Christopher Clark, Vassar College

Student in front of the German Parliament

Maximum Value of Study Abroad

Christopher D. Clark, Vassar '18

"Beyond the language component, the classes I took through BCGS exposed me to topics and intellectual discussions that fascinate and engage me to this day."

I chose the Berlin Consortium for German Studies because I was attracted to the unique rigor of the academic offerings. I expected that the BCGS cohort would be comprised of intellectually driven, culturally curious students who expected more from their semesters abroad than just a foreign holiday. Indeed, this is precisely what I found. During the program, the combination of intensive language training and demanding classes at the Freie Universität Berlin—where the readings, lectures, assignments and exams were entirely in German—allowed me to develop my language abilities much more extensively than I could have in the United States or through a less ambitious program. Beyond the language component, the classes I took through BCGS exposed me to topics and intellectual discussions that fascinate and engage me to this day.

That is not to say, however, that my experience abroad was entirely defined by schoolwork. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the BCGS program was the high premium placed on cultural exploration. Through planned excursions as well as informal events, I developed deep friendships and experienced Berlin, not just as a backdrop for my studies, but as a dynamic and exciting city with a thrilling energy.

My semester abroad has already proven extremely applicable to my career. In the fall after graduating, I began an internship at the Bundestag through the Émigré Memorial German Internship Program, an opportunity I learned about as a BCGS participant. Thanks to my experience abroad, I have had the confidence to forge connections across cultural divides and the language skills to thrive in a German-language workplace (plus, my prior experience living in Berlin has made the bureaucratic formalities associated with moving to Germany significantly less intimidating). Beyond this current internship, my career goals have been deeply influenced by my semester abroad, which affirmed to me the importance of Weltoffenheit and exposed me to the wide range of career paths available in today’s interconnected world.

I would highly recommend BCGS to any student who wants to get the maximum value out of their study abroad experience.