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期 刊 | Traveling & Learning: My Adventure Life at Berkeley


Three months at UC Berkeley gave me huge opportunities to explore the campus culture there, to experience the “first-hand” lectures at this one of the most prestigious schools in the world and to have the chances to know what exactly I want to learn in my future and the possibilities in my future career choices!


After the torturing and tiring flight of 13 hours, I finally landed at San Francisco International Airport. I could foresee a 3-month adventure life ahead of me at University of California at Berkeley with huge joy and curiosity.


However, my first impressions on Berkeley were not pleasant.


When I got off the BART (the underground system in the Bay Area), I was stunned. I wasn’t greeted with the harmonious neighborhood in Berkeley. Instead, the smell of marijuana came into my nose; the homeless people were shouting out some curse words at me, smashing items on the street; around the street corner, a man came out of nowhere and asked me for cash. During my first night in Berkeley, I fell asleep accompanied by the noise of sirens and the buzz on my phone of the safety alarm from the school authority. I was scared.


Friends around me told me that it might take a while to get used to it but Berkeley never failed to fascinate you.


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Academic Life at UC Berkeley


After my settling, I began my class sessions. I attended a journalism summer program at Berkeley whose courses were basically about news writing and reporting, multimedia and social media. I had full access to those most experienced and renowned professors in the journalism field and their tutor. They opened a brand new world of journalism for me and enriched my background of this subject.


There are some differences I noticed between the class in China and the USA. First of all, students at American classes are more active and creative. They always keep thinking and highly focus on class. They like to shout out the answers, “argue” with professors about different ideas and have really heated group discussion. Students there have their own thoughts and are willing to express themselves. During the first month in class, I didn’t have the courage to jump into their discussion or even raise questions to my fellows or teachers. 


Secondly, they focus a lot on pre-class reading. There were times when we needed to read more than 50 pages reading materials one night or a book for a week. These readings are the origins of thoughts of the in-class discussions and would be graded and recorded by the TAs. Sometimes, there were quizzes to test your reading. 


Finally, they depend heavily on the internet and online learning system. Though weird to make notes on computers during the class, it is commonly seen in the classroom that everyone is typing on the keyboard and searching for the information they need all the time. Teachers usually hand out and collect assignments on the online system, which is well-developed, user-friendly and accessible everywhere since every single corner on campus is covered by free Wi-Fi. When I was at Berkeley, I was used to hav ing my computer with me though it was really heavy. 

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Challenges


The most significant challenges for me during these courses were writing and presenting my ideas. News reporting is all about writing and explaining clearly your ideas to your readers and audience. As a non-native speaker, my first assignment of news story was far below the average among my American fellows. It was extremely frustrating for me to see teachers’ confused face because of my language, grammar and even the punctuations while other classmates were discussing the core values of their stories and the improvement they could make on the structure of stories. I could truly feel the peer pressure at that time and the direct stress from my GPA.  I didn’t want to get my first C at UC Berkeley. 


Jessica, my instructor and experienced reporter from local newspaper, sensed my frustration and helped me make an appointment at the student writing center on campus which focuses on giving support to international students to improve their writing. At the end of class session, I finally could reach the average of my class and got a B, which was not so bad for an English news writing class, as a Chinese student.


During the course, I got chances to interview many amazing people in the city, such as a book store owner who had to close his store because of low profits and talented student filmmakers who wrote and spread their stories to the public. From their stories, I can see the complexities of people’s life and the depth of their stories. Probably they are the underrepresented people in the city, but I can be the one who explores their stories and spread the value they hold.


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Colorful Life in Berkeley

Besides challenges, courses at Berkeley can be attractive and creative as well. One of the courses was about social media and the professor assigned everyone to register a new social media account, choose our own beats and run it throughout the whole class session to gain followers online. At first, I thought he wanted to make us get into internet celebrities. In fact, it turned out that we not only became popular at the end, but also explored new approaches to advocate, to spread and to share our own thoughts and values.


I chose to record food in Berkeley on Instagram and WeChat. I usually opted for one local restaurant every week, went there to have a taste, took photos and wrote reviews. Sometimes, my posts could gain more than 300 views on WeChat and more than 30 likes from strangers on Instagram, which was a huge achievement for me. It was also great support and motivation for me to receive positive feedbacks from the restaurants about my photos and reviews.



文案:汤寒竹

编辑:陈亭竹



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