I’m not going to write a lot about school choosing process, payments, tickets buying, visa, and insurance because there is enough information of this kind. I want to write particular information about this school, studying process, transportation, and free time.
School is located really comfortable, right in the center. You can reach Alexanderplaz (a little bit farer), Branderburg Gate (a little bit closer), and other tourist destinations in the city center of Berlin by the walk. You should take a metro (U6 FranzösischeStraße station). Metro navigation is great. You should get off at Französische Straße station; it has two exits to the city. After you went out to the city, you should go to the cross-road (about 15 meters from metro entrance), turn to the left/ and then go into the first arch. Navigation signs start in the arch. So, it is quite easy to navigate.
School is big, has a lot of classrooms and students; there are all language level groups available. School has 2 blocks. The second one a little bit farer down the same street. After short entrance test, which consists of 5-10 minutes of talking with teacher (there are several questions: ‘who are you?’, ‘where are you from?’, ‘how long have you been studying German language?’, and so on). The you get recommendation on you start group; after first class you can change it, if it’s either too ease to you, or too hard. Also you get a studying materials for chosen course.
Studying process itself, except standard grammar and oral tasks, which every language school has, have a variety of activities, for example: watching films in German with stops in hard to understand moments and subsequent discussion and explanation. Once we had a breakfast together. We distributed what each of us will bring. One of girls took an electric wafer and dough, and she was cooking waffles right in the classroom. Each of us brought something like fruits, candies, cheese, bread and other stuff. We moved together our desks and got improvised table for table tennis. After breakfast we played Mafia, ‘who am I?’ (you should guess the person or animal, written on your sticker), and other activities.
Classes start at 9:00 and finish at 13:30 with 2 breaks:30 and 15 minutes. Then, in the afternoon you can visit school’s computer room for self-study (there is always teacher, who ready to answer your questions), take an excursion, organized by the school, or visit school’s workshop. Excursion and workshop require pre-booking. You can do it on the information stand near the entrance. If there is not enough participants, at least 3 person, the event is not held.
Right after classes you can (and should!) go to the student cafeteria, where you can have a lunch, which consists of salad, cream soup, and main course with meat, just for 5 EUR. Every day I took opportunity to have a lunch at the city center for such pennies. It was tasty and cheap. Cafeteria called Canteen HfM Charlottenstraße (Mensa HfM Charlottenstraße); you can easily find it in GoogleMaps, but it has entrance into the arch from the Taubenstraße street (not the Charlottenstraße).
National composition: Turks, students from Scandinavia, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Philippines, South Korea and others. So, there a lot of different accents. At the beginning it’s hard to understand all of them, especially Asian.
School gives you a student card; don’t forget to ask for it on the reception right in the first day, just say, that you’re going to visit museums. Student card gives you a significant discount on visiting museums. In places, where staff didn’t want to give me discount, I just say “How does it possible? I got discount in the zoo, in the new museum… But I can’t get discount there?” After that I got discount immediately. But mostly I got discount without problems.
Transport. In Berlin, as well as in the whole Germany, public transport works just great. Berlin’s public transport site: http://www.bvg.de
App for routing in the city (must have!)
Android: BVG FahrInfo Plus, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.eos...
IPhone: BVG FahrInfo Plus Berlin, https://itunes.apple.com/app/id284971745
There are 3 tariff zones: A, B, C. Zone C is zone of Schönefeld Airport, you’ll come to this zone twice - arriving and departing. In other cases you’ll need to buy tickets or transport passes for AB zone (there are 3 versions of tickets: AB, BC, ABC).
If you going to stay for 1-2 weeks then it’s more profitable to buy a week-long transport pass (1 or 2 pieces). Prices for Spring 2018: week-long transport pass - 7-Tage-Karte VBB-Umweltkarte (AB) - costs 30 EUR, month-long transport pass - Monatskarte VBB-Umweltkarte (AB) - costs 81 EUR. So if you’re staying for 2 or more weeks you should buy a month-long transport pass.
Now, let’s talk about buying tickets. When you arrive to Schönefeld Airport you should exit the airport. Then, you’ll see long covered corridor-footpath on the left side. It leads to train station, from where you can get to Berlin. You should walk along this footpath, then descent into the underpass. You’ll see 20-30 ticket-selling terminals. Terminals don’t accept bills 50 EUR and greater, only 20 EUR and lower. I’m not sure if terminals in airport accept credit card differ from local EU, but in metro I paid for my tickets with ApplePay and PayPass MasterCard. Finally, tickets buying: on the first screen you’ll be offered to buy ABC zone 2 hours-long one way ticket, which let you to get to your destination. If you don’t want to dive in all this complex stuff you should buy this ticket (3.40 EUR).
I bought a week-long transport pass in the airport right away (it costs 30 EUR; you can find in in the menu), but notice, that this pass is valid only in AB zone and we need to get from C zone. For this purpose you should buy basic ticket for A/C zone (costs 1.60 EUR). The thing is that you can’t buy this ticket with change. Terminal doesn’t accept change as payment. I was forced to ask man, who stood behind me in line, to buy me an Anschlussfahrschein A/C ticket with his EU’s credit card. I turn him back 2 EUR (he hadn’t 0.40 EUR to change). In total I had week-long pass and A/C zone one way ticket. Then you should open BVGFahrInfoPlusBerlin app and enter your location “Schönefeld Airport” and destination, for example “Alexanderplatz”. App will give to you list of possible ways to get to your destination. I used this app all the time. You can use your ticket within AB zone and travel by train, underground metro (U-Bahn), ground metro (S-Bahn), bus, and tram.
Accommodation. On Booking.com and AirBnB I found accommodations cost 40000 RUB and 20000 RUB correspondingly. Of course, I had chosen the last one. And I had no regrets.
In conclusion I want to say, that staying in host German family (AirBnB), studying in German environment, speaking in shops, metro, and so on have a great impact on language learning. After week being in this environment you are not afraid anymore and you don’t think how to speak correctly. You are just speaking; you just understand.
Although, I came to Germany with B2 and turned home with same language level, I reached my goal: refresh my German and get a free speaking practice. By the end of second week, I felt free in any conversation in German. I advise to talk whenever you can without shyness. For example: I asked museum’s staff about information, I was interested in; I asked salesmen about goods, I wanted to buy; and so on. In museums you should take audio guides in German; they’re free. It’ll be extra practice to you.
Immersion in studying language atmosphere is incredible feeling. I am really thankful to LinguaTrip, Alexei and Anastasia in particular, for rapid enrollment in school, quick answers to all my questions about forthcoming trip.