Hallo meine Lieben,
What I’ve really missed about Glasgow during my time in Berlin is the amazingly tightly-knit student community and all the societies and other activities at Glasgow Uni. The size difference of the two cities, of course, explains a lot – being surrounded by 3+ million people is a lot less likely to make you feel like you’re a part of a small community – but also the way how the two universities are structured. At Humboldt, unlikely in Glasgow, everything revolves around faculties. Even though different faculties on campus in Mitte are relatively close to each other, it’s still not quite how it is in Glasgow where almost everyone has their classes very close to each other, and thus ends up meeting people from all fields of study. Here, you go to your classes in your own faculty, and thus basically only meet people that study your subject. So, meeting like-minded people from different faculties doesn’t happen that easily, and you have to be the one initiating it – which does not happen that easily since societies and clubs don’t really exist to the same extent as in Glasgow. So, I decided to provide you with a few tips on how to expand your social circles and how to find extracurricular activities beyond campus.
Doing sport classes and courses at the Unisport is closest to clubs and societies as it gets here. I’ve done quite a few courses of yoga and salsa, and really enjoyed them. You can choose here from a wide variety of sports, ranging from bouldering and basketball to aerobics and fencing. You pay for each course separately and they are all very affordable for students. Universities in Berlin do a lot of cooperation, so you can sign up for other universities’ courses just as well as Humboldt’s. Unfortunately there is no central gym/sports building where everything would happen, so you might have your classes all around the city. And an important tip: you have to be in front of your computer exactly when the sign ups open, or you will not be able to get in – the courses fill up insanely fast!
I told you in my video in January that I went to an information event to find out about volunteering possibilities in Berlin. It was organised by Vostel, an online platform where NGOs can submit their projects to seek volunteers. There are all kinds of projects, such as supplying food help for homeless people in Berlin and helping with language classes. Just about anything you can think of, so start digging. It’s a great way of meeting people out of the student bubble, and also to spend your time for something important. I chose to join Pass the Crayon, an NGO that arranges art workshops for children in refugee shelters around Berlin. You can either choose to help them with organisational stuff or help with the workshops, and I have done the latter. Doing arts together with the kids and teaching each other German in the process is so rewarding and the founders, Martin and Sevin, are such nice people with great passion for their cause. Highly recommended!
3. Orbis Humboldtianus
Orbis is Humboldt’s international club that arranges all kinds of events: mainly bar nights but also, for example, weekend trips to cities nearby. Quite a lot of exchange students go to the events, but also a few locals, so you will be able to find native German-speaking friends as well. The Orbis student staff also helps international students with just about anything you can think of, so their office is a good place to go to in other needs as well.
So, even though the possibilities on campus are a lot more limited than in Glasgow, you’ll surely end up finding people and interesting stuff to do, hopefully with the help of my experiences. Although I finally found my way around to find activities in Berlin, I can’t wait to be back in Glasgow and being involved with societies such as GUST or the numerous campus magazines, which don’t really exist at Humboldt.
If you have any questions related to anything Erasmus or Berlin, feel free to send me a wee message to 2148464n[at]student.gla.ac.uk.
Hope you have a lovely Monday!