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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.
The FU-BEST program features German language study supplemented by a range of course work taught in English in the humanities and social sciences that focus on German and European studies. Depending on how much language training you wish to acquire, you will have a choice between a non-intensive and an intensive language track (enrollment in a German language course is mandatory for all participants). Local field trips and excursions are integral components of many of the courses.
Students enrolled in the FU-BEST programs have access to all libraries and computer labs at Free University.
Course topics such as the following may be offered:
- Modern German History in European Context: A Thematic Approach
- German Cinema before 1945
- Berlin: History, Memory, Literature
- Contemporary Germany in European Perspective
- Integration, Conflict, and Security in Europe
- Perspectives on 20th-Century Art in Central Europe
- The Human Condition and the Totalitarian Experience
- Islam and Europe: Historical and Contemporary Dimensions
- Literatur und Film in Deutschland seit der Wende (taught in German)
For a complete list of the courses being offered you can visit the FU-BEST Courses website.
You are required to take four courses on this program. You will either take one German language course and three non-language courses or, if you decide to follow a language-intensive track, you will take two consecutive German language courses and two non-language courses. Language courses are 6 UC quarter units (4 semester units) each. Non-language courses are 4.5 UC quarter units (3 semester units) each. Students earn between 19.5-21 UC quarter units (13-14 semester units) for the program.
You will register for courses prior to departure. On your FU-BEST application you will indicate which level of German you wish to take and you will rank the non-language courses in order of preference. Instructions and deadlines are located in your UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. UCEAP does not require students to take a fifth course. If you have a special academic circumstance requiring you to take a fifth course, attach documentation of this need to your application. You will be notified by email in May (for fall participants) or November (for spring participants) with your course placements.
You will have the customary Add/Drop options during the first week of the program in Berlin, but remember that switching courses in an overseas setting like Berlin is more complicated and at times impossible. If you did not get placed into a particular course and you have solid academic reasons for needing that course you should bring documentation with you that contains detailed information on why you need to get into the course(s). This should include your major, the specific UC requirement you need to satisfy with the course, and supplemental information on why you are requesting placement in the course (i.e. you are a graduating senior). If possible, you should obtain written documentation from your departmental advisor endorsing your placement in the course.
Grades for the fall semester are usually ready by January and grades for the spring semester are usually ready by June.
For more information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Deadline to Submit Extension Forms:
- FU-BEST fall to FU-BEST spring: October 1*
*FU-BEST fall students must be approved to extend before registering for the FU-BEST spring semester. Students even considering extension from FU-BEST fall to spring are strongly encouraged to have a DPA form approved prior to departure in order to meet the host institution’s spring registration deadline (October 15).
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
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
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.
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.
Travel to Your Host Country
The FU-BEST staff will assist you with the residence permit process. FU-BEST will pay the €50 fee in cash for you, but in return you will be expected to pay for expenses related to German language class field trips (not exceeding €50). As part of the residence permit process, you must submit the Declaration of Financial Support to UCEAP prior to departure (refer to your online Predeparture Checklist for specific deadlines). The BEST staff will process and submit this paperwork; you will not need to go to the local immigration office yourself.
You will have to give up your passport for one to three weeks as part of the residence permit process. 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.
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Unless you have regular bills that need to be paid to someone in Germany, it is unlikely that you will need to open a bank account. Personal checks are virtually nonexistent.
The FU-BEST program building and much of the FU campus has W-LAN (WiFi). FU-BEST also has its own computer lab and printer. Internet cafés are widely available throughout Berlin and offer cheap Internet access (as low as €1 per hour or a minimum of €0.50 for 15 to 30 minutes), as well as international phone calls, faxes, etc.
The FU-BEST student apartments do not feature telephone or internet connections, but a cost-effective wireless internet connection (a “surf stick”) can be purchased directly by each participant at his/her own expense at a nearby office/shop, using information provided by the program. The surf sticks occasionally have reception problems in the apartments, like when calling from a cell phone when one stands in a certain part of a building. If you have trouble getting reception with your surf stick, you may want to try taking your laptop to a different part of your apartment building to see if you can get better reception.
Students should be prepared for the fact that internet access is not as reliable or as readily available abroad as it is in the U.S. However, there are many locations both on campus and around Berlin that offer free public W-LAN access.
The Berlin Welcome Book that students will receive from the Berlin Study Center and the online FU-BEST Student Guide
provide more information about computer and internet access during the program.
Refer to the online FU-BEST Student Guide
for additional information about telephone access during the program.
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.
You can receive mail during the program at the FU-BEST program office.
Students who withdraw after the withdrawal deadline may be liable for unrecoverable housing and other costs incurred by UCEAP.
You have the option to choose between a homestay and a studio apartment. You will make your selection prior to departure as part of your FU-BEST application in your online Predeparture Checklist. Housing payments are included in the UCEAP fees. See the UCEAP Student Budget on the Money Matters tab of your Participants program page.
- Homestay: Includes two meals a day (usually breakfast and dinner), seven days a week. Homestay accommodations provide the opportunity to observe firsthand how Germans live.
- Studio apartment: Single occupancy, fully furnished apartment. Meals are not included. Located in a residential area in southwest Berlin, a 30-minute bus ride from the program building.
While it is possible for you to opt out of the program housing, this is not a recommended option. It can be very difficult to find private housing in Berlin, even more so for someone who does not speak German fluently. If you decide to opt out of FU-BEST housing, you will not receive housing assistance from FUBEST or UCEAP, and you cannot change your housing choice after FU-BEST’s application deadline has passed.
The FU-BEST studio apartments each include a fully-equipped kitchen. No meals are provided in this housing option.
If you choose the homestay option, you have two meals included each day (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.
There are also plenty of university cafeterias (mensas) in Berlin, which are ideal for lunch. Mensas offer inexpensive meals, generally between €2 and €3. You will have daily access to this meal option during weekdays. You will receive a meal card for this facility during the FU-BEST orientation and can put money on it as time goes by.
As part of your FU-BEST Program Fee, you will receive a pass for use of the public transportation system throughout Berlin (zones A, B, C) tied to your Free University student ID card.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Students with Disabilities
In general, each Berlin 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 further information.
Strong advocacy for students with disabilities exists at all Berlin universities. Studentenwerk offers counseling for students with disabilities.
FU–Counseling for students with disabilities
Frau Illing, Room 100
Thielallee 38-14195 Berlin (Dahlem)
Phone: (030) 939 39 9020
Office Hours: Fridays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and by appointment
Phone: (030) 29 30 2 283
Commissioner for Students with disabilities:
For students with a vision disability:
Elisabeth Wunderl Thielallee 38, room no. 209/211
Phone: (030) 838-52122 and (030) 838-53229 (Tutor)
During the semester, pursuing a job or internship is not feasible, in view of the full calendar and tight structure of the FU-BEST program.
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.
A list of English-speaking doctors in Berlin is available at the U.S. Embassy’s website
. You can also contact the Berlin Study Center staff for recommendations on physicians or specialists that students have used in the past.
The Studentenwerk in Berlin and Free University offer counseling services. The following are some contacts:
Studentenwerk Berlin-Psychological Counseling (available in English and open to students from all universities)
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)
Phone: (030) 83 85 52 42
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Note that your German cell phone will let you make an emergency call even if you have run out of pre-paid minutes.
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.