Berlin, Germany Spring 2020

Berlin picture

                  This is a WCCCSA program. For how to start the application, please refer to “How to Apply” page.

Depart the US: Thursday, March 26, 2020

Arrive Berlin: Friday, March 27, 2020

Depart Berlin: Friday June 5, 2020

Deadline to apply

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

                                                                                                   (Early Bird deadline: save $100 from the program fee)

Friday, December 17, 2019

(for students wishing to purchase the group flight)

Friday, January 10, 2020

(for students wishing to make their own flight arrangements)


Your program fee for the Berlin Spring 2020 Study Abroad Program: $7,695

Your program fee includes:

  • student housing in twin-bedded studios in a centrally–located apart-hotel on a bed and breakfast basis. Each studio will have two single beds, a desk, an en-suite bathroom, a TV and a kitchenette. Bed linens, towels and wireless internet will be provided;
  • travel pass for unlimited use on the buses, trams, S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains in zones A and B (and C as necessary);
  • orientation program on-site in Berlin including an orientation meeting with AIFS staff, information packet, a guided half-day city tour and a welcome meal;
  • German Life and Culture course, taught by local qualified guest lecturers focusing on historical, political, economic and cultural aspects of Berlin and Germany;
  • weekly program of free and subsidized cultural activities such as a “Kaffee und Kuchen” boat cruise along the River Spree opera tickets, a sporting event, museum visits, a street art workshop and walking tour;,
  • guided tour of the Reichstag;
  • full-day guided excursion to Potsdam including entrance to the Cecilienhof Palace with guided tour on the theme of “The Potsdam Conference and the Berlin Wall,” and admission to Sansoucci Palace with guided tour;
  • half-day excursion to the Memorial and Museum of Sachsenhausen including entrance and private group tour;
  • the services of the AIFS Program Coordinator for information, personal advising/counseling and 24-hour emergency contact service;
  • medical and program fee refund insurance policies;

Students will enroll for 15 credits to include the mandatory German Life and Culture course taught by a local guest lecturer, focusing on historical, political, economic and cultural aspects of Berlin and Germany. The other two courses ( 10 credits total) will be taught by a Washington community college faculty who travels with the group to Berlin.

Your program fee doesn’t include

  • 250 refundable damage deposit;
  • community college tuition;
  • textbooks;
  • optional three-day, two-night excursion to Prague including round- trip, standard class train travel and centrally located accommodations in twin or triple-bedded rooms with daily breakfast, guided walking tour of historical Prague and the Jewish Quarter and a traditional Czech group dinner, a travel pass for unlimited use on city buses, trams, subways, and funiculars in city center for $495 (a minimum of 10 must enroll for the trip to run);
  • passport and visa fees if applicable;
  • field trips or excursions required by your instructors;
  • local or independent travel while in Berlin;
  • personal expenses such as laundry;


Optional Prague excursion

An optional 3-day, 2-night excursion to Prague is available, including round-trip train tickets, accommodation in a centrally located hostel in multi-bedded rooms with daily breakfast, guided walking tour of Prague with entrance to Prague Castle, Jewish Quarter walking tour and traditional Czech group dinner for $495. A minimum of 10 students must participate for the excursion to be offered.

Primary faculty: Ben Kohn

Faculty bio

Ben Kohn’s scholarly training and personal enthusiasms have resulted in his applying an interdisciplinary approach to all of his courses. So you can expect a discussion of painting in his music class and a discussion of architecture in his film class! Ben pursued his graduate studies at the University of Washington in the field of Comparative Literature, with an emphasis in German, American, Russian, and Danish Literature, as well as literary and critical theory. He also studied the classical violin for over 20 years, receiving training at The Vancouver Academy of Music, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and Det Fynske Musikkonservatorium, Odense, Denmark. He is currently a professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Department of World Languages at Whatcom Community College, where he teaches humanities, interdisciplinary studies, music, film studies, and German language courses. His most recent research interests include human evolution and the origins of symbolic representation, German Expressionist everything, the art of propaganda, bird song in science, literature and music, and perfecting his version of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Ben has previously taught for WCCCSA in Florence, Italy, and Berlin, Germany. He is looking forward to building on his previous experience through new additions to an already dynamic program studying Berlin’s rich musical and cinematic traditions, as well as the city’s cutting edge contemporary scenes. As a student, Ben attended study abroad programs in Germany, Austria, France, and the former Soviet Union, so he recognizes that such cultural experiences offer the possibility of great intellectual and personal transformation. Ben’s explorations with his students will provide many opportunities for such transformations.

Course Description:

Film 101: Introduction to Film

Next to Hollywood, Germany has been home to one of the most influential and important film industries in the world. Indeed, during the 1920s and early 1930s, it was the undisputed center of cinematic creativity and quality. At the center of this center was Berlin, or more specifically, a studio on the outskirts of Berlin in Babelsberg. Babelsberg was a government-supported studio complex (which we will visit!) that was designed to advance German filmmaking before and during WWII and East German filmmaking after the war. While German filmmakers developed numerous technical innovations here, their most essential achievement was the development of cinema as an art, transcending its role as a provider of novelty and entertainment. As we will be examining film as art, we can easily use German films and film clips almost exclusively to illustrate in detail the technical elements of film (form, narrative structure, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, sound), as well as investigate how films can make us see, then feel and think differently.

Additionally, films often reveal aspects of national or regional culture and can also reflect back to us certain situations around certain moments in time (Zeitgeist!). They most definitely present how filmmakers see their own culture and how they want us to see their own culture. Thus, they can provide us with great insight into the historical and contemporary culture of Germany and in particular the city of Berlin. The films that we will see in their entirety, and the films which you will be required to analyze in detail, will all be by German directors. They will cover several genres and will even include an East German Western infused by communist ideology. Guess who rides off into the sunset!

Music 105 – Music Appreciation

Which composer got into a knife fight with a bassoonist because he played too many wrong notes? Which composer spent 3 ½ years on tour starting at the age of seven? Which composer’s final work was dictated to him by angelic-voiced spirits? Which composer considered his audience a congregation and started the practice of extinguishing the lights in theaters and concert halls? Which composer wrote songs extolling the virtues of gangsters (no, not Snoop Dogg!) that have been performed in both the most gilded opera houses and the sleaziest bars? These colorful characters were J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, and Kurt Weill – all of whom were German-speaking composers with close connections to Berlin!

This course will explore the extremely varied and rich history of Western art or composed music, popularly and somewhat inaccurately (our first discussion!) referred to as the “Western Classical Tradition.” Because we are lucky enough to be situated in Berlin, we will focus most intensely on the musical contributions of the composers and performers of this region. Actually, this would probably be the case if you were to take an introductory musicology course anywhere in the world, especially if you were discussing the music of the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries. What is even more exciting is that we will be in the most musically innovative, dynamic, and vibrant city on the face of the planet at the very moment it is exploding with all kinds of new sounds! As genre boundaries are constantly being blurred in this contemporary music, we will necessarily undertake some Jazz and World Music studies, as well as some informal investigations of House, Techno, and Trance sounds. I will arrange for the class to attend numerous concerts of music throughout the quarter. All of these concerts will be preceded by scholarly preparation and will require the writing of musical reviews after the performance. Therefore, while the course will be much more about music as a socio-cultural phenomenon throughout history than a course on music theory, you will be required to become familiar with some critical vocabulary and basic elements of this music for the purposes of analysis. But do not despair – Berlin offers the possibility of becoming profoundly educated in matters of music while at the same time having a lot of fun!


Last Updated May 14, 2019