University: University of California Berkeley
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Study type: Summer Sessions
I had been toying with the idea of taking courses abroad for a long time. At first I thought of spending an entire semester abroad in the USA, but due to time and financial reasons I quickly had to give up. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about Vancouver Island University.
Thanks to the help of MicroEdu, I soon found an excellent alternative – the Summer Sessions.
It quickly became clear where to go. The University of California Berkeley enjoys a very good reputation and you should not miss the opportunity to get a taste of American student life during the summer sessions.
First of all a big thank you to the team at MicroEdu and in particular to Tanja. Thanks to you, the preparation for the Summer Sessions was very easy for me.
After much deliberation, I decided to only do a Business English course at Berkeley. This decision was not made because of a lack of offers, but because of which subjects I can still have credited during my home studies. Since I’m already well advanced in my bachelor’s degree, only the language course remained. But alright, it gave me more time to enjoy life there and travel from California to Berkeley.
The application for the course went smoothly thanks to the helpful guidance from MicroEdu.
Before you start the course, you have to take an online placement test to ensure that you get into an appropriate course that is adapted to your language level. This is not decisive for whether you get a place, but only which course you are put in.
In the run-up, I informed myself (albeit relatively late) about the various housing options.
Here is a brief overview of my experiences:
International House: I read mostly positive things about this dormitory in the other reviews, but the rental price (also including meal vouchers) was clearly too high for me. You should take care of an application for the I-House early on.
Co-op: There is a variety of residential complexes with different target groups. The rent is significantly lower than in the I-House, but meals are usually not included and you often have to do chores in the house yourself during your stay, as these houses are organized by students for students. Here, too, an application should be made very early.
Private: I spent a lot of time on the websites for private subletting. There is a lot on offer. You should pay attention to the price, which can sometimes be significantly more expensive than the I-House. On average, however, it should be between 700 and 1200 USD per month.
It is important that you act quickly if you are interested in a room.
Even though I’ve often read that it’s quite easy to travel to Berkeley a few days before the start of the session and only take care of a room when you get there, I thought it was a bit risky if you couldn’t find a room there.
So I started my search from Germany and wrote to a number of offers.
After a few rejections, I finally found a room on site for a week, which was in the immediate vicinity of the campus, the I-House and other facilities. The whole thing was anything but cheap, especially compared to German rental prices. I paid 1300 USD for 6 weeks, but had a fully furnished room in a small shared apartment with all the trimmings. The location was of course also very good.
In general, you should be careful with private advertisements, as I have heard various bad experiences from other students.
But with enough persistence, common sense, and a bit of luck, I think private housing is absolutely the best way to stay in Berkeley. It’s much cheaper and you still get to know a lot of people.
Study & Campus
I really liked the course.
The campus is very beautiful and cannot be compared to German universities. If you’re going to walk to your course, however, be aware that distances can be underestimated – the campus isn’t small.
The “Memorial Glade” is particularly beautiful on campus – a meadow in front of the university library where, when the weather is good, many people sunbathe. The Campanile, the clock tower and landmark of the campus, is also worth a visit and as a student you can climb up and enjoy the view over Berkeley and the Bay Area for free.
The gym, which you can use for $10 all the time, is very well equipped and definitely a good pastime.
Berkeley and surrounding areas
There are quite a few things to do in Berkeley itself, but there is far more to see in San Francisco.
West of the campus is the “Big C”, a large C on a hill next to the campus. From there you can have a perfect view of the Bay Area.
The university’s botanical garden is also worth a visit.
Apart from fraternities and co-ops, Berkeley tends to be quiet at night. Most of it is centered around Telegraph Ave, which is home to a variety of dining options and the only “clubs/pubs”. Pappy’s is a good sports bar with unbeatably cheap food and drinks, which turns into a club at weekends (don’t expect too much from the club).
There’s always something going on in San Francisco, night and day! You can reach San Francisco by free bus in about 45-90 minutes, depending on traffic. The BART bullet train takes you to SF in less than 30 minutes.
There are also other good excursion options in the area, including Yosemite National Park, Stanford University, Sausalito, Point Reyes, etc.
I really enjoyed my time in Berkeley, met a lot of people and from there traveled extensively along the west coast. If you have the chance, definitely do it!!!