I spent six weeks with a fellow student at the University of California at Berkeley during Summer Session A. First of all, I would like to briefly say something about the application process. The support from MicroEDU was really great. Inquiries were answered promptly and you were kept up to date. The application itself was also totally relaxed. If I want to go abroad again, I’ll be happy to use this free service again. We recommend!
The session started on May 26th and lasted until July 2nd, 2009. I can actually advise everyone to come to the Bay Area a few days in advance to relax from jetlag and explore San Francisco in a relaxed manner. There is only limited time for this during the session.
We arrived in San Francisco on Thursday evening and stayed at the Union Square Backpackers Hostel downtown San Francisco over the weekend. The hostel is not really recommended, but there are a few other cheap options to stay downtown, such as the “Union Square Plaza”. On Sunday afternoon we took the “BART” S-Bahn over to Berkeley to check in at the Residence Halls. Compared to much of America, the Bay Area has a pretty good and cheap public transportation system. Berkeley has two S-Bahn stations that go directly to San Francisco and the airport (maybe one change at most). For a short period of six weeks, the gold is worth it as you don’t feel like you have to buy a car to get ahead. Read more student reviews on Anycountyprivateschools.
In Berkeley we were housed in “Unit 2, Ehrman Building”. In the summer there were mostly students from India, Mexico and China. All super friendly people. The only drawback was that most of them were not yet 21 and you couldn’t go for a beer with them in the evening. Americans were only a handful, if any. Our two-bed room was sufficient for six weeks. Nothing special but not bad either. Anyone who has ever been to a dorm knows what I’m talking about. There were shared showers and toilets in the hallway, which were completely cleaned every day. All in all okay.
The “Unit 2” building complex was about 10 to 15 minutes’ walk away from the Hass School of Business on campus, where the marketing lectures were held. There is a literally excellent coffee shop on the way there. The cafeteria, the “Crossroads”, was only one block away from Unit 2. There you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. In my opinion, the selection and the quality of the food was really excellent, especially if you wanted to compare it to German canteens. The whole thing was buffet style and there were different dishes every day to choose from. If you didn’t want that, you could help yourself at the salad bar, put together a burger and fries yourself or make a fresh pizza slice. There were vending machines everywhere and you could eat and drink as much as you wanted. What impressed me the most was the sandwich station, where you could have a sandwich made by a friendly lady in a good subway manner. For six weeks you have a real “all-round carefree” package, even as a vegan.
During the session we had chosen two courses: Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications. We had both courses three times a week for 2.5 hours each. Most of all, I really liked Integrated Marketing Communications. If you have the opportunity to take a course from Bill Fanning, get it. The best teacher I’ve ever had in my life, honestly. What I didn’t like in retrospect was the fact that the requested syllabi did not match the current syllabi during the application phase. Since my decision for the respective courses was based exclusively on the syllabi, it was a disappointment on site. To be fair, if I had known beforehand which professor in marketing we would be approaching (Karlinsky), I would probably not have made a different decision, because he didn’t get bad reviews on ratemyprofessors.com. Nevertheless, it would certainly be desirable to keep up-to-date syllabi. The courses weren’t necessarily difficult, but you always had to do a lot. Reading (sometimes 60 pages per day and course), weekly case studies, presentations, team meetings, etc. For German students in Berkeley, getting a good or very good grade is definitely within the scope of what is feasible and not everything is eaten as hot as it is is cooked.
Party technically, Berkeley is relatively dead during the summer. Nothing is possible downtown. The only shop is the “Blakes” where you can also party well during the week. Otherwise there was always halligalli in the I-House, where about 30 French people were furious. In San Francisco I recommend the “Mission District” which also has two S-Bahn stations that lead directly to Berkeley.
Conclusion: Due to its good reputation around the world, I made a conscious decision to go to the Berkeley Campus – after all, something like that also looks good on your résumé. I haven’t regretted it for a second. However, I would not have thought how fresh it can still be in the Bay Area at this time and that we had about as many sunny days as there were cool and foggy days. So if you are aiming for a session true to the motto “Surfin ‘California”, you should probably go down to San Diego. Even those who do not really value their good reputation should perhaps choose another university, the six weeks were already quite expensive. In any case, you should keep at least two weeks free after the session to take a vacation. During the session, contrary to expectations, it also happened that that we couldn’t travel at the weekend because we had so much on our minds… with just six weekends that’s annoying and the Bay Area has a hell of a lot to offer: Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park and a thousand other beautiful things. I also recommend flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas for a weekend. If you have the change, you end up flying to Hawaii for two weeks, and return flights from San Francisco are not that expensive.