Trying to decide where you should spend your semester studying abroad? Berlin is an amazing choice and here are seven of the best reasons why.
1) The cost of living is much lower than you’re probably used to.
As you are well aware, New York isn’t exactly the cheapest city to live in, especially on a student budget. Berlin, on the other hand, is much more affordable. On top of being generally less pricey, many coffee shops, museums, restaurants, and stores offer reduced student prices, including public transportation. Plus, groceries are less expensive than in New York, but are still of good quality. Berlin: 1. New York: 0.
The garden of the Charlottenburg Palace is lovely to walk or bike through, like many other parks in Berlin.
2) The atmosphere is similar to New York’s
Berlin is full of young people, whether that be students or young professionals. They bring the dynamism that NYC is known for (though let’s be honest here, the Big Apple’s spirit can never be fully matched). There is a sense of openness and freedom of individuality, not unlike New York’s, though more influenced by punk, and you often see young people strolling, showing off their bomb looks and styles, without a care in the world. There’s definitely a lot of room for you to unabashedly be you.
3) The food. Need I say more?
A coffee shop selling specialty cakes and more, with vegan and vegetarian options by the Academic Center
So. Many. Options. The capital is very vegetarian and vegan friendly. There are also often gluten-free and dairy-free options available. There are a lot of vegan/vegetarian cafes which offer a good atmosphere to study in and get some work done, not dissimilar to some hipster places you might stumble upon in Brooklyn, or to some small cafes tucked away around Washington Square Park (except less expensive!). There are also farmers’ markets and food fairs throughout the week at some of Berlin’s Markthallen (market halls) which are very popular and a lot of fun to try local and artisanal foods. Germans are also very environmentally conscious, so remember to bring your own cup if you like your coffee to-go, because some places might charge a small fee for disposable cups and utensils. Berlin is also home to a significant Turkish population, as well as a Vietnamese population, which means the opportunities for good Turkish and Vietnamese food are endless. Make sure to try some döner, and thank me later.
Some vegan Nepalese dumplings from Markthalle IX’s food fair
4) What language barrier?
If you don’t speak German, fear not! Berliners often speak at least a little English, and most speak better English than I do. Though I will say, it can become difficult to improve your German because when the person you’re interacting with senses that you don’t completely understand what’s going on, or that your German is limited, they tend to automatically switch to English. However, just let them know that you’re trying to work on your language skills, and most will be happy to oblige by speaking in German.
5) The warm and tight-knit community that is NYU Berlin
The student life team sends you an email and a lollipop for your birthday. I mean… what more could a girl ask for? All jokes aside, the staff at NYU Berlin truly is committed to making sure your study away experience is a good one. Plus, living in the student residence means your friends are always within reach, and in a new city where you might at first feel alone or isolated, that’s a nice security blanket to be able to rely on. With that support system in place, try to put your mind at ease to go forth and experience Berlin to the fullest.
6) Metropolitan Transportation Authority who?
Berlin and New York may be similar in size, but it can take much longer to reach the different areas and neighborhoods of Berlin because it is so spread out. Thankfully, Berlin’s transportation system includes buses, trams, subways, and regional trains, which make the different parts of the city easily accessible. Public transportation is generally reliable, punctual and efficient, which means that even if your average travel time is longer than it might be in New York and includes transfers, you should be able to attain your destination without much trouble. The airports are also easily reached through public transportation, which not only will save you money, but probably time, as well. You can’t get stuck in traffic if you’re on the subway!
The Friedrichstrasse bus, tram, subway and regional train station
7) One word: Easyjet
Berlin is a major hub of Europe, which means it is simultaneously readily accessible from other European countries, and offers direct flights to the majority of Europe’s cities. It’s also simple to find affordable flights through the many low-cost airline companies which offer daily and inexpensive flights to the majority of Europe’s capitals. Grab some friends, and get ready to explore Europe on the weekends!
Photo credits: Author’s own