University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business Administration, Psychology
Study type: Summer Sessions
My summer at the University of California Berkeley
From May to July of this year I was lucky enough to be able to attend a summer session at UC Berkeley in the USA. The Summer Sessions are a kind of introductory phase in which students from all over the world can attend UCB lectures and receive credit points for doing so. They are available in different lengths. I chose the first one which lasted 6 weeks. Visit liuxers.com to get information about VIU study abroad program.
My university put me in touch with the agency MicroEdu, which organizes free study trips abroad. This really prepared me perfectly for my time. She managed the entire application process, which was particularly demanding due to its scope. I also received detailed instructions, field reports and even a to-do list so that I really thought of everything at the right time.
Applying for a visa before the start of the trip was definitely an adventure in itself. I had to travel to the American embassy in Berlin with some rather complicated forms in which I had to certify repeatedly that I am not a terrorist and have no intention of becoming one. After a few hours of waiting in front of the building, I was inspected again personally, but if you filled out everything properly and followed the instructions, everything goes very quickly and easily and you could start!
Based on the reports from MicroEdu, I decided to stay in one of the UCB dormitories, the International House. With about 3000 € for the entire summer session, this was certainly not the cheapest option, but I still think it’s the best: You live in a Hogwarts-style building in a single or double room. For a longer stay I would definitely recommend a single room due to the size of the room, but I also felt comfortable in my double room for the time. My roommate was Taiwanese. I definitely wouldn’t want to miss the experience of coming to terms with someone from such a completely different culture.
It was also very practical that you had direct access to the internet and only had to log in. The price also included 60 Meal Points and €60, which could be redeemed in the canteen on the ground floor and in all cafés on campus. The food was always fresh and also quite varied. The huge advantage was simply that you got to know people really quickly, especially during meals, and because you live together, you also grew very close as a group. Since most of the students showed up for the lectures very punctually and left immediately afterwards, it was a great advantage to be able to make contacts in the accommodation.
I took the courses “Industrial and Organizational Psychology” and “Consumer Behavior”. The requirement of the FHDW was that I should avoid thematic overlaps with subjects of our studies in order to be able to have the credit points counted. It was therefore all the more interesting for me to be able to get to know various aspects that I would not have heard about during my studies. It was also a new experience to work in a huge lecture hall with a lot of students from different cultures. I really enjoyed both courses. It was also interesting to get to know the American teaching style. One of the biggest differences is that there you have to take a lot of exams (mid-term exam, papers, group work, etc.) instead of one big one at the end of the semester. However, the amount of work depended very much on the professor. For example, a friend recounted how her teacher began her very first lecture by saying, “This isn’t just any college, this is Berkeley. If you want to learn something here, you have to work hard for it!” And she probably meant that quite seriously. This prestige thinking was felt everywhere, but it didn’t affect the workload of my professors. I got along really well with my timing, because I always had my two lectures in the afternoon from 1: 00 p.m. to 3: 30 p.m. and from 3: 30 p.m. to 6: 00 p.m., so I used the morning to prepare things. So I got through the exams well and still had enough free time in which there were many things to discover:
What I really liked is the range of sports offered by the university. Americans’ general enthusiasm for sports was reflected in a large gym in Berkeley and enthusiasm for the California Golden Bears varsity football team. For only $10 you could use the fitness studio with many courses, as well as swimming pools and tennis courts all the time. Almost every day we were there together and had a lot of fun. As everything was on campus we were able to walk there from International House. The campus alone was beautiful. It was like a huge park, perfectly maintained and always invited to linger on the lawn between the picturesque buildings of the faculties. Student ID also gave you free bus rides, even as far as San Francisco downtown, which was almost an hour away. As a result, we spent a lot of time there and were able to see the beautiful city. A particular highlight was riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and then taking the ferry back into town. We also went to San Francisco a few times in the evenings. However, there were also a couple of student bars in Berkeley, where there was always something going on. A very big difference to Germany is that everything has to close at 2 a.m. by law. Generally speaking, you have to be 21 to enjoy nightlife (or even to be out on the streets after midnight). The prices for drinks and food are slightly higher than in Germany.
You can definitely buy cheap clothes from American brands. Huge outlet centers around Berkeley invite you to shop and linger. You should definitely have a well-functioning and, above all, secure credit card with you. However, this leads to relatively high living costs. In addition, there are the tuition fees of around €2000, which are not exactly cheap, and around €3000 for accommodation and food in the International House.
Conclusion: costs vs. benefits?
Thanks to the promotions of the FHDW, my expenses were cushioned somewhat. But even those who are not so lucky should not shy away from the investment. Due to the good preparation and organization, it is not that difficult to take the step out of your home country. You settle in incredibly quickly and make friends with people from all over the world that can last well beyond time. You not only broaden your personal but also professional horizons and you can even have the acquired credit points counted at home. Above all, the chance to study at one of the best public universities in the world and to spend the summer in the beautiful Bay Area around San Francisco is simply unique. I am very grateful that I got these and have not regretted it for a second.