Crossing the Ocean and the American continent all the way until the west coast and seeing for the first time the Pacific Ocean was an exciting challenge for me, which entailed a special meaning. Merely eighteen hours later, I was on the other side of the planet and taking a taxi to Berkeley. It was then when I saw for the first time San Francisco’s skyscrapers from the Baybridge, blurred over the horizon. The taxi driver was kindly trying to establish a conversation with me, but I was almost speechless for the emotion.
Once I arrived, I was warmly received by my host advisor and my new mates at the lab. I am still impressed about the level of the research they are carrying here, and at the same time about the availability of my professor, always receptive and willing to discuss each step of the research. As a result, I feel that I am progressing very quickly. It is also worth mentioning that he is Professor of Theory of Structures at UC Berkeley, who is now teaching an advanced point of view in the analysis of structures, more connected to Computer Sciences. I am attending his lessons during the Fall Semester, and they are changing my vision of this subject. Thus, I am looking forward to the following semester when I will have the opportunity to enrich the teaching that I will give at my home university, with this new unique perspective.
As for the environment, the campus of UC Berkeley is inserted inside a lovely city. It has the advantages of the American campuses (as far as they concentrate all university life in a reduced area, with amazing green zones full of cute squirrels), but it is also connected to the city and the students’ residence area. As a result, you can go walking everywhere and all the streets are full of cafes with free-wifi and people studying or just having a rest. This place seems to be a refuge for all those who love study and research, and the facilities offered are endless for such kind of weird people 🙂 I remember the first time when I asked in the library how many books I could take at the same time. The librarian told me “hundreds”. My brain was just unable to process such an answer since it expected a reasonably amount between 3 and 10, so I made her repeat it once and again. She continued answering the same word, until she finally told me “I do not know the exact number, but much more books than you can carry home”.
Another important aspect, is the enriching cultural experience that I am having thanks to living at the International House. It is a nice place which allows you to meet a lot of people from many different countries, as well as from several parts of USA. Furthermore, it is one of the main centres of activity inside the campus, and they hold a lot of events which allow you to meet new people all the time.
Finally, I am really grateful to the Fulbright staff which have helped me to achieve this dream, and all the support they are continuously giving me. Last week, I attended to the Fulbright Student Reception at UC Berkeley, and it was a nice opportunity to know other Fulbrighters who are in similar circumstances and share your experiences. In addition, I am excited about attending the upcoming events organized by IIE San Francisco as part of the Bay & Beyond Enrichment Program, specially the one going to the Opera!
— Elena Oliver