Experience in UCB
by Wangcheng( Chemistry class of 2016)
This summer, we went to University of California, Berkeley (UCB) for the summer session. It is a very precious opportunity to experience the class and life in the USA, which is both challenging and wonderful.
I chose twocourses:Classic MythandIntroduction to Human Nutrition. It was really challengingfor me to understand the lectures , not only because I was not used to have English lessons, especially the vocabulary but also because I was not familiar with the content of the classes. Therefore, the first few lessons were very hard for me to get what the teachers said. Reading all the materials also caused much difficulty. I had about 60-100 pages to read every day, but I could read only about 10-15 pages per hour. I have to spend much more time than those whose mother language is English to finish all of the tasks. It also took me a lot of time to search on the Internet to get the essential background information on my classes.
Writing papers were even more difficult. The papers should be based on the reading materials, so a lot of reading was unavoidable before writing,. To write a paper, remember the general plot of the materials is far from enough, we must focus more on the details. Sometimes, even a word or a sentence can become especially important and worth analyzing. What made it more difficult was that in many occasions, I did not know how to express my idea in English. I had to write with a translation software. but I was still confused about which express was ‘academic’. Besides language, another challenge was that the way Americans organize their ideas are different from Chinese. It took me plenty of time to modify the order of paragraphs to make it closer to the way Americans express their ideas.
Fortunately, I got a lot of help from my teachers. Each time I submit my draft, I would get many suggestions from my teacher about how to make it better and what I should take care of when I work on the topic. There were many opportunities to get contact with our teachers and solve our questions, such as email, office hours and breaks during the class. Teaching assistants can also offer much help if teachers do not have time to answer the questions. When I had some questions on my assignment, the teaching assistant was always willing to help me if I send an email to ask her. With the help of my teachers and teaching assistants, I could get through the challenges more easily.
The evaluation system of UCB also left deep impression on me. It is similar to Chinese universities that final exams cannot decide all of the scores. However, the evaluation system of UCB can let you know very clearly about how your total scores are formed.Forexample, the total score ofClassic Mythsconsists of attendance, quizzes, midterm exams, two papers and the final exam. Every class has its own system to make the evaluation, but all the classes have a very clear list of how to get each point in the syllabus posted on the website of the course. The evaluation system in UCB is very convincing and scientific.
When it comes to the life in UCB, there are many activities for us to get relax and communicate with each other in the dormitory Sometimes even some trips were launched around Berkeley. Every Thursday, a party would be held with snacks and board games. The main lounge on the ground in the building was also a good place to talk or have fun with friends. UCB greatly encourages the communication between students from different rooms, different buildings and different cultures, which is an aspect of the open culture of UCB.
UCB is open to students and visitors from all over the world, which gives us a great opportunity to talk with people from many different cultures. Apart from the Summer Session, UCB has many other programs during the summer time. Many students from junior high, senior high, and even some from primary schools, study or have a visit in Berkeley during the summertime. This year, the World Cup was held in Russia. The matches often started at American lunchtime. Therefore, when having lunch, many soccer fans at different ages and from different countries would sit in front of the screen in the dining hall, watching football games together. The experience of watching matches with so many people from different cultures was really exciting.
As a college with a very long history, there are many historical buildings in UCB. Trees, lawn and squirrels can be seen everywhere on the campus. The scenery itself attracts many visitors from the USA and other countries. About the historical building, although the buildings are designed and built in a very classic way, the inner teaching facilities are very modern. These old buildings are well protected and made full use of, which made me impressed about the American experience on how to treat the old buildings. These old buildings, together with the new buildings in a modern style make the campus more attractive and beautiful.
Overall, the experience in UCB is very worthwhile. It gave us a lot of opportunities to use English, in daily life and study. What’s more, during the six-week study, we got access to the American classes, andlearneda different way to study, think and research. At first, it was very difficult for us to understand the content of the lectures. But at last, we could even make a good job on our papers and exams. Our ability of study absolutely improved a lot during the summer session. At last, I want to show my gratitude to Cuiying Honors College for giving me this opportunity to go aboard and have this wonderful experience in the University of California, Berkeley.