Wrapping up and late night ramblings in times of a global pandemic

6 April 2020

"The unexpected happens- a global pandemic hits and before you know it you’re packing and on a plane". Luigi shares his thoughts on his time at Berkeley and how a pandemic changed his year abroad.


The unexpected happens- a global pandemic hits and before you know it you’re packing and on a plane.

Time in Berkeley has flown by. As for America, it’s a concept. You might hate, love it, or both (ambiguous feelings, anyone?). As someone who thinks in a somewhat chaotic way I’m still not quite sure what to make of this. I absolutely love Berkeley and the kind of questioning the status quo feel that the university still kind of has (although really toned down from the 1960s). However, in the US places like Berkeley are a bit of a lonely island. California is a different sea to the US, San Francisco is it’s own boat within the sea and then Berkeley is it’s own bubble in the boat (bad extended metaphors but thank you GCSE English). However, you’ll find that even Southern California is completely different- in some ways- is more typically ‘American’ than Berkeley is (but then again in a country that’s so big, what is American?). Not to sound pompous but here goes- I like to think of Berkeley a as a place that has historically produced people that challenge or question dominant assumptions in the world. This is why I loved it so much here. In all my classes and throughout my time here I was stimulated not just to think intellectually but outside the box. Question what kind of knowledge is being produced, by who and for what purposes.

This ode specifically applies to one really eye opening class that I took in my last semester at Berkeley called Global Developments taught by the brilliant professor Gillian Hart. I would recommend anyone in the social sciences, or anyone in general (hey there science students) to take this class if they come here because, not to overhype, but it might well blow your mind. It brought me to question how the West produces knowledge about the so called ‘Third World’ in a way that creates divisions between ‘us and them’, or the supposed ‘free’ and ‘enlightened’ West and the ‘rest’, instead of building bridges. Also, what’s really the deal with development and what kinds of contradictions and patterns of inequality does it recreate in the US and globally? Take this class to find out!

The general ‘look at the world with a generous but critical eye’ mindset that Berkeley perpetrates really encouraged me to do this in my day to day. I decided to join the Africa colloquium in my last semester here. This is a group of academics and students that revisit articles that are about to be published by academics in the field of African Studies and provide suggestions as to ways to improve certain aspects or incorporate different perspectives. I also got involved with the Daily Californian newspaper- although quite late in the semester- so managed to produce one opinion piece on my thoughts on why Black History Month is not enough (really cheeky self promotion but you can read the piece here: https://www.dailycal.org/2020/02/27/expand-african-education/ ).

Needless to say- the global pandemic made the last couple of weeks in Berkeley anything but smooth sailing. However, I am constantly reminded not of what could have been but what was. The experience in itself has been exceptionally rewarding. If you are heading out to UC Berkeley, California or studying abroad in general I hope my blogs have been helpful to you. I believe UCL has my email and will share it with you.  Reach out to me for any questions or concerns that you may have- I’m sure you’ll find a way to make the most of this experience (with or without global crises coming your way). 


By: Luigi Muci