BHGAP Brings Brazilian Business Student to Berkeley

Camila Ali Abdalla shares her first impressions and surprises

Editor's note: Camila's blog post below originally appeared on her personal blog. It has been edited for clarity and length.


Hi, I am Camila Ali Abdalla, also known as Mila. I am an economics student in Brazil; my university in São Paulo is called Insper. This fall, I am doing an exchange program at UC Berkeley called the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP). 

It's been over one month since I have been in Berkeley and various things surprise me. Here are some of my first impressions. 

The first thing that I noticed was the weather. Why? Because even though we are in the summer, I use coats and long pants. It feels like I am in the Brazilian winter, which for me is fine because I love this type of weather.

Camila with her roommate, sporting a Berkeley hat.
Camila with her roommate, sporting a Berkeley hat. Go Bears!

In UC Berkeley, another thing I find interesting is "Berkeley time," which means that every class starts 10 minutes after it's supposed to begin and all the professors follow this rule. The reason is because Berkeley is a big campus and this gives time for students to get from class to class.

Another thing that is quite different from Brazil is the process of class enrollment, because in my country you already know which classes you will take before the semester starts, so there is no stress of not knowing if we will be accepted into a particular course. However, UC Berkeley has a different system than Brazil so that students have the freedom to choose their own classes and schedule. And, even though there are some required classes you must attend, here in the U.S. you can take a lot of classes that are not related to your major, which I find very interesting. Because students choose their own class schedule, most of them do not take classes on Fridays. This means every Thursday, students go to bars to have fun or spend time with friends. Fridays on campus are always empty! 

Berkeley Haas, the business school at UC Berkeley, defines itself through 4 principles :

  • Question the Status Quo
  • Confidence Without Attitude
  • Students Always
  • Beyond Yourself

Students live up to these principles since they are always present in class, engaging and participating in the lessons. Also, because students don’t have the same classmates in every class as we often do in Brazil, they are used to being by themselves and making an effort to start conversations with new people to get to know everybody in their classes, which is interesting since it helps them to network and meet more people.

The last thing that I find fascinating at UC Berkeley is the diversity. You can find people from everywhere, with totally different backgrounds and this makes UC Berkeley an ideal place to work and study.


Special thanks to Camila Ali Abdalla for sharing her BHGAP experience with us through her blog.


Learn More

The Berkeley Haas Global Access Program is a program that brings international students to UC Berkeley to study business and entrepreneurship. Want to learn more? Visit our website.