University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Study type: Summer Sessions
First about MicroEdu: I’m fairly self-employed and have traveled abroad quite a bit. However, because the bureaucratic resistance turned out to be high, I am very grateful for the very good support from MicroEdu, especially from the always helpful, competent and fast Annika Uhlig.
Here is my report: Going abroad as a student – many people do that. Employed people who are twice as old are the exception. For me (43) it was about getting off the hamster wheel of my job and getting completely new ideas. That’s why I didn’t just want to go on a super-long vacation of three months (through Australia in a mobile home, etc.), but was looking for a different kind of experience abroad. I decided on San Francisco/Berkeley because I was thinking of a left- wanted a liberal and LGBT-friendly place and New York seemed too tiring for such a long stay. Visit liuxers.com to get information about UON study abroad program.
As it turned out, I made exactly the right choice. San Francisco is incredibly beautiful, spared from heat waves and has a good public transport network. Its residents are rightly considered to be particularly friendly. There is a chance to chat with people from all over the world, which I found very stimulating.
And lesbians and gays quickly come across members of the family. In June, the rainbow flag flies over the whole city. Then the LGBT film festival “Frameline” (book tickets online in good time), you can take part in the Trans March, the Dyke March and the Gay Pride. Among the US universities, Berkeley is the first choice for homos anyway, even if Judith Butler were to follow the call to Columbia.
Of course, the summer course took place under particularly relaxed circumstances for me: I wasn’t concerned with earning credit points or completing an important part of my studies, but solely with inspiration. That’s why I saw my lecture (“Social Theory and Cultural Analysis” with a focus on “Capitalism”) primarily as an academic experience. So I don’t think it’s a bad thing that the course wasn’t as sociological as I had hoped, but was more economically oriented.
20 of the 50 seats were filled first. Of these participants, however, seven dropped out after only one week, for whom the reading workload was too high. It was actually quite annoyingly high. If you really wanted to make it to the next day, you spent three to four hours a day doing it. But the professor later edited it out as well, and I just stopped reading everything so carefully.
Unlike what I know from Germany, the professor lectures on the books of other professors – one book after the other is the subject. We expect that the professor systematizes the sub-areas of his topic, then not only offers a synthesis of the research himself, but also contributes something to the research in the lecture. In this respect, these texts (always monographs) are ennobled a little too much in my opinion. One threatens to drown in words, in the end one has at best gained a great overview of major historical developments – but rather got to know exciting concepts of sociology on the sidelines.
The fact that I was different from my fellow students in every respect, they – like me – accepted with composure; after our lecturer invited us to the dinner party at his home, it became even more familiar.
I have to say, Berkeley is just amazing, just stepping onto campus always gave me a high, even if the streets aren’t paved with honey and milk like Stanford. Maybe it’s just likable enough that it’s not too posh. Also a good feeling to enter a stronghold of American left-wing intellectuals.
The living conditions must also have been more relaxed for me than for most students: I booked a studio on the 7th floor of an apartment building on the exclusive (S)Nob Hill in San Francisco for $2,800 a month via the internet rented from where I could see the whole city including the Golden Gate Bridge.
Social contacts can be found on the Internet via Craigs List or via the many meet-up groups. Among other things, I took part in the “Walk for Health and History” meet-up group: Every Saturday at 11 a.m., pensioner Howard guides interested parties through San Francisco for about four hours. You get to see the lesser-known parts of the city and get to know dozens of Americans (mainly between the ages of 20 and 45).
Politics: If you want to experience live how deeply divided this country is, you can switch back and forth on TV between the right (Fox) and the left (MSNBC) and watch CNN from time to time to neutralize it (and then be surprised that moderators and moderators look different there than on “CNN international” like Barbie and Ken).