My Exchange Semester at the University of California, Berkeley

Lukas Linn goes in depth: how he decided to study abroad and what it's like being an international student at the Haas School of Business

Lukas back in Europe presenting information to an audience

My name is Lukas Linn, I am a German exchange student at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business. I have been awarded a BHGAP scholarship, making me a social media Impact Ambassador for the prestigious Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP). I was born and raised in one of the economically strongest areas in Germany: the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region. I am from Mannheim, a city which is located between Frankfurt, a major financial centre of Europe, and Stuttgart, well-known for its global car companies such as Daimler and Porsche.

Mannheim’s inventions, among others, include the world’s first bicycle, the first car and so-called Spaghetti Ice Cream. I did my undergraduate degree in International Business Administration in Vienna (Austria) and moved to Denmark one year ago for my graduate studies in Management of Innovation and Business Development at the Copenhagen Business School. My master's program is four semesters long, in which the third semester involves electives. Third semester options include an internship or an exchange semester. I chose an exchange semester and eventually ended up in Berkeley, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Why Berkeley Haas Global Access Program?

At the very beginning, I asked myself: “What do I want to get out of my exchange semester?” I thought about it for quite a long time. Mainly, I was interested in the following:

  • Learning more about business and innovation
  • Attending exciting classes at a great business school
  • Meeting and connecting with like-minded people
  • Going to the biggest economical area of the world: Silicon Valley
Lukas Linn stands and smiles in front of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley

In addition to that, I wanted to go to a university that could help me pursue my career goals–starting my own venture and being an entrepreneur in an international environment. I had multiple options and could have gone to other universities in the United States, too. After talking to BHGAP alumni, learning about UC Berkeley and this business-related program focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, and getting all my questions answered by the student advisers, I finally decided to join the program.

The Berkeley Haas Global Access Program consists of both undergraduate and graduate students. You choose courses according to your education level/degree. Put simply, a bachelor's student almost always attends undergraduate courses offered by this program, while a master's student (e.g., me) takes exclusively M.B.A.-level classes. The program includes three core courses at each level which are mandatory. The courses are:

Apart from the core courses, the students of all levels can choose two BHGAP electives from a wide range of different courses. There is a big offering of courses you can choose from.

Lastly – and as part of the program – you are required to choose an additional course outside the BHGAP curriculum. This could be any course of any department at UC Berkeley, such as astronomy, philosophy, sports management, history, mathematics or engineering. As I am most interested in business, I chose a course at UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business. Professors from this university are among the most famous and best in the world. In contrast to a number of other universities, most Berkeley business school faculty have experience outside academics and have been serial entrepreneurs, investors, consultants, advisers or engineers at leading major institutions in the business world. Integrated into the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program–and surely a highlight for most students–are exclusive company visits to global firms in different industries in the Silicon Valley, the global hub of innovation and technology.

My first few weeks at the university and the Bay Area

Lukas poses for a group selfie during the BHGAP scavenger hunt on campus

The semester kicked off with an intro weekend full of events. This was an amazing chance to get to know your fellow students, faculty, student advisers and the huge campus. Social events, a scavenger hunt at the campus, foods and drinks, as well as a trip to San Francisco, helped students get used to the new situation, meet people from all over the world and have a great start of a new adventure. Shout-outs to all people involved in the great organization and support!

Personally, I tried to attend as many social events as possible at the beginning to get to know new people, discover new places and learn new things. This includes the first game of the season of the university’s football team in a stadium with a capacity of more than 60,000 people(!), the welcome party for international students, the “one dollar day” at the horse racing track and much more. In addition, I went several times to San Francisco, as this city is beautiful and only a 30–40 minute ride by public transportation. There is so much to see in the Bay Area and I am looking forward to my next months here.

Arriving in Berkeley

Before the official intro weekend at the end of August, I decided to take the opportunity to travel along the West Coast of the United States for two weeks. My twin brother Lenard and I started our trip in San Diego in southern California. Spending most of the time with a friend of ours who currently lives and studies there, we had three great days in this cool city relaxing on the beaches, eating great food and meeting cool people.

Our next stop was Los Angeles, the biggest city in California and which is especially famous for Hollywood, a large number of wonderful beaches, ethnic diversity and different attractions. After having three amazing days there, my brother and I traveled to Las Vegas for the weekend, which was our highlight. The city is known worldwide primarily for its casinos, large and luxurious hotels, entertainment, and nightlife. Exhausted and broke after three days, we traveled to Yosemite National Park to get some rest and enjoy the beautiful nature. The National Park is quite close to the Bay Area (around three hours by car: by U.S. standards it is close!). The last stop of our route was San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Berkeley. I include this paragraph in my blog post to show you that there are diverse opportunities for travelling, especially in California. You can plan to travel before your semester starts to acclimate, after the semester as a reward for your hard work, or even a few days during the semester with the new friends you made! 😜

My advice for prospective students

Inform yourself about the country and university you will be visiting!

If you are interested in studying abroad, do some research on the country and the university you are considering to visit. Every country is unique and therefore has differences from your home country in terms of culture, language, lifestyle, people and so on.

I wanted to experience living and studying in the U.S. and decided to go for an American university. Use all resources! Use all available resources to get a better insight into this program. This not only includes the university’s website, but also blog posts and articles from previous students for example. Moreover, I attended webinars about different topics regarding BHGAP. This helped me understand the student life in the Bay Area, the program content and much more. Additionally, ask the student advisers any questions you might have. I contacted Casey Marshall, a student advisor for this program, several times with different concerns and questions I had. He answered all of them in great detail and always offered to help me. That was excellent support that ultimately led me to apply for the BHGAP. Shout out especially to you, Casey! 👏🏼

Talk to people! Talk to friends who generally went abroad and ask them for their experience and advice! Try to speak with people who went to the university you are interested in going to. In this case: If you are interested in going on exchange at the world’s best public university and joining the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program, feel free to reach out to me on my social media:




Facts About UC Berkeley

This post is designed to give you an overview about my host university, UC Berkeley.


Key Facts

The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) was founded in 1868 and is one of 10 campuses that belongs to the public university system University of California.

Apart from Berkeley, the other Californian campuses are: Los Angeles (UCLA), San Diego (UCSD), Santa Barbara (UCSB), San Francisco (UCSF), Irvine (UCI), Santa Cruz (UCSC), Merced (UCM), Riverside (UCR) and Davis (UC Davis).

The university is known worldwide for its strong research activity. UC Berkeley has 107 Nobel Laureates and ranks third behind Harvard University (U.S.) and the University of Cambridge (UK) among the universities with the highest number of Nobel Laureates in the world. Apart from that, UC Berkeley is the top public university producing billionaires.

In diverse rankings, UC Berkeley is regularly listed as the Number 1 public university and a Top 10 university in the world. Together with Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford, UC Berkeley has been recognized as one of the “six super brands” of the world.

UC Berkeley has more than 41,000 students (~ ¾ undergraduates, ~ ¼ graduates) and more than 2,300 faculty member, resulting in an impressive 17.8 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The university offers more than 350 degree programs that are organized into various colleges and schools, such as the College of Engineering, College of Chemistry, College of Letters and Science, School of Law, School of Information and the Haas School of Business.

Moreover, UC Berkeley has a strong focus on sports. The university’s athletic teams are known as California Golden Bears (or: Cal). In 16 different sports, Cal won 97 national team titles and 312 individual national championships. In addition, more than 117 Gold, 51 Silver and 39 Bronze Olympic medals were won by UC Berkeley students and alumni.


Innovation and Entpreneurship

Several significant discoveries and innovations have been made at UC Berkeley, including:

  • 16 chemical elements
  • Immunotherapy of cancer
  • Atomic bomb
  • Vitamin E
  • Molecular clock
  • Three-dimensional transistor

...and many more.

Furthermore, UC Berkeley is one of the universities that have produced the most funded entrepreneurs. A number of successful companies have been started by alumni or faculty:

  • Apple (co-founder Steve Wozniak)
  • Tesla (co-founder Marc Tarpenning)
  • eBay (founder Pierre Omidyar)
  • Shazam (co-founders Chris Barton and Philip Inghelbrecht)
  • Lime electric scooter (co-founders Toby Sun and Brad Bao)
  • Softbank (founder Son Masayoshi)
  • Intel (co-founders Andy Grove and Gordon Moore)
  • HTC (co-founder Cher Wang)
  • Gap Inc. (co-founder Donald Fisher)

...and many more.

Lots of different entrepreneurship programs, incubators and accelerators, innovation-related institutes and centres, student initiatives, and a high number of cooperation with start-up supportive companies in the Bay Area make UC Berkeley a strong location for company foundations.



Berkeley is a city with more than 120,000 citizens. It is located in the Bay Area, which also encompasses the cities San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The latter is the largest city in Silicon Valley, the global hub for innovation and home to a number of high-tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla and Netflix. Moreover, the most important investors and Venture Capital companies are located in Silicon Valley, too. Recent statistics show that $180,000,000 in Venture Capital is invested in Silicon Valley. Per day. This is one of many different factors why the Bay Area is considered one of the economical strongest areas of the world.

San Francisco is one of the most competitive financial centre in the world, headquartering significant financial institutions such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Bank of the West, First Republic Bank and BNP Paribas. The Montgomery Street in San Francisco’s financial district is also called “The Wall Street of the West.” In addition, global companies such as, Uber, Levi Strauss & Co., Twitter, Airbnb, Dropbox and Wikipedia are headquartered in San Francisco.

Fun Fact: UC Berkeley shares a great rivalry with nearby Stanford University in terms of athletics, academics and business startups. Both universities are located in the Bay Area. While UC Berkeley is considered the top public university, Stanford is among the best private universities. Every sports game between both universities is an intense fight and great spectacle. The next “Big Game” of Football is on the 23rd of November. I will keep you updated! 😉