My name is Nami Asaga. I am a 20-year-old sophomore student from Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan. Now I am attending Berkeley Global as a member of the Berkeley Global Access Program (BGA) and taking two sociology courses and one environmental economics course. I’d like to dive deeper into what my typical weekday and weekend experiences are like after only two months of being in Berkeley.
What is my routine on weekdays?
・Attending the courses
As I mentioned earlier, I am taking three courses this semester so my weekdays include one or two lectures per day. When I first registered for the courses, I was so surprised because in Japan, it is typical to take approximately 15 courses in one semester. Each course in my home country has just one lecture per a week. Therefore, this was new for me to take three courses in one semester and each course having several lectures in one week. But I have now gotten used to this system. Aside from this, there is another interesting custom that I had not heard of at my Japanese university. That is “Berkeley time.” Berkeley time is the system where every course starts 10 minutes late. This is so students are able to make their class on time if they have back-to-back courses.
Of course, the contents of all my courses are fascinating. Personally, Social Movements and Political Action is one of the courses that I strongly recommend taking if you are interested in sociology. It is because the University of California, Berkeley, is famous for the origin of the Free Speech Movement. You are able to learn all about historical movements that began at UC Berkeley. I believe that this is a valuable discipline that we experience only here.
・Studying hard at a wonderful library
Usually, I have a lot of papers to read for every lecture and sometimes I feel overwhelmed. In this case the library is the best place to study for me. At UC Berkeley, there are many different kinds of libraries, so you can find a suitable atmosphere for studying. If you want to study at a relaxing place, Doe Library is the best. One of my favorite features of the library is a huge window in the North Reading Room. I can enjoy a beautiful sunset and it makes me feel comfortable. After the sunset, the lighting of the lamps also makes the library special.
・Having lunch or dinner at the dining hall
If you are tired of studying, eating delicious food at the dining hall is a good way to release your stress. I usually have lunch or dinner at Cafe3, Crossroads and Foothill. Personally, I like Foothill because it has a variety of great options including vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, rice, bread, pasta, fruits, dessert and so on. The menus and cuisines change every day and for every meal. There are even vegetarian and vegan options. You can check the nutrients of each menu item from a website so you can enjoy a meal that is highly matched for your preference.
What are special activities we enjoy on the weekends?
One of the huge events on the weekends are football games. Usually, the games are held at the California Memorial Stadium which includes seats for 60,000 people. UC Berkeleyʼs school colors are blue and gold so many people wear blue and yellow clothes, eat popcorn and chant “Go Bears!” throughout the game. Everyone at the stadium is always so enthusiastic so you can enjoy the atmosphere even if you do not know about the rules of a football game. In fact, when I went to the game for the first time I did not know the rules. However, the experience of cheering for our school and becoming “one team” was exciting for me. I gradually understood the rules by watching the game.
・UC Botanical Garden
UC Botanical Garden is another way to release your stress. UC Berkeley students can enter the garden for free by bringing their Cal1 student card. The garden has several areas that display plants from a specific continent in the world so you can enjoy rare and unique flora. For instance, one of my favorite areas is the “New World Desert” that is covered with a variety of beautiful cacti. Additionally, you can buy various merchandise within the botanical garden such as a cap, notebook, postcard, hoodie and candy at the shop at the entrance. This works as a great souvenir for your family or friends back in your home country.
Visiting San Francisco was also a great experience for me. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get to San Francisco from Berkeley by car. Even if you do not have a car, you can easily travel there by bus or the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). In San Francisco there are many different sights to visit. There’s great shopping, movie theaters, restaurants to eat delicious dishes, enjoy a comfortable cafe and so on. One of my favorite places is Japantown. The area includes authentic Japanese restaurants, a matcha cafe, a crepe shop, cosmetics, books and much more. I was surprised that the Japanese hundred-yen store (Daiso) was so authentic. You can buy convenient Japanese tools, such as stationery and daily necessities for just two to three dollars.