Ready to tour Germany for free (well, mostly free)?
Well, of course you are!
Check out the Transatlantic Outreach Program – also widely known as “T.O.P.”
It’s one of many field trips by the Goethe Institute.
T.O.P. for Teachers
This really the only program that allows you to tour Germany for free.
(Or rather, almost free. There are some costs involved, though they’re minimal!)
T.O.P. (also known as the Transatlantic Outreach Program), has a ton of opportunities and resources available for teachers.
But in this post, we’re going to specifically focus on TOP Study Tours.
Study Tour for Teachers
Because T.O.P. allows teachers to tour Germany for free (or rather, almost free!), this program is very popular. And as such, it’s also highly competitive.
So, it’s good to know exactly what it entails, to know what the requirements are, and to ensure that you truly are eligible.
Tours are two weeks in length, and they take place during the summer months.
When you apply, be sure to note the dates of the program you’re applying for. They should be listed up at the top of the application form.
Participants visit historic sites, discuss issues in German history, and really explore the culture holistically.
Though the specific topics covered vary each year depending on participants’ interests, the emphasis will generally be on contemporary German issues.
This includes topics relating to German politics, traditional education, vocational education, economy, culture, migration and integration, and environmental sustainability.
Additional themes include the lasting impact of the Holocaust, German unification, and European integration.
The TOP study tours are designed “to provide a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective of contemporary Germany.”
The ideal applicant would meet the qualifications listed below, and show a sincere interest in German culture and history.
They’d also demonstrate a willingness and enthusiasm to share what they’ve learned with others upon their return, as that’s a large component of this program.
Knowledge of the German language is helpful, but not required.
This would be especially helpful for history and social studies teachers who want a deeper understanding of World War II, and it’s global consequences.
To improve your chances of being selected to participate, lead a TOP professional development workshop. You can learn more about that here.
Though the costs to participate in this program are minimal, there are still some requirements for participants.
Since it’s an educational study tour, teachers need to be ready to participate the entire time. They’ll encounter full days of learning, and they might be physically exhausted at the end of the day due to the full daily schedule.
Here are the qualifications to participate in this program:
- Teachers employed in the United States or Canada
- Educators who teach social studies, STEM, general education (for elementary) or university method courses are welcome to apply. Certain curriculum authors, and particular Department of Education employees may also be eligible.
Preferred Applicant Traits & Skills
While these aren’t qualifications, these are their preferences when screening applicants:
- Teachers in history, social studies, and/or STEM
- An interest in German culture and history
- A willingness to lead teacher trainings and professional development about German culture and history, in home district
- TOP Workshop Leaders have preferred status
T.O.P. covers all major expenses.
This includes lodging and most meals for this particular program.
They provide high-quality instruction, and support to help teachers who want to lead professional development trainings in their home districts.
This amazing opportunity does come with some responsibilities.
- You must be teachable, and willing to take on the role of a student throughout the duration of the program
- There is very little free time. If you apply, it’s important to ensure that you’ll like the schedule, because that is all you’ll have time for
- Ensure you complete all of the pre-departure tasks. Watch all of the webinars. Read all of the given literature.
- Upon returning, all participants are required to author an original unit using the C3 Framework
Whether or not you can add days on to your itinerary depends on their partner requirements for that year (since that’s who’s paying for the flight!).
If you know you’ll be staying later or arriving earlier,
This program is attractive because most expenses are covered.
- Most international and domestic transportation (flights)
- Hotel accommodations
- Two meals per day, usually breakfast and dinner
- Any mandatory study expenses (i.e. museum entry fees, day tour fees)
T.O.P. does not cover:
- Airline baggage fees
- Transportation fees in Washington D.C., during the orientation
- Passport/visa renewal fees
- Incidental hotel costs (i.e. phone calls, video rentals, minibar)
- The third meal (you’ll want to budget for that)
T.O.P. strongly recommends that all participants budget at least $400 USD for their two-week study tour.
Note that a refundable deposit is required.
As of 2020, participants must submit a refundable deposit of $350.00.
Dates and Deadlines
Their application deadline is usually around the end of January.
Be sure to bookmark this page, so you can apply once it’s open!
Upcoming Program Dates
Summer dates for 2021 have yet to be announced.
Planning Your Trip to Germany?
Be sure to setup some day tours when you’re in Berlin!
Start your search for things to do and things to see here.
Heading to Germany on your own?
Be sure to get a tour!
Between World War II, all of the castles, the beautiful scenery and beer, there’s a lot to see!
In fact, there’s so much history and culture to take in, that it can be a lot to do on your own.
If you base yourself in beautiful Munich (the gateway to Bavaria and the Alps!), start your tour search here.
Looking for something else?
Consider these other articles and opportunities.
Blogs About Free Travel & Amazing Places
- Why Every Teacher Should Plan a Trip to Finland
- How to Travel for Free Using Travel Rewards Credit Cards
- How American Teachers Can Travel for Free
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Looking for something else?
Explore all of the other teacher travel programs listed here.