A Journey Full of Surprises and Wonders

For an international visiting student, what is it like to study at one of the most diverse universities?

Hi there! I am Vera Xiaole Guo, born and raised in Chongqing, China, and visiting from the University of Hong Kong. I had already expected the journey to Berkeley to be great, but this 1-year experience still went beyond my expectations! I’ve got abundant reasons why you should study at Berkeley, including the diverse culture fostered by students coming from all over the world, the top-notch faculty and the gorgeous landscape of California. In this blog, I will walk you through my experience and demonstrate how worthwhile studying at Berkeley is.

Hanging out and grabbing some food with my new Berkeley friends!

Courses and Academics

Almost all of the courses I took are in the domain of computer science, including Data Structures COMPSCI 61B, Discrete Mathematics MATH55, Great Ideas of Computer Architecture COMPSCI 61C and Introduction to Artificial Intelligence COMPSCI 188.

The vivid and humorous style of instruction captured me a lot. The instructors (especially Josh Hug and Dan Garcia) spared no effort to explain the ideas not only clearly, but also humorously, making you laugh and feel motivated. What’s more, they love sharing the most recent industry news during their lectures.

I feel that the Computer Science (CS) education at Berkeley indeed emphasizes connecting theory to application and helped me keep up with the ever-changing industry landscape. What’s more, the strong atmosphere of mutual help impressed me very much. Take COMPSCI 61B and COMPSCI 61C as examples: There are numerous academic interns/student teaching assistants ready to help you almost every minute. Also, the CS department has other peer tutoring available nearly all working hours in a week. To be honest, the CS courses at Berkeley are never easy to handle. Whereas, with all mentioned above, I learned them much more efficiently and pleasantly.

Me and my teammates in the Data Science Discovery Program


In addition to the courses, there are countless other academic opportunities awaiting. I participated in the Data Science Discovery Program and joined Project AEI as a research apprentice. I accumulated hands-on experience in web development through this project. I also made friends with the founder of the startup and my teammates, with whom I had many insightful conversations related to my future career. Berkeley is the cradle for entrepreneurship in the tech industry, where you have opportunities to connect with talent and even join their team like I did.

Tips for Visiting Students to Go Local

Participating in one of the many SLC programs

International students might worry about their English being not as good or not able to fit into the local community. Don’t panic! I had that feeling at the very beginning. Then I found out that Berkeley has a lot of organizations and events that help you get through that.

One example is the Language Exchange Program (LEP). In that program, I got paired up with an American student who is learning Mandarin. We met once a week to practice the language, with him helping me with English and me helping him with Mandarin. Gradually, we became good friends and hung out quite often. Through this program, not only was my language skills enhanced, but more importantly, I made so many local friends! By hanging out with them, I learned more about the American culture and what it is like to grow up in the U.S.

Apart from the LEP program, there are a great number of clubs that can help you fit into the community better.

What to Do In Your Leisure Time

Throughout the year I was in California, I traveled quite a bit. In February, I went skiing at Lake Tahoe. The snowy mountains and icy lake were incredibly beautiful. During the spring break, I travelled to Southern California, visiting Los Angeles, San Diego and Joshua Tree National Park. California boasts so many natural scenery spots that I just couldn’t finish exploring!

Enjoying some free time at Lake Tahoe

Spending a year or a semester at Berkeley is definitely worthwhile. The courses, people and views are so memorable that I wish I could have spent more time here.

Never miss the golden chance if you are admitted to any of the programs offered by Berkeley Global.