University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Study type: Summer sessions, language courses
Studying at a renowned university like UC Berkeley is a dream for many students. The Summer Sessions offer the opportunity to do so. So I decided to go to UC Berkeley for six weeks right after I graduated from high school in the summer of 2019. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about UNSW Sydney.
Application to UC Berkeley began in early February. Thanks to the detailed instructions from MicroEdu, the application was completed quickly and easily. After that, all I had to do was choose my courses and pay the money for the courses.
I already booked the flight in December 2018. I opted for a direct flight to San Francisco (approx. 11 ½ hours). There are several options for getting from the airport to Berkeley: The cheapest option (about $9) is BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), a type of subway that connects San Francisco with the surrounding Bay Area towns . Another and probably the most convenient but also the most expensive option is Uber (about $70 at UberX, varies depending on time and demand). However, you should already install the Uber app in Germany, as some personal data will be requested and you will then save this time at the airport.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of preparing for the trip was applying for the F1 visa, which is required for full-time students in the United States. After selecting and paying for courses at UC Berkeley, one must fill out the SEVIS (The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) form online, after which the Berkeley International Office will mail the I-20.
Shipping takes about 10 days. After receiving the I-20, the embassy or consulate appointment can be booked. Filling out the required application is very time-consuming, in contrast to the consular appointment, which only takes a few minutes. After the consulate appointment, the passport with visa will be sent to you about a week later.
My entry was unproblematic. Only the visa was looked at and the information of the I-20 was queried.
The local temperatures are often overestimated. During my time there, it was always between 21°C and 26°C during the day, with temperatures dropping to around 15°C in the evenings and at night. Unlike most of the United States, the Berkeley area does not have air conditioning in public areas. However, these are not required either. I stayed at International House for the entire six weeks.
The International House accommodation played a very large part in making the stay so special. During the summer session around 600 students from over 25 countries live in the I-House. The food was very tasty and varied the entire time, with a lot of Asian cuisine being offered. The I-House also organizes many excursions that all residents can join for a fee that is significantly less than the regular price. So I took part in the I-House trips to Alcatraz, to the musical “Hamilton” and to the baseball game SF Giants vs. Oakland Athleticspart. In addition, the coffee hour takes place every Wednesday evening. There are free drinks and snacks and it’s a good opportunity to meet other residents and talk to them about various topics to better understand other cultures. A themed coffee hour was also held twice during my stay. Once the “motto” was Lebanon and once South Korea. Residents of the I-House from the respective country prepare information and typical customs from their country in order to present them to the other residents. There were also snacks from the respective country.
A highlight was the two-day tour of Yosemite National Park. I think everyone who has never been to an American national park should visit one. All of the nature there is spectacular, from the impressive waterfalls to the gigantic Giant Sequoia Trees.
The numerous trips to San Francisco were also very interesting. The city is made up of many very different neighborhoods, from Chinatown to Fishman’s Wharf to Russian Hill or Noe Valley. Of course, a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge is a must. The “ Baker Beach ” near the bridge is highly recommended.
I took two Summer English Language Studies courses at UC Berkeley, i.e. English courses for non-native speakers. Each of the courses had three units. In both courses we were a small group of only 15 students and a very dedicated teacher.
Academic Writing and Language Style
This course focused on the vocabulary, grammar and syntax needed to write academic texts. Accompanying the course were two books that had to be purchased separately and that formed part of the texts that had to be read each week. In addition, each course participant wrote several essays per week, some of which were also proofread by other course participants before the final draft had to be submitted for evaluation.
Academic and Public Speaking
The focus of this course was on presentations and improving speaking skills. Each student gives a presentation on a different topic each week. The course was accompanied by a book that had to be purchased separately and contained listening and speaking exercises on a wide variety of topics as well as exercises to expand vocabulary. After each presentation there was immediate feedback from the lecturer on pronunciation and grammar. In addition, the lecturer informed us about the application process at American universities and the necessary tests.
The university fees are very high as well as the accommodation costs. The cost is probably the only negative point about this stay. The advantage of the I-House is that 60 meals are included in the price and residents can purchase additional meals for $7. There are additional costs for excursions on site.
It was an unforgettable experience! I unreservedly recommend the trip or such a study visit to anyone who has never done anything like this before. The I-House was the ideal accommodation for me because you don’t have to know anyone when you arrive there, as you make friends quickly there. The courses are demanding, but on the one hand there is enough time for excursions and on the other hand you are a student at one of the best universities in the world.