UCB Exchange Program

UCB Exchange Program

I attended Summer Session D at UC Berkeley this summer. I heard about it through this website. But I already knew Berkeley from listening to it, as the cradle of liberal alternative thinking in America and as a globally respected top university. That looks good on a résumé, I thought to myself, and it’s always good to get a breath of fresh air and experience new things, so the decision was an easy one for me. Compared to normal tuition fees in the USA, the summer session is also cheap; by the time I left I paid an estimated 5500 euros for flights, room and board, courses and other fees. According to Abbreviationfinder, UCB is the abbreviation of University of California Berkeley.

To the university and the city of Berkeley

The courses at UC Berkeley are selected on the Internet, there is an immense catalog with everything your heart desires. You can also keep an overview of your status, study account and grades on their pages.
UC Berkeley is a top 5 university in the States and at the top worldwide. This can be felt everywhere, there is a hint of the elite in the air, but not of snobbery! The people there are some of the nicest I’ve met, but also some of the most motivated. A lot is learned and worked, and a lot is asked for. However, I have to say that the work is somehow easier than in this country – the atmosphere in California contributes to that, and the mutual motivation from the fellow students. The professors there are extremely well trained and prepared. In my case there were two specimens who lived what they taught and didn’t just do their job. It always goes on at a breathtaking speed but also with humor and a dose of good-naturedness. In that sense, my stay there was worth every penny. Speaking of money – you have to buy study materials there too, and they are not cheap. Copied readers cost me up to $ 100.

The campus is an event in itself. There are extensive sports facilities for every conceivable sport, a fitness facility the size of an aircraft hangar, for which you only had to pay $ 10 for the duration of the session, with machine training, basketball, swimming and squash, among other things, also on offer, there are even Forests and wide streets and several large libraries that are very well stocked. The buildings have a classic flair. You can even climb some of them and enjoy the view – the campus is on the slope and you can see all the way to San Francisco. The most famous and tallest building is the Sather Tower or “Campanile”, which was copied from the model in Florence. It has a carillon that is played live and you can also visit the platform.
There are also cafes and shops on campus and even a bar, Bear’s Lair (the bear is Berkeley’s mascot).

In the first week of study you have to register and you will be photographed. Immediately you get your student ID, which then entitles you to travel by bus in Berkeley and as far as San Francisco (about 45 minutes).
Berkeley is by no means representative of the USA, and also not of universities there. It’s a very unique place. The city is very big and has many different and good and bad neighborhoods. In the vicinity of the campus everything is very quiet, there are a lot of brotherhood houses. Telegraph Avenue is the shopping street on campus, where there is everything a student could desire, from clothes to tattoos. There are many bistros and cafes, some of which have a dance floor at night. There is no entry fee, but you have to be 21. All in all, the laws are strict and enforced – no alcohol under 21, and no drinking on the street or in cars. But all people always find their place…
At the lower end of the campus is the Shattuck, a wide street in the center of Berkeley. As a student, you will also find discounts or perks there in many places, for example when renting a car.

The costs in America are otherwise quite cheap for us Europeans, not least thanks to the strong euro. Much, food, clothing etc. is available for bargain prices. Going out can be expensive. But I didn’t have time for that – as I said, elite university. Last week I even rented a car. It is best to book through a German website! Then you can get it even cheaper. In my case, however, it was a high-horsepower muscle car (I earned it) and cost about $ 500 for the week. A trick: if you go to LA like me, rent the car for a day and drop it off there. Rent a car there again – so you always get a full tank and don’t have to pay for petrol!

Very important: in the USA credit cards are very common, almost no reservations are possible without them! Some offers for student credit cards can be found on MicroEDU.com, so make sure you get them beforehand.

The weather in San Francisco and the Bay Area is the coolest in California! In the mornings and evenings, even in midsummer, you couldn’t go without a sweater or jacket. But the unique cozy athosphere makes you forget that quickly. The fact that the sun releases the fog that is typical there from early morning and then shines strongly until evening helps. Guaranteed. Every day.

All in all, it was the best study experience of my life and I wouldn’t want to miss it. The weather, the international fellow students, the very good professors and excellent study conditions – that’s how it feels to study!

To the accommodation

I lived in the International House, which is at the top of the campus. Life is good there! From there I had a 5 minute walk to the classrooms.
It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. The customs officer already knew what it was when I arrived, and so it went on. The I-House doesn’t get its reputation for nothing – living there has been a privilege for 80 years and it’s a tradition. As a resident you even get further discounts. It was built by Rockefeller and it has hosted many famous people. The idea behind it is to bring the people of this world together. So it was, really very international, in contrast to the other “dorms” where more Americans live. Of course there were also Germans, Italians, French, Lebanese, Russians, South Americans and a bunch of Asians. The latter are generally very numerous in Berkeley.
The atmosphere in the I-House is very familiar, you get to know and like each other quickly, there is always a party somewhere, but there are also rooms where you can study like the library, surf the Internet, print and do laundry Has peace. All in all very lively. There is also billiards and table tennis, dance events where you can learn even as a beginner, and numerous trips are organized, to sporting events but also to certain sights in California in general.
There is a large TV in the Great Hall, where even the games from Germany will be broadcast during the World Cup, and there was great cheering. This is where people gather, and once a week there is a “coffee hour” where you can get to know each other even more easily.
People eat in the canteen. It is cooked for the masses, again international and varied, but it is not haute cuisine. Recommendable only with reservation.
There is also a cafe in the house, with a warm kitchen, where you have to pay extra. Otherwise there are machines in several places, typically USA, that sell everything possible. What is not available there can be found in the in-house shop.
Living at the I-House definitely made a very positive contribution to the overall Berkeley experience. There friendships are made all over the world. Little adventures take place there. Even if you don’t live there, you should visit it!

University of California Berkeley Exchange Program

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