Summer Travels Before Fall 2010 at Haas

For the first time in several years, newly admitted Haas undergraduates were no longer required to complete summer session classes preceding the fall semester. And for me, this change was almost better news than my actual admission into the program.

My name is Alicia Salmeron and I am from Orinda, a small town just fifteen minutes over the hill from the Berkeley campus. Both of my parents came to the Bay Area from Barcelona, Spain, so foreign countries and cultures have always captivated me. My passion for traveling and international affairs has always influenced my summer plans, and this summer was no exception. I decided to spend 8 weeks in China, a country that had seemed incredibly intimidating and foreign.

My time in China can be split into three parts.

The first few weeks, I worked as a TOEFL and SAT tutor for a Chinese agency in the bustling export city of Shenzhen. Shenzhen is located in south China, directly north of Hong Kong, and was the first special economic zone (SEZ) established by Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms of the 1970s. In 30 years, it has been transformed from a fishing village to one of the busiest ports in the world. I can’t say Shenzhen is the most exciting place for a college student to spend the summer; however, I was constantly learning from the Chinese students I taught and the expatriates working for international companies that I interacted with.

For the second part of my summer, I worked as a private English tutor for a Chinese family. My homestay-styled set up introduced me to Chinese family life. These were also the weeks I managed (in reality was forced) to pick up the most Mandarin.

Birthday dinner with host family and friend

The last couple of weeks of my stay were dedicated to traveling China. I traveled through Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guilin, and Hong Kong. Before returning to San Francisco, I decided to spend a week in Thailand to explore Bangkok and relax on the islands of Ko Tao and Ko Phangan.

The Great Wall

Prior to my summer travels, China felt overwhelmingly foreign. This rapidly growing economy is a central player in global business and management, and while I had never envisioned myself working there, I’ve decided it can certainly be a possibility. In Shenzhen, I was also employed by an audio transcription agency that makes English learning tools for Mandarin-speaking businessmen. It amuses me that my voice will be listened to by professionals throughout China seeking to communicate to their English-speaking counterparts around the world. The experience engrained in my mind just how essential it is to effectively communicate and understand differing cultural practices in today’s global economy.

But the summer has now come to an end, and classes for Fall 2010 begin tomorrow. TOMORROW! My first class as a Haas undergraduate will be UGBA 106 (Marketing) at 8am. This will also be my first 8am class…ever. I’m slightly terrified, but very much excited.

 As always, go bears!

Alicia Salmeron
Haas Class of 2012

Oh, Thai beaches and sunsets…

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