Back to SummaryNaiming Fu - Student Advisor Profile
At the regional Stanford send-off event at home in Austin, Texas just before my freshman year, I heard several students and alumni emphasize that their abroad experiences were among their most memorable from Stanford, and it was truly an opportunity not to be missed. At the time it seemed like a possibility in my distant future, but I remembered the advice. As time went on I heard and learned more and more about the Bing Overseas Studies Programs at Stanford, and became particularly excited about applying to the program in Berlin. I was fortunate enough to be able to study with Stanford in Berlin during the spring quarter of 2008, and I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I was initially a bit worried about the effects of interrupting my junior year engineering sequences, but when the time came I welcomed the change of pace from my full schedule of engineering courses. My time in Germany provided me with a well-deserved break from these classes, as well as the opportunity to jump right back into it with the Krupp Internship Program. During my quarter in Berlin, I took a course about Holocaust monuments and memorials that allowed me to explore some museums and sites in Berlin to a depth that I never would have been able to on my own. In addition, I was able to take an accelerated German language course with an exceptional teacher who improved our very basic German skills quickly.
I had only taken one quarter of German prior to coming to Berlin, and I was worried that I would be overwhelmed by the unfamiliar language. However, I found out why Berlin is the only overseas program that allows students to arrive with little or even no prior language study. The city is truly diverse and cosmopolitan, and Berliners are certainly used to having foreigners in their city. Many of them, especially the younger ones, are often even excited to be able to use their (usually very good) English with you. I had little difficulty getting by day-to-day while my German improved.
All members of the Stanford in Berlin staff were very helpful, helping us get acquainted with our new surroundings and providing assistance with any questions or problems we had. I also found the homestay setup to be ideal, providing us with some comforting elements of a host-family situation while still allowing us the freedom to explore the city as we pleased.
I arrived to a couple weeks of cold and rainy weather, but as spring arrived, I watched the city transform. The parks and Biergartens came back to life, and countless cafes and bars brought out their outdoor seating, where many people could be seen relaxing at any time of day. During my stay in Berlin, I had an extraordinary time absorbing the sights, culture, music, sports, and everything else Berlin had to offer. Among many other things, I discovered Berlin’s exciting nightlife, watched a pro tennis tournament, and even caught one of my favorite American bands while they were on a European tour. It was even better being able to share these experiences with the new friends I had made, including both Berliners and other students from our Stanford program. As students, we also greatly appreciated the relatively inexpensive cost of living in Berlin.
As this was my first time in Europe, I naturally made an effort to take advantage of my extended stay to visit other locations on the continent. The quarterly Will
trip brings the entire group to a developing EU country or candidate, in order to teach us about European destinations that we would be unlikely to visit as tourists. In the spring we visited Warsaw, Poland, and it was indeed interesting to see a different side of Europe. I also managed to squeeze in trips to Prague, Paris (and the French Open), and Barcelona by utilizing some convenient long weekends as well as the breaks before and after the quarter. These trips were definitely unforgettable, and I really enjoyed the ease of mobility around the Europe and the ability to access so many different places and cultures.
I spent my summer in the city of Magdeburg, doing an internship with our Krupp Internship Program. This former East German city is very different from Berlin, but with a quarter in Germany already under my belt, I was able to quickly adjust to my new temporary home. I gained some very valuable engineering experience, made some new friends, and got to know a whole different side of Germany. I was able to meet up with other Krupp interns and take some great
weekend trips within Germany, and I also managed to visit my friends back in Berlin a couple times as well. Spending a summer on my own and working in a very foreign environment was both very challenging and very fulfilling, and I feel fortunate to have been able to get two very different experiences and live in two different cities during my stay in Germany.
My experience abroad was incredible, and it is amazing for me to think of all the things that I was able to see and do in only six months. Studying abroad is sure to provide many totally new and unique experiences, and it is an option that I definitely recommend all Stanford students to consider. And for those who choose to go abroad, I believe Berlin is a great destination. The Stanford in Berlin program is a great academic experience, you have the chance to extend your stay with a great internship abroad, and the city itself is fun, exciting and a perfect place for college students. To be able to call Berlin your second home is an opportunity not to be missed.