I was in a dilemma that I am not very clear that whether I should study in China or study abroad. Now I realized that to study abroad was what I really wanted to do. This winter vacation when I went to UC Berkeley, what impressed me most is not the beautiful scenery. On the contrary, it is the atmosphere of studying that really shocked me.
During the 15 days in Berkeley, we took courses and went sightseeing around the campus. It seemed that every student in UC Berkeley’s campus were highly concentrating on his/her “goal”. You can see people walking through the campus in high speed, which is really uncommon in China. When you sit in the classroom while a professor is giving a lecture, you will find no one sleeping or chatting in class, even no one using his/her smartphone! Most of the students are tapping on their computer keyboards to take notes, only a few of them were quietly taking down something with their pens. But if the professor asks a question, there are many of the students raise their hands making the professor in an embarrassing situation in which he often has to choose only one of them to answer the question. I had hardly ever seen this kind of situation in Chinese universities even in some high- ranking ones. No wonder students in UC Berkeley are so outstanding that lead the ideological tide of the West coast area and have the amazing 92 people winning Nobel Prize.
Founded in 1866, UC Berkeley is one of the most preeminent public school in the world, almost the best public school in U.S. Being one of the ten public universities in California, the UC system, UC Berkeley owns the longest history and has witnessed the development of the UC system. During its splendid history, UC Berkeley raised up 92 Nobel Prize winners, 9 Wolf Prize winners, 22 Turing Prize winners.
Berkeley is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and continues to have very high research activity with $789 million in research and development expenditures in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. It also co-manages three United States Department of Energy National Laboratories, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, and is home to many world-renowned research institutes and organizations including Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Space Sciences Laboratory.
In the memorable 15 days in Berkeley, we took several courses given by the professors in Berkeley Extension. During the courses, we deeply experienced the teaching style of professors in Berkeley, which sharply differed from what we previous knew in China. For instance, Pro Brett, who gave us the courses “Technology changes the world”, really left an unforgettable impression on us. He made full use of his teaching aids that displayed lots of key information directly on the internet, and let us making our ideas and conceptions on the poster boards. In the innovation task, we envisaged and drew a future 3D printer which is able to print human’s tissues and organs by using the cultured human cells and make it possible to save people’s lives in big disasters. In our universities in China, we seldom have such opportunities to make our own conception come up on poster boards in class. What’s more unexpectedly, Pro. Brett didn’t give us any comments on our work, in contrast, he asked other groups in his class to choose the one they liked the most. In China, our teachers tend to give us feedbacks or suggestions immediately, hardly let us make estimations to our classmates’ work. In American culture, people prefer competing with others, they focus more on their fellows’ criticism and pay relatively less attention on their teachers’ comments, although the latter one is indeed significant. Take Pro. Wayne as another example, who provided us with course “Academic Writing”. What impressed me most was his great talent of making explanations. He was really a well-experienced professor in teaching international students, though he was not able to speak Chinese. He clearly knew how to make perfect definitions by using his body language and how to give us examples. His courses are full of joy and laughter due to his excellent talent in teaching writing by using his unique body language and apt cases or instances, which meanwhile allowed us to have great understanding of his class.
After the short-term courses in UC Berkeley, I participated in the closing ceremony and was appointed to give a small speech on the stage only several minutes before the ceremony began. Picking up a mere outline, I decided to improvise. Standing on the stage before over 300 people including my fellow students and our teachers, I put my hands firmly on the table and deliberately started to speak in a calm voice:” Good Morning…”. I expressed my gratitude to professors that gave us the courses and the teachers scheduling our daily missions. Then I talked about my own opinion to the courses, appreciating Pro. Wayne’s writing courses and Pro. Brett’s “Technology Changes the World”. Eventually I sang My Love by Westlife so as to memorize the days our fellows spent together.
The living condition is what I’d like to mention apart from UC Berkeley’s School days. Hardly had we arrived at our hotel when we felt the busy of the San Francisco first night. Floods of cars and lobbies meandering on the roads, more exactly, freeways, and you can easily get stuck in the traffic jam. In the mornings, you can have an excellent view of the wide plains in California with flocks on the green grassland for miles and miles. Seldom can you see pedestrians on the pavements, due to the low price of the gasoline in the U.S., American people spent most of their on-the-way time driving. So it’s no wonder you feel isolated when you walk on the sidewalks. Moreover, there is an interesting thing in California that all vehicles will slow down at crossroads even there is nobody waiting to cross the road! I hadn’t figured out the real reason of this behavior which seemed unreasonable in China, perhaps in their mind they have to decelerate to reduce the possibility of an unpredictable car crash. To be honest, if someone behaves like this in China, he will probably receive scolding from the drivers behind him, true although ridiculous.
Except for traffic, the fundamental facilities in California is amazingly well developed. You will never get thirsty in public area, for the drinking fountains are sited in even every 20 meters! And it is impossible for you to feel disgusting when you walk into a bathroom in California because it must have been cleaned thoroughly in high standard. Unfortunately, these two phenomena are still under excavating in China, and they surely scaled the dramatic gap between a developed country and a developing country. What’s more, people in the U.S. are always ready to give others a hand. One of the earliest few days in Berkeley, I cannot find the way to Barrow Hall (main building for the institute of Macromedia). A professor passing by came near to me and asked if I lost my way and need help. I was so grateful to his warm-hearted assistance since I had never had such kind of experience in China. It’s so amazing!
After 2 weeks in UC Berkeley, there is still a week left before our flight back to our home. We gathered together taking rides to the downtown of San Francisco City, Livermore Outlets, Union Square, the Fisherman’s Wharf and the most impressively, Stanford University and Silicon Valley. It was a cloudy Saturday morning, we took rides to go to Stanford University and the Silicon Valley. The buildings in Stanford University are in a yellow and brown conformity. Wide roads are properly paved between buildings and trees, especially the Palm Drive in the central part of Stanford. The Palm Drive, which is one of the most famous landmarks in Stanford, is a mile-long pitch road addressed in the axle line of the campus. Surrounded by palm trees by its two sides, the Palm Drive owns a fantastic vision straight to another well-known tourist site, the Memorial Church. The terrific scenery in Stanford caught our hearts in a sudden instant that we struggled to leave after taking a great many photos.
Having experienced excellent views in Stanford, we went to the Silicon Valley. It is difficult for me to accept the fact that Silicon Valley was unbelievably in silence. You can’t find anyone walking outside in those world-renowned companies, such as Intel or Google. The atmosphere was so quiet that it totally subverted the previous impression of Google in my mind, which I thought should be very active and noisy before. The real Google was more a
Technology research center than an ordinary company. Absolutely, the most productive corporations must work hard to keep up their creativity, and the humanistic facilities by the way are all above the fundamental technological innovation which makes real profits for the organizations.
In the last few days, we arrived at Outlet in Livermore, it was the biggest Outlet in California which served plenty of high-class commodities of big brands including Nike, Vans, Estee Lauder, Louis Vuitton, Dior and so on. Traditionally, a factory outlet was a store attached to a factory or warehouse, sometimes allowing customers to watch the production process such as in the original L.L. Bean store. In modern usage, outlet stores are typically manufacturer-branded stores such as Gap or Bon Worth grouped together in outlet malls. The invention of the factory outlet store is often credited to Harold Alfond, founder of the Dexter Shoe Company. We lingered on for the whole day purchasing with no thought of leaving for home.
There are still a lot of memorable moments in the short-term trip in the U.S. Not only in Berkeley, but also in other places as Yountville, Sacramento, and the unforgettable meandering through the Lombard Street. California is indeed a charming place for elite people to display their capabilities and I really eager to become one of them. I believe that I can achieve my goal by my perseverance and hard work.