Berlin field trip

Brandenburg Gate

Joan Coutu (Fine Arts) and James Skidmore (Germanic and Slavic Studies) are organizing a field course to Berlin to take place next Winter Term 2017. We held a similar course in 2010, and it was quite successful, so we’d like to try it again.

Students will be able to register in either FINE 293/393 or GER 298. No knowledge of German is required for this course. We meet for regular classes in the six weeks before the trip discussing a variety of topics related to the city, mostly from a cultural or fine arts perspective, and then spend Reading Week + a few days (17-26 February 2017) in Berlin exploring museums, historical sites, artists’ studios, and other attractions. 

In addition to regular course fees, students also pay a fee ($2595) that covers the cost of airfare, accommodation (a hotel in Berlin) for 9 nights, breakfasts, transfers to and from the Berlin airport, a public transit pass for Berlin, a museum pass for Berlin, and a small fee that helps cover the cost of the instructors’ travel. When the course was held in 2010 this amounted to about $2500; the cost for 2017 will be determined by September 2016.

Students wishing to go on this trip will need to make a firm commitment by September 2016. Until then, we are seeking expressions of interest in the course. To do that, or to get more information, please contact Professor Joan Coutu at or Professor James Skidmore at

Important details

Trip dates:

  • Departure from Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Toronto: evening of Thursday, February 16 Return to Toronto: Sunday, February 26

Cost: $2595

  • includes: flights, airport-hotel transfers, nine nightsaccommodation (double, triple, or quadruple occupancy), all breakfasts, one-week Berlin museum and transport pass (, all taxes.
  • does not include: lunches, dinners, tuition (see "Participants" below), possible day trip out of Berlin, souvenirs, shopping.

Payment schedule:

  • 1st Instalment: $1500 due by Wedneday, October 5. Please submit cheque, payable to Ontario Sarracini Travel, to Sharon Dahmer (ECH 1201) $500 of this payment is a non-refundable deposit.
  • 2nd and Final Instalment: $1095, due by the end of November (precise date to be confirmed).


  • All participants must be UW students or UW employees.
  • All participants must take the course associated with the trip (FINE 293 or 393 or GER 298). There are no pre-requisites for these courses.
  • Students enrolled full-time in Winter 2017 (i.e. already taking at least three courses) will not have to pay additional tuition fees for this course. If you wish to take this as your sixth course you must have a 75% overall average.

Passports & visas:

  • Every participant must have a valid passport. If you are not a Canadian citizen, please determine if you need a visa to enter Germany/EU.


  • Medical insurance: All participants must have extended medical insurance. If you are a UW student and have paid full-time fees, you have appropriate medical insurance for this trip, unless you have opted out. Extended medical insurance can be purchased through our travel agent.
  • Recommendation re: trip cancellation insurance: It is strongly recommended that participants purchase trip cancellation insurance. Forms for such insurance will be sent to prospective participants, and must be completed (and fees paid) at the time of first payment. The $500 non-refundable deposit is not covered by the cancellation insurance. Insurance can be purchased through the travel agent. The insurance costs are in addition to the cost of the trip. The insurance can be added either to the 1st or 2nd instalment.
    • Types of insurance Cost
      Medical only $32
      Cancellation $199
      Deluxe policy (includes cancellation, trip interruption, baggage, full medical) $229 


  • Students can receive course credit in Fine Arts as either FINE 293 (0.5) or FINE 393 (0.5): Fine Arts Abroad, or GER 298: Topics in Cultural Studies
  • The course will consist of several pre-departure classes in January and February, the trip itself, and the assignments. There will be no classes scheduled after our return in February. The pre-departure classes are scheduled (once a week) and will consist of lectures on the visual culture of Berlin, historical and contemporary, and on the concept of tourism. Some of the time will also be devoted to logistics: about what to bring; sorting out roommates; getting to the airport, etc. The pre-departure classes will be the same for students enrolled in either of the courses.
  • Students will enrol in FINE 293, FINE 393, GER 298, depending on their area of interest and academic level. Assignments will consist of brief research reports completed before departure, responses to those reports done on site, and an elaborate journal submitted upon return to Waterloo. Details to follow in January, 2017.
  • For students taking the course as a FINE course: it can be recognized as a studio, art history, or visual culture course.

Further details:

  • A note on touring: Based upon past experience, we know that it is very hard, and often impossible (legal issues) for us to lecture on site. It is also difficult to guide many people through the streets of a city. Consequently, we have devised a plan whereby students will be informed of where the instructors will be each morning and each afternoon, and it is expected that the students will meet up with the instructors at various sites several times throughout the trip. This way the instructor can do mini, unobtrusive tours or be on hand to answer questions. We have used this format very successfully in the past. (The time in class before we depart is thus critical preparation, both academically and logistically, for the trip.) Students can accompany the instructor to a site, although we encourage students to find sites on their own with a student buddy. This way, students have a much better understanding of the city. We will also be having breakfast together so students can confer with instructors at that point. The instructors can also be contacted at their hotel rooms or by cell phone at any time.
  • A note on rooms: the rate is based on multiple occupancy. If you would like a single room, there will be a surcharge. Recommended guide book: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Berlin (c. $30.00)
  • A note on enrollment: Winter term enrollment begins on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Since we will not know until October 5the date the first deposit is dueif the trip is going to run (it depends on the number of participants), we suggest you enroll in five other courses (i.e. other than FINE 293, 393 or GER 298) for the Winter term. If the course trip does run, we will swap out one of the courses for FINE 293, 393 or GER 298. You will not be able to enroll in FINE 293, 393 or GER 298 on your own we will block enroll all participants.
  • Tour of artistsstudios: if enough students are interested, we will arrange a tour of some artistsstudios in Berlin.