I did two summer sessions in California this summer. Even during preparation, I couldn’t decide between UC LA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego or San Diego State University.
On the one hand I wanted to experience the “real” California with summer, sun, beach and surfing, on the other hand, with UC Berkeley, I also didn’t want to do without the name of one of the best universities on my CV. After a lot of back and forth, after studying a number of testimonials and thanks to the great help from Annika, my friend and I finally decided to do a 6-week summer session in Berkeley and then a 6-week summer session in San Diego. This field report is about our first stop – UC Berkeley.
We lived in Berkeley in the Coops – which is the equivalent of a self-managed college dorm. The Berkeley Student Cooperative manages multiple houses and student dormitories. We stayed in “Rochdale”, one of the larger complexes, in a super central location. We were lucky that our apartment was on the top floor with a roof terrace and a view over Berkeley. Basically, the Coops are probably the cheapest option to live in Berkeley during a summer session. However, you shouldn’t expect too much from the standard of the Coops. Most of the furniture for our apartment was collected from the “free pile”. Whenever someone had pieces of furniture that he no longer needed he put them on the big pile in the courtyard of the apartment complex and other students could help themselves free of charge. When we moved into our apartment there was a sofa that was marked by a few burn holes – you shouldn’t let that bother you in the Coops either. A short visit to Ikea, the purchase of a few blankets and homely accessories made our apartment homely in no time at all. It is also important to know that you have to bring your own bed linen, covers, pillows, etc. with you or buy them on site. Otherwise, I really enjoyed life in the Coops. Everyone was happy to help everyone, there were welcome events for the new residents, everything was managed by the students themselves. The spirit in the Coops was very special back then – you weren’t just part of this student residence complex as a short-term resident. You also had to work a total of 3 hours for the Coop. Check jibin123 to see more reviews from current students.
About the university: The campus is really something very special. Just like the huge library or the parking lot signs that reserve certain parking spaces on campus only for Nobel Prize winners. From the first minute you realize that you are studying here at one of the best universities in the world. The process in summer was very well organized. The Summer Session Office and the International Office each had a “Welcome Reception” with drinks, sandwiches and the most important information. Man was really well prepared for the many international students who did their summer session here during the summer. Everything was perfectly organized. However, we also learned during these first two events that we shouldn’t think we came here to party at one of the best universities in the USA. There were parties later, of course, several times a week – only you often had to pay for that with night shifts. The workload of the courses was by no means to be underestimated. I would not advise anyone to take more than two courses. Two courses are a tolerable, reasonable amount of the ceiling. So when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to choose a slightly easier and normal course. In both of my courses (Foundations of New Media and Foundations of Digital Photography) the proportion of Americans was around 75 percent and the proportion of regular Berkeley students around 60%. So my fear that I might just sit here with other guest students have not come true. In both of my courses (Foundations of New Media and Foundations of Digital Photography) the proportion of Americans was around 75 percent and the proportion of regular Berkeley students around 60%. So my fear that I might just sit here with other guest students have not come true. In both of my courses (Foundations of New Media and Foundations of Digital Photography) the proportion of Americans was around 75 percent and the proportion of regular Berkeley students around 60%. So my fear that I might just sit here with other guest students have not come true.
In addition to the university, social life mostly took place around the iHouse and Unit 2 of the Residence Halls (including the good “Crossroads” cafeteria). Most of our friends (Germany, Finland, France, India, USA) lived in Unit 2. In principle, this variant is significantly more expensive (you have to buy mealpoints, which are often left over in the end) but also more recommendable for all of them Complete the summer session alone because you come into contact with other students much faster in the Residence Halls as well as in the iHouse and because social life takes place there, excursions are organized etc …
In conclusion, I can say that my summer session at UC Berkeley is one of the best part of my studies. I improved my English, got to know a lot of new people and made friends and studied at one of the best universities in the USA. Regarding the city of Berkeley, it remains to be said that it is a small student town that you can still see the formative character of the hippie movement. Although the city is so small, you never get bored in Berkeley – thanks to the university, thanks to all the international friends there and thanks to San Francisco. The metropolis of the BayArea is only about 35 minutes away on the other side of the bay by bus, which is free for students. For a few dollars you can also use the BART, the Bay Area’s subway or suburban train system, and get to downtown SF even faster. You really don’t need a car in Berkeley / SF due to the atypically well developed local public transport system for the USA. Thanks to BART and the bus, half of those who study in Berkeley are always somehow in San Francisco.
After the summer session at UC Berkeley I went to San Diego. My conclusion: North Cal and South Cal are really as different as North and South Germany like Bremen and Munich. If the Bay Area had the summer weather of South Cal instead of its 20 degree cold summer days, it would be the absolutely perfect city to study. So I said goodbye to Berkeley with a heavy heart, but I was still looking forward to the warm California weather, the beaches and surfing in San Diego.