University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: English / American Studies
Study type: Summer Sessions
Hi folks, so you are considering spending some time in America to study.
First of all, I can say in general that this is definitely a good decision and you will certainly not regret it. Because apart from the things you learn in the courses you take, the positive effect on language practice and English vocabulary should not be neglected. If I had the choice again, I would probably no longer choose the short last summer session, but if possible one of the longer ones or even a whole semester. However, I had decided on the short session due to scheduling reasons and there is also a lot to take away with me. Visit liuxers.com to get information about BU study abroad program.
But let’s start at the beginning: You’ve already taken the first step in the right direction and decided on MicroEdu. I had heard about it from a friend and then looked around on the homepage. I don’t want to slander any other providers, as I can’t make any statements about them from my own experience, but you definitely can’t go wrong with MicroEdu. The people there are always there for you, take care of your inquiries and problems quickly and politely, and help you with everything to do with the application. Take a good look at the various universities with their courses and costs and take care of all the stuff you need for the application in good time.
First there is the registration form from the university. This looks a bit confusing for Berkeley at first, but MicroEdu will email you a help to fill it out. You will also need a copy of your identity card, an English-language bank statement from your bank so that the university can be sure that you can afford to stay there, and proof of sufficient English language skills. You can arrange what it looks like with MicroEdu as required. A tourist visa was enough for my short session, but if you want to stay longer, they will also help you with the visa application.
Once the application is up and running, you have to take care of a flight and accommodation. For the flight, it doesn’t really matter whether you land in San Francisco or in Oakland, because it’s relatively easy to get to Berkeley from both airports. You should calculate around €950-1100 for a return flight. There are three options for transportation. Either you take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), a kind of connecting train for the entire San Francisco Bay area. This is actually the cheapest and fastest, but you should probably look at the timetables and route plans before you travel, as they do not run at all times of the day and night. In addition, you have the problem here that after arrival you are in the middle of a foreign city and then have to walk to your accommodation with luggage. But for the rest of the time, BART is definitely highly recommended. Another option is a shuttle service, of which there are actually always plenty right at the airport. Just walk down the line and ask who is going to Berkeley, and they will always help you more or less nicely. They drive you to your front door, but you also drive to the front door of the passengers, which can take a little longer. Of course you can also take a taxi, but this is quite expensive. I paid over $70 for my ride from the San Francisco Airport to the campus. Shuttle costs about half that and BART about a tenth of that.
For accommodation I can recommend the International House of the university. There are many students from all over the world, it’s right on campus and it’s relatively cheap. The people are all very nice and you are well equipped. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a place for it (you have to apply there separately), but I was often there for the reasons I just mentioned. I was staying at Piedmont House. It’s close to the I-House and it was ok. It’s not that impressive, but everyone gets along well there and it’s run by students, which contributes to a very relaxed atmosphere. It is priced comparable to the I-House at around $50 per day.
Together with the fees for the university and the courses, these are the three major cost items. Incidentally, I would advise you to take one or at most two courses. Because firstly you get problems with your visa with more courses because you have to stay under a certain number of hours in order not to be considered a full-time student, and secondly the courses require a lot of effort. There should also be some time for the great surroundings. I had a course in English literature and one in cultural studies. For the literature course we had to read two books and some essays and write a paper as a thesis. In the other course, in addition to the sessions, there was one appointment per week for a film screening and we had to write an exam and a paper. Berkeley is an elite university and prides itself on it. You can tell everywhere in the city that everyone is very proud of their university and that also takes some getting used to. As I said, it costs a lot of money, but you get a super nice and well-equipped university with very nice professors and you really take something away from the courses.
Besides the university there is of course also a lot to do. Berkeley is a very beautiful city that really does and has a lot to offer for the many students. I don’t think there’s any point in listing all of that, just look around and ask yourselves, because all the people there are friendly and helpful and you get involved in all sorts of interesting conversations. At least that’s my personal experience. If you still don’t know what to do, the university has a summer session office where you can always get good advice. San Francisco is also right on the doorstep and logically there are many opportunities for leisure activities. But two tips: 1.) You should refrain from swimming in the sea, because it is usually very cold even in summer and 2.
Another very important note: If you don’t have one yet, you absolutely have to get a credit card and make sure that you have enough credit available for it. Because some things can only be processed with a card and it is easier and more common to pay with it in America anyway. But beware: It is easier to lose track of your finances if you only ever put the card down.
So, I hope I was able to help you a bit with the report and point out a few important things to you. If it’s financially feasible, I can really only recommend a stay at the university in Berkeley and would definitely do it again myself. If you have any questions, feel free to contact MicroEdu. You can also email me, I can then try to clarify any open questions.
So enjoy your stay in America and Go Bears! (When you come back from Berkeley you will understand the goodbye;-))