Is the college open to an international student
Preparation for the stay abroad
The application takes place via an online portal. Here I was able to specify three preferred universities. It is important to ensure that enough time is allowed for the application. In particular, the required expert opinion from a university professor can take some time for some lecturers. The focus of the first application round is primarily on the letter of motivation in English. It is particularly important to ensure that it is tailored to you personally as much as possible: Why do you want to study in your dream country? Why do you want to go to the specified universities (focus is on the first request)? Why should the University of Potsdam send me to this institution? It is very (!) Helpful if it is indicated here that you have dealt with the course plan and the profile of the possible host university. Both the International Office and the Career Service of the University of Potsdam were of great help here. After a preselection, I was invited to the second round of applications - a personal interview. Here not only my personal motives were examined more closely, but country-specific questions were also asked. After the nomination by the University of Potsdam, I still had to apply to an online portal from Middlebury College, since the final decision on admission is always made by the respective host university and not by the University of Potsdam. But don't stress: So far, everyone who has been nominated by the University of Potsdam has been accepted. Middlebury College offers its students health insurance, which is quite expensive (around $ 1225 per semester). I took the opportunity to refuse this and to look for insurance myself. With the HanseMerkur, I only paid around € 260 for the entire stay. In addition, all foreign students are required to be able to prove that they have had certain vaccinations. However, ISSS (International Student & Scholar Services) will inform you of these and all other important provisions in good time. One of the most important steps was the visa, which you had to take care of independently. You should try to get the visa as early as possible after admission to study abroad, as the appointments at the consulate are very popular and there can be long waiting times. It is important to note that you are not allowed to bring electronic devices into the consulate and that there are no storage facilities for those items. You should therefore leave your cell phone at home. All necessary details about the visa application and the (completely uncomplicated) visa appointment are adequately communicated by the International Office, the ISSS in Middlebury and the consulate itself. The ISSS was contacted very quickly after the acceptance and went smoothly throughout. All of my questions could be answered reliably, so any uncertainties quickly disappeared. It's also the ISSS office that arranges a shuttle service from the nearest airport in Burlington to the college, so you don't have to worry too much about how to get to Middlebury. I personally took the opportunity after the summer semester in Potsdam by spending some time before the start of the semester in Middlebury, New York City. One point that was very relevant to me was the financing of the stay abroad. Therefore, I applied for the PROMOS scholarship as well as for funding from the German-American Fulbright Commission. I was awarded the contract for both and received a total of € 3,600, which significantly strengthened my financial security for my time in the USA.
Study at the host university
Right at the beginning of your stay at Middlebury College you will be looked after as an exchange student by students and staff. During the early-arrival weekend you got to know the other exchange students and freshmen students who are not from the USA and you got to know the college. In the following introductory week, we exchange students were looked after by local students and went through a program tailored to our needs in order to better understand and get to know our new home. In addition, every exchange student receives an academic advisor, who is a lecturer at the college and helps you choose a course and other organizational matters. For example, my academic advisor managed to place me in one of my absolutely dream courses, even though it was already overcrowded. Middlebury College managed to ensure that I was in very good hands from the start and that I felt well integrated into the daily routine. Middlebury differs significantly from the University of Potsdam. As a Liberal Arts College, students do not enroll in specific courses, but have the opportunity to try something out in their first semesters and only focus on their studies later in their studies. This often led to a good mix of students within the courses, which I really liked. About 2,500 students study in Middlebury, which is why the number of course participants was lower than in my previous courses in Potsdam. On average, around 25-30 fellow students were present. But I also heard that in some fields of study the number of course participants can be much lower. I took a total of three courses, all of which can be credited to me in Potsdam - I clarified possibilities with regard to the recognition of achievements abroad with the chairman of the examination boards for my subjects in good time before departure. The requirements of the courses are sometimes significantly higher than in Potsdam. The learner himself is not responsible for organizing the preparation and follow-up work for the courses, but was mainly done by the teachers. That meant regular tests, mid-term exams, reading reviews and essays - so there is not just one test that makes up the final grade, but several components. This is supplemented by large amounts of reading. In addition, oral participation was assessed in all of my courses - this accounted for up to 40% of the final grade. I suspect that the intensity of the study is mainly due to the “elite college” status awarded to Middlebury College. It took some time to adjust to this new learning load, but it was doable. The performance evaluation was accordingly a little more demanding than in Potsdam. As soon as you attend the events regularly, get involved and learn enough, good to very good grades shouldn't be a problem. It seemed to me that exchange students were always treated a little more friendly when assigning grades. In general, the study climate is absolutely fantastic. Most of the students put a lot of effort into preparing the individual courses so that discussions could easily come about. But it was also clear that the individual teachers wanted the students to take as much as possible with them through lectures. Teachers in Middlebury have significantly fewer courses to handle than teachers in Potsdam. Accordingly, they had a lot of time to prepare for their lessons and make them exciting. I never had the impression at any lecture or seminar that the subject matter was prayerfully praised down and there was (unbelievable, but it was) almost never bored. In addition, there was a very good (almost amicable) relationship with the teachers in Middlebury - both within and outside of the individual courses. In Middlebury it is also completely normal to go to your course instructor's office hours - the "office hours" - at the beginning of the semester in order to get to know them better. I also took advantage of this and would also recommend it to every future exchange student. In this way, the professors were able to get a first impression of you, which is really very helpful because - as already described above - you really have to do a lot orally in the individual courses. When I asked a professor about the citation method he preferred for the written work in his course, he reached into his bookshelf behind him and pulled out a book on American scientific writing and gave it to me with a wink with the words: “This is actually from the library. But they have so many of them that they certainly won't even notice if one of them is missing. ”I am still in contact with two of my three course instructors to this day. All of my courses have been incredibly educational and interesting. Middlebury has very well-equipped lecture and seminar rooms. I didn't need any special technical equipment for my courses, but I had fellow students tell me and show me that Middlebury gives its students great opportunities to deal intensively with their study interests. For example, friends who study film showed me the college's in-house film studio. They also had permission to borrow professional cameras and shoot off-campus film projects. Middlebury also has all kinds of laboratories, several theaters, concert halls and many other special university equipment.
Contact with local and international students
At the beginning in Middlebury you mainly did something with the other international students and the exchange students, because you spend the entire first week with them almost continuously and thus develop your first friendships with them. As soon as the actual lecture period starts, you can no longer avoid making contact with local students. Most of the students in Middlebury are very warm and open - getting in touch with others has never been a problem. There are countless opportunities to meet both local and foreign students. For example, foreign students organize themselves in the International Students Organization. But also outside of official organizations it is not difficult to make new acquaintances. Whether in the Crossroads Café (a café in the middle of the campus that is run by students), at one of the many college parties or in The Grille (the campus restaurant that still serves food until late in the evening): You can easily connect to his Fellow students.
Language skills before and after the stay abroad
Even before the stay abroad, my English language skills were very strong. However, through permanent contact with local students and participation in the courses, you naturally learn a lot. Above all, I learned completely new idioms and slang words that one would rarely use in an academic career. Middlebury is famous nationwide for its emphasis on language education. This means that an immense number of students learn a second foreign language. Depending on your circle of friends, you can snap up some words and phrases in Chinese, French, Portuguese, Italian ... (this list could get very long now). That often gives Middlebury a certain international flair. I also think that it is now much easier for me to “just go ahead and speak” in English without having to think about how I could formulate a sentence - especially on difficult academic topics.
Living and living situation
First of all, the greatest relief: studying abroad at Middlebury College automatically means that you don't have to pay for your accommodation, food or drink! Everything is provided completely free of charge. After you have completed a short questionnaire (questions were about your own sense of order, sleep behavior or whether you consume alcohol or cigarettes), you will be assigned to a suitable roommate or divided into a single room. I was very happy that I got a room just for myself, which is very popular with many students in Middlebury. In Middlebury, all students are divided into five different commons. Commons are associations of students who can be compared to the Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter. Depending on which commons you are in, you will be assigned to a different dormitory. As an exchange student you will also be integrated into the Commons system and so I became part of the Brainerd Commons. In addition to Brainerd, there are four other commons: Atwater, Cook, Ross and Wonnacott - all named after outstanding personalities at Middlebury College. My room was sparsely furnished with a bed, table, chair and wardrobe. Tip from me: In the recycling center of the college you can pick up used items from other students free of charge and thus improve your room (and your life). I was able to get hold of a huge carpet, lamps, a large sports bag, a large amount of second-hand clothes and much more completely free of charge. There were many other students living in my hall of residence in the dormitory. Many of them leave their door open all day, signaling that anyone can come in who feels the need to talk. There was a large shared bathroom with multiple showers in individual cabins. If you don't like that, you can use one of the four single bathrooms, where you can relax. There are a total of three canteens on the entire campus, in which food is served until late in the evening. The selection is really very large - above all, attention is paid to a healthy lifestyle and that a large number of the food comes from the region. But you don't have to go without burgers, pizza and fries if you like them. I especially recommend the changing flavors of ice cream - made by local dairies and so delicious that you prefer to eat two scoops of ice cream with every meal. Middlebury is a comparatively small place that still has a lot to offer: In addition to the beautiful waterfall in the city center, there are some nice little shops, several restaurants and supermarkets. Occasionally there are also farmers markets and smaller events in Middlebury. Since that would not be varied enough for many, the college and its students make every effort to ensure that there is always something going on on campus and that sufficient leisure activities are offered. There are tons of student organizations and clubs so everyone can find something they are interested in and excited about. I became part of the College Radio Station (WRMC) and had a weekly radio show with two friends. I also attended several Middlebury Shooting Sports Club events. The gun regulations in Vermont are relatively loose, which is why it was possible for us to shoot with all kinds of handguns (from pistols, revolvers to rifles and shotguns) at a shooting range (with a trained shooting director, of course). Other clubs and organizations are mainly active in fields such as sports, politics (college Democrats are incredibly well organized politically) or environmental protection (some regularly go to demonstrations - even across state borders). Also, a variety of parties are organized across campus every weekend that can be really fun. However, be careful: alcohol consumption in public is forbidden on campus and is also monitored by the security service of the college (even if it does not entail any serious consequences). Should you feel the need to leave the campus despite the many leisure activities on offer, the local bus company connects Middlebury with larger cities - I can especially recommend Burlington (the bus ride costs only $ 4). Larger bus companies also connect Middlebury with larger cities: Montreal, Boston and New York City, for example, are not far away by American standards. In addition, Middlebury college teams' sporting events are always well attended. The last football season was particularly exciting - the Middlebury Panthers won the season title undefeated. It was always amazing to go to the football stadium with friends every other Sunday, to watch the Panthers play against other college teams and to escape a little bit from everyday college life. Due to the many leisure activities and the relatively good connection to other places, I can recommend future exchange students not to buy a car while in Middlebury. Most of the time you get to know local students who own a car and with whom you can go on short trips. During the semester, there are always short vacation periods that can be used very well to see a little more of the USA. During the Fall Break vacation, my friends and I moved to New York City for just under a week. During the Thanksgiving Break vacation, seven of us rented a small cabin in the middle of nowhere in the Adirondack Mountains in New York State for a week - without WiFi, but with unforgettable evenings by the fireplace, hiking tours through the snowy wilderness and the first Thanksgiving. Turkey I've ever cooked myself.I can only strongly advise everyone to use this short vacation to escape the stress of learning and to get out of the college filter bubble and see the "real" America. My “insider tip” at the end: If you are homesick or just want to talk in German again, then I recommend the weekly coffee hour in the Deutschhaus. As a German student in Middlebury you have the opportunity to live in the Deutschhaus, in which (to practice the language) only German is spoken. The residents of the Deutschhaus and the assistant teacher at the German Faculty regularly organize events to bring German and American culture closer together. With German food (especially great cakes) you meet for a very informal and relaxed coffee session and talk about all kinds of things. I found that it was always particularly exciting for the local German students when they also had native speakers with them to talk to. Other highlights of the Deutschhaus were the fall of the wall party and the Oktoberfest.
Cost of living
The cost of living is really limited when you are an exchange student in Middlebury. As already described, the room and board is completely free, which was not only a huge advantage, but also one of the main reasons I chose Middlebury. There was some cost in buying books as all of my courses were very reading intensive. The American market for academic books is notorious for asking outrageous prices. It is therefore advisable to order the corresponding second-hand books from the Internet as soon as possible (i.e. as soon as you have the list of literature for your course). As already described above, you can really save a LOT of money with it if you do not accept the health insurance of the college (with pretty bad conditions), but take care of your own insurance cover. The time that you have to invest is 100% worth it if you can go on a great trip with the money you save and you can always be sure that dental treatments are also insured (for example, these are not included in the insurance cover of the college! ). The general cost of living in Vermont is sometimes more expensive than we are used to in major German cities.
Subject: B. Ed. English and history
Length of stay: 08/2019 - 12/2019
Host university:Middlebury College
Host country: USA
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