One woman, one study abroad trip and one top public university in America. This is the dream adventure for Yasmin Graeml, a student enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley’s (UC Berkeley) International Study Program. BISP, as it’s known, is a program that provides short-term study abroad opportunities for visiting international students to study at UC Berkeley for one or two semesters.
Like many who have enrolled in BISP, Graeml is determined to make the most of this exciting opportunity. For the aspiring journalist, Journalism 201: Advanced News Reporting, and Journalism 222: Interactive Narratives aren’t just another lecture session to attend. Instead, these modules allow her to experiment with subjects and world-class faculty she wouldn’t have access to back home in Brazil, opening many new doors for her future career.
After classes, Yasmin attends meetings and parties, filling up her schedules with new connections and forging lifelong relationships. The weekends and term breaks are when the influencer works on her travel blog, checking out what San Francisco and the rest of the US has to offer, from Hawaii to Disneyland and Hollywood. In short, her first semester has been an unforgettable journey.
Now into her second semester, she’s eager to see what else is in store. We follow her experience for a day to get a feel of what BISP is all about:
7:00am: An energetic start
Coffee? Check. Laptop? Check. Excitement to take on another day in America’s #1 public university? Check.
8.35am: No ordinary bus ride
While most students live within walking distance to campus, Yasmin lives farther away and takes the bus.
Waiting for the bus is a mundane act most people don’t take much notice of. But as an international student living in the Bay Area – home to world-class universities, Genentech and Silicon Valley – a bus ride is never just a bus ride here. Yasmin gets to see the gorgeous views of this region, feel the lovely climate it’s so famous for and meet the extremely diverse people that this place attracts.
9.10am: Advanced News Reporting course
How does social network help the 21st century journalist? Can Facebook be trusted as a place to identify story ideas and trends? What digital media tools and platforms can today’s writers use to promote their work? These are the questions Yasmin and her fellow students explore during their their Advanced News Reporting course. Offered by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, this course inspires learners to follow in the footsteps of those who came before them; those who went on to staff the country’s top news organizations and win virtually every major industry award.
10.45am: Let the adrenaline flow
With so much good food in San Francisco, working out is a given. And at the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) and its 100,000 square feet of space for every activity imaginable, it’s fun too! Whether it’s to swim, lift weights, play basketball, run, row or bike, there’s something here for everyone.
12pm: Lunch at the International House
Food brings us together, and where better than a center that unites nearly 600 ambitious students from 74 nationalities? A quick lunch at the International House fuels not just their stomachs, but their minds too. From leadership workshops to international festivals – this is the place to be to foster intercultural respect, understanding, lifelong friendships, and leadership skills.
2-4pm: An inspiring environment to get work done
It’s hard to count how many libraries UC Berkeley has. There’s the Anthropology Library, Data Library, Mathematics Statistics Library, East Asian Library, Newspapers and Microforms Library, the Music Library, Transportation Studies Library – and the list goes on. All 25 libraries enrich this great university by connecting students and scholars to the world of information and ideas.
Yasmin’s favourite is the Moffitt Library. One of the busiest campus libraries, it has an undergraduate course reserves, computer lab, makerspace, media center, copy center and campus classrooms. The hustle, bustle and energy here makes it the perfect space for her to study, read and catch up with work for her travel blog, or to study for her Social Networks class the next day, a course offered in the Demography Department that focuses on understanding the different ways that people are connected to one another.
4.30pm: Early Dinner/Prep
It’s back to the International House for an early dinner and preparation for class later on. Will it be at the Dining Commons with its rotating entrees and desserts from around the world? Or the I-House Cafe for that relaxing cafe vibe and incredible bay views?
6.00pm: By students, for students
Yasmin is ready to take on the last stretch of her day as she walks to her DeCal course focused on “Fiction Review.” The DeCal Program (or just DeCal) is a student-run program where students create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of subjects under the guidance of a professor, many of which are not addressed in the traditional curriculum. From Taiwanese Language to The Simpsons and Philosophy, there are over 150 courses to choose from. Programs can be used to meet the University’s minimum unit requirement, developing a new or past interest, and meeting peers in a small, comfortable environment. No wonder thousands of UC Berkeley students sign up every year!
7.30pm: Yearbook group meeting
With so many great memories being made, there needs to be an official venue to immortalise them. Enter the Blue & Gold Yearbook; the official yearbook for UC Berkeley. Published since 1875, it provides readers coverage of events, issues and trends within the Berkeley community.
It’s hard work to design, produce, market, and distribute the book. But joining the group of people that make this possible lets Graeml learn more about the place and people. Plus, where better to hone her journalistic skills and be part of the community than at a group whose mission is to “truthfully encapsulate the current, unique Berkeley identity — its culture, events, and lifestyle — as students, for the students”?
It’s the end of the day for Yasmin, but not the “Berkeley experience,” an eye-opening and inspiring journey which will stay with her for a long time to come.
In her words: “Studying in Berkeley gave me a chance to network and meet people that think a different way than I am used to. I guess that is a big part of studying abroad ~ learning to understand that there are many different lifestyles, ways of thinking and doing things!”
A great study abroad experience awaits at UC Berkeley. Don’t miss out!