Student Life in Berlin
Welcome to Freie Universität Berlin ("FU")!!!
Signposts like the one above direct about 35000 students to FU's 'Fachbereiche' and 'Institute' spread over the area of one of Berlin's most prestigious suburbs, Dahlem. Buildings housing departments alternate with private rather exclusive homes, and the exclusiveness of this residential area is the reason that there are no student dorms close by. Depending on where students live, they travel by bus, U-Bahn, and S-Bahn for about 20 to 60 minutes to go to class.
In order to find your way in the beginning, take a virtual tour before you take your campus map and start for Dahlem.
The purpose of your first trip to FU is to enroll in the university --so that you can receive a preliminary student ID with which you can go to the ZEDAT (Zentrum für Datenverarbeitung) to apply for an FU-Email account and enjoy student discounts in almost all museums and theaters in the city. The student ID will also be your 'ticket' for S-, U-Bahn, and the Berlin buses. The ID also allows you to buy a mensa-card that you charge and recharge with money and with which you can pay for very reasonably priced meals in various 'Mensas' and 'Cafeterias' of FU.
In order to get to the office where you will enroll in the university, you take the subway U-3 towards "Krumme Lanke" and get off at "Thielplatz," one of the most beautiful U-Bahnstations in Berlin. From here, you cross the street, turn left, and walk up Brümmerstrasse, until you reach number 52, the Akademische Auslandsamt (International Office).This building will be important to you throughout your stay, because this is where the offices of our most important contacts are located, namely Mr. Schepker and Ms. Gleisenstein. You should turn to them with any questions regarding enrollment, housing, and the like. They will also help you getting registered with the city of Berlin. The sooner you pay them a visit and introduce yourself, the better. Make sure you identify yourself as a Middlebury-Program student.
The building on its left might be likewise important--the offices for student counseling and are located here. We continue walking up Brümmerstrasse until we cross Thielalle, turn right, and walk up to the "Silberlaube," where (among others) the German Department is located.
You walk up the stairs toward your left and enter the cafeteria, where you can get something to drinks, snacks, and salads.
If you leave the cafeteria through the door across from where you entered, you find yourself across from one of the 'Zentralmensen.' You can only eat here, if you get a Mensa-card you can re/charge at the 'Aufwerter' towards your right.
The Mensa does not accept cash at all. But they offer a variety of more than reasonably priced lunches every day.
Close by there is a 'Copy-Shop,' without which no student in Germany can exist. And if you face the copy-shop, turn right and climb up the stairs, you enter the 'Galileo,' an Italian restaurant that offers special students' meals and is the place where you meet with the director for orientation and office hours.
But for now we leave the building through the cafeteria and turn left, walk by the main entrance of 'Rostlaube' and reach a busstop to catch the bus that takes us directly to the Henry Ford Bau, housing the main library of a whole web of libraries.
If you face the library and look towards the left, you see the building containing the Hoersaal where FU does its orientation for international students, so you'll probably back here in your second or third week of stay.
Just take your time and find the Departments where you intend to study. Pay attention to how much time you need to get from one to the other. Since FU must be viewed as a suburb rather than a conventional campus, distances between different Departments can be rather significant when you plan your class-schedule. Remember: in order to get to the library from the "Silberlaube" housing the German Department students normally take the bus because it's to far to walk!
It takes time for everybody to find their way - and since you came to explore foreign places and spaces, why not start with FU at Dahlem! You may choose to visit the world-famous Botanische Garten, register for one of the more than 400 offerings of the Zentraleinrichtung Hochschulsport, spend some time at the
All images by courtesy of H.F.