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European Studies, Free University Berlin (BEST)

- Fall
- Spring

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.

While UCEAP endeavors to keep the information updated and accurate, all program information should be considered in conjunction with program-specific operational correspondence which may contain the most up to date information. There may be times where UCEAP will need to change this information and it will often be updated online. Student is responsible for reviewing all information shared through the program guides and by UCEAP staff in California and abroad, and partners abroad. UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to its programs, whenever, in our sole judgment local conditions so warrant, in response to local circumstances that could substantially change some parts of the program, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of our program participants.

Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network

Local UCEAP Support

Campus EAP Office

The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.

UCEAP Systemwide Office

The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Program Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Staff advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).

Contact Information  

Program Advisor
Laurel Shaddix
Phone: (805) 893-4255; E-mail:
Program Specialist
Katerina Georgieva
Phone: (805) 893-4255; E-mail:
Academic Specialist
Lauren Nestler
Phone: (805) 893-4683; E-mail:
Student Finance Accountant
Gildas Halle
Phone: (805) 893-2761; E-mail:
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583

UCEAP Online

Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Pre-Departure Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.

Study Center Abroad

The UCEAP Study Center is located in Berlin. Staff at the Study Center are on hand to advise on academic matters, assist with housing, provide information on cultural and social activities, and help address other concerns. Staff routinely monitor local and international conditions, and provide support, counseling, and safety advisories.
UCEAP Study Centers are supported by UC, a network of UCEAP offices at every UC campus, and partnerships with UCEAP host universities throughout the world. The UCEAP network also includes local U.S. embassies and consulates, the U.S. Department of State, and other international student exchange programs at each site.

Study Center Contact Information

Berlin Study Center
Ehrenbergstr. 26/28
14195 Berlin-Dahlem
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011 49) 30 83 85 70 91
Phone (calling from Germany): 030 83 85 70 91

Phone Number Codes

U.S. international code .............011    (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Germany country code ............. 49
Berlin city code........................ 30

Approximate Time difference

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Academic Information
Program Overview
The FU-BEST program features German language study supplemented by a range of coursework taught in English in the humanities and social sciences that focuses 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.
Academic Culture
Course Information
For a complete list of the courses visit the FU-BEST Courses website.

Course Requirements

There are two language tracks on this program: a non-intensive track and an intensive track. All students on this program are required to take four courses.
Non-intensive language track: This track is only available to students who are absolute beginners in German language. Absolute beginners are not limited to the non-intensive track.
  • One lower-division Beginning German language course (6 quarter/4 semester UC units) 
  • Three upper-division subject area courses (4.5 quarter/3 semester UC units each) 
Intensive language track: German language courses are offered from beginning to advanced levels. Beginning and intermediate German courses are lower-division and advanced German courses are upper-division.
  • Two consecutive German language courses (6 quarter/4 semester UC units each) 
  • Two upper-division non-language courses (4.5 quarter/(3 semester UC units each) 
You will earn between 19.5-21 UC quarter units (13-14 semester units) for the program.

Course Level

Although most of the non-language courses on this program have no prerequisites for enrollment, they are all taught at the upper-division level. Because of this, you need to be prepared for challenging coursework that is beyond the introductory level.​ ​


There is an attendance policy in place on the FU-BEST program. Class attendance and participation in field-trips and excursions are mandatory. Absence due to illness or another legitimate reason must be reported to the FU-BEST office and to the teacher in question. Personal travel and visits by relatives or friends are not accepted as reasons for absence. Be sure to read the FU-BEST Academic Regulations and Code of Conduct for details on the attendance policy. If you have any uncertainty about how an absence will affect your grade, you need to speak with your instructor immediately.  


Pass/No Pass

You can take one course per semester for P/NP.  

Registering for Courses

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 Pre-Departure Checklist. UCEAP does not require students to take a fifth course. If you need to take a fifth course, you will indicate this on your application. You will be notified by email in May (for fall participants) or November (for spring participants) with your course placements. 
Course registration is done on a first-come, first-served basis. It is therefore in your best interest to get your application to UCEAP by the deadline indicated on your pre-departure checklist. If your application is submitted late, you will not get your first choice of courses.
You will have an Add/Drop period during the first week of the program in Berlin. 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 general information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Extending your UCEAP participation may be possible. If you are considering extending, submit a Departmental and College Pre-Approval to Extend (DPA) form prior to departure. The UCEAP Systemwide Office and the Study Center must approve your extension request. To initiate the extension process once abroad, make an appointment with the Study Center.
To extend, the UCEAP Systemwide Office must receive one of the following:
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 (November 1).
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 Acquainted
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet are excellent resources.
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals, and try to understand the local culture and history.

Travel Guides

Popular travel guides for Germany and surrounding countries are Let’s Go: Europe, produced by Harvard’s Student Agencies; Lonely Planet’s Germany; and Frommer’s and Michelin Guides (great recommendations for sightseeing and accommodations).
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation


Attendance at all orientation sessions is mandatory (per the UCEAP Student Agreement, Section 10). If you miss the Study Center orientation, you may be dismissed from UCEAP.
Your program begins at a predetermined place, time, and date. If you fail to appear on the Official Program Start Date, you are subject to dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10). The Official Program Start Date is provided in the program calendar, which you can access via your Participants program page. You can find more detailed arrival information on the Arrival Information sheet in the UCEAP online Pre-Departure Checklist.

The mandatory FU-BEST and UCEAP orientations are designed to inform you on practical aspects of living in Germany.

Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.

Round-trip Tickets

You are responsible for purchasing airline tickets even if you are on full financial aid. 

U.S. Citizens

According to the German Federal Foreign Office Information Service, U.S. students do not need a round-trip ticket to enter Germany.
Beyond this regulation, UCEAP recommends that you purchase a round-trip ticket instead of a one-way ticket; it is sometimes less expensive to change the itinerary for a return ticket than to buy a new one-way ticket. 

Non-U.S. Citizens

You may be required to have a round-trip ticket to enter Germany, depending on your country of citizenship. Check with a German consulate to find out if this applies to you. If a round-trip ticket is required for you and you try to leave for Germany with a one-way ticket, you will not be allowed on the plane until you purchase a return ticket at the airport. However, round-trip tickets can only be purchased within a calendar year. If you will spend more than a calendar year in Germany (e.g., if you are attending the pre-ILP in July followed by an academic year program), you still need to buy a round-trip ticket. You can use the return portion to visit the U.S. in the course of the year or discard the original return trip ticket and purchase a one-way ticket home in Germany later in the year. Some—but not all—airlines let you change the return date past one calendar year from the date you arrive in Germany, so be sure to check on the ticket policy and restrictions.

Financial Aid Students

Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.

Travel Tips

UCEAP strongly discourages “couch surfing” when traveling. This is defined as using an Internet social network (used by travelers around the world) to organize free places to stay. 
  • Update your contact information in MyEAP with any changes to your address, e-mail, and phone number. Check your e-mail regularly for important updates, especially as your departure date draws near. 
  • Flights are routinely changed or cancelled. Confirm your flight schedule about two weeks before your departure date.
  • When traveling, always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in checked luggage.
  • Identify luggage on the inside and outside with your name, address, and destination. Never leave luggage unattended.
  • The UCEAP Insurance Plan includes some personal property coverage, but it is your responsibility to determine if it will suit your needs. You must look into this prior to departure and decide whether or not you will need to purchase additional coverage.
  • Luggage restrictions vary by airline. Check with your airline directly to learn about luggage rules and restrictions.
  • Check directly with your airline or travel agent about any special measures you should take, such as the time you need to arrive at the airport and extra identification that may be required.
  • Do not ask others to carry items abroad for you (laptop, camera, extra bags, etc.) and do not volunteer to do so for others. Airlines may not allow you to take them or customs abroad may charge you a high duty. This is particularly a concern with electronic goods.
  • Contact the German consulate or your airline about how to take specific items (cameras, computers, etc.) into the country without paying a customs tax.
Travel Documents


U.S. Citizens
U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Germany. Your passport will serve as your main identification. Passports must be registered with the host city administration (see Residence Permit in this section for further details).
If you do not already have a passport, apply for one as soon as possible. If you have a passport, make sure that it will be valid at least three months beyond the end date of your stay.
If you have a European Union passport in addition to your U.S. passport, use the E.U. one when entering Europe.
Non-U.S. Citizens
Non-U.S. citizens must contact the German consulate immediately to determine their specific requirements, which will vary depending upon the country of citizenship. In most cases, non-U.S. citizens must obtain a visa in order to enter and study in Germany. The visa application process can take several months, so be sure to initiate it as soon as you are accepted for participation by UCEAP.
In general, non-U.S. citizens applying for a visa to study in another country must have a valid passport from their country of citizenship plus proof of permission to reenter the U.S., such as a green card or a readmittance stamp in their passport. If you do not have a U.S. reentry permit you will likely be denied a visa and should apply for a reentry permit at a local immigration office. If you already have the permit, make sure it will remain valid throughout your entire stay abroad.
Being out of the U.S. may jeopardize your permanent residence status in the U.S. Year-long students and students considering extending UCEAP participation from a short-term (semester) program to a year-long program must take the necessary steps before departure to ensure their legal return to the U.S.
Non-U.S. citizens who fail to obtain the proper visa prior to departure for Germany will not be able to participate in UCEAP.

Residence Permit

The FU-BEST staff will assist you with the residence permit process. FU-BEST will pay the €60 fee in cash for you, but in return you will be expected to pay for expenses related to German language and subject course field trips (not exceeding €60). The FU-BEST staff will process and submit the 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.

Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students

Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.

If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Berkeley, contact the Undocumented Student Program

If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at
Packing Tips
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
Travel lightly. A good rule is that if your clothing will not fit into your luggage, you have probably packed too much.


  • Warm coat or down jacket (for winter)
  • Clothing for cold, rainy weather (raincoat, headgear, scarf, gloves, etc.)
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sturdy walking shoes
  • Dressy outfit for formal events
  • Voltage converter and plug adapter (voltage in Germany is 220 cycles)
  • Prescription glasses or contact lenses with solution if applicable (neither the UCEAP health insurance nor the German insurance covers contact lenses and cleaning fluids, which are expensive in Germany)
  • One towel
  • Prescription medication (for more information on taking prescription medication abroad, see the Health chapter of this guide)


  • Reference textbooks and notes related to your major field of study
  • German grammar book
  • German-English dictionary (or buy one in Germany for €10-30)
  • Lightweight gifts for new friends and host family (suggestions include T-shirts with city, state, or campus logos; UC pens or pencils; baseball caps; California postcards, posters, or scenic calendars)
  • Laptop computer and lock
  • Bike lock and helmet


The weather in Germany is considerably more variable than in California. The summers are warm (humid to hot) and winters can be bitingly cold. The annual rainfall is about 20 inches. The first snowfall usually comes early in December, with alternating snow and rain lasting through March. The sky is often cloudy.


Warm winter clothes and sturdy walking shoes are available in Berlin, though they can be relatively expensive. Fashion tends to be fairly casual in Germany, and there are plenty of secondhand clothing shops.


Your required readings will be assigned to you once you are in Germany. There is no need to purchase any textbooks prior to your departure. Some UCEAP students find it helpful to bring a reference German grammar book with which they feel comfortable.

Electrical Appliances

The voltage in Germany is 220 volts. Be sure to obtain a plug adapter and voltage converter for your electronic devices. You can purchase these in the U.S. or abroad. Some electrical appliances such as travel irons, curling irons, blow dryers, and electric razors are available with built-in voltage converters for all currents. The cost of electricity abroad is high, and improper use of appliances may damage both the electrical outlets and the appliances, so be sure to ask before using the outlets. You can buy certain inexpensive items such as blow dryers in Germany, thus eliminating the need for voltage converters or plug adapters.
For information on using laptops in Germany, see Computer Access and Use in this guide.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protection for your property. In spite of your best efforts, it is still possible to experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage.  Review the policy carefully before departure to determine if it is adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss. 
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
Return Transportation
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad:
  • Contact information for finance questions
  • How to estimate the cost of your program
  • Budget instructions and information
  • Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
  • UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
  • Banking before and after arrival
  • Fees and penalties
  • Loan information
  • How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
  • Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget. Program fees are subject to change.
Carefully review your UCEAP Program Budget.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.


  • Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
  • Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
  • Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
For further information see the Money Matters chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and the Money Matters tab of your Participants Portal. If you will be receiving financial aid, see also the UCEAP Financial Assistance web page.



Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:

If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions.
Handling Money Abroad

The Euro (€)

The euro is the official currency of Germany and most European Union nations. The current exchange rate is approximately €1 to U.S. $1.20 (as of January 2018). Since it is impossible to predict how the exchange rate will fluctuate during the year, budget carefully.

Cash Upon Arrival

You can purchase foreign currency through your bank in the U.S. (it can take up to two weeks to receive the currency). Purchase about €300 to €400 cash in the U.S. to bring with you to Germany. Besides providing the opportunity to become familiar with the euro, the funds will be useful for snacks, local transportation, tips, and unexpected purchases when you arrive. You may also exchange currency after arrival at the airport or bank, or you can withdraw money from an ATM; however, it is best to have some euros on hand upon arrival. When exchanging currency, exchange rates will vary, so you are advised to shop around for the best rate.


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.

Credit Cards

Most large stores and restaurants in Berlin honor major credit cards, such as Visa and MasterCard. American Express is rarely used. Keep in mind that most credit card companies charge fees on purchases made in foreign currency or abroad (even if the transaction is made in dollars). Check with your credit card company for details.
Be sure to call your credit card company before you leave and inform them that you will be using your card abroad so they do not freeze your account when they see overseas transactions.
In general, payment with credit cards is a lot less common in Germany than in the United States. For most daily exchanges under €100, cash or use of an EC card is the norm. Do not assume that you may use a credit card in restaurants or cafes; be sure to have cash on hand to cover the transaction.
Though procedures vary, it is usually possible to receive a cash advance from ATMs, but not in stores. Former students recommend you have someone in the U.S. deposit money into your Visa account at home so that you can obtain a cash advance in Germany free of charge (not all credit card companies permit this). Before departure, check with your home bank about these and other services. There are some banks that allow ATM withdrawals abroad without charging extra fees.

Transferring Money Overseas

Travelers Checks

Do not use travelers checks; they are usually not accepted in Germany, and in the few places where they are accepted there is a large fee to cash them.


It is convenient to access money abroad using an ATM card. To do so, you or your parent(s) open an account in the U.S. with, for example, Citibank, and get a Citibank ATM card with a PIN. Once abroad, you can use the card at an ATM to withdraw money that has been deposited in the account. Those with accounts at Bank of America can withdraw money from Deutsche Bank ATMs without a fee. Transactions made at other ATMs may be subject to a charge, so it is often best to withdraw the maximum daily amount during any ATM transaction. There is no waiting period: once the original deposit has cleared the bank in the U.S., it is available for withdrawal abroad. There may be limitations on the amount of cash accessible per transaction. Check with the card-issuing company about your options.
Call your bank before you leave and inform them that you will be accessing your account abroad for an extended period of time. Check with your bank to make sure you can use your ATM card to access funds in Germany. It is helpful if your ATM card has a Visa or MasterCard logo on it, as it will make it easier for you to withdraw money at a bank.
ATMs in Germany require a four-digit PIN. If your PIN has more than four digits, you will not be able to use the ATMs. Check with your bank prior to departure.

Western Union

Western Union is available to wire money. For procedures on wiring money and to locate an agent for both sender and recipient, go to the Western Union website.


MoneyGram is another option for wiring money. The transfer generally takes about ten minutes and all fees are paid in the U.S. For more information, contact a MoneyGram location.


The use of money transfer services such as TransferWise is usually much cheaper than a direct transfer from your U.S. bank to your German bank account. Go to the TransferWise website for more information. 
Never wire transfer money to anyone you do not know personally through companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram. It is nearly impossible to reverse the transfer or trace the money, which makes a common tool for scammers.
Communications Abroad

Internet Access


Bring your own laptop abroad, if possible. Some computer labs are available; however, the labs are open for only limited hours and access is difficult during the end-of-term rush. Handwritten papers are not accepted and there generally is no late-night computer use.
If you take your computer, take the appropriate voltage converter (unless the computer operates on both currents). Most laptops are equipped with a voltage converter allowing the use of the 220-volt electricity in Europe. The converter is usually part of the “box” located halfway down the power cord. You will still need an adapter to use the outlets. A surge protector is also recommended (surge protectors can be purchased after arrival for reasonable prices).
If you take your laptop, keep it within reach at all times while traveling. Laptops are among the most frequently stolen items from travelers.
Bring a laptop lock and lock your computer to your desk at home or when you go to the library. Never leave your laptop unattended or lose sight of it in a public space (including university libraries), even for short periods of time.
The UCEAP Insurance Plan includes a personal property benefit, which may cover the loss/theft or total damage of your belongings, including a laptop; however it is your responsibility to review the details of this coverage. You may determine that you need additional insurance.
The FU-BEST program building and much of the FU campus has 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 student apartments used by FU-BEST feature an internet connection via Ethernet cable within the rooms, and WiFi in the common areas and the ground floor. 
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 WiFi access.
The online FU-BEST Student Guide provides more information about computer and internet access during the program.  

Local & International Calls

You can purchase relatively cheap calling cards for international calls at various kiosks around town, and you can also use Tele-Cafés for good rates on international calls.
Pay phones that take coins are still in use, although not widely available. Local calls in Berlin cost approximately €0.20 when using public phones, but are subject to change. You can direct dial the U.S. by dropping in a euro or two, then dialing 001, then the area code and phone number. The money will run out fast, but in a pinch it allows for instant communication via phone to home.
Cell phones (called “Handys”) can be purchased at several stores, starting at €15. UCEAP recommends purchasing phones and SIM cards with prepaid minutes, which cost more per minute than a phone plan may offer, but have no monthly fee or contract. Please note that a new law has come into effect as of July 1, 2017, mandating that buying a prepaid SIM card requires registration of the card. The buyer has to provide ID that shows their current address and date of birth. Foreigners must show either their residence permit or an arrival notice.
If you sign up for a phone plan, be sure you know the rates that apply for different types of calls (to landlines or cell phones, local or international, etc.). Many German companies offer seemingly good deals but require a two-year contract that cannot be broken.
Some students take phones with them with international plans purchased in the U.S. Students with tri- or quad-band cell phones from the U.S. can use them abroad by purchasing a prepaid SIM card once in Germany. Usually, such phones must be "unlocked" by the U.S. cell phone provider to allow you to use SIM cards from other phone companies. Check with your service provider for details.
You can also reference this third-party website, which offers a review of options and has general information on using cell phones in Germany.
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.

Internet Calls

One of the most popular means of communication when calling internationally is using the Internet to make phone calls at an inexpensive rate. Students with smart phones often use apps such as Skype, Facetime, and Facebook Messenger to video chat with friends and family back home. In addition, SkypeOut is a Skype service through which you or your parents can charge the account to make calls to regular landlines and cell phones. Currently, SkypeOut costs 1.7 cents per minute to a German landline, American landline, and American cell phone, and 7.4 cents per minute to a German cell phone. Skype also offers monthly subscriptions.
Mail & Shipments
German post offices, located in every neighborhood, sell stamps and phone cards and send letters and packages. Letters sent within Germany usually reach their destination within one day. Airmail is necessary only for overseas mail. Letters mailed to and from the U.S. take about 3-7 business days. German postage is expensive. Sending letters from Germany costs twice as much as it does from the U.S.
Lately, students have reported their packages from the U.S. did not reach Germany for some reason. Therefore, it could be a good idea to a) have your family transfer money instead of sending gifts or b) have your family use a shipping method that includes tracking.
It is useful to have the following text on the package in order to minimize the chance of hassles with German customs: "Gebrauchtwaren / Persönliche Gegenstände zur Benutzung während Gaststudiumaufenthalts in Berlin" and the value to listed as below 45 Euros.
You can receive mail during the program at the FU-BEST program office.
Housing & Meals
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 a homestay, a studio apartment, or your own accommodations. You will make your selection prior to departure as part of your FU-BEST application in your online Pre-Departure Checklist. Housing payments for the homestay and studio apartment options are included in the UCEAP fees. See the UCEAP Student Budget on the Money Matters tab of your Participants program page.
  • Homestay: Experience the warmth of a home and develop ties locally in Berlin. You’ll get to practice your German and get out of the American bubble. Many Berliners speak English so you won’t have trouble communicating. If you select the Homestay option, you will write a statement about yourself, including information that will assist the FU-BEST staff in matching you with the right homestay. We encourage you to consider choosing a homestay, as past students have been very happy with their experience. This option includes two meals a day (usually breakfast and dinner), seven days a week, at the same cost of the studio apartment option, which does not include any meals.
  • Studio apartment: Single occupancy, fully furnished apartment. Meals are not included. This option has received mixed reviews from past participants. The Akademia Residenz apartments are located at Gotthardstraße 96, 13403 Berlin, in the district of Reinickendorf within walking distance of two metro stops, "Kurt-Schumacher-Platz” and “Afrikanische Stra- ße” (U6 line). Located in a residential area in northwest Berlin, it takes approximately 60 minutes to get to the FU-BEST campus by public transportation and approximately 20 minutes to the city center. The apartments are furnished with pillows, blankets, and sheets. Each apartment has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, a sofa bed, and comes equipped with a kitchenette. Kitchen equipment and utensils may need to be acquired by the tenant. The apartments feature an internet connection via Ethernet cable within the rooms, and WiFi in the common areas and the ground floor. 
  • Independent housing: Students that find their own housing have more control over the areas of Berlin in which they want to live, and the types of apartments for which search. While it can be more challenging, especially when one speaks little to no German, it can be a rewarding experience if one is up for the task. If you choose to find your own housing, you will not receive housing assistance from FU­-BEST or UCEAP, and you cannot change your housing choice after FU-BEST’s application deadline has passed. Refer to the FU-BEST website for more information.
The housing option chosen by a participant is considered final and binding for the entire semester. No (partial or full) refund of fees used for homestay or apartment arranged by the program is possible after the deadlines indicated in your Pre-Departure Checklist.
For more information on housing, refer to the FU-BEST website.
The studio apartments are equipped with a kitchenette, although you may need to acquire kitchen equipment and utensils. No meals are provided in this housing option or if you choose to find your own housing.
The homestay option includes two meals 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.
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.

Subway and Buses

Berlin is a big city, so you may need to travel a fairly long distance when visiting different sites in Berlin or commuting from your housing to campus. However, public transportation is excellent. There is an extensive, easy-to-use network of buses, U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (city train), and Strassenbahn or Tram (streetcar). Check the BVG website for updated information on the Berlin transportation network, including bus and train schedules, maps and ticket information, and route planning.
Bus drivers expect you to show them your ticket as you board the bus; on S-Bahns and U-Bahns, non-uniformed undercover transportation employees conduct spot checks. Traveling without a valid ticket makes you subject to a €60 fine payable immediately, no excuses accepted; repeat offenders pay more and will be banned from the bus or subway.
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.


Biking around Berlin is easy, and there are bike lanes all over the city. Make sure that you always lock your bike carefully since unlocked bikes are likely to be stolen. Be sure to follow all traffic laws when biking. Do not bike the wrong way on a one-way street (Einbahnstraße), or in the pedestrian portion of the sidewalk; you could be injured, injure somebody else, or be fined.
You can buy bicycles in many places around town. The Berlin Welcome Book you will receive from the Berlin Study Center includes detailed information on where to buy a bike. To find the best bike route to take, refer to BBBike, an online route planner for cyclists in Berlin and Potsdam.
Berlin Immersion students: Your semester ticket allows you to take your bike onto the U-Bahn or S-Bahn for free; if you are using the standard monthly ticket or a day-pass, you will have to buy an extra bicycle ticket.
FU-BEST and Berlin Summer students: You will need to pay a supplemental fare when taking a bike on the U- or S-Bahn.


The easiest way to travel in Germany is by train. Intercity trains in major cities run every hour. During rush hour there are good connections between surrounding districts and city centers. Even medium-sized villages have railway stations, although scheduled stops may be fewer. Station information staff can provide information on changing trains, connections, weekend service, fares and discounts, etc. It is generally advisable to buy tickets well in advance to save money.
High-speed ICE trains are by far the fastest ground transportation in Germany. These trains reach speeds of 300 km/hour (186 miles/hour) and usually run every hour. ICE trains operate on several lines connecting Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, and Munich. Besides the ICE class of trains, there are several others with varying degrees of speeds:
S-Bahn (Schnellbahn, “Fast Train”): Commuter rail service in and around major metropolitan areas.
SE (StadtExpress, “City Express”): Local trains that connect outlying towns and villages with medium and large cities.
RB (RegionalBahn, “Regional Train”): These trains are similar to SE; however, they stop in almost every village along the way.
RE (RegionalExpress): A significantly faster service than the RB and SE. Stops at medium and larger-sized towns.
IC (InterCity): Express service connecting domestic and international medium-sized towns to major rail centers. Trains generally run every two hours or more often.
ICE (InterCityExpress): Express trains connecting larger domestic destinations. Trains run every hour. Some of these trains travel into adjacent countries as part of the EC (EuroCity) system.
EC (EuroCity): international train service within the European inter-city rail network.
Most trains have first- and second-class carriages, which are offered at higher rates. Most express trains have a restaurant or buffet car. For night journeys, you can use sleeping cars or couchettes (usually with a special reservation).
A Bahncard is valid for one year and enables travel on all German trains (within Germany) for a discounted rate, ranging from 25 to 100 percent of the regular price of the ticket (Normalpreis) depending on the type of Bahncard. Bahncard 25 (currently €41 for students under 27) provides a 25 percent discount on all full-fare InterCity trains and often enables significant further reductions on specific trains booked in advance. The Bahncard 50 provides a 50 percent discount on all tickets for the year. As train travel is expensive within Germany, the initial cost of the Bahncard 50 (currently €69 for students under 27 with identification; €255 full fare) will likely be offset quickly by savings through the Bahncard.
The combination of the Bahncard and various special offers can produce inexpensive tickets, but finding out how they work is complicated. This is why the Bahncard 50 is a good idea, since any ticket you purchase is good on any train; the cheaper Internet offers are tied to specific trains, which only works well if you are sure that you will be traveling at a certain time on a specific date.
Visit the Bahn website for the following:
  • Railway timetables (including wait times and Sunday schedules) 
  • Train connections (when and where to change trains)
  • Student fare discount information and other special offers
  • To make reservations and book by credit card
Other favorite types of student rail passes are the Eurail and InterRail passes. We recommend that you purchase the Eurail pass from the U.S. before departure, even though they do ship overseas or you could find certain combination available for purchase in train stations abroad. You can select the length of time and travel zones for which the pass will be valid. After residing abroad for six months, you will be eligible to buy the InterRail pass, which is cheaper than the Eurail pass. You can choose an InterRail ticket that is good for travel in one country, or purchase a “Global Pass” that is valid for travel in 30 European countries and provides up to a month of unlimited train (and sometimes bus and ferry) travel outside of Germany. Students often use this pass during spring break and find it to be an excellent value. Visit the Eurail and InterRail websites for more information.
Long-distance Buses:
More and more students use buses, such as FlixBus, to travel within Germany, as they offer good rates (compared to Greyhound, etc).

Air Travel

For many international destinations within Europe, low-cost air travel is an option. See Ryan Air, Easy Jet, and Eurowings for more information. Make sure you are aware of the restrictions that come with inexpensive airline tickets (such as luggage restrictions, minimal or no refunds for unused tickets, etc.). Plan to travel only on the weekends, school breaks, or following your program. 
Extracurricular Activities
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community. There is a wide range of extracurricular activities available to you in Berlin. Join clubs, sports, or musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations, attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles, and get the most out of your time abroad. 
The Study Center staff has information on cultural and social events, and will arrange various activities and excursions.
Students with Disabilities
In general, each Berlin university has a counselor dedicated to working with students with disabilities. If you have a disability, contact the FU-BEST staff immediately so they can provide you with further information. Additional information may be provided by the UC Study Center.
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 Bültbrune 
Thielallee 38-14195 Berlin (Dahlem)
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

Commissioner for Students with disabilities

For more information:
Travel Sign-out Form

Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?

You are required to complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account. 
Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the US), it is important for UCEAP officials to know how to reach you so we can help you. 
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Working Abroad
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. 
LGBTIQ Students
The LGBT community is protected by federal anti-discrimination laws, and the public is generally supportive of equal rights.
​For more information,


UCEAP Insurance
All UCEAP participants are covered by the mandatory UCEAP travel insurance, which includes non-medical benefits. Read it, understand the terms of coverage, and share it with your parents.

Know Before You Go

While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy. Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy is not the same as your campus or private insurance. Inform yourself before seeking care. Your UCEAP Travel Insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations. Read details in Benefits at a Glance. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. You will be financially responsible for any charges for medical services that are not included benefits in the policy and for any charges over an above the “maximum allowable amount”. Your travel insurance policy number is ADD N04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
The travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. There is no deductible or co-insurance. You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim process or about non-medical claims.
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter.

For Questions about Coverage, Benefits, and Claims Status

Contact ACI at

FU-BEST Insurance Coverage
All students have FU-BEST insurance coverage for medical coverage within Germany. The cost of the insurance will be included in your UCEAP fees.

Use the UCEAP Travel Insurance when you travel outside Germany or if you need counseling sessions as they are not covered by the FU-BEST insurance.
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
A list of English-speaking doctors in Berlin is available at the US Embassy’s website.
Good medical care is widely available. A hospital stay or medical treatment is expensive, and immediate cash payment is often expected. German hospitals do not issue the detailed breakdown of expenses. Such a detailed bill has to be requested from the hospital or the doctor.
If you are sick or injured, contact the Study Center staff. They can help you find referrals and guide you to make an appointment. Pay upfront, and file a claim for reimbursement consideration. If you have questions about your benefits or the insurance claims process, contact ACI at
​For more information, read the Insurance chapter in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, and the Physical Health section in this guide.
Physical Health
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center or local program manager immediately. Study Center staff will have recommendations on which clinic to visit and the necessary UCEAP insurance claim process to follow. If arrangements need to be made with your professors due to extended absence from class, Study Center staff may be able to assist.

Know Before You Go

Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Read the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
Prescription Medications
If you are taking a prescribed medication, find out if your medication is legal in Germany, and if your US doctor can prescribe you supplies to last through your entire stay. For more information, refer to German Federal Ministry of Finance, Medicinal Products and Narcotics.
Medications containing amphetamines and derivatives are illegal in Germany (e.g. Adderall). German customs restricts the amount of narcotic medications a traveler may bring into the country. If a 3 month supply is permitted, it must be accompanied by detailed documentation by the attending physician, and it must be carried in its original package. Students who will need more than a 3 month supply of medication will need to obtain a new prescription from a physician in Germany. The Study Center may be able to help you make an appointment with an English-speaking German doctor who can consider prescribing you the medication (provided it is licensed and legal in Germany) for the remaining months you will be in Germany. You will need a letter from your treating physician indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen. 

Mailing Medications

Do not mail medication, or have medication mailed to you. It is prohibited and will likely be confiscated by the German Customs Administration.


  • While on UCEAP you are covered by the UCEAP travel insurance.  Inform yourself, UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
  • If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor. US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. You must travel with a letter from your prescribing physician explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name. 

    Note:​ If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance; your campus or private insurance plan may cover it. 
  • If you need to find out if an appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
  • Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.


  • If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
  • Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
  • If traveling with a prescription containing controlled substances, check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal or unlicensed in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
  • Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage depending on time zone changes.
  • Get a letter from the prescribing physician, on letterhead, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.


  • Keep the medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill or solid form. For more information, particularly if your medication is a liquid, consult the US Transportation Security Administration, Traveling with Medications.
  • Carry copies of all original US prescriptions.
  • Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.

Why is a letter from your treating physician necessary? 

If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country, talk to your doctor.  If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure to monitor side effects and dosage.  The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance.

Consult with ACI about the UCEAP travel insurance coverage for prescriptions, Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section.​​​​

Mental Health
The FU-BEST program will provide you with a list of English-speaking counselors that you can see, and they can assist you with making appointments.
The following are additional resources provided by Free University. 
Free University Psychological Counseling (available in English)
Center for Academic Advising and Psychological Counseling
Iltisstr. 4, 14195 Berlin
(subway station U3 Dahlem Dorf)
The Psychological Counseling Service of Free University Berlin offers individual counseling, training seminars and workshops. They provide support to student with their personal development and to improve academic competencies.
Many students visit Counseling Services.
To arrange a first appointment, contact
You can also contact the Student Services Center (SSC) at Free University, Berlin, for general academic advising.
Studentenwerk Berlin-Psychological Counseling
Confidential counseling is free of charge and available in English. Studentenwerk provides services to students of all public universities, Hochschulen and Fachhochschulen in Berlin. Web:  You can visit at either of the two locations below; in Charlottenburg or in Friedrichshain.
Hardenbergstr. 35
10623 Berlin-Charlottenburg
Phone: (030) 939 39 8401
Franz-Mehring-Platz 2-3, Haus 2
10243 Berlin Friedrichshain
Phone: (030) 939 39 8438  


If you are currently in treatment in the US, discuss all program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. Carry a letter from your doctor (on letterhead) indicating condition, treatment history, and medication regimen, so a local physician can assess your needs.

Consider the country where you will be living and studying. Many countries do not have adequate resources. How will you manage your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a pre-existing condition? 

If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for the length of your stay. Traveling through customs with medications for personal use can be problematic in countries where those medications are prohibited. Stimulants frequently used for attention deficit disorders, such as amphetamine or methylphenidate, may be problematic, along with narcotics. What substances are prohibited in any given country varies. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.​

Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.


  • Do not try to manage alone. Reach out to local staff.
  • The UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration.  Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at
Health Risks
Food Allergies
Students with severe food allergies should take precautions:
  • Talk with your doctor six to eight weeks before departure to discuss a treatment plan while abroad.
  • Carry the medications you need, like antihistamines or epinephrine injectors with refills, to prevent an adverse reaction. Pack it in your carry-on, not your checked luggage. Your medication must be in its original packaging, and show your name.
  • Have a letter from your physician to present to airport security that states your need to have the epinephrine auto injector with you at all times.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or tag with instructions in English/local language for assistance.
  • Tell others about your food allergy.
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health chapter, Allergies section.
Air Quality
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk

Safety is our concern but it is your responsibility. Be proactive in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being. Have an action plan.

With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Observe and assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think how you would lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel; label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.


Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks, which make it impossible to protect yourself from. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers or safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at very high speed.

Report anything suspicious to local authorities.  Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff.  Schedule direct flights, if possible.  Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area.  Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency.  If you are ever caught in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible.  Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.

Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety

  • Familiarize yourself with all UCEAP resources and emergency support services while on UCEAP.
  • Research potential risks you can encounter before you travel.
  • Assess your surroundings. Observe and learn to recognize danger.
  • Be attentive to what is unusual or threatening. Assess reasonable and safe options. Trust your feelings; if you feel threatened, act if safe to do so and leave the area immediately. Find somewhere more secure.
  • Remain aware at all times. Do not walk around talking on the phone or listening to music on your headphones.
  • When entering larger venues, always decide on a meeting place with those you are with in case you get separated. Always identify possible exits.
  • Increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime by staying on top of your drinking. Know your limits. In many countries beer, wine and liquor in some countries contains a higher alcohol content than similar products in the US. Know what you are drinking and how much alcohol it contains.
  • Practice the buddy system, which promotes safety. This system helps ensure that you, and a partner, will look out for each other. Choose your buddy wisely. If you are having a problem, your buddy can help to alert others and get you to safety.
  • Have a communication plan. Who will you call locally if you are in an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?

Registration with the local US Embassy or Consulate

Register online with the US embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for US citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.

Registration with the UCEAP Security Provider

You will be automatically registered with iJET International, the University of California security provider. You will receive important security and informational messages about local conditions for your program country.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety. Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, for more information. Access the US Department of State Students Abroad website for updated travel information.

Government Response to Terrorism

There is an overall threat of terrorism in Germany. The German government has increased security at public buildings, major events, transport hubs, and large public gatherings.
Despite the relative infrequency of large-scale, terror-related incidents in the country, plots against civilians and soft targets are a possibility.
There is no requirement to carry your passport with you, but the police carry out ID checks. Carry a copy of your passport.
Crime & Prevention
Incidents of violent crime is low. Petty theft is common, occuring in big city tourist areas, subways, and train stations. Do not leave valuables unattended.
Due to recent terrorist events throughout Europe, all European countries are at risk of terrorist attacks. Exercise increased caution regarding acts of terrorism in Germany, and other European countries you may visit.
The US Embassy has reported attacks by "hooligans" (skinheads) under the influence of alcohol, as well as other racially-motivated attacks against US citizens. For more information, refer to the Department of State's Country Information on Germany.
Civil Unrest
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Public transportation (subway, bus, train) is extremely efficient and easy to use. Many cities throughout the country have well-developed subway systems. Many sidewalks have dedicated bike lanes, usually separated from the pedestrian area of the sidewalk by a white line.  

Pedestrian Safety

  • Watch for bicyclists before stepping into bike lanes.
  • Use sidewalks and crosswalks where provided.
  • Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
  • Do not rely solely on pedestrian signals - look before you cross the road.
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
​​Every member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/or University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to the local
UCEAP staff and/or partners if you suspect one of these behaviors has occurred.
Fire Safety

In case of fire, dial 112.

Most college-related fires in the US are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
  • Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
  • Know how to call the local fire department.
  • Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
  • Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
  • Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
  • Have an escape plan and practice it.
  • Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
  • Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
  • If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
  • Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.

Program Suspension Policy

If the US Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, UC security providers, US Embassy, US Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.

Security Evacuation

The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy evacuation on US government-arranged flights, that require US citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its experienced security providers, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
In An Emergency

What Is an Emergency?

An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
  • Any life/death situation
  • A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
  • An arrest
  • Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country

In an Emergency

Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:

If you are in the US

  • During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
  • After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
If you are abroad
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times:
  • If you need immediate emergency assistance call 112 for Police, Ambulance, or Fire Department
  • If necessary, call the emergency number of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin: (030) 8305-0
Note that your German cell phone will let you make an emergency call even if you have run out of pre-paid minutes.

US Embassy in Berlin

Pariser Platz 2
14191 Berlin
Phone: (030) 8305-0
Fax:     (030) 8305-1215
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