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IN BERKELEY---Qiushui Xu,2016 Mathematics

Author: Time:2019-05-13

In the summer of 2018, I attended the summer exchange program at the UC Berkeley and spent a very fulfilling summer vacation. In the so short 42 days, I have experienced the great differences between China and the United States in terms of economy, education, society, etc., and the joy of integrating into foreign cultures.I was deeply impressed by the campus environment and cultural atmosphere here.There are twelve time-zones between China and the West Coast of the United States. Recalling the afternoon when we arrived at San Francisco airport, we just got off the plane and felt very cool. Entering the customs, people in the queue had a variety ofskin colorsand spoke a variety of languages. When I saw the words "San Francisco" at the airport, in my heart, besides the expectation and excitement of coming to the new world, I was more nervous and embarrassed, worried whether or not I can integrate into life here successfully, communicate with foreigners in a proper way, or gain valuable lessons and knowledge from the summer session in the coming month.

The University of California at Berkeley is known for its free and inclusive style of studying. Being on campus is deeply infected by such atmosphere. The San Francisco Bay Area has a large ethnic diversity and a relatively open culture. Students on campus can see a variety of skin colors and ages. Students often have paintings, musical performances, or political speeches on the small square. Everyone is also eccentric about the small-scale parades on campus. Berkeley has launched the "freedom of speech movement", and there is still a "Free Speech Movement Cafe" next to the main library on campus to commemorate the movement. Students are here to rush to discuss papers and projects or rush to buy a cup of coffee and a sandwich during the class. The café always has a continuous,long line,where itis hard to find a vacant seat. There are a variety of student organizations on campus, and the activity for communities tore cruit new membersis very popular. There are many Chinese students on campus, so you can often hear familiar language on campus. It is also because of the diversity of cultures that cross-cultural research conditions are more convenient in Berkeley, and many psychology studies recruit participants who speak Chinese.


Arriving at school earlier allows us to have time visiting the campus and the surrounding area. Berkeley belongs to the Greater San Francisco Bay Area,San Francisco City in a broad sense. In fact San Francisco consists of many cities and Berkeleyis situated on the edge of the Bay Area. Although Berkeley is far from the prosperous international metropolises of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.Consequently, Berkeley iseven dubbed by the classmates as the village,whereasit is not that desolate. The campus is not as big as imagined. It takes less than half an hour to walk from one side to the other, butthere are all kinds of colleges here.Each building has its own characteristics. More than a dozen Nobel Prize winners have been born in the building.The biggest feeling of the semester here can be summarized asa word - tired. I have finished two courses this semester, which is enough for my entire time of the week. The biggest difference between the teaching methods in the United States and the domestic ones is thatthe proportion of time spent in the courses is much higher. If you can guarantee the quality of each assignment, you really don't need to review it, for you can master this course very well. The commonly used pre-test surprises review in China are really useless. What impressed me deeply was the work of six fieldworks,especially while going to a concert. I was scared for a long time because of security problems. Fortunately, I finally enjoyed a cozy concert. This seemingly very different kind of homework is quite common here, simple and ordinary.

Berkeley’s campus life is filled with reading, essays, and exams. In American classrooms, professors spend less time on lectures, and each class usually lasts for 1 hour or 1.5 hours. But each class is accompanied by a weekly discussion session of graduate students. TA sometimes talks about supplemental content, review and summary of the class, and sometimes homework counseling. In addition, professors and postgraduate teaching assistants will also vacate a tutoring time, patiently answering the questions of the students who “find the door”. In the curriculum, Berkeley's courses are various and extremely flexible. For us who are not native speakers of English, plenty of reading materials may be a big challenge, but it will be more and more smooth if you stay for a long time, and the level of GRE reading will be greatly improved.

Another point is that “hard work pays off”are more realistic in the learning life here. Because the learning task is really tough,and everyone's previous knowledge reservoirsare sonegligiblein front of the secourses. Everyone is a freshman.Themore paper you read, the more and deeper you can understand your teacher.The excellent teachers also learn from the guidance of their predecessors. Every time students think about it, they have a lot of confidence because they know only if they work hard, they can reach their ideal height. In addition, in the classroom, professors are more willing to give us enough time to discuss and absorb so that we can form our own views. This is inconsistent with some of the teaching methods in China. We are no longer constrained to listening. More importantly, we must truly understand and absorb new knowledge and opinions, and we must demonstrate ourselves to find better arguments to support it in further discussion with the students around. If you don't do any thinking and don't participate in any discussion, you will be completely unable to integrate into life here. In the end, your achievements will not be as you wish. I really felt the first time that the effortin ordinary time was much more significant than the effort before the exam.

The time and space of my family's old friends magnified the ups and downs of life, but my independent living ability was also exercised in such an experience. I am aware of my shortcomings in expression and communication, but I also feel an urge to study hard.

Time flies. When I was still working on unraveling more unknown areas, I was unaware that 42 dayspassed. In this summer, we have explored the long-established Stanford University, strolled through the world-famous San Francisco Bay, walked through Union Square in person, and took a group of photos at the landmark Golden Gate Bridge. It can be said that this 42-day experience has brought me tremendous impacts, both in learning and in life. In conclusion, it has given me a new thinking modeand life experience, which made me more embarrassed about the future graduate career in the United States. At the same time, it also lays a solid foundation for me to adapt to the future foreign learning life. I am grateful to my parents for their unconditional love and support, and to the school for providing such a valuable opportunity for me to successfully complete a meaningful summer exchange course.


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