University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration, economics
Study type: Summer Sessions
I’m Christian, I’m actually studying economics for a master’s degree at the University of Cologne, I’m 26 years old and was at the famous UCB for the summer session in the summer, whereby I spent a total of four months from my arrival in mid-May to my return flight in mid-May spent September in the United States. Visit jibin123.com to get information about Semester Abroad In California State University San Marcos.
My motivation for the stay in California was to have an academic experience abroad and to combine that with my dream of California, whereby I primarily wanted to get to know the American study and, above all, life reality. MicroEdu offered me an unbureaucratic opportunity to do this via the summer session in Berkeley, even if it meant that I had to slim down my entitlement to spend half a year abroad. I was previously very interested in a semester abroad or an ERASMUS semester, although the bureaucratic hurdles combined with the time pressure associated with my studies always stood in the way.
But now I want to get down to business, and that is how I spent my time in the States.
I studied the entire 12-week length of the Summer Session, taking a six-week course and an eight-week course that only overlapped in two weeks. So I came up with the necessary number of credits for the student visa and was able to distribute the workload very well. Some of the people who had two courses in six or eight weeks groaned a lot under the workload. Especially if, like me, you want to go on a lot of excursions and want to see a lot, I can only recommend my model, because not only is stress reduced, but the bottom line is probably better grades.
I took the courses “Financial Markets and Institutions” and “Urban Economics”; I can wholeheartedly recommend both courses. The first course gives a theoretical overview of the entire financial world, but primarily from an American perspective, and is very extensive in terms of material, although the material itself is not too difficult. It is above all the volume of the material that is reflected here as a difficulty in itself. In any case, I find the course very instructive, from a technical as well as general educational point of view.
The second course was held by a very young graduate student who was almost over-motivated. But that only added to the quality of the course. This course was also very instructive. In addition to the content of both courses, I found the way of teaching to be very informative, as the students are given more guidance and numerous incentives are given to achieve good results during the semester. In my second course, for example, the grade is made up of six different partial performances. These were midterm exam (25%), final exam (25%), home assignments (20%), essay (10%), debate (10%) and attendance and participation (10%).
From a pedagogical perspective, I liked the structure of the events much better than I know from Germany, even though the students are less encouraged to be independent. The study conditions on campus are excellent and the building/library is quite impressive. However, there are also less beautiful rooms that still meet modern standards. Around and on the campus there are a variety of leisure activities, supply options, etc. What we may not know from Germany: In Berkeley there are also special student offers, but it is not the case that the food in the canteen, travel offers for students, etc. are particularly cheap.
In contrast to most of my European fellow students, I preferred to look for my own accommodation in San Francisco instead of staying at the International House because it was important to me to live there and to experience everyday life up close.
I lived with other international students in a private home in Sunset, Southwest San Francisco, just a few miles from the Pacific. I found the offer on craiglist. I was able to move into my room just two days after my arrival in the Bay Area. So I was very quickly successful in finding an apartment. The rental prices in San Francisco and the entire Bay Area are very salty, my monthly rent was 690 dollars all inclusive. Calculated per night, the International House itself, including meals, is much more expensive. With the residents of the International House, where I was a guest a few times, I had more of the feeling of a party holiday atmosphere, which is perfectly fine and, given the many different nations, is a lot of fun. But as I said,
Although I had to travel about 1.5 hours by public transport to the university every day, I was always able to work off my always high reading and learning workload. Unfortunately, public transport is often very unreliable, although apart from one strike, which suddenly filled my bus across the Bay enormously, I was mostly lucky and found the streetcars in San Francisco and the AC Transit Transbay bus to be the most reliable means of transport was instructed. Incidentally, the latter is fully covered by your student ID. In San Francisco I always buy a monthly ticket, which at 66 dollars, i.e. 50 euros, is absolutely within the European range, especially since you can also use the otherwise very expensive and legendary cable cars, which are very expensive due to the long waiting times and slow movement.
I’ve almost always cooked for myself when I’ve been to San Francisco. The food prices are not so cheap with the exception of (beef) meat. But if you know the right shops and pay attention to what is on offer, you can eat at a price comparable to that in Germany.
The Bay and San Francisco are of course some absolutely picturesque and beautiful spots on our planet. On the other hand, I don’t want to hide the fact that the extent of the poverty and failed fates surprised me negatively because I didn’t expect it to be that bad. This is particularly evident in downtown San Francisco, which is after all a tourist area and the third most important financial center in the USA.
You should also not get confused about the climate, because sunglasses and a windproof jacket are part of the basic equipment of the Bay Area traveler, because the sun shines very often, but often with a stiff breeze. Especially in San Francisco and near the coast it was always fresh. In Berkeley, 2 to 5 degrees more can always be expected. Especially in the avoidable high summer month of July, the weather in San Francisco was almost autumnal, with a lot of fog and temperatures mostly around 15 degrees, sometimes colder. In my first week in May there was cloudless(!) sunshine for the whole week and even in late summer like September the weather in San Francisco is much better.
I have also made many trips to San Francisco and the American West, including: Sacramento, Muir Woods, Lake Tahoe, Lassen National Park, Carson City, Las Vegas, Winelands, Cupertino, Stanford, Los Angeles, Yosemite & Sequoia National Park, Angel Island, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Carmel, Highway 1, San Diego, Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Reno, Salt Lake City and more.
So as you can see I got around a lot, especially in the month after I graduated from UCB I traveled a lot and to the more distant destinations. But smaller excursions, such as to the Muir Woods, to Sacramento, Lake Tahoe or LA, can easily be done at the weekend. With the Greyhound you can get very cheap tickets for city trips, for example I went to Sacramento for $8 return or to LA for $10 one-way. For excursions into nature or scenic attractions, I recommend taking a rental car, especially since rental and gas are very, very cheap in the States.
I hope I was able to give you an insight into my somewhat different stay abroad in California and maybe even give you a few practical tips along the way. I was able to gain an incredible number of impressions of all kinds, learned a lot professionally and personally – also about myself – really enjoyed living somewhere else, had a lot of fun and just had a very intense and great time!
At the end of the four months I was very happy to be back in Europe, but when I look back now the positive longings for California dominate. In any case, it also made me want to see more of the USA, even though I didn’t become an unreserved US fan. But it’s the contrasts that make this country as amazing as it is worth experiencing. I will definitely come back!