Top 10 Experiences as an International Student at UC Berkeley

Fun things to do outside of the classroom

I'm Marina Zalcberg Angulo, a Brazilian undergraduate law student at Insper University. For the Spring of 2024, I’m part of the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP), centered on the studies of sustainable development, innovation and business skills.

Joining Berkeley for the BHGAP program has always been a plan of mine. But while I organized my stay here, I often found it hard to figure out cool things that I could do in Berkeley or in nearby areas. This post is a Top 10 list of things to do as a visiting student in Berkeley and surrounding cities. These events are also mostly budget-friendly, so enjoy!

1. Attend a student organization event.

UC Berkeley is such a diverse university, and I’m positive that you’ll find great student-led events among the more than 1,000 student organizations to engage with while you’re here. I particularly recommend going to an Acapella Event, where you get a chance to watch extremely passionate people lead the show harmoniously singing, or an improv presentation—this was so much fun!

2. Visit a board game coffee shop.

I highly recommend this event when you're getting to know several people. I went there with many friends in my initial days in Berkeley, and it was awesome. We taught each other games and were curious about the variations of rules that each nationality adopts. The one I encourage you to go to is Victory Point Cafe. As soon as you get there, you and your friends pay a fixed fee and can play as many board games as you want. Also, there is a coffee shop inside, so it's a cozy place to go, especially on rainy days!

3. Head to a group fitness class at the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF).

The RSF is the gym here at Berkeley that every student has access to. Apart from being a huge facility with some amazing weight-lifting equipment, the facility also has group classes for those who prefer to work out in a larger group. I suggest you go to a Zumba class. The instructor is super-energetic, and I guarantee you will get out of there exhausted—but in a fun way.

4. Try the pizza at Cheese Board Collective.

The Cheese Board Collective is one of my favorite places in Berkeley. The shop sells one flavor of pizza—cheese—and all you get to choose is the number of slices and if you want to add sauces. The food there is amazing, but be sure to go there when you’re hungry because the portions are super generous. In addition to that, it’s a Latino cultural place; when I went there, they played live music! The vibes were incredible.

5. Explore Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).

BAMPFA is an art museum located in the heart of downtown Berkeley. They usually display exhibitions from Berkeley students, which is a great example of how the city of Berkeley is all about the university. The building is also super-modern, and I encourage you to explore each floor. Don’t forget to sit on the huge staircase right next to the entrance. It’s also a special location if you want to take cute pictures.

6. Visit Bay Street mall and try Brazilian Fogo de Chão barbecue.

Bay Street is a lovely place located in nearby city Emeryville. I suggest you go there by bus at noon and dine at the all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue place called Fogo de Chão. You pay a fixed price and can enjoy both a huge salad and side buffet and a variety of meats that are served right at your table. Then, enjoy the sunset walking around the famous brand stores located near the restaurant, such as Nike, Express, Apple and Uniqlo. End your day by going to Barnes & Noble, a stunning bookstore that also has a Starbucks inside.

7. Go up the Campanile.

The Campanile is the big bell tower that is also one of the most recognizable symbols of UC Berkeley. As a Berkeley student, all you need to do is to show your student ID and you can enjoy the view for free. A pro tip: Go on a clear, blue sky day. The view is breathtaking—and you can also see the Golden Gate Bridge from up there! Just don’t stay there while the bells are ringing; otherwise, you might get startled because of the loud noise.


Photo of a Berkeley TedX Talk stage taken by student Marina Zalcberg Angulo

8. Attend a Berkeley-organized event.

Apart from having a vibrant array of student-organized events, Berkeley itself also hosts fabulous events. During the spring, I had a chance to go to TedXBerkeley, which was something I always aspired to do. The institution also coordinated a Valentine's Day event, where students could arrange flowers and write love letters, which was so wholesome.






9. Attend a basketball game.

Photo of a Berkeley Mens Basketball game taken by student Marina Zalcberg Angulo

Not fully educated on sports? Good, because I'm not, too! Regardless of that, I truly recommend you watch a basketball game at UC Berkeley. I had the chance to be at a Berkeley vs. Stanford game, which was wild! Apart from the match itself, there are also countless shows in between the rounds, so you definitely won’t get bored at all. Go Bears!

10. Relax at Albany Beach.

Photo of Albany Beach taken by student Marina Zalcberg Angulo

This is the ideal destination if you just want to spend some quiet peaceful time enjoying the view. Albany Beach is a shore area really close to Berkeley, surrounded by a neighborhood of families with kids. It’s such a calm spot that you can go to when you just want to refresh your mind and clear your thoughts. Bring a book, sit down and relax!

I hope you enjoyed all of the fun ideas of things to do in Berkeley! A final piece of advice I want to share here that I received in my initial days at Berkeley: Just say yes! Life here will be chaotic, but in a very wonderful way. So embrace all of the fun opportunities that are available and make the most out of your studies at UC Berkeley.

Best of luck to all of you!