The days of winter break before I left for Japan felt immeasurably long. The previous semester, I had applied to a winter travel study program in Japan, a partnership between the Haas School of Business and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Kakehashi program. The program was a week long, and I would earn my final two elective business units before graduating in May 2017. Best of all, the trip would be completely free! I had already devoured the Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet reviews for every landmark I could extract from our Japanese-heavy itinerary. I prepared a mental list of all the Japanese cuisine I hoped to sample: spicy tuna sushi rolls, gooey mochi ice cream, heaping bowls of yakisoba. I grew up in a rural mountain community of about 1,000 people where only one restaurant attempted Japanese food, Pangea. Their menu was a hodgepodge of different cultures, vegan choices and local foods. Beyond that, however, I did not know how to prepare for the trip. Before that week, I had never been to a country where I didn’t speak the local language. I resolved to say “yes” as much as possible, and keep diligent records in my journal.
Welcome to Berkeley! My name is Isabella, and I am a junior double majoring in Business Administration and Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health and Development. After graduation, I hope to pursue healthcare policy in Washington, DC and serve in the Peace Corps. I grew up in a small town outside Lake Tahoe, but now consider Cal my home. When I’m not studying at my favorite spots, Café Strada and the North Reading Room in Doe Library, you can find me exploring San Francisco, hosting art galleries with Prytanean (the oldest women’s honor society in the country, founded here at UC Berkeley), tutoring writing in the residence halls, volunteering at EDGE Youth Leadership, volunteering with the Tang Center on campus, and spending time with my sorority sisters. I can’t imagine going to any other university but Cal, and look forward to sharing my adventures on campus with you!