This final post is going to be a collection of final thoughts, tips, and anything. Actually, I’ve ended up extending my exchange to a year, so it won’t be my final thoughts per se, but it will be the last post of the semester.
Finals & “DEAD WEEK”
Similarly to how UoA has exam study leave after lectures finish, UCB has what they call Reading, Review, and Recitation (RRR) Week, a.k.a. DEAD WEEK. It is a week before exams for students to prepare for their exams, or cram a whole semester worth of work because you know what they say, diamonds are made under pressure.
Unlike UoA however, final exams are all scheduled in the following week.
Some of the libraries, like Moffitt, are open 24-hours, so you’re likely to find severely sleep deprived students camping out there. It’s also very competitive to find seats so, be warned. I stuck to studying in my room or the lounge in my residence hall. Instead of having final exams as such, I had a number of final projects, which were just as, if not more, time-consuming.
It was also ironic how I was reviewing ‘insomnia’ for my ‘Psychology of Sleep’ class at 2AM, depriving myself of sleep. Sorry Matt (my professor). I tried.
Despite the all-nighters, I did pretty well.
The residence halls have a strict policy about checking out times. Of course you are free to leave as soon as your exams are finished, but they have a specific time on the day after finals end: if you stay any longer than that time, it was $100 per hour overstayed. Over winter break, you are allowed to leave your belongings in your room, since you’ll be returning there. So people would just take their clothes, laptop etc and leave things such as bedding.
On the final night, we decided to celebrate the end of our first semester at Berkeley by going to an escape room (OMESCAPE), in which we figured out the laws of time-travelling with 8 minutes to spare.
We then went on to karaoke; to cry, to celebrate, I don’t know. But, we had a blast with our repertoire which consisted of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Hispanic songs.
Overall, my semester at Berkeley has been a wild one, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else. I’m super grateful for the friends, experiences and opportunities that I’ve had. Like I mentioned earlier, I will be returning to Berkeley for another semester (!!!) which I’m sure will be another adventure, and you know how to reach me for any advice (see first blog post).
Before I say bye for the last time, I shall leave you with some last-minute tips:
- US prices don’t include taxes. Remember that, so you don’t get confused at the counter.
- Might be worth noting San Francisco also has one of the highest tax rates, so.. if you’re wanting to buy a new laptop or something, try somewhere else.
- TIPS. I must admit, I’m still not quite used to the tipping culture here but the general rule of thumb is this: if they have table service, you tip. If not, it’s not necessary.
- When you receive the receipt, it already tells you how much you can tip at the bottom. For example, 15% = $XX, 20% = $XX. You indicate how much you want to tip your waiter and you write the total at the bottom. I generally gave them 15%.
- It may feel strange feeling like you have to tip, but remember, the tips are usually how the employees earn their money, and hopefully, their service is that good that you don’t feel hesitant about tipping.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading up on my Berkeley experiences, I’m glad to have been able to share a little bit of that with y’all.
If you’ve applied or confirmed to be going on an exchange, kudos to you. You’re going to have a blast. It may not be all that you expect, but then it could be more. Either way, enjoy the ride. If you’re thinking about going on an exchange, I strongly recommend it. As cliché as it sounds, I’ve learnt so much and feel that I’ve grown as a person in a way that would only be possible in Berkeley. Thank you to 360 International, and UC Berkeley for this opportunity and I cannot wait to be back in 2019.
But for now, some well-needed rest with my family back in New Zealand!