Pre-Trip

Course Selection:

HASS

ECON 1 001 – Introduction to Economics (click here)

ECON N110 – Game Theory in Social Sciences

Highly recommended. The course is really interesting and relevant with many relatable concepts on decision making in the real world. Professor Sandhyarani is really good at teaching and explaining the concepts in class.

ASAMST W20AC – Asian American Communities and Race Relations

I would recommend this course for those seeking to broaden your perspective on ethnic issues that will unlikely be taught in Singapore. The course offers an alternative option of Community Work in replacement of a final Research Paper. The community work provided me an opportunity to immerse myself into local culture by volunteering at the Nihonmachi Street Fair in Japantown and interact with the locals. Course is well-paced and assignments are manageable.

PSYCH W1 – General Psychology

Difficult to balance all the new content. Would not recommend taking, highly time consuming. Would recommend considering Social Psychology (Session D) instead.

ENVECON C118 – Econometrics

Homeworks require programming (in R) and questions are mainly quantitative rather than qualitative. There are 5 weekly quizzes (of which the top 4 are counted), a midterm and a final. No essay writing for any of the assignments/quizzes/exams. Has a lot of stats content, but in the end, most of the exam questions seem to follow the same structure as past year papers, meaning that it can be quite easy to score.

ENERES W100 – Energy and Society

This course has 3 online lectures every week, totalling not more than 1 hour. Readings are provided but are not compulsory, which saves a huge amount of time that can be spent on your other subject or going out to play. However, on some weeks, the homework can be rather intensive and time-consuming.

Surprisingly, this course has a significant amount of calculation questions, so if you prefer quantitative questions over qualitative essay writing (which I assume most people that go to SUTD do), this course is for you.

This course, aside from learning about the impacts of energy usage in human society, also briefly examines the different dominate energy sources today and how it works. One huge chunk of the course covers the economic part of energy usage, such as the price of implementing the different energy sources, which gives us a perspective as to why renewable sources are still not our primary energy source despite having zero carbon emissions.

This course has greatly changed my perspective of energy usage around the world, and has made me more conscious whenever energy usage is involved.

ISTD

CS 61BL – Data Structures & Programming Methodology (click here)

Do note that the scope it covers is not as comprehensive as Stanford/SUTD , which means there may be a knowledge gap during programming interviews.

https://cs61bl.org/su19/

COMPSCI C8: The Foundations of Data Science

A course that is easy to do well.

http://data8.org/

ASD

ARCH 1 – Drawing a Green Future: Fundamentals of Visual Representation and Creativity

LA1 was very different from what I was expecting. I ended up learning a bit of technical skills but overall it was more of learning about the rigor and experiencing the studio lifestyle. Because summer session is an accelerated course, it feels rushed because there’s never enough time to fully expand on an idea. But I think (Professor) Sahoko was very open to different ideas (as compared to some professors) and very helpful. I think what we picked up was how to connect ideas and expand on them, new ways to gain inspiration and work on them, not so much anything about architecture. Overall a very enjoyable course despite all the late nights we had.

ARCH124 – 3-D Computer Technology

The course can get quite tedious, modelling human gestures from 3Dvideos and buildings from 2d floor plans. But it really helped me familiarise myself with the use of rhino and the use of different heuristics to convey a building plan coherently

ARCH 149 – Special Topics in Energy and Environment

This course has helped me to see buildings from a different perspective, giving insights into its energy use aspect rather than its aesthetics. I would say its a pretty useful course that touches on how to retrofit buildings that are zero energy, yet within the comfort level of its users. The instructor himself is also working in this line, hence the strategies and examples employed are current.

Travel Suggestions:

Don’t worry, pack light! The weather in Berkeley will change from about 14°C in Week 1 to 32°C in Week 8. Bringing 10 sets of clothes is more than enough as most of us would wash our clothes every week (USD1.50 for washer and USD1.25 for dryer). You are likely to buy some clothes such as Berkeley merchandise, so don’t worry about lack of clothes.

It is highly recommended to extend your trip and come early. Places we have explored during pre-trip includes Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and even Orlando!

If you are looking for cheaper flight alternatives, do consider China Southern Airlines. ANA and Singapore Airlines are highly recommended for a better trip! United Airlines has comparatively less leg space and tight spaces, making the trip less comfortable especially for long hours of flight.

International Driving Permit is not required for Singapore Driving License and a Singapore license itself would suffice. It is recommended to drive progressively from close distances to longer ones. It will take some time to get used to the roads here.

Bring your 11B! Most attractions have military discounts that accepts identity card from Singapore Armed Forces.

Road Trips:

It is recommended that you plan your road trips and book your accommodation before coming to Berkeley! Road trips that we went on during the weekends of school include Yosemite x Mammoth Mountains and Big Sur x Monterey. Do check out our previous posts for more information!

Do look out for road closures especially Tioga Road in Yosemite and plan for any detours beforehand. We would recommend visiting Mammoth Mountain as an alternative to Yosemite if you are driving as the traffic is very bad in Yosemite during the summer. We stayed at Mammoth Mountain Inn and we really liked it! We booked the following accommodation via Agoda:

2 Bedroom Condo w/Loft
Sleeps up to 11 guests and features 2 separate bedrooms – a king bed in one and queen bed in the other, a loft with a queen and 3 twin beds, a pull-out couch with queen bed in the living area, and 3 bathrooms with tub/shower. Includes a large kitchen, full dining area, iHome media player, DVD player and HDTV with satellite and premium channel service. Approximately 1,644 square feet; located in the East Wing building.

 

Car Rental Promotion Code

Enterprise (recommended): ucbgen

Hertz: 71864

* Insurance is important and is highly recommended to get and not something you should try to save on as we are new drivers on a foreign land! Do not leave your belongings in the car as it is common for thieves to steal by breaking your car’s windscreen.

SIM Card Recommendations:

Do check the websites out first as they have seasonal promotions!

Ting Mobile: uses T-Mobile networks (recommended)

Refer a friend to Ting by offering $25 in Ting credit. You get $50 for your first successful referral and $25 for each one after that.

Here is one to start you off: https://z9oj3c9dn301.ting.com/

Pay for what you use after the month! As of time of writing, 2GB of data without calls and text would cost USD26. You would have to pay for delivery of the SIM card which cost USD5.

After using referral credits, it will be almost free for a month if you limit to 2GB of data!

Mint Mobile

https://www.mintmobile.com/

As of time of writing, it would cost USD15 for 3GB of 4G LTE data per month; data speeds reduce after monthly allowance but data is unlimited.

Debit Card and Cash

Cash

I would recommend bringing USD1000 if you have subscribed for meal plans at International House. Food in California is expensive with 9.5% sales tax + minimum recommended 15% service tip. Most places would also charge extra for using card instead of cash!

YouTrip (recommended)

https://www.you.co/

Enjoy 0% transaction fees and competitive exchange rates when you use your YouTrip Mastercard in more than 150 currencies worldwide.

* However, do note that YouTrip does not have 3D Secure which is required for some online transactions (like Flixbus).

DBS Multi-Currency Account

Say goodbye to queuing at money changers, searching for the best exchange rates, worrying about FX charges when you shop online or overseas, and hello to more quality time and money saved.

Accommodation

International House has one of the best food around Berkeley. We got to host our own special dinner for National Day which you can check out in our previous post! However, it is important to note that requests for room changes will strictly not be entertained. So if you are really unlucky and have a bad roommate, best of luck for the 8 weeks.

At Berkeley

Getting to UC Berkeley

To find out how our first week went, do check our first blog post here!

International House Programmes

The Programs Department of International House organises trips almost every week that you can purchases via Eventbrite. Some trips that we have went on includes Six Flags, Alcatraz and Sacramento. Do check out our previous posts for more information!

Amazon Prime

Being a Berkeley student provides you with a .edu email account for you to sign up for a free 6 months Amazon Prime membership! Delivery to International House is also hassle free with a delivery room. Just remember to cancel your Amazon Prime subscription if you no longer need them anymore, else your credit card will be charged monthly.

Free Tickets to Places of Attraction

Sign up for a Berkeley Public Library Card to get free tickets to amazing venues throughout the Bay Area. You will need a proof of residence in Berkeley (you can present a delivery envelope with your name and address in Berkeley)

https://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/library/your-card

Places to Visit

Other interesting places we visited include Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Lake Tahoe, Emeryville, Grand Canyon, etc.

Let us know if our posts have helped you as you embark your journey for Berkeley Summer Sessions. We wish you all the best and have a great time in Berkeley! All blog posts were made possible by the following people:

Koh Xian Ming, Grace Teo, See Tow Jo Wee, Jeremy Chew, Kwa Li Ying, Dominic Lim and Cherina Yee

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