And how are things in Berkeley?

The land of the free, and of unlimited opportunities. The country where bigger is almost always better: the United States. I’m spending a semester at IC Berkeley in California on the beautiful West Coast. A look behind the scenes of one of the best universities in the United States.

American life is, in many ways, comparable to that in The Netherlands. Nevertheless, there are some interesting differences, food probably being the most famous. Eating out is popular here. The popular burger restaurant In ‘n Out is highly recommended: it offers menus based on no less than two dishes: hamburgers and cheeseburgers.

Americans eat relatively unhealthy, witness one of their staple dishes macaroni and cheese. It’s without a doubt one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever eaten. Fortunately, Californians have somewhat healthier dining preferences, and the options in Berkeley alone are endless, and include Caribbean, Ethiopian and even Nepalese food.

Student life in the United States also differs in some ways. UC Berkeley has a strong sense of community. Lots of students are politically involved;. Recently there was a protest against an announced tuition increase, which resulted in over a hundred students occupying a building on campus for two nights. Also noteworthy are Berkeley’s ceremonies, attended by over 3,000 students. Ceremonies include convocation (opening of the academic year) and the bonfire before the football game against Stanford, at which the Stanford flag is ritually burned.

Some of my other findings: when someone says “How are you doing?” it is meant as a greeting and you’re not expected to answer the question; everyone is fan of local football team the Golden Bears; you can practice any possible sport here - including quidditch, and Americans generally have no idea what European languages sound like, so you can easily speak German very badly for over an hour without most of them noticing you’re not really German.

Greetings from Berkeley and... Go Bears!

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