The flight from Europe was very long for me. I didn’t have a direct flight from Berlin, so I had a two-hour stopover in New York. It is probably the shortest if you take a direct flight from Düsseldorf or Frankfurt – if you live nearby.
I arrived a day early and spent the first night in an SF airport hotel. That was cheap because there is a free shuttle from the airport. The next day I took the BART to downtown Berkeley at noon. It’s not far from there and I was able to check in at the International House in the early afternoon without any problems.
However, various taxi companies such as bayporter.com, which I took on the way back, also run from the airport. I decided to do this because my plane took off very early and the nocturnal way to the BART can be quite dangerous. However, such a taxi can cost $ 30 for a single person. The three of us paid $ 21 each at the time.
In my time, the temperatures fluctuated between around 15 ° C at night and around 25 ° C during the day. So if you expect summer, sun and sand, you’d better leave the BayArea. Even in Sacramento it is constantly at least 10 ° C warmer. In SF the weather can change very quickly. It is seldom hot and extremely windy.
When it comes to accommodation, I asked around a lot and initially looked for a host family in the Berkeley area at an early stage. However, all possibilities were extremely far away, so that I should have taken the BART. First of all, it is quite expensive, and it is also time consuming. In addition, you simply cannot use many of the opportunities at the university and I would probably have had significantly less contact with other fellow students as a result.
That’s why I lived in the International House. It is currently being renovated, but I hardly noticed anything about the renovation work. In the IHouse you can choose between single, double and three-person rooms. And personally I don’t know anyone who would take the latter two options again. The rooms are extremely small, no matter how many beds there are in them. And especially when you have to learn a lot, a single room is an advantage. The furnishing is simple (and therefore ideally suited for allergy sufferers..) and the chairs in particular are absolutely uncomfortable. Apart from that, I haven’t missed anything there in my six weeks. If you do not live in a single room, there is also a so-called library available for learning, which is actually nothing more than a large study room. which is always open and offers a really great, quiet atmosphere. In general, this IHOUSE has a lot of charm. There is a so-called Great Hall, a kind of main lounge, a billiard room and a laundry room. There are dryers and washing machines that can be operated with 25 cent coins (quarters). Dryers and washing machines do their job, but they are quite old. So all in all, I wouldn’t trust these machines with my most expensive things…
In the end, the IHOUSE (e.g. compared to the Residence Halls) wins a bit through its individuality. You meet a lot of people in the library or at meals together, in the laundry or billiard room. This opens up enough opportunities to come into contact with other people within the short time of a summer session!
If you are a sports enthusiast: right next to the IHOUSE is the Berkeley football stadium, which holds 71,000 spectators and is mostly empty after 7 p.m. We played soccer there a lot and it’s just a fantastic atmosphere. You can borrow a ball at the IHOUSE reception.
When it comes to sports, the university has a very nice fitness center that can be reached within 10 minutes from the IHOUSE. In terms of leisure activities, however, you have to cope with a limited range of options. When it comes to bars / clubs, only Blake’s on Telegraph Ave and Beckett’s, an Irish pub on Shattuck, are fairly frequented. At the weekend there is also a party bus that brings people to selected clubs in SF and back again. One advantage, however, is that there are quite a few student dormitories and fraternity houses in the southwest of the campus, where parties often take place, so that you are always around people and it is rarely boring. However, you should make sure that you don’t go around the houses alone after dark. Berkeley at night is really dangerous and the university always draws your attention to the many emergency telephones that you can use to contact help in an emergency. If you live further away from the campus, you can even be driven home by the police.
I can only speak for my history course, but it was completely different from what you would imagine in Germany. For the first time, subject matter was provided with a certain arc of tension and presented pointedly by a lecturer, with whom one had the feeling every second that he was going through the same feelings as the protagonists of his lecture. In addition, my lecturer saw himself as a helper and less than a judge, as is sometimes the case in Germany. For him, this also included meeting me every week for my housework and discussing progress with me. This increased the pressure for me to get ahead with literature and writing, but it also confirmed to me week after week that I was on the right track.
I also have to note: the university is certainly – apart from the wonderful campus character – stylistically and architecturally no better than German universities, and sometimes even significantly more dilapidated. The difference is in the people and the consciousness you encounter at Berkeley. The lecturers (at least those I got to know) WANT TO HELP, the students WANT TO LEARN and usually have enormous ambitions. You can see that on the one hand by the fact that my homework was corrected within two days and I was immediately able to see my report. On the other hand, you can see that, for example, by the fact that the IHOUSE library was still (or was it again?) Well filled at 6:00 am before the final exams! And if everyone learns, then you learn yourself too…
- Check topschoolsintheusa for more about University of California Berkeley Rankings.
An uncomfortable subject. Berkeley costs a lot of money. It starts with the flight, extends to university fees and housing costs. In addition, the organization of leisure time is quite cost-intensive and often associated with travel costs (rental car, BART). For flight + IHOUSE + a course, you should plan at least € 5000.