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Four weeks in Berlin

Sarah James
4 wks in Berlin
German Standard Course

I’d only learnt German at school so expected it to be very much the same experience at the German language school in Berlin, maybe a bit more intense because German was the only subject being studied.  I was pretty nervous before I went.  CESA even warn you to expect this in the notes they send out when you book – which I found reassuring.

The German language school was REALLY nice, spacious and had really good facilities.  I liked all of the teachers and thought the lessons were very good, especially the way that no English was allowed – under any circumstance.  This seemed pretty scary for the first day or two, but it really helped get your mind set right and as everyone was in the same boat, you just got on with it.  It’s a great way to get over the panic and fear of making mistakes when you speak.  It’s really true you have to GO FOR IT, if you don’t talk in German you won’t make the progress you could.  The school really push you to speak in German, and suddenly you find that you are using information you’d forgotten you already knew and the new stuff you learn in class and it all starts to click.  Once the clicking started my self-confidence really grew!  Yes there are knock back days, when you feel as though you’ve un-learnt, rather than learnt anything.  I found it best to get out of school after class on those days, go sight seeing, eat chocolate in the park, just take a bit of a break – and the next day I felt I’d re-learnt it all again.  I guess the brain just gets tired of the intensity of it all.  You have to be realistic you can’t learn everything in 4 weeks.

I particularly liked the German lessons where we analysed a film and a song – more of these would be great.  The whole experience was so much better than school – the teaching style was much more relaxed and so useful for everyday conversations.

There was a good mix of students and from all over the world and I felt the social activities were so good – especially some of the evening suggestions, like the international boat party.

I loved studying in Berlin.  It is now one of my favourite cities!  I felt perfectly safe there and the public transport is much better than London.  There is also so much to do there.  I was never bored and there are still plenty of places that I would like to go to.  I especially recommend the free tours of the city offered through the German language school (great tour guides, really interesting) and a fantastic trip to Sachsenhausen.

A real bonus for me was staying on site in the school studio accommodation.  It meant no commute to school – which in a city the size of Berlin can be quite a journey if you stay with hosts.  The studios weren’t cheap, but the convenience of them and just being there meant that I was in the middle of it all, in terms of the lessons and the student social life.

Dealing with the CESA staff before the course started worked really well for me.  They were always happy to answer questions on the course and the city.  Knowing they were at the end of the phone or an email away really reassured me the last few days before I went out to Berlin.

All in all it was one of the best months of my life to date!