BCGS was a challenge in all the best ways possible. We were pushed outside our comfort zones, but the triumph and sense of accomplishment we felt afterwards, was perhaps the most rewarding part of all.
It is hard to believe that more than four years have passed since I first landed in Berlin to start a study abroad experience that has no doubt changed my life forever. As a STEM major, my options for a year-long study abroad program (after which I would still graduate on time) were already somewhat limited. Finding a German program narrowed the options even more. I chose BCGS because of its location, duration, unique structure, academic focus, as well as the added, but necessary, appeal of it being a Columbia program (making credit transfer, especially important with the science classes in my case, seamless). Besides the information we were given, I had little idea of the impact BCGS would have on me.
Having grown up in Morningside Heights, I desperately felt the urge to get away, which is how I became determined to make a one-year study abroad a reality. Getting out of what many describe the “Columbia bubble” was an essential part of my college experience. Above all, BCGS taught me to be independent in a way I had not learned before--- from hunting for my own apartment, to setting up a bank account in a new country, battling the German bureaucracy, surviving in a school system very different than the one at BC/CU, and navigating a new city.
It was not always easy, but that is precisely what makes BCGS unique. After the intensive six-week long “German Discourse and Culture” class that starts off the year, we were released into the German university system but not without every possible advantage: Carmen & Niko, the most wonderful mentors/organizers/and fighters to have on your side; the writing consultants who will proofread, critique, and edit your work with you; the Academic Director from one of the Consortium schools; and the support of a program with more than 20 years of experience. With this kind of backing, you can trust that you are absolutely in the best hands.
BCGS was a challenge in all the best ways possible. We were pushed outside our comfort zones, but the triumph and sense of accomplishment we felt afterwards, was perhaps the most rewarding part of all. Since graduating from college, I have moved back to Berlin to attend medical school. While I am now doing something different, I credit BCGS with giving me the courage, skills, and preparation to delve back into a German academic environment and to grow roots in the city I have come to love. I often wish I could rewind time and experience it all again, since it really was the most exciting, challenging, and special year. BCGS will hold a place in my heart forever.