University of California Berkeley Review (33)

University of California Berkeley Review (33)

North America

University: University of California Berkeley

City: Berkeley

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: psychology, sociology

Study type: Summer Sessions

Application process

The application via MicroEdu was really great. Great service! My contact person was able to answer all my questions quickly and very competently. If you don’t go to Berkeley as a full-time student and only need the tourist visa, everything is really super easy. However, I had to apply for a visa and to go to the embassy in Munich, which wasn’t a problem overall, but unfortunately it costs around €300 in total. Visit to get information about UNSW study abroad program.

Berkeley itself still has a lot of the hippie and protest spirit in the air, is sometimes a bit too crazy (especially on Telegraph Avenue), but you get used to it. Being such a renowned university, I was very excited about the courses and was not disappointed, quite the contrary. I took courses from relatively different disciplines, but they all somehow relate to my studies at home.

1. Introduction to Cognitive Science
2. Political Sociology
3. Shakespeare
4. Psychology of Personality

In order not to go too far, I would say that if you want more detailed information about the individual courses, just contact me. Overall, I can highly recommend Googling the lecturers beforehand (e.g. to make sure that they have been rated well. Even though it’s a great university, I’ve also heard from other students about lecturers who don’t make much effort and since you spend a lot of time (and money) on the courses and should take something away from it, it’s a real shame, if you are disappointed with a course. So, it’s worth investing a little more time in choosing a course beforehand so that you can make the best possible use of your stay. The workload is high – so never take more than two courses per session. The way the faculty teach at Berkeley I liked it very much and differed significantly from the professors at my home university. Most of the professors in Berkeley are very open and seek direct contact and dialogue with the students, which creates a very good working atmosphere. Most of them are also just good at presenting highly complex content in a very simple way, which has often fascinated me. So, even if you don’t manage to prepare everything, just go and try to take as much as possible with you.


I stayed at International House based on many of the previous reviews and would recommend it. Unfortunately, it costs a lot, but for a short stay over the summer, in my opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages: on the one hand, you can quickly and easily make contact with other students, not just students, but also interns from the Berkeley Lab, folks, who are only there for research, etc., which also makes the whole thing interesting. I was very happy about that, because the people at the university are generally not looking for friends, but rather everyone does their own thing and you don’t necessarily get to know your fellow students. Aside from the social aspect, finding cheap accommodation that is close to the university is not easy. Other residence halls are certainly a good alternative. I was glad to be at the I-House, even if the food isn’t what it should be for the price;-) but it’s not as bad as some say.

Leisure and excursion possibilities

If you have explored Berkeley yourself (entire campus, North Berkeley Hills, Shattuck Ave,…), San Francisco is of course close by. With the Cal1Card, which you get from the university, you can take the F-Bus to SF for free (it goes right in front of the I-House), which I did several times. Otherwise it’s a little faster but for a few dollars with the BART (train). I recommend taking your time in SF and making multiple visits as there tends to be a lot of walking around and it takes a while to explore everything… Berkeley has limited options for going out (a few bars) so some go there as well SF, which, however, is often expensive. In Berkeley, everything closes at 2 a.m. and as far as I know, a lot in SF too.

Before the summer sessions I did a road trip from Vancouver to Berkeley, seeing Seattle, Portland, Redwood Parks and Yosemite National Park along the way. Kings Canyon (Scenic Road) and Sequoia National Park are also highly recommended, as well as Highway 1 just south of San Francisco along the sea down to Monterey (whale watching!), Carmel and Big Sur. In the summer, however, it is often foggy and cloudy.

Also worth seeing are wine-tasting tours in Napa and Sonoma Valleys, huge wine-growing regions in northeast Berkeley.

Do’s & Don’ts


  • Select courses carefully and benefit from the great lecturers
  • On a clear day, drive to the campanile in the center of campus and enjoy the view (free for students)
  • Hike to the “Big C” behind the International House and watch the sunset
  • Explore all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, not just the tourist ones (also Mission, Castro, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown…) & take the ferry to Sausalito (or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge)
  • Eat pizza at Cheeseboard (Shattuck Ave) in Berkeley
  • Go to nightlife@California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park on Thursdays
  • Bike through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach
  • Food – try everything, San Francisco and also Berkeley have a lot to offer (also the special “dine about town” in SF)
  • Take advantage of Berkeley Sports: only $10 all summer long
  • Remember that you can’t get into a bar under 21, the bouncers are really strict

Not necessarily:

  • Walking around alone at night, especially not in San Francisco and especially not as a girl!
  • Going to a national park on a bank holiday weekend (all crowded)

The only big minus point is the cost factor – if you don’t get a scholarship, it gets really expensive. But overall, Berkeley is great and it’s a great place to spend a summer, meet people from all over the world and be inspired at one of the best universities in the world. The combination of the university in a small town, the big city next door and California with national parks, great landscapes + coast is just awesome.

University of California Berkeley Review (33)