University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: Summer Sessions
In the summer of 2008, I attended a six-week “Summer Session” at UC Berkeley. All in all, I can only recommend this program, precisely because I was not only able to improve my foreign language skills, but also got to know students from all over the world. My courses (Integrated Marketing Communication and Business Communication) were very application-oriented and relevant to practice. Scientific work and complex theories naturally fell by the wayside (which I did not find tragic, especially at a summer session). In addition, great importance was attached to presentation techniques. In both events, international project groups were formed in which subject areas were developed. Since the courses are designed for students in their first semesters, In many cases it is possible to choose non-specialist courses and pass them well. In the run-up, many participants worried about their English skills, but in almost all cases this turned out to be unfounded. Although permanent Berkeley students also take part in the courses, the lecturers have always tried very hard to present the facts in an understandable way. There was a performance review in the midterm, i.e. after about three weeks, and one towards the end of the stay. So you knew early on where you stood and could compensate for “slips” in good time. Overall, my professors were very open-minded and always had an “open ear” for questions and tips. If you want to explore the area in addition to what the university offers, you should not take more than two or three courses. After all, material from an entire semester is taught in the six weeks. It also took me a few days to get used to my new surroundings. The campus in Berkeley is really huge and no less impressive. Among other things, there are not only free fitness rooms in the student housing units, but also a large sports center that can be used for a small fee. There are several canteens in which the offer was much more varied than at my home university. Also, several Berkeley-Downtown stores offer discounts if you have a local student ID. Visit liuxers.com to get information about SMU study abroad program.
The accommodations are more functional (desk, bunk bed, closet, chairs, mixed washroom in the hallway), although I felt that the International House made it even easier to socialize. So-called Residence Assistants (RAs) also regularly organize events and excursions in the halls of residence. As already mentioned, “day trips” in the immediate vicinity are extremely worthwhile. There is a subway station (BART) near the university, which takes you to downtown San Francisco in about 20 minutes. Other destinations are Monterey (Bay Aquarium), Santa Cruz (beach and surfing), Napa Valley (wine region). Many students also went to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. These trips can be booked through UCB’s International Office, or simply organized privately.
A small drop of bitterness are the high costs and the many formalities before the stay. I don’t know anyone who spent less than 5000 euros for the stay. However, the meal points for the canteen (which can also be redeemed in the nice Peet’s café) were included in the package price for the accommodation. You could also use public transport in Berkeley for free with a student ID. Regarding the formalities, I can only advise everyone to start planning in good time. As a “full-time student” you need a visa, for which I had to go to the Frankfurt embassy – about six weeks after my request. Numerous forms had to be filled out beforehand, and there were also various fees. It’s very annoying, especially when you’re “only” flying to the USA for six weeks. who has the time
Due to the low dollar exchange rate, clothing and souvenirs were of course extremely cheap. San Francisco is recommended for shopping, especially the area around Union Square and the Westfield shopping center (which, by the way, is not far from the worthwhile San Francisco MoMa museum). There is also an outlet outside of Berkeley. Especially at the weekend, “old hippies” set up their stands downtown and offer jewelery and decorative items at reasonable prices. One thing you have to know: Despite the renowned university, Berkeley is not an “elitist” city overall. In the city center you meet very “colorful birds”, which didn’t bother me at all, at least during the day (some students had different opinions).
By the way, the weather wasn’t as bad as the cliché says. It was sometimes foggy in the morning, but that cleared up by noon at the latest and on a few days we really sweated. In any case, the temperatures were perfect for going on excursions and doing homework in the sun. In conclusion, I can say that I enjoyed my stay very much and returned to Germany with many new impressions.