My First Month Milestones

I can’t imagine that I have been in California for a month. The day I was in Hong Kong airport feels just like yesterday. The past month could be the most colorful and life-changing experience for me.

I learned how to get around town

Berkeley is a university town near San Francisco, which is a 30-minute drive away. BART is the most convenient transportation connecting the whole Bay Area. Because I arrived before the program started, I couldn’t take the shuttle SAF offered. But it’s easy to take BART from SFO airport to downtown Berkeley and the university.

I learned how to be brave and ask for help—in English

Thanks to some of my American friends living in Berkeley, I stayed in their apartment for a night. I have to say that most of the Americans I have met they are so friendly and willing to offer help to strangers. Not only my friends, but also the BART staff, passersby who showed me the way, and the staff of SAF. If it’s the first time you have been in America, just be brave to ask for help if you need. Don’t worry about your language; they won’t laugh at your accent or grammar. Being brave to talk could be the most important thing for your journey and daily life. 

I learned how to navigate a different approach to academics abroad

UC Berkeley offers every student an orientation which explains almost everything you need to know in the future, including academic and basic life tips. And teachers and assistants are willing to help you solve your problems/answer questions—just feel free to email them. The first week is actually a little bit tiring for every student, because you have to take part in many courses you are interested in and then make decisions about whether the course is appropriate for you to enroll in. 

Even though we don’t have the priority to choose whatever courses we want, there are still many choices for us exchange students. I major in finance at my home university, so I have chosen two courses from Haas Business School, which is an outstanding global business school. Even though I only take half the number of courses here, compared to the number of courses in my home university, I still feel fulfilled—and some pressure—from the coursework. Maybe it’s a result of language barriers or a different learning system, but it reminds me that I have to devote more time to my studying, which also means that I could learn more.

I learned how to make the most of my time as an SAF Scholar

Many of my friends ask me how long I will stay here. I answer: “one semester.” They always reply: ”That’s so short, so make it count!” Yes! They are right! Just make it count.