"Studying abroad is one of the best things you could do in college, so if you have the time and resources don't hesitate to do it! If you can, stay with a homestay because it will help you so much with learning the language and getting accustomed with the culture."
I grew up internationally between California and Beijing, attending international school for a large part of my education. Being exposed to different countries and cultures was a part of my upbringing, and I craved to continue that experience in college. I went to Spain to solidify my Spanish conversation skills, and Germany to get in touch with the German part of my identity!
I was part of a diverse group of friends through a conversation group I participated in. The most interesting cultural experience I had was when my Syrian and Afghan friends hosted dinner parties and cooked their national dishes for the group.
One morning, I went outside to get my laundry (my host family typically hung clothes outside in their garden to dry them). The door closed behind me, and I got locked out of my house with no phone or money. I subsequently stripped in my front yard to put on newly dried clothing and hopping the fence outside, took the subway illegally (didn't have my transit pass) to find my friend who I was originally going to meet at a museum. I asked random people on the street if they'd seen her, walked around somewhat aimlessly for several hours (but had some fun times at a bookstore), and finally somehow made it to school to borrow money for food, a phone to text my host mom, and a book to do my presentation which was due the next day.
It would be impossible to describe a typical day because each day was so different and I barely had a routine. I try to summarize some of my adventures by going through a pseudo-day here:
I took coursework in German, Psychology (about totalitarianism), Sociology (about migration), and History (European diplomacy). My courses met once a week for 2.5 hours, besides German, which was 3 hours twice a week. The workload was considerably lighter than a Berkeley semester, and I ended up completing most of my assignments during long commutes (since Berlin is a big city and I traveled a lot on the weekends).
Getting to know the migrant populations of Berlin and their stories, in conjunction with learning critical migration theory in a course; traveling (especially solo traveling) in a cheap and convenient way throughout Europe; having free time to explore the various, endless facets of Berlin
Studying abroad has made me a more open-minded, flexible, chill person. Now that I'm back on campus, I'm constantly seeking experiences akin to those I had when I was abroad — engaging in activities that stimulated me, prioritizing new foods/cultures/people, not being too stressed, etc.
Studying abroad is one of the best things you could do in college, so if you have the time and resources don't hesitate to do it! If you can, stay with a homestay because it will help you so much with learning the language and getting accustomed with the culture. For my program specifically, I would recommend doing some research into activities you can do to further integrate into the city (since the classes you take are only among exchange students, and university in Germany is not seen as the center of your life as it is in the US).