Breaking the Berkeley Bubble

Mar 27, 2011 No Comments

How a Student can Gain a Global Perspective

By Jeremy Bishow

If we are really honest with ourselves, how many people on campus knew the name “Mubarak” before the recent revolution in Egypt.  How many still don’t.  It’s not uncommon for average student to be completely out of touch with the various dealings of the country—let alone the world.  It’s hard enough trying to look beyond what readings you have to complete before section and which exams you have left to study for.  This self-imposed ignorance is part of the Berkeley Bubble—the shell that insulates and protects students from the outside world.  Within the protection of the bubble, the outside world doesn’t affect us and can, in turn, be ignored.

Herein lies the problem: the outside world does affect us and a general knowledge of the outside world is important to being a well-rounded student.  Therefore, we have to find a way to pierce the Berkeley Bubble.  Let’s look at the resources at our disposal.  A common source of news is television.  The problem with television is twofold.  Most nightly news has very little on foreign affairs and many students don’t even have a TV in the first place.  This actually leaves us with a much more invaluable resource—the internet.  The average student probably has better access to internet than fresh fruit or clean laundry.

We have our first tool, but how do we wield it?  Gaining a global perspective isn’t as easy as opening your browser of choice and logging into facebook, but it’s not much harder.  For instance, take the New York Times homepage.  On average, there may be one link, if any, to a world news article on the front page.  That’s no way to broaden your global horizons.  Do yourself a favor and switch the front page to the “Global Edition.”  All of a sudden, you’ll be hard pressed to find a story on the US that makes a big enough splash in the international waters of world news.  You would be surprised at how many news sites have their own version of a “Global Edition.” Try it out with Google News or even the worldnews subreddit.  To keep up with the current happenings in the Middle East, head over to the extensive coverage Aljazeera provides (their live English streams are especially helpful).

The internet, though far-reaching, isn’t the only tool at our disposal.  Another way to break out of the Berkeley Bubble is to physically leave it.  As a Berkeley student, you have access to a wide-range of fantastic study abroad programs.  Through EPA you can travel all over the world.  Learn a foreign language.  Learn a foreign culture.  For once, be the foreigner.  Go out, and experience what life is like outside the bubble.  Let the world news become your local news.  And, if you do come back, you are a better student because of it.

With just a little bit of know-how, and the near limitless amounts of information afforded to us as students, it is not so hard to gain a little bit of perspective about the outside world.  Using these tools, and so many more, I hope you can break out of the Berkeley Bubble, if only to peak your head out now and again.


Spring 2011 For. Pol. Issue

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