Waving goodbye to a year abroad

7 February 2019

Jessie comes to the end of her year abroad at Berkeley but squeezes in a quick visit to LA before she departs.

jessie blog 4

It’s rather fitting that I write my final blog whilst I’m sitting in Oakland airport waiting for my flight home. After a busy final few weeks in Berkeley, I finally have some time to reflect on my year abroad and how I’m feeling about returning home for the last time. I’m super excited and I can’t wait to be back in London (Berkeley is much smaller and campus-life makes everything feel like it’s happening in a Berkeley-bubble). But it’s definitely bittersweet… 

This morning I said my goodbyes at Hoyt (my co-op) and it’s safe to say this is the bit I’ll miss the most. I’ve never lived in such a radically-different environment where community is so important and easily-cultivated. Sure, I missed my privacy every now and then, and I’m looking forward to having my own room again(!), but I could not recommend more the co-ops to anyone who’s looking at UC colleges (obviously – I talk about it in every blog!). 

I’d also really recommend visiting LA which is where I spent my spring break with my roommate. Taking a bus there and back was surprisingly pleasant; it only cost $30-ish and we passed some incredible countryside views on the way down. Arriving in the evening, we checked into our Airbnb in Culver City and pretty much passed out from exhaustion (spending 8 hours on a bus is tiring!). We decided not to hire a car and instead see LA by bus and foot, which, according to all the Californians we’d spoken to, is crazy. However, it turned out to be a great decision! We saved tonnes of money by not renting a car and a one week bus pass only cost us around $30. We even managed not to need an Uber at all. Actually, being somewhat ‘restricted’ to the local buses encouraged us to get to know the city a lot better. 

Llama at UCB

We spent the next 4 days taking in everything LA has to offer. We strolled along Venice Beach, where the LA stereotypes of green juice, expensive brunches and yoga are very much real. Then to Santa Monica pier, passing the infamous Muscle Beach on the way. As well as checking out LA’s beaches, we wanted to visit the museums and spent a whole day at the Getty. This huge complex of museums was started by Jean Paul Getty – once the richest Americans alive – and holds his vast collection of antiquities and art. The architecture is also a point of interest and we spent most of the day admiring the buildings and the garden. We also visited Hammer museum (UCLA’s art museum), the Broad and the MOCA (Contemporary Arts). Suffice to say, I was a little museum-ed out and very happy to be a real tourist again visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Culver City (which used to produce all the movies in the early 20th century before Hollywood took over). 

Visiting LA was great but it did make me particularly glad to have gotten my place at Berkeley. I really appreciate Berkeley’s smaller size, proximity to San Francisco and political atmosphere. We also get llamas on campus in the run up to finals week soooo….

I’ll always look back on my time at Berkeley with a lot of fondness and I truly feel like its opened my eyes to some really important issues. I’m sure I’ll go back one day but for now, it’s back to London!

By Jessie Barker