Friday, August 25, 2017

[POTSDAM] German at Uni Potsdam

Potsdam was more like an accident. When I left Germany last April, I still had a serious Berlin hangover. Needless to say, I really wanted to go back. The thing is, my financial situation was kind of unpredictable and I wasn’t able to commit to a summer comeback fast enough to secure a slot at either Humboldt or FU. I visited Potsdam while I was still based in Berlin so I thought hey, why not Uni Potsdam? It's just an hour away and even connected to Berlin's Metro. And so I submitted an application.

Fortunately, I got accepted. Again, what I like about Potsdam is that it's so quiet and seems detached from all the action of its busier neighbor. The campus is within the grounds of Sanssouci so there you go with the daily sightseeing activities if you haven't been there yet. As for me, I no longer cared much about tourism because I've already been to Potsdam earlier this year. What happened is that I missed the allure of the underground scene in Berlin which meant whenever I got bored, I always went back there. Bad decisions.

I was assigned to the Studentenwohnheim south of the campus, a 20-minute stroll every morning which wasn't that bad. I needed the exercise. The obvious caveat was the lack of options when it came to food. The city center was too far a way to be reached on foot and I didn't really make an effort to buy a Monatskarte because I only ever needed public transpo during weekends anyway. That meant an additional EUR4 (~PHP220) for the bus/train whenever I didn't feel like eating canteen food.

Mensa food was cheap and sufficient, I guess, but sometimes you just want some variety. But let's not talk about food. What about the classes? Well, there were three groups named A, B, C. The university said that it didn't reflect the proficiency level of the students, although it obviously did. I ended up in Group B, which wasn't that bad because I needed the refresher and I still had the whole month of September for Freiburg after all. The classes were not that big, although the seminars were, sort of.

Basically, we had to attend Grammar and Phonetics classes but there was no standard time for them, meaning we had classes both in the morning and afternoon. There were also days when I only had either morning classes or afternoon seminars. I think there was even one day when I had no classes at all because of the weird schedule. There were four seminars but we could only attend two. They do ask for your preference on the pre-enrollment form but the final decision was theirs to make.

The proficiency test was done on the second day. Results were made known that very night during the welcoming party. Most of the participants were students, many of them with scholarships or attending exchange programs. If you love the company of younger people, then you won't have a problem here. The uni also offered many opportunities for socializing such as karaoke night, picnics, excursions, bar visits, and the like. All in all, I was satisfied with the way the summer course was handled.

I don't think the university was that demanding in terms of exams. Attendance, yes. As for the seminars, I attended the one on German fairy tales and 1920's Berlin. For the group project, I ended up in "History of Berlin" which explains the Berlin excursions. Final assessments were done in the form of exams or papers. Either way, I think my German leveled up, perhaps not as high as it would have had I exerted more effort, but it did fulfill my goal of having the chance to review and finally leaving B2 for C1.

I guess my only regret for Potsdam was being too detached. Blame depression? The social circle was quite small among the summer academy participants, which meant the potential to get to know people better was there. Do I recommend Uni Potsdam if you want to attend a German summer course? Absolutely. Proximity to Berlin, check. Park Sanssouci, check. Interesting seminars, check. Of course, the people you attend the courses with do define the overall experience, and in my case they were all great.

[POTSDAM] German at Uni Potsdam

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