Unveiling Boundless Horizons

My Journey of Growth at UC Berkeley

My name is Lydia Bao, and I’m a junior student from China majoring in data science. I’m having an incredible experience studying at UC Berkeley through the Berkeley Global Access (BGA) Program. Leaving my familiar surroundings to embark on this journey in the U.S. has been transformative: It’s opened my eyes to an entirely new world of possibilities. I’m excited to reflect on my growth during this memorable semester.

The Berkeley Experience

When I first came to UC Berkeley, everything felt new and challenging. As someone who had never studied thoroughly in English before, it was difficult to understand the ectures and assignments.

Lydia Bao with friends standing in front of BART

However, the support from professors and GSIs (Graduate Students Instructors) helped me acclimate faster than expected. I made use of office hours to have GSIs clarify complex concepts, which improved my understanding immensely. The teaching staff also went above and beyond to offer cultural and personal advice. One professor encouraged me to consider applying for graduate programs in the U.S. after graduation, piquing my interest in future possibilities.

The data science courses especially sparked my interest: The concepts were cutting-edge and directly relevant to real-world problems. Tackling complex assignments pushed me outside of my comfort zone., but completing them has reinforced how much I was learning each day. Also, attending discussions and labs connected me to peers facing similar challenges. This collegial environment further accelerated my adaptation to Berkeley’s academic rigor.


Embracing Diversity on Campus

Berkeley truly celebrates differences. The diverse student body instills a sense of global citizenship with me. From orientation, I connected with international students from around the globe. Interacting with others stretched my worldview and broadened my perspective.

Lydia Bao photo of a UC Berkeley volleyball game

Sports games like volleyball and football further deepened my Berkeley spirit. The energetic crowds exemplified school pride and unity. I also enjoyed cultural festivals showcasing activities through food, performances and games.

Between classes, relaxing on the scenic lawns often led to casual chats with classmates from various backgrounds. Learning about each other’s lives further reinforced Berkeley’s welcoming atmosphere.

Lydia Bao hanging out at a concert

Nourishing My Curiosity Through Cultural Experiences

In my free time, I was involved in popping up and down the West Coast. Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and other concerts across three cities created unforgettable memories. Each destination stirred fresh fascinations, from Los Angeles’ buzzing energy to Seattle’s natural beauty to San Jose’s thriving innovation. Stepping out of routines stretched my perspectives in life-changing ways.

This whole experience far surpasses any expectations. While initially daunting, leaping out of my comfort zone unlocked my potential. For any international student on the fence, say yes to adventures that will transform you profoundly. I’m forever grateful I answered the call of Berkeley Global Access and discovered a new, fearless version of myself.