Matthew Stephen, 26, New Zealand
“With all the clusters and research groups at Freie Universität, you’ll notice a lot of interaction in general. For me it is also of advantage that many of my fellow students, most of them Germans, are also fluent in English.”
Nov 17, 2011
How long have you been at Freie Universität?
I have been here for two years, and hopefully I will stay for at least another year.
Did you come through direct exchange or a program?
I’m at the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies, and I have my desk at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB). Altogether I do not spend a lot of time in Dahlem, but I take my German classes here, and I really enjoy going to lectures and events held at Freie Universität.
What are you studying?
I studied political science and international relations.
Where are you from, and where did you study at home?
I’m from New Zealand and did my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Otago.
Why did you choose Freie Universität?
Germany has several English-language graduate schools. That was the most important thing for me. I had a choice to make between several German cities – but Berlin has the reputation of being an exciting city, and the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies is excellent. And that is how I came here.
What did you especially like about Freie Universität?
There is a lot going on at Freie Universität. In comparison to my home university, there are simply more academics, more international scholars, and also a lot of academic events. With all the clusters and research groups at Freie Universität, you’ll notice a lot of interaction in general. For me it is also of advantage that many of my fellow students, most of them Germans, are also fluent in English. Therefore people mix up very well.
What did you like less?
That’s difficult. Maybe bureaucracy?
Do you have any suggestions for someone new at Freie Universität?
It is very helpful to learn some German in advance, or at least while you’re here. Even if many people at university speak English, it’s not Sweden – you will need German language skills in situations of daily life.
Any suggestions for living in Berlin?
It is helpful to make friends with the locals, as they know the place better than you do. As for housing, I contacted the Studentenwerk in order to find a place to stay for my first month in Germany. I stayed at a Studentenwohnheim in Wedding and had enough time to look for another apartment – in general very affordable in Berlin – and to get started at university.
November 17, 2011