On the Die Bärliner blog, Bard College Berlin students share first-person accounts of their experiences in Berlin, in the classroom and beyond. As Maria Khan writes of her time in Berlin, "Be it through academic or leisure activities, I often find myself rediscovering the world all over again."
A: All first-year students take on the same 16-credit course load at Bard College Berlin as they would at the Bard College campus in Annandale. For your time in Berlin, you will be automatically enrolled in an eight-credit core course (Plato's Republic and Its Interlocutors in the fall semester and Forms of Love in the spring semester). You can then choose two other, four-credit courses from a list of electives distributed to all students by Bard College Berlin's registrar, Yvonne Turaj. Available electives for Lower College students include options in the humanities and social sciences as well as language classes in German, French, and Spanish. All of these courses will contain both first-year Bard students and first- or second-year B.A. students enrolled directly at Bard College Berlin.
A: All Bard College Berlin classes count for full credit toward the B.A. degree at Bard in Annandale. When you successfully complete the core course in the fall semester, you will thereby fulfill the fall First-Year Seminar requirement at Bard as well as the Humanities distribution requirement. In addition, electives at Bard College Berlin will fulfill appropriate Bard distribution requirements. Some courses will also satisfy Bard divisional and program requirements; this should be discussed with your advisor at Bard College Berlin.
When you successfully complete the core course in the spring semester, you will thereby fulfill the spring First-Year Seminar requirement at Bard as well as the Literature distribution requirement. As before, electives at Bard College Berlin will fulfill appropriate Bard distribution, divisional, and program requirements.
A: Professor Kerry Bystrom and Dean of Studies David Shein will co-advise all Bard first-year students. Professor Bystrom is the Associate Dean of Bard College Berlin and will be your main point of contact for academic issues while in Berlin. She and Dean Shein will hold hybrid in-person and Skype meetings at key points throughout the semester to ensure that your transitions between the Annandale and Berlin campuses run smoothly.
You may be contacted over e-mail by Yvonne Turaj and asked to make preliminary course elections prior to arriving in Berlin, but these elections will not be considered final until after you have had an individual advising meeting at Bard College Berlin during your orientation period. There will also be, as at Bard College in Annandale, a two-week period in which you can visit other courses and change your course registration for elective or language courses if a place is available in the new courses of your choice.
A: Students should plan to purchase all books required for the core courses and their chosen elective and language classes. Whilst Bard College Berlin does not have an on-campus book store, there are a number of excellent retailers in the city for those wishing to purchase books. Alternatively, students order their books online and occasionally buy second-hand books from students in the upper years of the BA program.
A reserve shelf will be accessible in the librarian’s office. Each course will have a few book sets available (i.e. on-site consultation books) for students for a maximum period of three hours at a time. Where Bard College Berlin has large reserves of the books listed on a particular syllabus, these will be searchable and identified in the library catalog as [Textbook]. Textbooks for core courses will be available for loan for an entire semester. Elective textbooks will be available for loan for a period of 21 days. Students will be able to place a hold on these or, alternatively, can submit an electronic request to check out a copy.
Additional course texts will be provided by the College in the form of printed “readers”, with a short reader (up to 125 pp/duplex) costing approximately 5 EUR and a longer version (up to 250 pp/duplex) 10 EUR. Students who have three courses per semester should plan to spend roughly 30 EUR per semester on readers. Readers will be distributed during the orientation week. Students will receive an invoice retrospectively for the readers received.
A: If you choose to attend Bard College Berlin for your first semester, you will complete L&T with the incoming Bard College Berlin first-year student cohort in Berlin and return to Annandale for Citizen Science. If you choose to attend Bard College Berlin for your second semester, you will complete L&T in Annandale and participate in Citizen Science during your sophomore year. If you spend both semesters of your first year in Berlin, you will do L&T in Berlin and Citizen Science in your sophomore year.
A: Bard College Berlin is located in Pankow, a northeastern section of Berlin about half an hour from the city center by tram. It is a safe, leafy, and tranquil residential setting, yet provides easy access by public transportation to everything Berlin has to offer. The academic and administrative buildings of Bard College Berlin are former embassies to East Germany and are clustered together at the intersection of two quiet roads. The cafeteria, library, practicing arts building and dormitories—almost all of the same architectural style as the classroom buildings—are a short walk from these buildings and one another, in the same neighborhood. Students spend much of their free time in the cafeteria and student center buildings, in the gardens, and the dormitories. You can see photos of the campus online.
A: Bard College Berlin has approximately 80 students, not including Begin in Berlin students and the other American students coming for the Bard in Berlin junior year program. The student population is richly diverse, with people coming from nearly 40 countries, and united by their desire to learn to think independently and from multiple perspectives.
A: All Bard first-year students will be housed in Bard College Berlin dormitories with other Bard College Berlin students. Like the teaching and administration buildings, the Bard College Berlin dormitories are former embassy buildings, three stories high, and with a combination of single, double, and triple rooms. You will generally be housed in double rooms. You will have shared bathrooms, laundry facilities, and common spaces, as well as shared gardens. The dormitories are coeducational and are similar in feeling and living standards to the dormitories on the Annandale campus.
A: Bard College Berlin’s cafeteria, run by the school’s chef Stefan Will, serves three meals a day to Bard College Berlin students. These organic meals include gourmet versions of classic German dishes as well as other cuisines, and always contain a vegetarian option. For those of you who wish to make your own meals, the student dormitories also have kitchens supplied with basic cooking equipment and there is a supermarket just down the block. Finally, you are encouraged to take advantage of the excellent culinary scene in Berlin.
A: Begin in Berlin students, like all members of the Bard College Berlin community, have access to the private SPOK fitness center and athletic facility (a short walk from campus). SPOK offers aerobic and weights facilities, athletic fields, badminton, tennis and basketball courts, and a sauna.
A: Bard College Berlin is connected to the downtown via the M1 tram, which leaves from spots very near to campus every 10 minutes, and has transfer points to the subway and the suburban railway system.
A: North American students are not required to apply for a visa to study in Germany. Students who are not citizens of the United States or Canada may be required to apply for a visa to enter Germany, and are advised to consult the website of the German Embassy and Student Affairs Assistant Xenia Muth (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) at Bard College Berlin for additional information.
Even if you don’t need a visa, however, you will have to complete certain bureaucratic procedures shortly after arrival in Germany. First, you must register your address at the local Bürgeramt (town hall). Second, if you are American—this does not apply to EU passport holders—you must apply for a residence permit. Bard College Berlin staff members have a great deal of experience in this area and Xenia Muth will assist you in both the registration and the permit application. You should expect to pay between 50 and 100 euros for this permit. Please be aware that you will not be able to travel outside the country while your permit application is being processed (approximately six to eight weeks), as the German government will need your passport to complete its review.
A: Bard College Berlin has an agreement with a local medical doctor, Dr. Sabine Regling, who holds office hours once a week on campus at the Student Center. Outside of these office hours, students can visit Dr. Regling’s practice for any problems that might occur. Bard College Berlin also offers on-campus psychological counseling with a trained therapist, Katharina Pauli, twice a week.
The Bard student health plan is global. If you are enrolled in this plan you will be covered for illness and injury expenses as in the United States, and you are exempt from the statutory German health insurance. However, depending upon the provider in Germany, you may be required to pay in full at time of service and file a claim for reimbursement. This is also the case for students who opt out of the Bard Student plan but are covered by the Blanket Bard Travel Insurance Plan in cases when personal insurance does not include international coverage.
It is illegal to send prescription drugs in the mail from the United States to Germany. Those of you needing regular medications should either get a semester-long prescription filled in the U.S. and bring your medications with you in your suitcase, or get a prescription from Dr. Regling once you have arrived and have it filled in Germany.
A: Because of the intensity of our academic program and the time required to adjust not only to college life but also to life in a foreign city, we discourage first-year students from working during their semester or year in Berlin. That said, Bard College Berlin does offer a limited number of student jobs—for instance in the library and the dormitories—and in specific cases these may be available to first-year Bard students. Katharina Meyer (email@example.com) manages on-campus student employment, and will notify students by e-mail of available positions. Â
You should not plan on being able to find a job outside of the Bard College Berlin campus. Not only would this be difficult with visa regulations, but also most first-year Bard students lack the necessary German language skills to obtain employment.
A: The easiest way to get cash in euros is to withdraw it from an ATM with your debit card. Most ATMs throughout the city accept American MasterCard or Visa debit cards. Most American banks charge a small fee for withdrawing money from ATMs that do not belong to their bank (although Bank of America debit cardholders can withdraw money free of charge at DeutscheBank ATMs), and some also charge a currency conversion fee. Your own bank can give you more details.
You should also bring a MasterCard or Visa credit card, as these are widely accepted and can be useful in case of emergency.
It is now uncommon for German shops, restaurants, etc. to accept traveler's checks. If you wish to have money in cash on hand upon arrival in Berlin, you could exchange dollars for Euros at your bank in the United States, or you could take a preloaded travel debit card (available through AAA, for instance) and withdraw the funds in euros from an ATM in Berlin.
You do not need to—and would most likely find it difficult to—open a bank account in Berlin.
A: There is not currently a Bard College Berlin Family Weekend, though this might change in the future. However, parents and other close relatives are welcome and encouraged to visit students at their convenience. Associate Dean Kerry Bystrom would be very happy to meet with individual parents who are visiting Bard College Berlin. Please note that parents are not allowed to stay in their children’s dormitory rooms. Siblings and other student-age visitors are allowed to stay in dormitory rooms for a maximum of one week and only after they have been registered by Residential Life Coordinator Zoltan Helmich.