Giovanna, 28, historian and participant in the program FU-BEST (Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Program)
What did you do as part of FU-BEST?
FU-BEST is a very interesting semester program, as you not only have the opportunity to improve your language skills through morning German courses, but can also attend many other courses. In these, students can deepen their knowledge of Europe and Germany. All this in Berlin, a vibrant and culturally diverse cosmopolitan city.
How did the idea to study in Germany come to your mind?
At the age of 17, I made an exchange to Great Britain, where I met a lot of Germans and literally fell in love with the German language. During this exchange year, I also traveled to Germany, identified myself very much with the country and decided that one day I would like to return to study. Back in Brazil, the first thing I did was to sign up for a German course. The choice for the Freie Universität Berlin came later, when I studied history at the USP. The USP has a cooperation agreement with the Freie Universität and I have researched a lot about German universities and exchange opportunities. Then I discovered that Freie Universität is one of the best universities in Germany for my department. This was a decisive factor for my choice. When I made that decision, I spotted the exchange opportunities and discovered the FU-BEST program.
Who or what helped you with your preparations for your stay at the Freie Universität Berlin? Which tips were helpful?
As already mentioned, I researched a lot about the university via the homepage of the university and the FU-BEST program. These websites have helped me a lot to find the necessary information. In addition, I have received support from the FU-BEST team, which has always been available to answer students' questions.
What are your expectations for the future after your time at Freie Universität Berlin?
One of my expectations was being able to integrate myself into a German working environment. I was able to put this into practice through an internship at the German Science and Innovation House São Paulo (DWIH-SP). I believe that the exchange program at Freie Universität opened the door to my internship, as it enabled me to gain experience in studying at a German university and to improve my German language skills. Next, I want to do my master's degree - and the first thing I think about when it comes to Germany, of course, is the Freie Universität Berlin.
Which problems or difficulties did you have to face and how did you manage them?
The hardest part was the German bureaucracy. Brazil is already bureaucratic, but Germany has surpassed that. What helps is patience and organization. We Brazilians have a habit of postponing everything to the last second. That does not work in Germany. One should take care of everything at an early stage and have all required documents ready.
Is there a specific aspect of the Freie Universität Berlin that you particularly liked?
The library!!! It was designed by architect Sir Norman Foster, as well as the Reichstag dome. The library is impressive.
What do you like most about the life in Germany?
I think the people in Germany are very direct in the interpersonal relationships. This may scare strangers in the beginning, but once you get used to it and accept that honesty, everything becomes easier. Germans do not waste time on things that have no future and use their efforts for things or people who really matter.
What tip would you give Brazilians who are interested in studying in Germany?
Learn German before you go to Germany. From my experience, the language helps to better understand German society and culture. Through my language skills, I was able to dive deeper into the country and better understand its people and rich history. Alone with English that would not have worked so well. I have seen that many Brazilians have moved in a kind of bubble and in the end have not experienced the incredible experience of this exchange, the immersion in another culture.
Which is your favorite word in German?
Joy, in Portuguese "alegria". I love the way the word sounds and it makes me happy when I hear it.