One semester at the #1 public university in the world can broaden your horizons exponentially, but 365 days can change your life — just ask any visiting student who chose the Berkeley Global Access Programme (BGA) as their launchpad to multidisciplinary success. The study-abroad opportunity was conceptualised by the University of California, Berkeley to enable students from across the globe to experience a world-renowned education without having to undergo the intricate application process.
The programme sees them building on their existing knowledge while exploring new topics and relishing innovative undergraduate- or graduate-level courses they wouldn’t be able to find at home. For Tilman Josef Loeschel from Germany, the journey has been far more than just academically fulfilling. Occupied by students representing over 119 countries, UC Berkeley’s classically Californian classrooms have been a gateway to the world.
“What I really enjoyed about my fellow BGA students was that they were all from different parts around the world and all had different focuses, which makes discussions quite interesting because you have different points of view on the same problem, which was quite enriching,” he explains. “Everybody I met in the BGA programme had a certain drive. So they had a certain problem they wanted to overcome. They had a certain goal they wanted to achieve.”
More importantly, every BGA student has a dream they’ve been waiting to make a reality. For example, Yitong Zhang from China, an English major from Hainan University, is spending her time in California exploring her underlying passion for theatre. Nami Asaga, a Japanese sophomore student from Aoyama Gakuin University, is taking two sociology courses and one environmental economics course. The best part? All credits they earned are easily transferred back to their home universities.
“I am very grateful for UC Berkeley’s course selection system, which allows me to gain new knowledge in fields I am interested in,” enthuses Zhang.
Other popular picks include computer science, engineering, mathematics, the social sciences, business, and biology lessons — all of which emphasise theoretical concepts without neglecting the power of practical application through real-life case studies, dissected and expounded by prominent guest speakers.
Of course, in-house experts abound as well — all of whom are ever-willing to go above and beyond. “The one-on-one time with teachers was also always quite personal,” Loeschel confirms. “They knew my name. They knew my background. They knew the contributions I made in class. So it was really helpful to get their professional feedback.”
Regardless of how students customise their curriculum, all paths unlock unlimited access to the complete, world-class UC Berkeley experience. At the university’s main campus in sunny California, classes are taught by an expert faculty. Daily schedules are enriched when learners join some of the university’s 1,200 student clubs, organisations, and/or 34 intramural sports teams.
Loeschel loved the university’s commitment to producing career-ready graduates the most. “There were many resources focused on career development,” he says. “These consisted of CV and resume workshops, as well as sessions on applying to grad school.”
The BGA programme dedicates an entire unit to getting students a step ahead in their future plans. Through the Focus on Your Future: Career Development and Coaching Course, students work on identifying their strengths, building their emotional intelligence and applying them in a professional setting through tangible skill building. Through coaching, workshops, career panels, and frequent interaction with guest speakers, students improve their communication skills, grow their cross-cultural competencies, finetune their job application and personal branding skills, and gain a better understanding of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem.
Keen on applying for Fall 2023? If you’re not currently being sponsored by your university, you might be eligible for a BGA scholarship worth up to US$2,000. To learn more about the application process, click here.
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