University of California, Berkeley: Tips for International Students

University of California, Berkeley

The oldest campus in the University of California system, The University of California, Berkeley, is situated in the city of Berkeley on the east coast of San Francisco Bay, California.

This prestigious university is ranked number four in the world by the Academic Work Ranking of World Universities and is renowned for its experts in mathematics and science. Scientists at Berkeley University California have discovered 16 chemical elements in total, more than any other university in the world.

Accommodation options

1. On-campus

There are plenty of campus housing options on offer at Berkeley, including traditional residence halls, suite apartments, and even theme houses that offer accommodation with a particular academic focus. You can find out more here on-campus housing options.

2. Rental accommodation

You don’t have to stay on campus if you don’t choose to; Berkeley offers a wide selection of rental accommodation you can search for on Cal Rentals. You’ll find listings for apartments or you can search for roommates on the site. The website also has a comprehensive list of safety tips, so you won’t unwittingly get scammed out of your rental deposit!

3. University Village

If you have a family, are married, or are a single parent, Berkeley offers family student accommodation in its University Village.  It’s situated on a 58 acre complex with one, two, and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses. It’s just 3.5 miles from campus and has its own child center, recreational center, café, and laundry rooms.

If you’re a first-year student looking for accommodation, then you should start your search here.



1. Rail

Students are encouraged to use public transport to get to Berkeley due to the lack of parking spaces on campus. One of the most common ways to get into the university from the surrounding areas is the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system that operates from Richmond, Fremont, Bay Point/Concord, and San Francisco/Daly City.

The BART will drop you at Downtown Berkeley Station one block from the west side of the campus. You can purchase student discount rail tickets from the Parking and Transportation Office.

2. East Bay buses

The AC Transit buses, serving Alameda County, let you use your Class Pass, which you’ll get once you’re registered as a student and enrolled on your course. You can also use your Class Pass on the Bear Transit shuttle buses that will take you all around campus. The university provides shuttle buses at night also so you can get home safely after-hours.

3. Bicycle

There are bicycle paths and stands all over campus so it’s likely one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around. It’s pretty secure too, with over 120 parking spaces for bicycles at four secure, covered locations. These facilities are only accessible by entering a secure access code, so you won’t have to worry about your bike getting stolen.

Student-run organization, BicyCAL, runs events throughout the year and the bicycle co-operative will also help you with parts and maintenance.


Food on a budget

1. On-campus

Berkeley offers a wide range of dining options on campus with everything from sushi and sandwiches to vegetarian and vegan. Even if you have an allergy or require a special diet, Berkeley will take care of you.

It features in the top 20 best colleges in the US for food and the staff are passionate about healthy eating and sustainability. Any student can buy a meal plan, entitling you to a set number of meals on campus throughout the year.

2. Eating out

There are lots of great low cost food joints in Berkeley. For a cheap and cheerful breakfast, try Café Durant’s combo plates, full of tasty goodness that won’t break your budget.  Au Coquelet is popular with students for its coffee and weekend brunch menu, and for cheap Asian food, try Wat Mongkolratanaram, an authentic little Thai gem where you’ll get huge portions.

3. Shopping for food

As well as the standard superstores like Trader Joe’s and Safeway, Berkeley has many local, independent stores and markets where you can find fresh, cheap produce. You’ll find some unique items in Berkeley’s Natural Grocery Co and you can get great discounts when you collect coupons for Monterey Market.


Free Guide for International Students

Going to Berkeley? Download our free guide to the US for International Students.

Download our International Student Guide to Studying in USA

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