Frequently Asked Questions
How many courses will I take per semester in Berlin?
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 a four-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 three other, four-credit courses from a list of electives distributed to all students by Bard College Berlin's Registrar. Electives for Lower College students are available in a host of areas ranging from film, performance, and literature to statistics, economics, philosophy, political theory, and human rights, among many others. 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.
How will these courses transfer to Bard College? Will they count toward the BA degree?
All Bard College Berlin classes count for full credit toward the BA 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 adviser 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.
How will course advising happen?
Begin in Berlin students will have their own dedicated adviser drawn from the faculty of Bard College Berlin. The Begin Adviser will meet with the Begin cohort periodically throughout the semester and will be available for individual meetings as needed. The Begin Adviser works closely with the Academic Dean and other offices in Annandale to ensure a smooth transition between campuses.
Since course registration for the fall 2020 semester happens online in July, students will have the option to adjust their selections after advising in person during add/drop in the first two weeks of the semester. All first year students will be assigned a section of the first year seminar and will choose three other classes.
How will I get my books and other course materials?
Students should plan to purchase all books required for the core courses and their chosen elective and language classes. While Bard College Berlin does not have an on-campus bookstore, 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 secondhand 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 Bard College Berlin in the form of printed “readers,” with a short reader (up to 125 pp/duplex) costing approximately 5 euros, and a longer version (up to 250 pp/duplex) 10 euros. Students who have three courses per semester should plan to spend roughly 30 euros per semester on readers. Readers will be distributed during the orientation week. Students will receive an invoice retrospectively for the readers received.
Where will I do Language and Thinking (L&T) and Citizen Science?
You will do L&T at Bard College Berlin in your first year and Citizen Science at Bard College in Annandale in your sophomore year. Citizen Science takes place in January between fall and spring semester.
Where can I find the academic calendar?
You can find the academic calendar on Bard College Berlin’s website. Please note that the Bard College Berlin semester is keyed to the semester dates in Annandale.
Where is Bard College Berlin located in Berlin and what is the campus like?
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 residence halls are all within walking distance of each other.
How many students currently study at Bard College Berlin?
Bard College Berlin has approximately 260 students, 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, representing more than 60 countries, and united by a desire to learn to think independently and from multiple perspectives.
What are the residence halls like?
All Bard first-year students will be housed in Bard College Berlin residence halls with other Bard College Berlin students. The residence halls vary between suite and dormitory style layouts and contain a combination of single, double, and triple rooms. Students will generally be housed in double rooms, with shared bathrooms, laundry facilities, and common spaces, as well as shared gardens. The residence halls are coeducational and are similar in feeling and living standards to the residence halls on the Annandale campus.
Where can we eat?
Bard College Berlin’s cafeteria, run by the school’s chef Phillip Zieher, 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.
Is there a gym facility?
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.
How will I get from Bard College Berlin to other parts of the city?
Bard College Berlin is connected to the downtown via the M1 tram, which leaves from spots very near the campus every 10 minutes, and has transfer points to the subway and the suburban railway system.
Do students need a special visa?
North American students don't need a visa to enter Germany, but they will need to apply for a residency permit after they arrive. 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 as well as Admissions and Recruitment Officer Xenia Muth (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) at Bard College Berlin for additional information.
The residency permit process is a bureaucratic procedure that takes place 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 residency 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. Please be aware that you will not be able to travel outside the country while the German government processes your permit application (approximately six to eight weeks).
What sort of health and counseling services are available? Will my American insurance cover medical expenses abroad?
All students will be enrolled in GeoBlue, an international health insurance, for the duration of the program at Bard College Berlin. This will cover students regardless of where they travel during the duration of the program. GeoBlue has a network of doctors and service providers close to campus. The cost of this insurance is covered by the campus health services fee for Berlin. However, all enrolled students must have health insurance for the full academic year, which is from August 1 until July 31. Because of this, students must either purchase the Bard College Student Health Plan or show proof of equivalent health insurance.
Please consult your personal care physician to verify that your prescribed medication is legal and available in Berlin. Not all medications that are common in the United States are legal in Germany. German law prohibits the mailing or shipment of drugs, including prescription medicines, to private persons in Germany from the United States or other foreign countries. Your personal care physician may prescribe medication for the duration of the program. You should bring a copy of your prescriptions with you, as you may need to present them as you pass through customs. Be sure to keep any prescription medications in their original packaging.
There is a counselor who has office hours on campus once a week at Bard College Berlin, as well as a network of counselors available off campus through GeoBlue.
If you have questions, email email@example.com.
Will there be employment opportunities for students?
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 dormitories—and in specific cases these may be available to first-year Bard students. At the beginning of the semester, the Berlin administration will notify students by email of available positions.
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.
What is the best way for me to get money in Berlin? Should I bring traveler’s checks? Is it possible for me to open a German bank account?
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.
Will there be a Family Weekend or other similar organized time for family visits?
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.