Steph's Friend

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Updates from UC Berkeley

It's been a week now and I've seen a lot of things.

My first lecture (EE40) was interesting. The class setup was different from that in NTU. It was like circular in shape with the board at the front. Yes they use chalk and blackboard. The table was long and joint in a circular fashion. There are power sockets at the tables to allow students to charge and use their laptops while in lecture.

So I sat beside this guy. He was on my left and on his left was an empty seat. Halfway during the lecture, he lifted his legs and placed them on the chair beside Very interesting. Maybe I should lift my legs and place them on my table. Then there were students who were just surfing the web without paying attention to the lecture. I guess NTU and UC Berkeley students share something in common

Anyway, it was an interesting class. I got to know new friends. For example, I got to know this great guy who blogs! His blog is pretty interesting too! His name is Steph! (Did you see that coming?)

After the class, I went to ask the lecturer some questions. He was kind and helpful in answering my questions. After that I rushed to my next lecture. Yeah, my first and second lecture ends and start one after the other. Thankfully, the lecture location was like within 5 minutes walking distance. However one bad thing is that I can't stay back after the first lecture to ask questions as it would eat into my second lecture time.

My next lecture was EE100. When I entered the lecture room, the room was packed! Oh man...I've never seen a room so packed before. Apparently, I think EE100 is some core subject for the students there. It was so packed that some students had to sit on the floor. I had no choice but to sit on the floor also.

Thankfully, the lecturer was funny and engaging. I think it's important to have a good lecturer especially if the subject is difficult and technical. I am fortunate I got a good lecturer for both EE40 and EE100.

Halfway through, we had a 5 minutes break (the whole lecture was 2 hours). During the break, some students left the room with their bags. I assumed that they would not be coming back anymore. So I sat on one of the seats.

Now let's talk about the It was pretty small. There was a fixable table on the right (I wonder how those who are left-handed cope). I fixed my table and lo and behold...I saw some form of creative expressions on it. It was a wooden mini-table, so there were writings, declarations and comments. Okay...let's not get distracted by it. Pay attention to the lecture...

After lecture was over, I walked out of the building and walked back to my room.

I am glad that my 2 room mates are nice and understanding. I stay in a triple-sharing room...yeah...I know it's not popular in NTU...but am in one. Actually it's not bad if you asked me. I am used to it already now. Of course the idea may appear weird initially but I guess after awhile it's okay.

Let's talk about hall life now.

This is interesting as there was one thing that struck me. Guys and girls share the same toilet! Can you believe that? Normally in shopping centers (like Plaza Singapura) there would be the Gents (with a picture of a man) and the Ladies (with a picture of a woman). Here the toilet just shows a man standing beside a

Anyway, there was once I was brushing my teeth early in the morning and in came this girl and she entered one of the cubicle. I won't elaborate on what happened next but it was just...weird. I don't know whether I should continue brushing my teeth or just walk out.

Nevertheless, it's an experience. Thankfully, the shower cubicle has doors. I can't imagine if it doesn't have doors, like the army. Sheesh...

Then there was once I went to one of the shower cubicle to take a bath and saw something. I won't elaborate what it is but it does give an indication of what some of the students do here.

But it gets pretty noisy at night. Why? It's because there's a group of students outside my room talking and laughing. It's good that they are having fun and enjoying themselves but I wished that they wouldn't do it from midnight to 2am! I need to sleep and go to lecture the next day!! Haiz...I guess it's hall life huh?

We have a place to eat called Crossroads. This concept is pretty interesting which I think Singapore can try to learn from.

This is how it works. Every student has a card. They call it the "Cal 1 Card". I'll just call it CC. Each student has a certain amount of points in their CC. Every time you enter Crossroads, they'll swipe your card near the entrance before you can go to where the food is. A swipe would mean that points have been deducted from your card. You may think that it's bad but wait until you see this...

Oh yeah, you can't see as I didn't upload nay photos. Anyway, what happens after you swipe your card is...(are you ready?)...a buffet! All you can eat! And the food comes from different cuisines! Cool huh? They have american, mexican, italian, asian...etc. After you go in, you can eat all you want! They don't care even if you eat everything! So long as you can eat that is.

So what I ate was...

As you can see I eat a lot. It's all you can eat! Can you believe that? Of course I didn't eat all of those in the pictures in one They are just a sample of what I ate here. Also the pictures just showed what I ate on the first I didn't take the subsequent rounds...haha. Actually the subsequent rounds consisted of only fruits lah...nothing much really. I need the fruits as the food can be pretty heaty and I need something to cool down.

So after you eat, you throw away the food that you can't finish. Yes...there are some who can't finish the food they took. I try to only take enough so that I won't waste any and I am happy to say that so far my estimation on how much I could eat is pretty accurate...haha.

Anyway, you throw away the food which you can't finish and then place the tray on this interesting equipment.

What it does is it collects the dirty trays and stuff and it rotates and moves them into the back part. I guess there are people behind who would take down the dirty plates and wash them. Nevertheless, it was something cool that I've never seen before.

There are other more interesting stuff that happened but I guess I'll stop here for now :D

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 5 At Berkeley

Today's the last day of my tour. Tomorrow I will be moving from YMCA Berkeley to Unit 2 Residence Halls. After that, school's going to start and it will be studies. It doesn't mean that I won't be touring anymore...just less.

Today morning, I walked towards Unit 2 so that I will be familiar with the route tomorrow. It was about 2km far and I took about 23min. Hm...with my luggage tomorrow maybe I will take 45min? My luggage is pretty big and the road I noticed wasn't smooth al the way, there were cracks here and there. Furthermore, the route was's not going to be easy.

After that I walked from Unit 2 to Cory and GSPP where I will be having my lectures. It takes about 30min to reach there. When I reached Cory, I met my lecturer Bart. He's a nice and friendly person who introduced me to a few things. For example, there was this cool machine that could swing a pendulum until the pendulum reaches the top, after that, the pendulum stays there! Cool huh? The equilibrium is pretty unstable hence the motor still moves and jerks a bit.

After that I met a few students and got to know their names. They will be taking the same class as me (EE100).

After that, I went to have my lunch. I had it at Quiznos Sub. It's like Subway, but I think it's nicer...haha.

Here are some pictures.

Oh yeah, I haven't shown you my room.'s pretty messy.

I've been staying in this room for 5 days and will be moving soon to Unit 2. The people and staff here are nice. I won't mind staying here again if I come here.

By the way, the people here have a pretty good impression of Singapore. There was once I met this lady and her friend on the street with Andrew. Apparently, they knew Andrew. So they asked me where I came from. I told them Singapore and they were like "Wow...that's a nice/great/fabulous/place" reason being that it's clean, safe and the roads are good. Also there are people who noticed the other part of Singapore saying things like "You'll get caned for chewing gum there huh" and "If you spit over there you'll be fined". I guess Singapore's pretty famous for both sides...haha.

The lecturer whom I met at Cory also mentioned that NTU students are good. Lol...I was surprised when he said that as I thought UC Berkeley was like better than NTU in terms of ranking. When I asked him why he said that, he gave the reason that NTU students are hardworking, smart, and get good grades. Haha...interesting.

Oh yeah, just now when I went with Andrew to visit a family, the people there thought that I was I was mistaken for a Japanese before a few years ago and now a Korean...haha. I guess I'll take that as a compliment. Or maybe it's because my face is sunburnt...I don't

I guess that's about it for now.

Time: 10.22pm, 20th June 08 (Friday)

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Day 4 At Berkeley

Yesterday, Andrew and I went to the Golden Gate Bridge. We met at Downtown Berkeley BART. Went we reached there, I saw something interesting. The gates were all opened.

You know why? It's because it's Free The Air Day! Lol...what this means is that the society tries to reduce carbon emissions by making public transport free for the day! Except for the BART train which remains free until Interesting huh? I wonder if Singapore can have the same kind of situation.

We took the BART to Embarcadero Station. Then we took bus 10 followed by 30 and finally 28.

This is how it looks like in the bus. They have a card reader similar to Singapore, but it's still in the testing stage.

After a while, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge!'s getting more interesting.

We alighted and I took photos, lots of them, but I will only upload a few here...haha.

The view from the bridge is pretty nice. For example, if you stand on th bridge and look on the water...

It's pretty peaceful. Then from the bridge you could see the nearby towns.

One thing though, when you walk on the bridge, it's pretty cold as the winds from the sea gets pretty cold. It was so cold that I had to wear my windbreaker, however, it didn't help much. Even though the wind was strong, I could still see some people not wearing any cold wear at all, they just wore some simple shirt and Must be very strong to withstand all the cold.

After that we went to the Souvenir Shop where I bought some stuff. Then we took bus 28. After alighting, we waited for bus 30. The wait was pretty looooong. It was so long that the crowd at the station grew. The crowd grew into a size where we could have a tutorial class there on the spot! Anyway, after waiting for a long time, the bus came and it wasn't just one, but two. This reminded me of the 179 service at

After that, Andrew and I went to Fisherman's Wharf and had our lunch. We ate at In-N-Out, it's a place for burgers. The queue was pretty much so that it extends out of the shop! Lol...the only queue I've seen that extends out of a shop in Singapore is the TOTO/4D

Anyway, here's how the place looked like.

The ordering system is different from Singapore. Here, you tell the counter what you want and they'll give you a queue number. Then you go to another counter where food is being served. When your number comes, you take your food. Reminds me of the system in polyclinics in Singapore where you wait to see the doctor...haha. But I guess the doctors there won't recommend you to eat all these burgers.

And so this was my food.

It's nice. It's called a Double-Double as there are two patties. Andrew told me that you could actually order more than two patties for your burger. There was once his friend ordered 5! Whoa...that's too much for me.

After having our lunch we walked about and I took photos. It's interesting in that it's like a fish market, with seafood all over.

Then I had a taste of clam chowder. I wanted to try it when I was in Singapore. I bought one small portion and here's how it looked like.

The crackers on the left and chowder on the right. Andrew told me that normally you pour the crackers into the chowder and eat it. Interesting.

When I tasted the was...nice! However, it was very salty too! A lot of food here is pretty healthy I guess.

Anyway, the view there was terrific! Again I took a lot of photos but will upload some only.

After that we walked all the way from the Pier to Embarcadero...and I tell you...the walk back was hot! It was HOT!!! Lol...even the wind from the nearby sea didn't helped! what was the result? I got sunburnt...badly burnt. My nose turned pink, then red. My hands also turned I hoped that I won't scare my friends when I check-in to my

Anyway, we went back via the BART. For dinner, I decided to have fruits only beacause it's hot and I am hot. So I went to Walgreens and bought this.

Yeah...that was my dinner...a simple dinner.

Time: 6.12pm, 20th June 08 (Friday)

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day 3 At Berkeley

I met Andrew in the morning. I was introduced to him by William. We met outside the place where I stayed (YMCA Berkeley). Then William brought us to the Church in Berkeley, there I met some Full-timers. If I remember correctly, they are Mike, Sophia, Silvia, Esther, Timber, Tina, Amy and Sarah...sorry if I missed anyone...haha. After that, Andrew brought me to UC Berkeley. He graduated from there a long time ago. I guess I am fortunate to have him to bring me around. He's also Indonesian...I guess that's one common

Below is a picture of how it looks like in the library. When I stepped in, I could feel smartness oozing from the books and walls. Even though it looks old yet it gives me the feeling that our (NTU's) modern library still lose out to it.

I went to the Mining and Metallurgy (Hearst) building. It's equivalent to NTU's Materials Science and Engineering building.

Here they call it Mining and I feel a bit old hearing that.

Then I saw this interesting building...

It's Tan Kah Kee Hall! A Singaporean's name in UC Berkeley! Cool huh?

Then there's Haas School of Business, a pretty famous business school.

As we walked we saw this.

Whoa...NBC news van leh...there must be some interesting things happening there.

True enough, there was a crowd outside.

So what were they doing? I walked towards them and I heard people shouting. It looks like a demonstration...something I've never seen before in my life.

It looks like everyone's looking upstairs...

Hm...what could it be?

It's a student up on a tree. Apparently, the students are against the university expanding their lands as it would destroy the trees. Hence some students decided to do something about it...apparently, one of them went up and stayed on the tree.

It was pretty nerve-wrecking as there was once, the tree started to shake. Then the people around started to shout "Don't cut the tress!" this is so as if the tree was cut, they tree would fall and so would the student on top...which isn't going to be pretty. really looked like a scene from one of the movies. I have never seen such a demonstration before.

Then we walked back to Sather Gate.

After that, we had lunch at Gypsy's Trattoria Italiana.

For me I had the Chicken Marsala.

It's pretty nice and again, the portion was pretty large for

After lunch, Andrew brought me around to view UC Berkeley.

Here's the Eucalyptus's like a small park for the trees.

Then there's the Graduate School of Business. It's like Singapore's NIE.

Then Andrew and I went to Unit 2 Residence, the place where I will be staying when school's getting interesting...haha.

When I reached the place, I was pleasantly surprised. The place looked like some condo and there were a lot of international students walking!

After that we parted and I went back to my room. After a while, I went out to eat dinner. For dinner, I ate at Bongo Burger. I had the Cheeseburger Combo.

It was nice. The beef patty was different than that in Singapore. The fries was also nice. The drink tasted like lemonade, they call it Hi-C...don't know why it's pink in color though...haha.

After my dinner, I went back and rested.

I realized that people here like to eat fries, burgers, hot dogs and soda. Hm...I would say that with such a diet, it's important to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables...else it might get "heaty" and that's not good.

Also, in Berkeley, the afternoon is pretty hot. So much so that I got What a contrast! In SF, it was pretty cold even though the sun was up. I guess SF is near the sea, hence the wind cools the place, unlike in Berkeley where the same sun makes me feel hot. In SF, I had to wear my windbreaker even when the sun is up...haha.

Time: 8.23am, 19th June 08 (Thursday)

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Day 2 At Berkeley

Yesterday was Day 2. I shall try to remember what I did and blog about it today.

I went to Market Street (it's like Singapore's Orchard Road) and walked about. I went, I saw, and I took photos. So instead of talking, I'll just upload the pictures.

Then I went to Westfield San Francisco Centre. There I looked around and saw this.

It's an interactive directory. Cool huh? The first picture was taken when I used it. Guess what I was searching for? Yeah...the toilet.

The second picture was taken after I helped a senior citizen find his shop. He was going to Dockers. The story began when I was searching for the toilet. He stood beside me and a similar (not exactly as I can't remember the exact words) conversation started.

Man: they have these electronic touchy things huh?
Me:'s pretty advanced.
Man: It's my first time here and I am looking for a pair of pants. The kind with the strap from the waist to the shoulders. Do you know where I can find them? also first time there

Man: Hm...does Dockers sell those?
Me: I am not sure about that.
Man: But where is it?
Me: I can help you locate the stall with this e-directory.
Man: Thanks.

And that was the story of how me looking for a toilet was able to assist someone else in finding Dockers.

One thing that I noticed. The people there are pretty friendly...I think friendlier than where I came

I had my lunch at Grain D'or. How you pronounced that? I also don't know.

Anyway, I went in and ordered my lunch. Here's how it looked like.

It's a pretty big portion and filling too. It's Turkey and Mozzarella Sandwich and it tastes nice.

Then I walked over to Port San Francisco at The Embarcadero. When I was there, there was this Farmer's Market going on. There were stalls selling farm produce. Interesting. Here are some photos.

Then I took photos of the Bay Bridge.

Then I went over to Singapore Consulate-General in San Francisco. I wanted to inform them that I was there and also asked if there would be any National Day Celebrations. I went over to 595 Market Street and went to their office.

There was a kind lady who assisted me with my questions. She told me that we need not go to the consulate in person to inform them, instead we could just do it online at their website. Oh okay...then I asked her if they had any National Day celebrations over here. She asked me when I was leaving and I told her about 15th August. Then she went to check. When she came back she told me that they would be having their celebrations on the 15th of August (if I remember correctly). sad. I guess I would have to watch YouTube or something. I thanked her for her help and went to the ground floor.

There were different stalls at the ground floor. There was an ice cream stall, a massage corner (where people massage you) and a wide spread of pastries. looks like they have some event over here. I went to the ice cream stall and this conversation followed.

Me: How much is an ice cream?
Assistant: It's free.

Cool! Free ice cream. It pays to visit the Consulate after

This is the picture of the ice cream stall.

And here's my free ice cream. It's strawberry with a chocolate chip cookie (yeah...the cookie is free too).

After that I walked over to Chinatown. Here are some pictures.

There's this interesting machine outside one of the shop. What you do is you insert a coin and the machine will squash it for you. The squashed coin will be your I didn't know such thing also got.

Next I went over to Portsmouth Square. There were a lot of senior citizens there. Some were chatting, some just idling about, some playing chess (the minority) while some were playing cards (the majority). Hm...what does this tell you? People here prefer cards than chinese

As I walked I saw a chinese chess match going on and so I decided to stop by, stand beside them and watched.

It was an interesting match. Occasionally, one of them would laugh and look at me...because he had cornered the opponent into sacrificing one of his pieces. In the end, it looks like the man on the left was winning. However, I didn't get to see the checkmate move as they stopped halfway and started a new game. Interesting.

After that I went over to the Chinese Culture Center. I was at the entrance looking at the various items they had there. When I proceed on to enter, the man at the counter looked at me and this conversation followed.

Man: I'm sorry, but we are closed.
Me: Huh?
Man: We close at 4pm.

I looked at my watch and it was 3.59pm. Diao!

Me: Oh man...shucks.
Man: Where are you from?
Me: Singapore...haiz...sad.
Man: Yeah I come again tomorrow.
Me: Thanks.

I don't think I can as I have other things to I guessed I spent too much time observing the chinese chess match. However, thinking about it, by looking at how the senior citizens play and behave at Portsmouth Square, I could already learn chinese culture. I need not go to the Chinese Cultural Center to learn as there, I have a generation of chinese people socializing and sharing their culture through their interactions. I know...I am just comforting myself.

Next I went to Transamerica Pyramid. Here are some pictures of it.

After that I took the BART train back to where I lived. I was at the Embarcadero Station and there I observed something interesting.

The above shows a sign on the floor to guide those outside the train where to stand on, allowing those in the train to exit first. This is interesting as the people there observed (as in followed) this. However, in Singapore, I see people rushing into the train even when people inside have not alighted. Shucks...I feel embarrassed. When the train arrived, those outside waited for people inside to move out. Then suddenly, the man behind me rushed in front of me to enter the train...I guess here we do have some similarities after all...haha.

Then in the train, a lady gave up her seat to another lady who was holding her young child. That's nice and touching.

I alighted at Downtown Berkeley Station and went to UC Berkeley to walk around. While walking I saw this.

Can you spot 4 squirrels? They are cute.

Then I went over to La Cascada Taqueria to have my dinner. There I had a Beef Taco.

The meal was pretty okay. After that I walked back home and rested.

Time: 6.26pm, 18th June 08 (Wednesday)

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