Coming to the US is a check off the bucket list! Always wanted to come here, get a tub of some exotic flavoured Ben and Jerry’s and walk along the streets with the locals. After two (very long and uncomfortable) flights, we travelled across the Pacific ocean and FINALLY touched down in California. We drove along the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge on our way to UC Berkeley.

San Francisco is quite hilly, and there were little Victorian houses dotted along the hills as we passed by. (Being easily amazed because in Singapore we only have Bukit Timah.)

Berkeley is a city in North California, just a short distance away from San Francisco. We reached UC Berkeley, and went straight to our hostel. It’s called International House and is home to students from many countries. Most of us are here for the Summer Sessions.

The college has been great so far. The weather starts at around 16°C in the early morning and it becomes exponentially hotter when you’re under the sun. But as long as you’re in the shade, it’s nice and cool. We don’t even need the aircon in lectures because the temperature is low enough. And the trees here are amazing. Here’s the Campanile posing with 10 trees that all look different.

And Sather Gate that all of us walk through on our way to classes.

And there’s Justin.

I love the streets in UC Berkeley. It’s a university town, because there’s so much life apart from just the educational institutions. There’s a whole lot of food, shopping (we spent a lot already and it’s only day 2) and people just chilling in the outdoors. Classrooms and lecture theatres here are arranged in halls which are dotted around the campus.  It’s amazing how one side of the campus has modern and new halls, and the other side has tall redwood trees and wooden lodges. It’s a good mix of urban and nature.

I guess exploring a place like this is the true student exchange experience. You are thrown into a whole new environment and expected to find your way around. There is no one to tell you where to go for classes, where to get your meals, and what your list of tasks are. You aren’t cooped up in a small community that consists of just classroom blocks, but are free to explore. You get to go to hipster cafes, restaurants with cuisines of every ethnicity, wander into one of the many parks, or just walk around to admire the campus architecture. It’s pretty cool how this sort of dynamic character is reflected in the students.

The first time we walked along a street like this, we didn’t even know it was still within the college campus.

Took a break here with the climbers after morning class. Bubble tea in the US is called Boba tea. Hahaha cute.

Here’s South Hall, School of Information. It’s the oldest building in campus.

This is Wurster Hall, the college of Environmental Design. It is apparently voted the ugliest building, but the concrete finish is intentional to give it a Brutalist design. Don’t judge it by appearances though, it is one of the most prestigious architecture schools in the US.

Found a dandelion!

The sun sets at around 8.30pm during summer and the sky gets all nice and glowy. And every time I see it, it feels kinda surreal that I’m in Berkeley. (Plus American pizza is amazing.)

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