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Exploring UC Berkeley
Author:Raju Maskey  Date:2018-05-10  Clicks:

UC Berkeley is one of the most prestigious universities in world and getting an opportunity to attend an academic program there is a dream for many. For Zhang Yannie, WHU has made this hitherto unimaginable exchange attainable. Zhang, an academically astute sophomore, is currently studying in Berkeley as an exchange student.

About her first impression of the prestigious bay area campus, she said, “When I first arrived at UC Berkeley, it was quite different from my imagination. It is located in a small town, and is not as big as WHU, but still very beautiful.” She can now immerse herself in the vibrant, urban world of UC Berkeley and be thrilled to experience a profound campus culture and the unwavering Cal spiritof the students there.

She takes pleasure in learning and attending enchanting lectures, and the copious assignments do not scare her. In fact, she has a rapacious appetite for knowledge. Ticking off social events on the docket is one of her favorite things to do at Berkeley. She enjoys sauntering around the campus on a crisp, sunny day to escape the ennui after studying for hours, and the sight of the baroque buildings are mood-lifting and inspiring to her.

This exchange at Berkeley is perfectly well-timed and gives her an opportunity to absorb the basics of her major’s subjects. “The classes here are wonderful! I can tell that professors have great passion for their teaching and the discussion sections are helpful. Though the workload is heavy (in fact, I am struggling every day), I feel that I am learning something worthwhile and would like to continue to do it”, she said.

Berkeley has one of the highest population of Asian students among American universities and this shocked her the most, “The thing that shocks me here is the large number of Asian students. One of my friend calls it Asian dominant culture. Sometimes when I dine in foothill (our cafe), it seems like I did not go abroad.” This eventful journey of self-discovery and learning has been nothing short of fulfilling and has groomed her into an articulate and smart young woman.

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Zhang Yannie

While transitioning from WHU to UC Berkeley, there were obstacles aplenty. It took time to adjust to new and totally unconventional rules. Classes take place in Berkeley time, 10 minutes past their scheduled start time and no classes are held on Fridays. The weekend starts early for Berkeley students .

There is an abundance of dining options off-campus, so only few students dine in dining halls. Every now and then, crowd funding campaigns, carnivals, student-organized concerts and group museum tours attract many students to engage. Similarly, social media and payment methods are completely different; WeChat is swapped for Instagram, and Alipay for Venmo. The few downsides to student life in Berkeley are the growing number of homeless people and student protests. The campus has arranged bearwalksfor students commuting during night time. Nevertheless, all these aspects form the heart and soul of the whole experience and after all, a successful exchange means wholeheartedly embracing everything the host campus has to offer.

The exchange program has also been eye-opening to Zhou Ruohan, a diligent senior and history major, who went to Berkeley last fall. He said, “My experience in Berkeley was fruitful and busy. I used to stay in the library all day. I took three history courses in UC Berkeley, which means that I was supposed to do a lot of readings and writings every week.” It has changed his outlook on life, opened new vistas of learning and prepared him for the heated competition in graduate school.

About his library-dwelling predilections, he said, “Given my limited English reading skill, I had to spend most of my spare time in the library. I’m pretty impressed that there are so many libraries in UC Berkeley (Probably over 30 libraries are available for undergraduate students), and many of them close really late, which reminds me that the libraries in Wuhan University close at 10PM every day.” After successfully completing the exchange, he felt all his efforts paid off.

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Zhou Ruohan

With the development of WHU’s special scholarship for undergraduates’ overseas exchange, there is a trend of WHUers going on exchange programs abroad in recent years. Students are able to rekindle casual interests in arts, photography or sports while studying and travelling in another country. It behooves them to reflect on their interests and personality traits. It is natural to be agnostic about the self-funded exchange programs. But, money is only a means to an end. Zhang and Ruohan are the exemplars of success and stand as a testament to all the joys and benefits of an exchange program.

(Photo from the interviewees)

(Edited by: Xu Mengyu, Zheng Yayun, Edmund Wai Man Lai, Liu Jiachen and Liu Xiaoli)


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