I am grateful to BCGS, as the year I spent in Berlin has academically and socially prepared my life after college.
I came to Berlin during my junior year at Williams College on the last day of August 2014. It wasn’t a conscious decision like those of many of my friends who were certain about where they want to go and what they wanted to do there. I had been taking German for a few semesters but wasn’t sure with the level of my German, but at the same time I also wanted to see what it would feel like to be a student in a big European city. I came to Berlin with many questions in my head, not knowing if I had made the right decision.
The two people I first met in Berlin were Carmen and Niko, the director and the assistant director of the program. The way they were prepared to help us in every aspect of our lives from classes to our apartments and even our social lives in Berlin somehow conveyed a sense of security to us. I feel fortunate to have them be the first Berliner I’ve met, because that feeling has helped me get through my first months quite easily.
BCGS is a very challenging program, specifically designed to push students in their academic and daily lives. We were sometimes forced to jump out into the cold water and learn how to swim along the way. We took classes in German, dealt with the German bureaucracy, or found apartments on our own and had German roommates. All those things seem intimidating for a typical college student used to the comfort of living on a campus. But thanks to Carmen and Niko, we always had an idea what to do, what we needed to keep an eye out for, and what to expect when things go wrong. They are the reason why BCGS is the perfect combination of challenging and rewarding.
Having been born and raised in Turkey, going to the US for college was already an international experience for me, but I’m glad that I didn’t think that way and pushed myself to see another country where I didn’t know anyone. I think I am the person who I am partially because of the things I’ve experienced, people I’ve met during my year abroad. It wasn’t always perfect, and sometimes it got really difficult, but so is life. I am grateful to BCGS, as the year I spent in Berlin has academically and socially prepared my life after college. After Williams, I came back to Berlin to work for the Green Party at the German Parliament via the International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS), later I’ve campaigned actively before the elections this September, and now I’ve started school as a Master’s student at the Free University. And even now, after so many years, I still know, if I ever need help with something, I can always call my friends at the BCGS office down on Ehrenberg Street, and that is a great feeling.