Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

International News | February 28, 2021

Scroll to top


Subject Immersion: Semester-long Programs in Beijing & Berlin

Subject Immersion: Semester-long Programs in Beijing & Berlin

Resize Text   -  A  +
| On 14, Mar 2018

CU Denver Students Deepen Knowledge Through Study Abroad

Have you ever wanted to immerse yourself in a subject and truly learn it from the inside-out? Through two University of Colorado Denver semester-long study abroad programs, you can dive deeply into faculty-led program studies in communication, business, economics, environmental science, and political science; or sociology and refugee migration, and global climate change. Located in two of the most innovative cities in the world, Beijing and Berlin, students live, study, and explore in leading edge centers where design, business development, and social changes are taking place.


“My world view was expanded; when I returned from China, I found myself thinking about the 1.3 billion more people on the other side of the world, who are all learning and producing to realize their own dreams for the future,” said Jacob Clark, an alumnus of the Semester in Beijing program. Clark is working in Shenyang, China, for Dr. Yong Zhao to bring product oriented learning to public Chinese schools.

Studying abroad in China equals a unique opportunity to explore one of the world’s most populous countries. Award-winning modern architecture rises adjacent to classically built Asian structures in the capital city of Beijing. In January, 2017, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the 13th Five-Year Plan for Energy Development, a guideline for promoting an “energy revolution” in the nation. (Source: China Business Review.) China’s economy continued its steady expansion; 7.35 million new jobs were created in China’s urban areas from January to June in 2017. (Source: XinHua Net)

“I’m a mechanical design engineer with Tesla in California, working specifically on Tesla Energy projects towards sustainable grid architecture,” explained Logan Thompson, an alumnus of the Semester in Beijing program. “I would argue that much more than international contacts, studying abroad develops international perspective.”

Thompson received an academic merit scholarship from CU Denver for his China program, however, he commented that he would have taken part in it “with or without a scholarship.” The scholarship helped to “ease the concerns of my parents and family, both by helping me pay my way but also by showing that the program was going to be invested in its students and in the success of the program itself.”

Transformative academic and lifetime experiences take place for many students through the Semester in Beijing program. More than 60 CU Denver for-credit courses are offered at the campus of International College Beijing, which is a joint program between China Agricultural University and the University of Colorado Denver. Classes are taught in English, and Chinese language instruction is available. American and Chinese students learn alongside each other in the classroom, giving students the opportunity to understand different viewpoints, create lasting friendships, and develop global contacts.

“Every member of the Global Education: Study Abroad team is not only knowledgeable about study abroad offerings and processes, but also enthusiastic about supporting students as they plan and prepare for a unique study abroad learning experience,” explained Diego Garcia, Director, Global Education: Study Abroad.

Students may stay for a semester, a year, or longer, as they take classes that fulfill elective or major credits. Many are surprised to discover that studying abroad is “within your reach” financially, too. A variety of study abroad scholarships are offered, which can significantly reduce costs.

“The study abroad team at CU Denver was amazing,” commented Clark. “They were so on top of the logistics; they especially pulled through when I decided to turn my one-semester trip into a two-year stay.” He added, “I received a scholarship for all of the four semesters I stayed in China; I felt like I had everyone’s full support.”

“Study abroad is the academic version of coached sports – you push yourself as hard as you can to grow and build,” said Thompson. “When you are truly defeated and tired, you have coaches, mentors to fall back on and rejuvenate and learn from, so that you might refresh and start again.”

Both graduates recommended that other students explore the rich rewards gained from studying abroad.

“Do it; don’t try to resolve every question and concern,” advised Thompson. “Use study abroad as a platform to step forward into a mix of questions and answers, excitement and apprehension, knowing that the structure of the study abroad program will let you strain and grow but never fully fail or get abandoned while out on a personal journey.”


Once at the frontline of a deeply divided world, today Berlin has emerged as an open and diverse metropolis. Berlin is at the forefront of tackling some of the most pressing challenges of modern times, including global climate change and the displacements of peoples worldwide.

The semester-long program in Berlin, Bridging Cultural Divides, is distinguished by its interdisciplinary research perspective, which provides students with real-world experience surrounding complex global problems. The renowned Ecologic Institute (EI), an environmental “think-tank”, partners with the University of Colorado Denver in program development. Students have opportunities to complete an internship with the EI or one of the institute’s local partners.

Internships in Berlin improve students’ practical as well as research skills. An example internship is through Atlantic Future, an ambitious three-year research project financed by the European Commission that involves several of the top universities and research institutes in Europe. Another organization providing internship opportunities is Unionhilfswerk, which connects students with projects that help displaced families at refugee centers.

“My major is international studies and there are many different sectors that a student can move towards professionally – government, non-profit, private businesses,” said Felita Reed, an alumna of the semester-long Berlin program. “The program helped me to narrow down the sector I would like to enter after graduating, and I received hands-on experience in my chosen professional field while interning.”

Courses at the Ecologic Institute do not follow the typical lecture hall format – and students report enjoying the break from the norm. Classes are small, discussion-based, interactive, and feature presentations by guest speakers experienced in their fields. The intimate and engaging nature of the courses allows students to explore issues in depth, exchange ideas, and develop solutions.

“The most important thing that American and international students learn from each other by engaging in study abroad programs are the soft skills that come from communicating over cultural lines,” explained Reed. “They learn skills such as verbal and non-verbal communication, conflict resolution, and creative thinking; it’s very important for personal growth.”

Reed noted that once she had decided to investigate study abroad programs, she set up an appointment with a study abroad advisor. She advises students to “research, research, research” – and do this early on. “You need to make sure you have your finances in order, passport ready, visa (if applicable) ready, and, in my case, someone willing to watch my dog for three months!”

Fast forward to ten years from now – what would students like to see happening in study abroad education?

“In ten years from now, I’d like to see obsolete education models being replaced with better ones that operate in a global context,” said Clark. “Study abroad programs can play a key role in making that happen. I’d like to see more study abroad programs bringing international students together to solve local issues and bring tangible benefits to local communities.”

Reed would like to see greater numbers of students studying abroad. “Being able to study abroad Is a very foreign idea to many students because they think it’s out of their reach, that it’s too expensive, that there’s too much work involved,” she said. “It’s actually very attainable.”

“These semester-long programs provide an immersive environment that empowers students with a richer understanding of what it means to conduct business, teach, and work in organizations on a global scale,” concluded Garcia. “They emerge with enhanced skills that position them well for today’s global economy; they also are more aware as global citizens in a diverse society.”

Learn more

Global Education: Study Abroad

Semester in Beijing: China

Bridging Global Divides: Berline
(Semester program starts in Spring 2019)