Berkeley, Love at First Sign

Legal Studies Global Access Program alumna Xinyue Yang shares her story

Xinyue Yang began her search early for the perfect study-abroad program. In high school, Xinyue knew going abroad was something she wanted to pursue. When she was only 13 years old, Xinyue took a three-week vacation to the United States and happened to visit the University of California, Berkeley. The university’s magnitude struck her instantly. UC Berkeley’s reputation, the campus’ beauty, the unique city: she loved it all.

Xinyue yang sitting on the UC Berkeley campus with the campanile in background. Photo.

I felt like it was destiny for me to attend UC Berkeley,” Xinyue shares. “My trip to the U.S. when I was younger confirmed later on that this was where I wanted to study abroad. Throughout high school, I was always looking out for a study-abroad program that may interest me in college.”

And the memory of visiting UC Berkeley and the city itself never left her mind.

After high school, Xinyue began studying law at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing, with dreams of becoming a lawyer with a large corporation.

During her third year of studies, Xinyue began researching her study-abroad options. Nearly seven years after first exploring Berkeley, Xinyue returned to our campus in the Legal Studies Global Access Program (LSGAP). This one-semester program was a perfect match for her academic and professional goals.

“I did a lot of my own research for a study-abroad program that focused on law. LSGAP was the first I found that allowed me to study for an entire semester at UC Berkeley,” she says.

Back to Berkeley

Xinyue's first few weeks in the program, she was already making the best of her time here. She loved the university’s environment and all of her courses.

“I love the U.S classroom environment because everyone is immersed in their studies and wants to continue to get better for themselves,” says Xinyue.

She took notice of how interactive the class was and how professors encouraged students to visit them for office hours.

Xinyue Yang sitting on the floor of an art museum, studying. Photo.

“The professors had us do a lot of group work. This forced us to meet each other and make connections, which would have taken longer to develop if the professor had not encouraged it.”

This was something she came to appreciate not only with her professors, but also with the program advisers: “The LSGAP team were very warm-hearted people, such as Professor Marshall and adviser Lauren Cooper. Lauren would invite us to her office every Friday to check in and see how we were doing. I felt like they were always caring for me.”

Beyond the classroom, Xinyue feels that she has made lifelong friends, enjoying everything the Bay Area has to offer.

When asked what her favorite things to do were, she responded, “I loved to go to brunch with friends, watch thriller movies at the theater, shop at thrift stores, go on car rides while listening to music, and lie on the grass at Memorial Glade.”

Preparing for a Legal Future

Although difficult, Xinyue enjoyed the program's core courses, such as Law Technology and Entrepreneurship and Supreme Court and Public Policy. By taking these courses at the Berkeley Law school, she was able to get a new perspective and compare Chinese and American law.

This additional knowledge will have a positive impact as Xinyue looks toward graduate studies in law. And it’s not just the education she received inside the classroom that will truly make her stand out as a candidate, but the program’s other benefits as well.

Xinyue Yang with a friend, smiling at the camera. Photo.

Such as studying entirely in English, allowing Xinyue to improve her conversational skills quickly.

Or partaking in site visits to a U.S courtroom.

“The most memorable site visit was when we toured the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland. Seeing this broadened my mind of how an American court functions. I was also able to talk with a legal-aid lawyer and learned a lot.”

This combination of knowledge and experience is something Xinyue will be able to carry with her throughout her academic and professional career.

Graduate Success

Although Xinyue’s time in Berkeley was only for one semester, the experience truly changed her future in law. After months of studying American law and learning new vocabulary, her English language skills have greatly improved. This is a plus, as she believes Chinese law firms are more likely to hire applicants with high-level English skills.

Now a graduate of the University of Science and Technology, Beijing, she hopes to study abroad once more—either in the U.S or in Europe to receive her Masters of Law.

Her time in LSGAP will make her a strong candidate as she applies to graduate programs. Top of her list? UC Berkeley’s law school.

Looking back on her experience Xinyue says, “LSGAP was a bridge or ‘gap’ that will connect me to my professional road in the future.”