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EF Stories: Marina from Norway at EF Berlin

I spent a semester in Berlin with EF, and it has been the best experience of my life!
EF Stories: Marina from Norway at EF Berlin

Berlin is a major city with many contrasts - from top-notch museums to underground art scenes, trendy cafes to local street food, parks and skyscrapers. Who wouldn't want to experience this city, combined with learning German and making friends from all over the world? My semester in Berlin has been very educational so far, and I'm so glad I made the decision to go. If you want to experience a major European city that has everything, I recommend you travel with EF to Berlin.

Why did I choose to study abroad?

I've long wanted to travel with EF and knew I wanted to do something different after high school than go straight to university. I wanted to experience something new; a different culture with a different language, and of course get to know new people.

What's the background for choosing my place of study?

I've been learning German since middle school, and it's been one of my favorite subjects as long as I can remember. Especially last year, I had a very good experience when I chose German as my specialization. I didn't want to quit German, but learn even more. Besides, Berlin is a city I really thrive in!

Host family

I chose to live with a host family, something I'm very happy about. But of course, it's possible to live in a student residence if you prefer. I chose a host family because I wanted to take the opportunity to speak German as much as possible. I was very fortunate with my host family and lived with a host mother and a host sister. My host sister was from Switzerland, and from the beginning, we spoke only German. In other words, we got along very well from the start. My host sister and I became very good friends. Additionally, I lived only 30 minutes from school, something I was very satisfied with!

Host mother, me, and host sister.

What was I dreading?

First and foremost, I dreaded leaving my family and my dog. In addition, I was worried about leaving friends and my job. I had also long thought about what it's like to live in a completely different country where they speak another language. It was also my first time traveling completely alone. It was extra exciting and a bit challenging at the start; it was hard to leave the "safe home". Luckily, you quickly get used to the new everyday life when you get into new routines.

How are the activity offerings at school?

First and foremost, it naturally depends on the season, as activities are arranged accordingly. The activity offerings at school are very good and there are different activities every week. Moreover, the school staff is very friendly and do their best to ensure everyone is well and satisfied. Examples of activities include city tours (where students are shown different parts of the city), museums, sports, and "stammtisch". "Stammtisch" is every Wednesday; we go to a bar and eat and drink whatever we wish. I find it super cozy and social, a perfect opportunity to get to know new students.

At Stammtisch in Berlin.

How do I handle homesickness?

At first, I felt a lot of homesickness, where I thought a lot about everything at home. It's said that it gets better over time, and it did for me. Berlin is also not so far away, which means I can easily get home during holidays or weekends if I wish. Talking with friends/family on the phone also helped alleviate homesickness. It also helped to have things with me that reminded me of home, like Norwegian chocolate and other things from home.

What has been the best part of my stay so far?

It's so hard to choose! First and foremost, the development one has in the language. Even though I knew some before, it's very fun to see how far I've come now. I've learned SO much and still learn new things every day. Moreover, I've become very confident when it comes to speaking, which I wasn't when I arrived. All the activities, especially stammtisch on Wednesdays, are memories I'll have for the rest of my life. Meeting so many different people from different countries and getting insights into other cultures and ways of life is the best part.

My own experience

In general, a stay abroad is good for both your CV and personal development. For me, this journey has mostly been personal. I've learned so much about myself, seen my qualities, what I'm best at, and my weaknesses. I've also met so many wonderful people that I wouldn't have if I hadn't left. And the best part of all: you learn a new language!

In conclusion, I think it all comes down to making a decision. I believe many would like to have a stay abroad but might be afraid to take the leap. Even though it can be challenging, you just have to jump into it. One thing's for sure: you'll never regret going, only regret not having gone.

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