Wenhan Lu—originally from Dalian, China—always wanted to study in the United States. After graduating from Nankai University (Tianjin, China) with a degree in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Wenhan explored options to study abroad. Attracted to UC Berkeley’s reputation, she began her studies with us in the Berkeley Global Access (BGA) Discover program.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always looked forward to school life abroad, especially to the United States,” Wenhan says. “I was attracted by the great reputation of UC Berkeley, so I applied for this program immediately. I wanted to discover student life in the U.S. and get a closer view of one of the greatest universities in the world."
BGA Discover is a study-abroad experience that places international students at UC Berkeley for a semester or a full academic year. The name “Discover” comes from the fact that students in this program have access to the UC Berkeley course catalog and are able to discover new interests, expand on what they’re learning for their major and choose to attend courses that most interest them while at Berkeley.
After completing the program in Fall 2016, Wenhan wanted to continue her studies in the U.S.: She was accepted to a master’s program at Yale University and is now studying Biostatistics. “I hope to use statistical methods to predict health issues and improve health care outcomes,” Wenhan explains.
We wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate her on her big accomplishment and find out more about her experience as a UC Berkeley student.
Tell me about your interactions with fellow BGA Discover students and other UC Berkeley classmates and professors.
Since it was my first time studying abroad, everything was new and unknown to me. The BGA Discover students and staff were very helpful with everything—not only during my time there, but also afterward. Whenever I had questions on enrollment, tuition, transcripts or anything, Echo, a staff member, always offered me warm help. Even after nearly a year since I completed the program, she still answers my emails.
The BGA Discover program has truly made me a better person in many ways. I can feel my growth. This experience will surely be an important part of my future and my life.
My classmates were very kind and easy to get along with, as well. Several of us are still in touch today. We chat online about how things are going with each other.
The professors have deep knowledge of their fields and were really nice and helpful. Professor Deborah Nolan in the Statistics Department offered me a recommendation letter that I used in my application to Yale.
I really appreciate everything and everyone I met during my learning period there in Berkeley. I still cannot fully express my thanks for all the warmth I received from them.
What was the most unique class/project or experience you had? How was it different than experiences you had at your home university?
In Statistics 133, which was taught by Professor Nolan, I had the opportunity to do the first project in my life. We used statistical methods to analyze and predict the results of the U.S. election, which had just happened while I was there. It was the first time I could use what I learned in class to truly deal with something closely related to the real world.
Professor Nolan provided a really open atmosphere for us to explore. I cooperated with my classmates and enjoyed the joy in discovering new facts through our own analysis.
This experience was totally different from what I had in my home university. This was the first time I could use what I learnt in class to truly deal with something closely related to the real world.
This experience was totally different from what I had in my home university. At my home university, we are supposed to have a good command of the deduction of those formulas and theories, and we care more about those theoretical aspects in class, learning carefully about the basic theory, property and mechanisms, but we do not have good opportunities to apply our knowledge to practical use.
When I combined my classwork with daily life, fresh new meanings were brought to the knowledge I previously learned. It made learning exciting.
In order to get the most out of the program, what advice would you give to a student just starting BGA Discover?
Try everything. Discover every place you can. Make friends with everyone.
What does participating in this program mean to you both academically and personally?
It was really my pleasure to have this chance to study at one of the top universities in the world. I encountered a totally new environment, got close with the U.S. society, and enriched myself both physically and emotionally.
The education at Berkeley was very advanced. Besides the useful knowledge, I also had to adjust to another kind of educational style, which is more open and flexible and allows students to develop ourselves.
BGA Discover and this experience at UC Berkeley prepared me very well for my graduate school application. The program tested and proved my abilities convincingly.
What are your plans after graduate school?
I am not sure what I will do after graduate school, but the BGA Discover program has truly made me a better person in many ways. I can feel my growth. This experience will surely be an important part of my future and my life.
Find out more about the BGA Discover program.