Cultivating Wisdom: Embracing the Berkeley Experience

My voyage through academic collaboration and cultural discovery

I’m Lydia Bao, a junior student from Central University of Finance and Economics in China, and a Fall 2023 semester global ambassador in the Berkeley Global Access Program. As my studies at UC Berkeley come to a close, I find myself reflecting on a journey that has been filled with growth, learning and a multitude of experiences that have shaped me both academically and personally.

When I first arrived on campus, I was eager to dive into my studies and embrace everything this prestigious institution has to offer. Now, as I prepare to bid farewell to this chapter of my life, I am amazed at how much I have learned and the person I have become.

The Synergy of Academia: Beyond the Lecture Halls

Photo of sunset on UC Berkeley campus

The real learning at UC Berkeley happened outside of the traditional classroom setting. It was in the study rooms at Main Stacks, the corners of Moffitt Library and on the sunny benches scattered around campus where I found true educational enrichment. Working alongside my peers, we would dissect complex topics, question each other's viewpoints and build a deeper understanding of our subjects.

One afternoon, my study group and I sat on the benches outside of our classroom, talking with our professor about our end-of-semester project. As we shared ideas and asked questions, I found myself understanding the topic in a way I hadn't before. It was these casual yet insightful conversations that really brought our studies to life. This was learning at Berkeley—friendly, open and always pushing us to think more deeply.

Preparing for the Future: Graduate Workshop Insights and Networking Strategies

Cellphone image of screen in a classroom

Looking ahead to graduate studies, I sought out resources that could help me navigate the path forward. The "Preparing for Graduate School in the U.S. Workshop" offered by BGA was a goldmine of information. It helped me understand everything from application timelines to the nuances of selecting the right program. The personal feedback I received on my questions was incredibly helpful, giving me a clearer direction for my future. 

The "Networking Like a Boss Workshop" was another turning point. Led by the experienced instructor Rebecca Andersen, it taught me how to make connections that count. I learned to set up coffee chats, use LinkedIn effectively and create a network that will support my academic and professional journey.

Campus Life and Cultural Immersion: Homecoming Festivities and Llama Encounters

Photo of Llamas at UC Berkeley campus

The vibrant campus life at UC Berkeley is as much a part of my education as any lecture. Homecoming was a celebration of our collective spirit, a time to honor the history and traditions of the university. But it was the smaller moments, like the end-of-semester llama petting session, that offered a chance to relax and bond with my fellow students. These moments of joy amid the hard work are what I will carry with me as fond memories from my time here.



Lydia Bao catching bubbles on Berkeley campus as part of Homecoming festivities

As this visiting-student program comes to an end, I am filled with gratitude for the countless ways in which UC Berkeley has enriched my life. I've grown more than I could have imagined—academically, professionally and personally. The lessons learned and the friendships forged here will stay with me as I move forward in my journey. I leave UC Berkeley not just with a wealth of knowledge, but with a heart full of memories and a spirit ready to take on the challenges of the future. This isn't just a goodbye; it's a thank you to a university that has given me so much and to everyone who has been a part of my incredible journey.