Tana: Memorable Activities and Places

As is always the case in university, it can be very easy to get caught up in your school work and forget about enjoying life outside of the library. However, since I am on exchange this semester I am trying to make an active effort to get myself away from the books and out into the world. And I do feel like I have done a fairly good job of that if I do say so myself. So for this blog, I am going to highlight a few of the memorable activities and places I have explored while on exchange so far.

Road Trips:

One of my favourite things about California is that there are so many cool places within driving distance which makes it so easy to go on spontaneous adventures. So far, I have been to Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Diego, Yosemite, San Francisco, Oakland, Davis and even Mexico! Of course, some of these places took more planning than others.

Places like San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose are fairly easy to get to because of their close proximity to Berkeley. For those of you who are wondering how to get there: the Bay area has a train system called the BART which allows for easy transportation from Oakland to San Francisco (which goes through Berkeley). There is also a bus (free for Cal students) that leaves from UC Berkeley and goes straight to San Francisco.

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The beautiful city of San Francisco at night

If I had to suggest one place not to miss while here in Northern California, it would definitely have to be Yosemite. My friends and I planned a weekend trip to the breathtaking national park during the National Parks Week which allowed us free entry into the park. Despite the place being packed with tourists, we were still able to appreciate the falls in all their beauty. As you can probably imagine, there was no photo we could have taken that would have done justice to the serenity of the views we witnessed. Nonetheless, I am inserting photos to give you a vague idea of what to expect.

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Top of Nevada Falls
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Be prepared for your legs to hurt for several days after

Mexico was another fun trip that we did during Spring Break. It in itself is a whole other story, but I would 100% recommend visiting Mexico because it was both cheap and fun. If you would like more information about how we got there and what we did, feel free to email me, and I’d be more than happy to pass on some tips.

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Post-surf
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Taken in Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico

Basketball Games:

As many of you probably know, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is a huge deal here in America, and so when I was presented with the opportunity to attend two of their games, I knew I had to go. The second game I attended was the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. I could not believe the insane talent that was playing on the court. To top it all off, I managed to get court side seats which meant I could literally see Stephen Curry’s facial expressions while he played. This was hands down one of the best nights of my life.

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Tristan Thompson trying to focus while the entire crowd “boos” him
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The remarkable Stephen Curry

As you can see, there are plenty of exciting things to do here in Northern California to keep you busy on the weekends. Not only does San Francisco constantly have events going on, but even Berkeley itself offers entertainment throughout the semester. In fact, just last week we had llamas on campus. Truly never a dull moment.

Anyways, I’ve got to go study for finals now; I can’t believe the semester is already coming to an end. Next time I write my blog will probably be back home in New Zealand.

Thanks for reading!! 🙂

Tana

Tana: Cultural Differences

As you may or may not know, I attended an American high school which means I was already exposed to the American school culture before coming on exchange. In my opinion, the “college culture” is simply an extension of this high school culture. In saying that, it’s still vastly different from the culture back home in Auckland, so I thought I’d write this blog to give you an idea of what it is like over here.

Right of the bat, I’m going to say that the school spirit is contagiously high here at UC Berkeley. In fact, I genuinely don’t think you could go anywhere on campus without seeing a sculpture of the Golden Bear, people in blue and yellow merchandise, Berkeley stickers or even just hearing someone say “Go Bears”! Even the bathrooms here, all have the “Cal” logo on their soap dispensers which I find comical even now after being here for more than three months.

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These bears sure do love posing for photos

As you all have probably seen in movies, the school spirit at college is tremendous during football games. Unfortunately, football games only happen during the fall semester which is during the second half of the year and I’m on exchange during the Spring semester. None the less, I have still been able to experience a portion of this excitement at a basketball game I attended which was against Stanford (our biggest rivals). It was definitely very exciting to be a part of such a passionate crowd!

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We got free shirts at the Basketball game!
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UC Berkeley vs Stanford (let’s not talk about the score)

Apart from the school spirit, I have also noticed other cultural differences that I don’t think I would have ever encountered at the University of Auckland. I think the best way to sum it up, is that the community at Berkeley is very understanding and accepting of all people. They work hard to create an inclusive and comfortable environment. To illustrate, it’s a common practice here at Berkeley to include your preferred pronouns (she, her, hers or he, him, his) when introducing yourself.

I have also noticed that the Berkeley culture encourages people to talk about their feelings with one another and acknowledge how certain things make them feel. This was especially prominent during the Golden Bear Orientation.

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Taken at the Golden Bear Orientation

The most common example of this was an activity that I encountered many a times wherein we were all given various descriptions, and if we fitted the description we were asked to stand up (if we felt comfortable doing so) and then we had to “notice who’s standing, notice who’s not, and notice how we feel” before sitting back down. And although this sounds like a minor activity it actually got me actively thinking about things I didn’t even know I could think about so deeply.

Another thing I would like to point out is how open-minded people are over here. Whether it be about a new idea or about other people, Berkeley truly is very accepting of everyone and everything.

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UC Berkeley’s Indian Holi Festival

So yes, even though America is an English-speaking country, there are still prominent cultural differences that have stuck out to me and broadened my horizons about things I hadn’t actively thought about before.

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to flick me an email.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Tana

Tana: A Day in the Life of a Haas Student

Hey again! For this blog I thought it would be interesting if I outlined a typical day for me here at UC Berkeley so you can get a feel of the daily life.

My Tuesday normally begins with my alarm going off at 6:45am and me snoozing for the next half hour or so. After managing to finally roll out of bed, I grab my toiletries and head to the bathroom to get freshened up. Once I have gotten ready, I take the elevator down to the dining hall, where I grab a quick breakfast.

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Morning view of Berkeley

After I have finished eating, I walk to the gym which is approximately ten-minutes away from the international house (i-house). The Berkeley gym is large recreational facility with all sorts of fitness machines, weights, basketball courts and work-out rooms. The gym is almost always packed during the mornings and nights so I only go there for the cardio classes which also tend to be full, but enjoyable nonetheless. On Tuesday mornings, I attend a BollyX class which is essentially dance cardio with Indian music. I really enjoy this class because the instructor is super energetic so it’s a great way to have a fresh start to the morning. Oh, and did I mention all of this is free for Berkeley students?!

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Dance Cardio Class

By the time I get back to i-house and take a shower, it is almost 10am. So, for the next hour and a half I usually review my notes or do my homework. When lunch rolls around, my friends and I are normally starved so we head down to the dining hall and catch up over a delicious meal.

Now it’s time for class. On Tuesday’s I have two back to back classes from 12:30 to 3:30. Both my classes are in small lecture rooms, in Haas, with approximately 25 students in each lecture. I really enjoy the small class size because it creates an interactive environment which is really nice compared to my other class which has 200 students in one lecture theatre.

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Classroom in the Chou Hall
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Haas School of Business

Now that I am done with classes for the day, I usually head to the Haas library which is one of the 29 libraries here at UC Berkeley. This library only contains business textbooks which are available for a free two-hour loan. The majority of the library consists of tables and chairs for studying; in fact, they also have cycling machines called FitDesks which can be used while studying. Although they aren’t very popular, I still think it’s a great addition to the library.

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FitDesks in the Haas Library

After a few hours of studying, I head back to the i-house dining hall for dinner. During this time, my friends and I fill each other in on our days and anything interesting we encountered that day. Depending on our schedules, this normally lasts an hour, so by the end of it I am ready to unwind. I head up to my room at around 8:30 and spend the rest of the night catching up with friends and family back home or simply just watching some Netflix.

All in all, my weekdays are quite simple and somewhat similar to those back home. However, I do feel like I have a lot more time on my hands here since I don’t have to commute to and from university.

I hope this blog helped you gain an insight of daily life here at Berkeley. If you are interested in finding out more about the particular classes I am taking this semester, feel free to shoot me an email at tkap973@aucklanduni.ac.nz.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Tana

Tana: Accommodation at UC Berkeley

I am currently sitting on my bed on a rainy (Yes, it rains in California) Sunday night, looking out at the city lights. I can’t believe that it has been exactly one month since I arrived in the States. I have done so much in the past month, and yet it feels like I’ve only been here for two weeks.

For my first blog post I would like to talk about accommodation because it was something that I was very worried about before coming on the exchange.

UC Berkeley has several housing options available for exchange students depending on their individual preferences, all of which I researched before making my decision. I encourage you to do the same, but I would like to make this blog about the international house (i-house) which was where I chose to reside for the next few months.

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Taken at the i-house retreat

Application:

To live at the i-house, you must fill out an application a couple months before your intended stay. From what I remember, it wasn’t too extensive but it did require an essay, asking you to explain why you wanted to be a part of this community.

My suggestion would be to apply as soon as the applications are available because the rooms fill up fast. In fact, I was one of the first people to fill out my application and was bumped up to a premium room on the top floor.

Location:

As you do your research, you’ll learn that the i-house is located on Piedmont Avenue which is the home of all the fraternity and sorority houses here at Berkeley. It is also a two-minute walk from the Haas School of Business which is incredibly handy for me.

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i-house entrance

Room:

Based on your application, the i-house admissions team will try their best to pair you with a roommate who has similar sleeping habits and tidiness preferences.

I am sharing my room with a girl from Hong Kong who is also studying at Haas. Although it is a little weird at first to share your personal space with a stranger, it’s another great learning curve that adds to the exchange experience.

Hands down though, the best part of our room is the incredible view from the window. We are one of the few lucky people here at i-house who get a view of the whole campus, the bay and the golden gate bridge!

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My side of the room
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View from my window

Food:

As a resident, our meal plan is included in the accommodation fees. For the Spring Semester, I have 216 meal swipes loaded onto my Cal ID Card which is more than enough since I plan on spending some of my weekends out of town.

All meals here are buffet style and we are free to go back for more food as many times as we like.

During the week, they serve three meals a day, and on the weekends, they offer brunch and dinner.

The chefs serve a variety of options for every meal, to accommodate all dietary needs. Now, to answer the question you’ve been burning to know the answer to- yes, the food is delicious! In fact, if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can ask anyone here at UC Berkeley; i-house is campus-famous for their great food!

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Dining hall on Chinese New Years

Atmosphere:

The sense of community here at i-house is simply the cherry on top. Whether it be walking down the hallway, or waiting for the elevator, you’re bound to see a smiling face which makes being away from home a whole lot easier.

Additionally, most of the people here are international students who are all in the same boat as you, so you know you’re not alone.

The international house also offers retreats, coffee nights, Zumba classes, and multiple other events to help you meet new people, make the most of your limited time here, and ensure you always have something to do.

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Taken at the i-house retreat
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Taken at the Sunday supper event

All in all, I am extremely glad I chose to live at the i-house because it has exceeded all of my expectations and introduced me to some incredible people from all around the globe.

If you are considering living here and have any questions or simply want to know more, feel free to email me at tkap973@aucklanduni.ac.nz.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Tana