University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: Summer Sessions
I attended the 6 week Summer Session D at UC Berkeley in the summer of 2008 and I would recommend it to anyone. About half a year before that I was more involved with the planning and came across MicroEdu, which was a great relief because the advice was free and also worked really well. As soon as questions arose, they were answered immediately (special thanks to Annika Uhlig, who was always very helpful and always answered immediately). At first I also thought about choosing the summer school at Harvard, but the fact that college.contact made the application process so much easier spoke clearly in favor of Berkeley. The registration actually went smoothly and I was provided with enough information from MicroEdu. Visit liuxers.com to get information about DBS study abroad program.
I flew to San Francisco a few days before the start of the Summer Session to settle in, “digest” the jet lag and enjoy this wonderful city a little. First of all: the weather in SF in summer is anything but summery. Most of the time it is cool and very windy, especially near the port. So you should take enough warm things with you, because in my day the dollar was extremely cheap for our standards, I took the opportunity and bought a lot. Either you fly straight to the USA with a second empty suitcase or you buy one cheap there in the outlet center.
After a few days we finally went to Berkeley. I stayed in the Residence Halls Unit2, which in principle I can only recommend. You don’t live far from the campus and the rooms and sanitary facilities are actually quite clean and shouldn’t be as old as, for example, in the International House. It’s older and should be a bit more worn! From what I heard the food wasn’t very good either. The residents of the Residence Halls had their own main “restaurant” (rather canteen) and the opportunity to eat in smaller cafes distributed around the campus. The food wasn’t always world class, but actually you could always find something or there was always enough fruit. But once you’ve had enough of the food, there are plenty of places to eat just around Telegraph Avenue (e.g. Asian,
One shouldn’t be surprised at first that there are so many Asians there (mainly from South Korea and Taiwan). I estimate that about 70% were Asian. And what I’ve heard and read before about the daily rhythm of Asians is also true. My roommate was from New Zealand but of Taiwanese descent. He mostly studied or played computer games at night and then slept during the day. It was a bit tedious, but fortunately I didn’t have any problems sleeping with the lights on.
I first attended the International Human Rights course. But since it was mainly about legal-philosophical content, which I was less interested in, I changed courses after a week, which worked without any problems. I then took the Introduction to International Business course, which was larger, therefore more impersonal, and certainly less complex. But I really liked it and I met a lot of nice people from many different countries. So I have no regrets about changing course. I can only repeat what I read in the field reports beforehand: more than 2 courses are strongly discouraged. I only had one course and did very well with it, especially if you still want to see something of the country and its people. If you have two courses, it will be more difficult, but it depends very much on the course in question. There are very complex and less demanding ones. If you have more than two courses, you shouldn’t go thinking that you’ll have plenty of time for other activities. With a little more commitment you can also get a passable grade. I finished my course with an A-, but with a little more work I could have gotten an A or A+. The American style of teaching is generally more based on class participation, so participants are expected to engage in discussion. The professors are very committed and always willing to help. You can constantly annoy them with questions (also by e-mail) and get an answer immediately.
The Berkeley campus is beautiful and offers many recreational opportunities. For only $10 you can use the fitness center which is very well equipped and you can also use some swimming pools. This is a good way to avoid not gaining weight despite the not exactly healthy diet. When the weather was nice and warm (but wasn’t that common), I went to the Haas Pavilion in the Strawberry Hills, where there is a nice outdoor pool. The possibility to go to San Francisco is always there anyway and either you take the bus (which you don’t have to pay extra for) about 30-40 minutes directly to the center or you take the BART, which costs a few dollars and is 15 minutes faster.
In the evening there is not so much to discover in Berkeley. There are cinemas, of course, but there are few good places to go out. Worth mentioning is the Blakes right on Telegraph Avenue, where you meet new people very quickly and also meet international students in particular.
The weekends should be planned as early as possible. I planned and booked Las Vegas at relatively short notice (2 days before) with a few people, which was correspondingly more expensive. Rental cars are also quickly sold out or very expensive if you are short on time. In addition to Las Vegas, the Yosemite National Park is also recommended, which I visited with “California-Tours”, which has the advantage that everything is organized, but it is a bit more expensive and you always have to wait for someone. Otherwise just take a rental car (also possible from 21, but costs more) and explore the area. Best with a few people, then it’s cheaper and above all more fun. Whether shopping to Gilroy (outlet center), coastal cities like Monterey, Carmel (very nice), Santa Cruz, Napa Valley wine regions, Lake Tahoe etc. there is something for everyone. You can also go skydiving for $100. And anyway, San Francisco always offers recreational opportunities. It’s a really gorgeous city. As you can see, it certainly won’t be boring.
Furthermore, it is easy to see how things “work” at a top American university.
The big disadvantage is definitely the cost. The fun is definitely very expensive, but I don’t regret it. Luckily for me, the dollar was particularly weak at the time, which made it even more appealing to spend. And once you’ve been to California, you want to take advantage of it and don’t necessarily save. But if you only eat in the canteen and stay on campus, the expenses are limited (but it’s boring).
The textbooks are also very expensive. I had to pay $180 (!!) for my International Business book. All in all, you should calculate with about 4000-5000 euros (if not even more, depending on what you have in mind and how well you let yourself go). So if it wasn’t so expensive overall, I would do it every summer. In any case, it was a wonderful alternative to a summer job, I think one of the best summers of my life!