Hoo Jian Li is an Engineering Product Development student in his senior year at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He is part of the Integrated Bachelors & Masters Technology Entrepreneurship Programme, known as STEP, which comprises one year of overseas study in the U.S. and China, as well as a summer internship with a focus on entrepreneurship. The U.S. experience places students in our International Diploma Program (IDP) in Entrepreneurship (8-month program). The program is divided up into 15 weeks of studies culminating in a certificate, followed by an exclusive summer internship in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jian Li documented his first few days as an IDP student in Berkeley, so we're sharing his photos and experience with you below, in his own words.
When we arrived at the San Francisco Airport, we made a decision to rent a car for our luggages while the other 3 of us took an Uber to our Airbnb accommodation. Ting Han, Pek and I took the Uber and got off about 10 blocks away from our Airbnb accommodation, based on our incomplete postal code. All we knew then was that our accommodation was really close to the UC Berkeley Extension building, which we would spend our next 4 months studying at. We did not have mobile data to search on Google Maps and had to go around asking kind strangers for directions. After about 20 minutes, we finally got to the UC Berkeley Extension building. It was not too difficult to find our accommodation from there as I recalled that it was somewhere behind the campus.
The accommodation we got was pretty great for the 5 of us. It had a living room, 3 bedrooms, 2 toilets and a kitchen. The landlord had already cleaned the place just before we arrived and made sure we settled in nicely. It was a pretty good find on AirBnb.
In the late afternoon we made a trip in a rented car to the nearest Costco to get some food and essentials we might need. We had to first register for member cards before we could enter. This set us back by $60 each, but we could claim this fee back when we return the card within 7 months. The portions of most of the stuff here were huge. Luckily with the five of us, we could make the most of most of the bundles. Looking back at the cost of food in Berkeley, this trip to Costco was definitely worth it.
Breakfast Time!! Omelette with sauteed mushrooms, oven-baked potato wedges and a butter croissant. What a way to start the day!
Trip to Pier 39
Having a few more days before classes start and already settled in to our accommodation, we wanted to explore San Francisco more. We took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Embarcadero followed by a streetcar to Pier 39, a popular tourist spot.
Along the pier, we found the Musée Mécanique, a museum of arcade machines from the past. It was an interesting experience for me to see the different types of machines there ranging from games to mechanical puppetry. In the museum you can also observe how technology changed the industry as mechanical machines soon moved into film and then video. From the pier, we could also see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Seafood was a must have at the pier and we settled on clam chowder, a crabwich and fish and chips for lunch. We then made our way up the slopes of San Francisco, hoping to discover more.
When we were walking along Hyde Street, we came across a store with a familiar name. It was the very first Swensen's Ice cream store. We almost gave this a miss thinking it would be the same as the ones we have in Singapore but never have I been so happy to be wrong. The ice cream was very creamy and made fresh during the day. I ordered the Sticky Chewy Chocolate, which lived up to its namesake.
International Diploma Programs (IDP) are 4, 8 and 12-month academic experiences. Earn certificates in Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Global Business Management, Marketing or Project Management, with options to participate in San Francisco Bay Area internships. Find out more.