Jingbo Jiang participated in the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program during the Fall 2017 semester. He is a senior from Fudan University (Shanghai, China), where he majors in International Relations with an interest in the business field. He is an earphone collector and a loyal Apple user.
What inspired you to go abroad?
I wanted to try something new and to explore my life in the Private Equity and Venture Capital field.
Why did you choose Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP)?
First, the fabulous location. Second, my personal interest in entrepreneurship. And third, the excellent weather!
What was your favorite part about Berkeley?
My favorite part was the tolerant and diversified environment in Berkeley. Failure is never a shame in Berkeley. Nobody would mock your failure. On the contrary, they give you a sweet smile and encourage you to keep moving forward.
What made your experience abroad unique?
I found love with the right person in Berkeley! How awesome! It was a big surprise, one out of my wildest dreams.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The program coordinator was very patient in answering my endless, but silly, questions and helped me get rid of my homesickness. I really owe her a big "thanks." The career consultant offered us useful and thought-provoking lectures and helped us to find our interest, our target and what kind of job is suitable for us! They were both really helpful!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I would not have lived so far away from Berkeley. Too much of my time was wasted on my daily commute, and I lost many chances to take part in some awesome campus activities.
The seed of the entrepreneurial spirit is now rooted in my mind. The passion to challenge the status quo, the courage to practice my unique ideas, and the social responsibility to do something for the community is something I took away from this experience.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
We would work on polishing our business plan, make PowerPoint slideshows and complete revisions as necessary. Then we would go to see the professor in his office and have a 15-minute meeting out on the lawn while enjoying the sunshine. After that would be group discussions with our team members and then a short lunch.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoyed taking some excellent photographs, grabbing a beer at the pub and chatting with people that I met in these new places. I met some talented souls.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I lived eight miles away from Berkeley. But, to be honest, the distance was the only thing that upset me. My roommates were humorous and helpful, and the furniture was amazing!
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Just remember: Don't live far away from campus. Also, the food in Berkeley is not that good— maybe because I am used to different food.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
The seed of the entrepreneurial spirit is now rooted in my mind. The passion to challenge the status quo, the courage to practice my unique ideas and the social responsibility to do something for the community is something I took away from this experience.
Would you recommend Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP) to others? Why?
It was a really amazing program; I would highly recommend it to people who are considering being involved in the new-venture field, both on the entrepreneurial side and the investor side. Get to know people from different backgrounds and explore a better you!
What was the hardest part about studying abroad?
For most international students whose mother language is not English—especially languages that are very different from English—it is hard to follow along with conversations among peers in some casual settings. At first, I had to listen very carefully to understand what they said because they spoke so fast and used a lot of slang words. I had a hard time guessing what they really meant! But after you survive the first month (congratulations!), you are likely to get accustomed to this.
However, what serves as another obstacle is actually how to express yourself correctly and accurately. Sometimes you will find what you said in English is not what you actually meant to say. So the person you are talking to will sometimes be confused, especially when this person is also an international student from a different country or background.
What surprised you most about California?
The cost of living in California really shocked me a lot! Burgers were $10 USD before tax. It was so expensive! Also, I was surprised at the innovative environment in California. A large portion of the people that I met were very creative and were seriously thinking of starting a new business in three to five years, despite the high risks. I see their vigor and enthusiasm about wanting to try something new, do something different and challenge the status quo.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
Frankly speaking, it depends on their accents. If you are talking to a new immigrant from Vietnam, it might be extremely difficult for us to communicate. We may just use body language or write down words and expressions on a phone. But if you are talking to people whose accent is similar to the TOEFL speaking accent, it was much easier.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in the United States?
I wish some people who had already taken part in this program could have shared their experience with me. I mean, anything about the program or about life there would have been helpful. It could have helped me to have a basic idea of what life would be like in the coming semester and get accustomed to the life there much faster.
If you could study abroad again, where would you go?
I would choose the USA again. A semester is too short to fully explore this wonderful place. I wish I could stay there longer, for two years or more. A semester-exchange experience enabled me to scratch the surface of American culture, people and values, but I want to explore more deeply than that.
What do you feel is the biggest benefit of studying abroad?
When you communicate with people from different religions, races and regions, you find they have different accents, habits, cultures and values. Some are similar to me, some are not. But the most valuable lesson I picked up is to realize the diversity of the world and to respect those differences and not to judge them.
Do you have any tips for individuals headed to Berkeley?
1. Download Uber/Lyft on your phone before landing; taxis to Berkeley are extremely expensive.
2. Always wear a smile on your face. People in Berkeley like that.
3. Be active. This could help you find new friends and overcome homesickness.
4. Build a harmonious relationship with roommates and/or housemates. They may not be a very close friend, but don’t let the relationship tarnish your time there because then you won’t be able to enjoy your semester.
5. Be confident and passionate! Your experience here will be an unforgettable time in your life. Enjoy it!
Visit our website to find out more about the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.