As soon as I was on the plane, I knew that my stay in Berkeley was going to be something special. Studying for a summer at one of the best business schools in America, and that in California too – it hardly gets any better!
When I arrived in Berkeley, I first had to look for my accommodation – the Residence Halls. The Residence Halls are the “main student dormitories” of UC Berkeley. During the summer months, many international students live here, mostly in double or triple rooms. I shared my room with a student from China. It wasn’t that easy, because her daily routine was completely different from mine: eating and studying was done at night, and mostly slept during the day. Nevertheless, it was interesting to get to know a culture that is quite different from the German one.
A good 80% Asians lived in the Residence Halls and they mostly stayed to themselves.
In the first few hours, however, I got to know an incredible number of great people who came from all over the world. The number of Germans here was rather small and so it practically happened on its own that you had to speak English all the time.
When I stood at the top of the mountain above the university a few days later and watched the sunset over the Bay Area, I was sure that the summer in Berkeley would be the best of my life so far.
I can only recommend the – admittedly somewhat strenuous – climb up the mountain! From up there you have a view over Berkeley and Oakland, all the way to San Francisco.
Berkeley itself is a pretty small town, shaped mainly by the university. There are a few shops and small supermarkets, in most shops you can buy “fan articles” from the university. You see more homeless people than in Germany and I would definitely avoid People’s Park at night, but it really wasn’t as bad as I imagined. The homeless either stayed to themselves or were friendly. None of us were begged or harassed.
There aren’t really many options for going out in Berkeley: there are the Pappys and the Kips, both typical American student bars and well-stocked on the weekends. One or the other party could be celebrated here. An alternative to the bars were the “American pie-like” fraternity parties. In all honesty, you really have to experience it once! At some parties, however, it was really the case that you had to say at the door who you were invited by and only allowed to the party if you really knew someone from the Frat.
During the week, the evening was mostly characterized by homework. I took a finance course and a sports course. The Finance course was challenging as it was not a basic course. The professor tried hard to convey the content to all students, but the homework was always incredibly time-consuming. A second business course would not have been possible in terms of time:
The sports course, on the other hand, was great. In the end we were only 8 people, but the trainer kept motivating everyone anew and so everyone could really improve in the 6 weeks. Check act-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
In general, sport is very important at UC Berkeley. The university has a great fitness center, the RSF. All kinds of equipment and sports equipment are available here and with a price of 10 dollars, membership is really cheap. You can also use the swimming pool, Strawberry Canyon Pool.
If you have a little time to spare between all the lectures and homework, then a visit to the fitness center is really worthwhile, because the food in the canteen, Crossroads, was really good and far better than expected. From burgers to hot dogs to brownies, cookies and frozen yogurt, everything was incredibly American. But there was also a large salad bar and you really have to try the pizza! For students who live in the Residence Halls, a so-called “Meal Plan” is included in the price of accommodation. Then you have a number of points with which you can pay in the cafeteria. In the end, each of us had a pretty large number of points left, We could then redeem them in the university’s own supermarket “Golden Bear” and stock up on snacks and drinks for the return journey. The prices in the normal supermarket were, however, more expensive than in Germany, water (4l) cost about $ 3, shower gel, for example, $ 5 or §6! But you definitely have to try all the American chocolate items!
Since Berkely itself, as already mentioned, is rather small, we often use the BART, especially on the weekends, to drive to San Francisco downtown. You can be there in less than 30 minutes and it costs around $ 8. With the student ID and thus “free” you can also take the bus, line F, to San Francisco. It takes a little longer, but it’s also a great experience. The bus drives over the Bay Bridge into the city and the view is great! In San Francisco, Union Square is great for shopping, but Pier 39 and Lombard Street are also a must-see. The Golden Gate Bridge, however, is a good distance from the city center – hardly feasible on foot, here you can either rent a bike and ride along the bank, or you can simply cross the bridge with a sightseeing bus.
All in all, I can really only say that the summer in Berkeley was unforgettable and that I am currently planning my next stay – according to the motto “Back to Berkeley”!