Living in Taiwan for my entire life, this is my first time ever studying abroad. And Berkeley is not any school; I’m in one of the best Universities around the world! I’m Shinyen, a business major exchange student from National Taiwan University, who’ll be studying at Haas for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year.

“WOW! THIS IS HOGWARTS!” My very first “WOW” over Haas popped out on an August evening when I traveled through William and Janet Cronk Gate, the door toward this magical world, spotting the beautiful sunset hung up above Haas campus with street lamps gently lighting up like stars floating on ground. Yet this imagery isn’t what Haas is merely about, there’s much more to see through. A “WOW” comes out of me when the occasion is unlike what I have experienced in the past. Among all, here are 3 more WOWs I have experienced during my time at Haas.

“WOW! I see a human-oriented campus through Haas courtyard!”

My favorite place at Haas is the courtyard, an open area sitting at the center of Haas campus, surrounded by trees and round tables. This is where life happens – people rest under the sun and breathe in fresh air between classes, pull out a book and have a sip of coffee in the soft breeze, start an inspiring talk with either old or new friends, join various events held by all sorts of people and organizations, or come up with cool business ideas thanks to the lively atmosphere. The courtyard serves multiple functions, but all can converge into one: human-oriented design. Human involvement is critical in situations from problem solving to daily life experiences, and Haas courtyard is just in the right favor! I’ll say, the courtyard is the heart of Haas, beating steadily and navigating the energy circulation; it’s the brain of Haas, processing intellectual conversations and evoking innovative ideas; it’s the lung of Haas, providing and filtering fresh air to maintain a healthier life. I seldom see people gather in courtyards in Taiwanese universities. The pace is much faster than at Berkeley Haas, and people aren’t used to studying or making important decisions outdoors. It was not until I flew across the Pacific Ocean to the Bay Area that I experienced a whole new campus atmosphere and relaxing lifestyle.

“WOW! I’m in a flexible classroom!”

Reading through Michel Foucault’s “Panopticon”, one gets a sense of how structurally organized environments demonstrate power relations and knowledge distribution. In this case, spatial arrangement of classrooms – how tables, chairs, and podiums are placed –  also reflects the campus culture and intention. At my home university, tables and chairs are meticulously fixed in rows, while students always face the instructor, who thus represents the power within that space. However, the first time I stepped into the UGBA 96.1 Creativity and Leadership classroom in Chou Hall, I was stunned by the spacious room with a wall of whiteboard that helps students think outside-the-box. There are no fixed tables and the chairs are mobile, enabling a dynamic classroom design. Sometimes the chairs cluster, sometimes they form a circle, and they can shift into anything during class with only a snap. “In my class, we will not use technology devices, nor will we use pens and notebooks. I only require you to be present.” Professor Houlihan made this unusual announcement in our first class, making me uneasy yet exhilarated at the same time, since it’s a policy I’ve never encountered during my academic career. Supported by this flexible classroom, the power transfers from the instructor to all the students when distance is broken and participation is highly encouraged.

“WOW! Zero Carbon & Zero Waste is not a dream!”

One reason I chose to come to Haas is its effort in creating a sustainable campus. With Haas being one of the leads in sustainability progress, UCB earned a Gold award from the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System used by more than 900 colleges and universities and is ranked as the top 6 US eco-school by Sierra Club. With its outstanding reputation, the Haas campus hasn’t disappointed me so far. Chou Hall, the country’s greenest academic building and the first true Zero Waste Certified academic building in the world, heavily relies on sunlight as lighting choice. Strolling through the buildings, the sunshine not only warms me physically, but also inspires me mentally. In addition, I surprisingly found no landfill bin in both Chou Hall and Chiet Hall. To achieve zero waste, Haas has been executing sustainable policies such as no landfill generation, pack-in and pack-out, holding zero waste events, and eliminating single use items. During these 3 months in Haas, I unexpectedly saw innumerable faculty, students, and courses working on sustainability issues, which I sincerely appreciate from the bottom of my heart!

These are just some of my “WOWs,” but not all. As an exchange student, almost everything here is new to me and almost every tiny coincidence excites me dramatically. I’ll keep my eyes and heart open to perceive more about Haas. And I sincerely hope you enjoy this beautiful Haas campus as much as I do!

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