A glimpse into I-House student experiences

Exchange students living at the International House share their experiences and cultural shocks related to the city and campus. They reflect on some of their unusual experiences, such as the Greek culture here and discuss why coming to UC Berkeley to study is a great opportunity.

Gerald Eng, mechanical engineering — Singapore

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“Everyone here is very engaging and very open, so you could walk down the street and someone would say ‘hi’ and ask you about your day. Even when you go to the shops and you’re shopping the cashier would ask you, ‘How’s your day?’ and create small talk so that’s really different.”

Eni Iljazi, economy — Albania-Netherlands

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“Well probably the first thing would be the drinking culture ‘cause I’m 20 which means I’m under age here. But, back in Europe I’m perfectly legal. I knew of this beforehand, that the drinking age was 21, I just didn’t know how people approach it and how strict they were about it. It’s just a completely different attitude toward alcohol in general.”

Benjamin Huin Morales, scholar law and politics — Alsace, France

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“Everything is, like, bigger than in Europe, like the cars, the food, like, everything. I love the sports here. I do a lot of sports here —  soccer, squash, running and it’s great. You have a lot of opportunities to do both studies and sports.”

Jonathan Julius Eiteljörge, business administration at Haas — Berlin, Germany

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I wanted to go abroad to see the American perspective on business and how it’s done over here. I think the culture in general is more inclusive than it is in Germany so I think the campus is more active and it’s easier to get in touch with people. Another part that is very different from Germany is the fraternity and sorority life, which doesn’t exist anymore in Germany.

Juan Ordonez, mechanical engineering — Colombia

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“I’ve been in the U.S. for a while. I did my undergrad in Boston, so I’m already used to the American culture and whatnot but, I think especially with living in the I-house, has been really cool ‘cause you meet people from all over the place and really like every continent, every country, so it’s really cool. I enjoy that everyone is super smart and super motivated.”

Mathilde Allancon, political economy — Paris, France

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“I’m from France so there are a lot of cultural differences of course, but I think I like it here and I like having experienced both the systems ‘cause I think they are complementary. … In the classes, there are a lot more interactions between the professors and the students so I really appreciate it ‘cause we don’t have that in France.”

Louis Dutheil, political economy — Paris, France

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“I really like the classes because the approach and the method is different compared to my country. It’s really interesting to see how things work here and how people get to think about political issues.”

Anissa Ng, legal studies — Hong Kong

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“So far I’m loving it, I’m really enjoying my time at Berkeley especially through staying at the I-house. I meet a lot of different people that make the whole intercultural experience a lot more dynamic. People who are here are mostly open-minded and that’s really fun cause I like talking to people and knowing about people’s culture perspectives.”