Fulbright Scholars in Berkeley

My experience in the Berkeley Global Access Program

My semester abroad in the Berkeley Global Access Program was made possible through the German Fulbright Association, which is a scholarship that offers financial support to full-time studies at a graduate school in an accredited U.S. university. Fulbright collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of State, which is also sponsoring Fulbright visas.

Fulbright Scholars from Berkeley, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Stanford

What is Fulbright?

The Fulbright Program is considered one of the largest and most prestigious educational exchange programs, with a focus on cross-border international understanding. It is the only binational exchange organization in Germany with a U.S. focus. Fulbright promotes transatlantic dialogue and creates opportunities and space for experiences through various types of encounters. Further, Fulbright scholars represent cultural ambassadors who are helping to build mutual understanding between their home communities and those in the United States.


Fulbright’s slogan is “We bring people together,“ and there is no better way to describe this program. Scholars are selected based on their academics, voluntary work, working positions, personality and character traits. Every single person I have met during my time in Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay Area is not only super-friendly, but also extroverted, open-minded and encouraging.

Fulbrighters love to share and chat about their diverse cultures, traditions and home countries, but are also eager to exchange different thoughts or beliefs.


Nicole and friends at a bar

Coming to the Bay Area without knowing anyone might be scary and a challenge. The Berkeley Fulbright community makes sure that nobody is left behind. There is a Fulbright network that any scholar can access in order to reach out and get connected. Our team events comprise meetups at Taco Tuesday at Raleigh’s Pub, bar hopping, bike tours in San Francisco, llama petting on campus or trips to Stanford’s Fulbright community to participate in their Oktoberfest (a German event that celebrates German traditions, including beer from the keg, German sausages and, of course, German music).          

Our most important event was the Big Game when the two biggest universities in the Bay Area—Berkeley and Stanford—compete in a rivalry football game against each other. The football game is full of traditions and prestige. This year marked the 125th anniversary between the two rivals.

We all gathered together at my place for tailgating, networking and getting ready for the game. Lots of new connections and friends were made. Despite the rivalry of the red-dressed Stanford students and the blue-and-gold–themed Berkeley supporters, we came together to connect and tailgate before the game started later that afternoon. Berkeley’s mascot is the golden bear and Stanford is represented by a tree. Of course, there was a “Go Bears” or “Fear the Tree” every now and then to spread the college spirit.

Supporting the Golden Bears!

But even though every student feels a strong connection to their university and alma mater, we are all internationals sticking together no matter the university. To sum up the game, the “tree was chopped” by the Bears and Berkeley won again this year. Berkeley students took over the massive football field after our team won. The whole student crowd was hyped, and the vibe was vibrant and upbeat.