UCB Summer Session
According to abbreviationfinder, UCB stands for University of California Berkeley. I took 2 courses of 3 units during my six-week summer session. One course was Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC), as I am studying business administration with a focus on marketing. I also took a course in International Studies: Contemporary Mexico. The structure of the courses and the type of teaching are very similar to the courses in Germany: a thick reader, lots of group work and the daily lectures. For some courses you need books that are unfortunately quite expensive in the USA. Some students have paid up to $ 150 for a book. However, there are ways to buy them used and sell them again after the price. Since the subject matter of one semester is covered in 6 weeks, you are very busy with learning. This also depends on whether you want to have the grades credited to you. Most of the other international students only needed a “pass” and were therefore more concerned with partying.
That can lead to some problems if you live in the hallway with 20 Mexicans who cannot understand that you want to sleep at three o’clock at night;) But hey, there are ear plugs! I lived in Unit 2 in a three-bed room. Although my two roommates from China and Singapore were super nice and pleasant, it was sometimes quite exhausting to live with three people in such a small room. In retrospect, I would definitely sleep in a two-bed room. Although only two people sleep in them, these are larger than a three-bed room. Otherwise it was super fun to live in the same hallway with so many students from all over the world! An experience that I would not want to miss. . .
Berkeley and San Francisco offer a variety of leisure and excursion options. Berkeley has a variety of bars, restaurants and cafes where students meet after lectures. As a student, you can also train very cheaply in a large gym. There are also great clothes shops with some unusual clothes. American students often meet in study groups in cafes to study together or to do group work. A little tip: make sure you take your ID card with you, so you don’t have to drag your passport with you to a bar (for ID control) Yes, it is true. The Americans are very strict and there is no alcohol under 21.
Despite all the learning, you should definitely go to San Francisco as often as possible! The BART goes from Downtown Berkeley under the Bay to San Francisco. A ticket costs between $ 3 and $ 4. The city can be explored on foot, by cable car or by bike. There are several bike rentals and you can take a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and then take the ferry back across the bay. A trip to Alcatraz is also worthwhile! The night tour is particularly recommended! Make sure to book early, as tickets are quickly gone in summer. The nightlife is great as there are a lot of clubs. A detour to the Gay Quarter is also worthwhile, as there are the best clubs there. The Fisherman’s Wharf is the tourist mile that should also be seen. There are the piers where many ships dock and, among other things, the tours to Alcatraz start. You can also buy all kinds of souvenirs there. They are also very cheap in Chinatown!
If you have the time, you can take a trip by car along Highway 1 to Los Angeles or San Diego after or before the summer session! The highway runs along the ocean and is one of the most beautiful and famous in the USA. It is often worth renting a rental car from a German website, as all insurance is included in the prices. In the case of American car rental companies, this is extra and depending on the insurance cover it can be more expensive.
Finally, I would like to say that I totally enjoyed my stay in Berkeley. California and especially San Francisco are among the most beautiful and colorful corners in the USA! Have fun!
University of California Berkeley Extension
My semester abroad at UCB was a great 4 months full of international encounters, exciting excursions and insights into American culture.
I applied in February to start my studies in August, and after I got the approval in April, I still had enough time to take care of my visa and accommodation without stress.
During the semester abroad, I was part of the UC Berkeley extension program. Within this program, you can take courses from the entire contingent of UCB with minor restrictions and you are not tied to a specific department – I think it’s a great offer to break out of your otherwise rather strict study structures. Since you are only there for one or two semesters and are not aiming for a degree, you will unfortunately only get confirmation of your course preferences two to three weeks after the start of the semester, as the regular students at the UCB naturally have priorityto have. This concept made the first few weeks a little more exhausting, as you had to attend more events than planned before you were accepted. However, it was also a good opportunity to get a taste of different courses. Even if UCB kept pointing out that courses could be turned down, I actually didn’t get to know anyone who did not get a preferred course. The level of my courses was comparable to my home university in Germany.
The accommodation search in Berkeley can be used to challenge be, not least because of the very high price levels throughout the Bay Area. There are some private houses with rooms for students, a few shared apartments, or you can simply rent an apartment yourself and look for roommates. Because of the limited living space, it is also not a problem to find roommates. I myself lived in the International House, a really great dorm for mainly international students. In the case of dormitories or rooms in private houses, in particular, it is worth inquiring early on when searching!
Offers, leisure time, excursions
When you have finally finished looking for an apartment and choosing a course, you will quickly be overwhelmed by the wide range of offers at the UCB. Sport has a significantly higher priority at universities in the USA than in Germany. UC Berkeley has numerous sports clubs where you can join a team for almost any known sport. There are also two huge stadiums for football and soccer, a basketball arena and a baseball field on campus, where you can cheer on the quite professional university teams.
There are many business and science clubs for discussion and networking, and if you do it skillfully, you can get into one of the typical American frat parties (fraternities are a kind of student association that covers almost all of Berkeley’s student party life plays). What you should not forget – if you like to party – is that the alcohol limit in the USA is 21 years. The observance is very strict, you can’t get into clubs under 21 and usually not even in bars. You should not even try to take your drink outside with you, as there is not just a ticket for consuming alcoholic drinks in public, but a direct summons to court.
Outside of UCB, I personally enjoyed going on excursions and exploring the area the most. The following applies in principle: You can visit a few places by bus, but in most cases you wo n’t get far without a car. It is worth renting a car with friends for excursions. Rental and fuel prices are one of the few things in the US that are quite cheap.
It takes half an hour to get to San Francisco from Berkeley, and California has amazing scenery that I’ve never seen before. Just north of San Francisco, there are up to 2000 years old redwoods (Redwood Trees) and a beautiful wine country (Napa Valley), south of the famous leads Highway 1 on the coast of Los Angeles, to the east can be reached after a few hours’ drive to the Yosemite National Park to Hiking and to the west is of course the Pacific with some beautiful beaches. It is also worth taking the bus to Sacramento, the California capital. In addition to a western old town, you can visit the California government building, the Capitol.
One should be aware that there is more poverty, homelessness and crime in the Bay Area near San Francisco than in Germany. However, if you follow a few basic rules, such as not alone at night through unlit streets are going to pay valuables and shady areas to avoid, there is actually no reason to feel insecure. With the helpers Uber and Lyft, you can always get home cheaply and safely from anywhere in the area.
Due to the extremely high medical costs in the USA, another recommendation is to take the health insurance provided through the UCB and not to be exempted from it (if you have international insurance). With the UCB insurance you get an insurance card through which all health costs are covered directly by the university health insurance. However, if you only have German health insurance abroad, you may first have to pay the bills with your credit card, whereby a hospital visit can cost several thousand dollars.
The mixture of a great UCB, great excursion opportunities and many international contacts made my semester abroad a really great time. I can therefore only recommend a semester abroad at UC Berkeley. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!