Invitation to Shabbat at Synagogue Rykestrasse this Friday, February 5, at 6:00pm

rz-hillel-ryke_01Every first Friday of the month, Hillel Germany organizes a Shabbat at the Synagogue in Rykestrasse 53 and you are kindly invited to join for the first time this Friday, February 5, at 6:00pm.

The Rykestrasse Shabbat is Hillel Germany’s flagship Shabbat activity. In Germany’s largest and arguably most beautiful Synagogue, the Hillel Hub Berlin comes together for a monthly Kabbalat Shabbat service and Kiddush. Hillel Germany and the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Scholarship Fund maintain a cooperation with the Synagogue, which was built in 1904.  The Synagogue Rykestrasse is located in Prenzlauer Berg, about 10 minutes walking distance from the Academic Center.

At the Hillel-Shabbat you will have the opportunity to meet people of very different backgrounds and with different traditions. You don’t need to have any previous synagogue! Just show up, have a good time with interesting people, and enjoy the food.

Contact Jonas Fegert, our NYU Bronfman Global Coordinator for Europe ( or Anne Strauss ( if you have any specific questions.

What: Shabbat organized by Hillel Germany, ELES and NYU Bronfman Global
When: Friday, February 5, at 6:00pm
Where: Rykestrasse 53; 10405 Berlin
Who: Everyone who is interested


[UPDATE] Orientation Schedule

Thanks to snow storm Jonas, the Spring 2016 semester begins for most of you in a way that requires adjustment and creativity. We appreciate your communication regarding travel. As mentioned in the emails from Gabriella and Linn, the schedule for Orientation has been updated to accommodate the unexpected weather. Please see below for the updated information.

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Ready for Departure!


Hello future NYU Berlin students,

Very soon you will arrive in Berlin, your semester abroad is just a wink away. How fortunate you are and how exciting this must be!

Fast-paced as our times are (particularly so in New York City, Shanghai, and other big cities!), why not stand still for a moment and think about the questions below while you prepare for your departure?

What will you be taking with you from your current home? I’m not talking about a cool shirt or pair of shoes, but rather

A smile?
A not so big smile as you are uncertain of what to expect?
A summer-time memory?
The memory of a challenge you have mastered?
A sense of curiosity?
What else?

Are you beginning your study abroad experience in Berlin with particular expectations? Where do they come from? Whom are you leaving behind? How will you be saying your good-byes or, in German, “Auf Wiedersehen”? What might you need in order to feel connected to your friends and family? Have you spoken to them about your thoughts and feelings? If not, what’s keeping you from doing so? What would you need to feel comfortable in Berlin once you get there? Maybe there is also something that you’d actually like to leave behind, at least for some time?

Going somewhere new opens a whole spectrum of opportunities. You will decide which ones to seize. In this way, study abroad offers a wonderful chance to reinvent yourself and to understand a little more who you really are (or want to become).

Most importantly, and of that I am sure, you will make a unique and unforgettable experience. Once you say “good-bye”, I’ll say “hello”.

See you soon in Berlin!
Bis bald!

Teutonic oddities: How to blend in with Germans

As with any country or culture, there are stereotypes about Germany and Germans. For example, Germans are often associated with a love of soccer, the production of good cars, and directness in personal interactions. Some of this may be true to form. But there are other hidden eccentricities you might want to keep in mind as you build relationships in Germany’s capital. While Berliners cherish their city’s diversity and do not expect you to conform to German culture, an awareness of different cultural expectations will aide your understanding of how you are perceived and guide you in your effort to show respect towards your hosts.

  1. “Du bist zu spät!”(“You are too late!”) Germans are a punctual people. While this isn’t a specifically German trait, many Germans do find tardiness disrespectful. Try to be on time and text or call if you are running late.
  2. “Es ist rot!”(“Observe the red light!”) Jaywalking is frowned upon, even on an empty road. Yes, people do it, but older Germans won’t hesitate to call you out—especially if you do it in front of the children.
  3. “Bitte zieh deine Schuhe aus.” (“Please take off your shoes.”)Germans are fond of Hausschuhe (house shoes). Should you visit Germans at home, it’s likely you’ll be asked to take off your shoes at the door. And, if your host is prepared for guests, he or she will have a pair of Hausschuhe to lend you.
  4. “Bitte trenn deinen Müll.” (“Please separate your trash.”) Germany is far ahead of most other countries when it comes to recycling. Trash is divided into separate bins and failing to divide your paper, plastic, glass, and organic waste is just reckless behavior asking for trouble.
  5. “Ein Wasser, bitte!” (“A water, please!”) When you ask for water in a restaurant, often it will be assumed that you’re asking for sparkling water (Sprudel). Go with the flow and add it to everything you drink. One popular combination is Apfelschorle, sparkling apple juice.
  6. “Lass uns einen Gang machen.” (“Let’s go for a walk.”) Germans enjoy going for long walks on the weekend, often without a destination in mind but simply to go for a stroll in a park or in the countryside. Adopting this cultural habit is highly recommended. You will discover many of Berlin’s countless hidden gems!
  7. “Sonntag ist Ruhetag.” (“Sunday is a day of rest.”) While North Germany is predominantly Protestant, Southern Germany is mainly Catholic. Sunday is a day of rest, which means that shops are closed (except in some of the bigger train stations). While Berliners may organize the occasional dance party or barbecue in the park, making excessive noise in the streets or your apartment building is generally seen as disrespectful.

NYU Berlin at St. Agnes

Dear future NYU Berlin students,

Today I would like to introduce myself and NYU Berlin’s second Academic Center at St. Agnes.

stephanie-berlinMy name is Stefanie and I am the Office Manager at NYU Berlin St. Agnes. Prior to working for NYU Berlin, I held the position of the Visits and Events Coordinator at the British Embassy in Berlin. Before that, I organized courses at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), so I am very familiar with running the day-to-day operations at a university campus.

In my free time, I enjoy being a coach and mentor for a young apprentice and I volunteer with a non-profit organization to support refugees in Berlin. I’m also passionate about art and culture. Therefore, working with NYU students and faculty at St. Agnes is a dream come true. But why is that?

Built in 1967 by German architect Werner Düttmann, the director of urban development for West Berlin, the brutalist style Catholic Church complex of St. Agnes had fallen into disrepair over the years. In 2011, gallerist Johann König acquired it. He then decided to reinvent the neglected heritage-listed space as a gallery and exciting cultural hub. After enlisting architect Arno Brandlhuber, König began a careful renovation and set about transforming the brute into a beauty:

Today the St. Agnes premises not only host the beautiful light-filled König Gallery, the space of the former kindergarten has been converted into the second NYU Berlin Academic Center featuring a large studio with a wooden floor, two seminar rooms, a computer lab, and printing facilities for you to use.

My office is located next to the stairs on the ground floor. Please feel free to come by, even if just to introduce yourself or to get to know me a bit better.

Next to us you can find St. Agnes Cafeteria where they serve delicious coffee, sandwiches, quiches, and other organic treats. Opening hours are Mon-Fri 10:00 am-5:00 pm and Sun 11:00 am-5:00 pm.

I very much look forward to meeting and getting to know you and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have.

Students enrolled or wishing to enroll in the course Topics in German Cinema in Spring 2016

Students enrolled in the class Topics in German Cinema in Spring 2016 with Professor Axel Bangert have the unique opportunity to be accredited for the Berlinale (The Berlin International Film Festival), one of the world’s leading film festivals and the largest publicly attended film festival in the world, taking place in February. The Berlinale will be part of the course program, yet in order to get personalized accreditation participating students need to be registered by December 14th. To register, please send an electronic passport-style photo to Dominik Fungipani (, together with your date of birth, place of birth (city, country) and nationality, as soon as possible.

Meet not one, but two SPCs

Soon you will be wandering the halls of the NYU Berlin Academic Center (AC). There you will encounter a number of people, some of whom you have already read about on this blog. Incidentally, the order in which they wrote to you reflects the order of offices if you go through the AC clockwise. So, following the German instructor’s ever-lively space, you will chance upon the Office of Administration. In there, Senior Program Coordinator Lygia Müller and Special Projects Coordinator Dominik Fungipani are awaiting your visit. Who are these people, you ask? Read on to learn a little bit about them.

Dominik Fungipani

Dominik Fungipani

There will actually be numerous occasions when you can see either one of them. Dominik might in fact be among the first NYU Berlin staffers you will meet, since he will be welcoming everybody who is coming into Tegel Airport on arrival day, January 25. When he is not spending a busy day at the airport, Dominik might be making sure that the NYU violet is consistent on the posters in the building. He is also responsible for coordinating Summer Programs and J-Terms in Berlin. As such, he will have taken care of a group from NYU Abu Dhabi visiting Berlin for three weeks just before your arrival. Summers at NYU Berlin are even busier, as each year in the summer different NYU schools send programs to Berlin. Their duration and the programming of each program vary as much as the city itself.

Lygia Müller

Lygia Müller

Lygia is considered by many to be the person without whom the Academic Center would grind to a halt. Her responsibilities are more numerous than this blog would allow for but suffice it to say that from the selection of furniture to the smooth running of events, she has had at least a hand in it.

Sometimes, you will notice neither one for days, sometimes the two of them seem to all over the AC. You might come into a seminar room and Lygia or Dominik (or, if things get really tricky, both of them) will be there, setting up a piece of equipment, repairing computers, linking printers, connecting microphones, making their form of magic happen.

Lygia and Dominik also share the position of GRI coordinator. The Global Research Institute’s space in Berlin is on the fourth floor of the Academic Center, overlooking the rooftops of Prenzlauer Berg. Up to 11 fellows can stay in the beautiful offices up there to research on their dissertation or faculty project. The fourth floor also hosts conferences and special lectures on some evenings over the semester. These are also occasions for you to come up to the GRI space and get a next-level view of the Kulturbrauerei. At other times, GRI fellows will join you on the first and second floor for lectures and seminars during the day.

No matter in what role you might need either of them, both Lygia and Dominik will be more than happy to help you make the most of your stay in Berlin and are very much looking forward to meeting each and every one of you.


The view (almost) from the terrace on the fourth floor of the Academic Center. Down there you can see the Christmas Market that is just being put up at the time of this writing.

Welcome from Wellness!

Dear future NYU Berlin Students,

Very soon we will welcome you here in Berlin. During your semester here you will learn about your host country’s culture, language, and history in an international context, but also challenge and transform yourself. Berlin is fast and slow at the same time, old and new, reinventing itself as well as its inhabitants at a fast pace. A famous song by Paul Lincke praises the “Berliner Luft” – “Air of Berlin” – as the free spirit you can encounter here. So, hopefully Berlin’s energy will win you over.

As a new Berliner, you will also need to actively reach out and participate in Berlin community life to make new friends within and beyond the university community. Allow yourself the time and the energy that is needed to arrive here and to adjust to the new and unfamiliar culture as well as to the new sides of yourself which you may encounter. Studying abroad, you will develop a whole new skill set and the NYU Berlin staff is here to accompany and support you!

The on-site Wellness Counselor is one of your many resources at NYU Berlin. Those of you coming from NYU New York may know Wellness as the resource on 726 Broadway where one goes for emergencies, for counseling appointments, and for help when things really seem out of place. In Berlin, Wellness is this and much more. While we are, of course, there for you in times of crisis, we understand our offer as starting much earlier emphasizing the importance of prevention. For us Wellness promotes a healthy psychological life style similar to a healthy diet, sufficient exercise, or dental hygiene. It also supports the development of a broader skill set for shared support, guided reflection, and holistic leadership acquisition. Our first Wellness Counselor, Dr. Janice Abarbanel, coined the term “Emotional Passport” – a skill set for recognizing rising anxiety or shifting moods and having healthy capacities to disengage, regroup, and then return to one’s purpose or goals. Students carrying such will be more resilient and more capable in shifting cultures while retaining the capacity to focus on academic success. Once you are here, you will hear a lot more about Wellness support during orientation and how you can access Wellness for a broad range of concerns.

Remember: Studying away is not a journey one takes alone – it’s a guided process and you will be welcomed in Berlin by our enthusiastic staff. Bis bald in Berlin!

Introducing our Wellness Counselor Sara Zeugmann

Sara Zeugmann

I was very happy to join the NYU Berlin team this fall semester. Prior to the position at NYU Berlin, I worked at the Charité – University Hospital in Berlin, Germany, as Head of Clinical Psychology. I specialized in offering English speaking therapy to expats in Berlin in private practice and acted as a supervisor for the German Society of Behavioral Psychotherapy. I am also teaching psychotherapy at different schools and universities. My areas of expertise include the treatment of depression (acute and chronic) as well as bipolar disorders, stress management, anxiety and panic disorders, OCD, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, personality and self-worth problems using CBT, mindfulness-based therapy, schema-therapy and emotionally-focused techniques.

Taking the taboo off mental health is very dear to me. Hence, promoting approachability of our services as well as a healthy life-style is one major goal in my work.

My office is located in The Retreat on the second floor of the NYU Berlin Academic Center. I look forward to meeting and getting to know you. Please feel free to come by my office, even if just to introduce yourself or getting to know me. You can of course also email me or call to make an appointment.

See you soon in Berlin!


Dr. Sara Zeugmann
Clinical Wellness Counselor
NYU Berlin
Schönhauser Allee 36, Haus 2 F
10435 Berlin
+49 (0) 30-290 291001

Meet NYU Berlin’s German Department

Liebe Studenten/innen,

You’re certainly already preparing for your next semester at NYU Berlin, feeling eager and excited! We just want to let you know: We are just as excited and looking forward to meeting you! Right now, we’re planning YOUR German program.

So, who are we? We’re the German Department at NYU Berlin – your language coordinator Denise, eight German language instructors, your language tutors Nadja and Kandice (a former NYU student!), and a few German tandem students. We’re all looking forward to helping you learn or deepen your knowledge of this beautiful and philosophical language.

Hallo und Guten Tag!

Intensive Elementary German with Jessica Menz

Intensive Elementary German with Jessica Menz

The German Program at NYU Berlin stands on two pillars: required German courses on the one hand and a wide range of very helpful and fun additional, facultative language offerings. We offer German courses on all levels, either extensive or intensive. You can take Elementary I & II, Intermediate I & II, Intensive Elementary & Intermediate and post intermediate German language courses. And the courses are really creative, as you can see below!

Learning prepositions:

Learning Prepositions

Olivia, Intensive Elementary German

Intensive Elementary German with Miriam Führer

Intensive Elementary German with Miriam Führer

Learning the body parts:

Learning the Body Parts

Sam, Elementary I German

And these are our additional German language offerings:

Tutorials for German Language Courses
NYU Berlin offers language-tutoring services for all German courses.

German Stammtisch
There’s no better way to improve your everyday German than by engaging with native speakers! German Stammtisch offers not only that, but also the chance to explore some of Berlin’s greatest cafés and restaurants!

What’s the best way to practice your German outside of the classroom? Find a tandem partner and chat, chat, chat!

Conversational Training means:
… talking authentically about topics you are interested in,
… having the possibility to share and deepen your Berlin experience,
… learning how to manage typical daily situations in German.
There’s only one rule: Speaking in English is strictly forbidden!

And here is what our students have to say about our additional offerings:


Kandice’s test tutorials and tutoring sessions are extremely helpful! It’s great having her available for tutoring because we are able ask her questions and get more individualized attention specified around the areas we feel we need help in. It is also great to have different ways to think about/tackle new subjects or rules within the German language or just to ensure that there is clarity with the material covered in class. Test tutorials are extremely helpful because they tie up everything we’ve covered into a few pages and include descriptive examples and exercises that we can use to better assess if we are prepared for the upcoming test. I really recommend using Kandice’s services, even if just to practice. It’s extremely helpful.

– Kyle, Intensive Elementary

German Stammtisch

I love going to Stammtisch. It provides both a place to practice my German and a place to relax with friends, usually over food or drinks. Everyone is very accepting no matter what your German level is, and speaking even just a little German totally boosts your confidence with the language. When I came to Germany I knew VERY little German. Stammtisch has not only helped me learn German, it’s helped me learn German how people actually speak it. It can also be a good way to learn new parts of the city; I know personally I’ve discovered a few new good restaurants through Stammtisch. Overall, I am incredibly pleased with my Stammtisch experience and would suggest it to pretty much everyone planning to come to NYU Berlin.  

– Braden, Intensive Intermediate


Having taken part in the tandem program four times, I have met fascinating and intelligent young people from the U.S. and elsewhere; and have exchanged ideas, interests, knowledge and cultural differences while having a coffee or a beer. I have been very lucky and fortunate to meet and make a very good American friend through this program. When I went to the U.S. last summer and visited NY, I was able to stay with him and his loveable, hospitable and amazing family for a couple of days and experienced the incredible American friendship and hospitality first-hand. This year, he is going to return to Germany with his family and I will have the chance to return that hospitality and friendship, which I’m very excited about!

– Raphael, German Tandem-partner, FU-Student

Once, a professor told me: “The best way to learn a language is to find a lover….” That might take some time to happen, but signing up for the tandem program is  a great way not only to learn and practice German, but also to be introduced to Germany. I signed up spontaneously and somehow hesitantly. However, I quickly realized that this was a unique chance to make my first German friend here in Berlin.

When I went to our first meeting and we introduced each other, my tandem partner was curious to learn which is my home city. Coming from a small town in Bulgaria, I was sure she would never heard about it. But it turned out just the opposite as my tandem partner did her study away semester in a close-by town and has visited my one. It was a great coincidence that gave us a head start of getting to know each other. However, I think the main factor for the success of your tandem experience is being proactive especially in the beginning.  Many of the Germans participating in the program are local students or young people who are busy with both work and studying. Thus, it is important to make that first step and reach out, introduce yourself and initiate the first meeting.

My tandem partner and me meet every few weeks or sometimes even more often if there is an event happening that we are both interested in. I found it really helpful to have this first local acquaintance, as I was very new to Berlin and Germany. Indeed, the tandem program is not only a way to practice language, but also introduces you to the community you are living in. Furthermore, if you want to go beyond the usual touristy experience and explore the hidden places of Berlin, your tandem partner might be your best opportunity to do this.  Signing up for this program is one of the best decisions I have made here. From the beginning of my stay, I felt comfortable knowing that there is a person I could talk to when I need an advice or simply when I wanted to leave the international environment and really immerse myself in the local culture and language. 

– Toma, Intensive Intermediate

Introducing our German Language Instructors
– Interview with Jessica Menz, who teaches “Elementary German”

Jessica, you’re one of the German language instructors at NYU Berlin. What have you studied and how did you come to NYU Berlin?

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at Bayreuth University in English Studies and Intercultural German Studies. Bayreuth is a small college town famous for its annual Richard Wagner opera festival. It was a great place to start off academically. Firstly, because the language department was very small, which made professors very accessible to their students. Secondly, because the program being offered was very innovative, as Bayreuth was among the first universities to adapt to the European reform for higher education (the so-called Bologna process). And lastly, because my studies were very interdisciplinary. My program included classes in English and postcolonial literature, linguistics, cultural studies, philosophy, and computer sciences. Learning a new, modern language and spending one semester abroad (in my case, Spain) was also part of the program. After obtaining my degree, I spent some time in Glasgow, Scotland, working for the Goethe Institute. This experience further motivated me to work in the field of cultural exchange and language mediation.

I then pursued a Master’s degree at Humboldt University, Berlin, in a program with a very long title: German for Foreign Language Teaching. This program, too, required extensive practical experience and made it possible for me to spend one semester in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a student and teaching assistant. I graduated in 2010 and since then have taught German as a foreign language mostly to college students. In 2012, I joined NYU Berlin and was very excited about the opportunity to connect more closely my professional life as a mediator between cultures with my personal background of being half German and half American.

Which level are you currently teaching? How do you organize your course? And what do you like about teaching?

I am currently teaching Elementary I and Intensive Elementary. I like this level because the students’ progress is clearly noticeable in every single lesson. It is amazing how students start off at zero and by the end of the semester can tell me about their lives in German. Ideally, I don’t just teach my students words and structures, but actually the understanding of a different culture and how they can mediate between their own and the new one. I try to show my students how language shapes thinking and vice versa, so sometimes a language lesson can become quite philosophical! I like to implement authentic and current forms of communication in my classes, so we use a lot of media and, for example, reflect on our language learning through a class blog. Certain aspects of German require memorization, so creative and fun methods that cater to different learning types and help students learn the language effectively also play an important role in my classes. What I love about teaching is the interaction with my students and seeing that there is a clear difference between before and after. Of course, my role is the one of the teacher, but every class also teaches me in return in so many different ways. I find teaching to be a very rewarding profession.

Do you have a message to all the new NYU-Berliners? 

I would like to tell all the new NYU-Berliners to open their hearts and minds to the great experience of studying abroad. And, of course, to learning German! It will be lots of fun!

And finally, learning German is fun! Convince yourself:

Ganz viele Grüße aus Berlin
Euer German Department der NYU Berlin!