt, and Technical immersion students

You are actually covered by two insurance policies. Both policies are mandatory and cannot be waived for any reason.
You are covered by the mandatory UCEAP Insurance Plan with benefits starting 14 days before the official start of your program (including the pre-ILP and ILP, if applicable) until 31 days after the official end of the program and it covers you anywhere in the world. The University of California pays the premium for UC students.
Mandatory German Health Insurance (AOK)
From the start of the host university’s winter semester until the end of the summer semester, all Berlin Immersion students under 30 years of age are also covered by a mandatory German health insurance (AOK). The cost of this insurance is included in your UCEAP fees.
The German insurance is inexpensive and covers almost everything with little or no out-of-pocket cost to you. Students have been hospitalized with surgery but paid only a nominal co-pay. You may use the AOK for common doctor visits during the semester, while the UCEAP Insurance Plan is reserved for accidents and medical needs you may have while traveling outside of Germany or before the start and after the end of the German academic semester.
If you are 30 years or older, or if your exchange semester will be your 14th semester (or higher) at the university level, you will not be covered by German health insurance and must be privately insured to be matriculated. The UCEAP insurance has been sufficient to fulfill this requirement in the past. The Study Center staff will assist you in obtaining an insurance waiver from AOK.
A list of English-speaking doctors is available at the U.S. Embassy’s website.
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
Physical Health
Mental Health
The Studentenwerk in Berlin offers counseling services. Such services are also available at each university. The following are some contacts:
Studentenwerk Berlin-Psychological Counseling (available in English and open to students from all universities)
Hardenbergstr. 34
10623 Berlin-Charlottenberg
Phone: (030) 939 39 8401
Franz-Mehring-Platz 2 (Hofgebäude)
10243 Berlin Friedrichshain
Phone: (030) 939 39 8438; Fax: (030) 31 12 49 9
Free University Psychological Counseling (available in English)
Brümmerstr. 50
14195 Berlin
Phone: (030) 83 85 52 42
Humboldt University Psychological Counseling (available in German only)
Hauptgebäude der Humboldt Universität
Unter den Linden 6, Raum 1054 E
Phone: (030) 20 93 15 80
Technical University Psychological Counseling (available in English)
Straße des 17. Juni, Raum H 60/61
Phone: (030) 31 42 48 75
Health Risks
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
Crime & Prevention




Civil Unrest
Traffic & Transportation Safety
UCEAP Contingency Planning
Fire Safety
In An Emergency
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