Monday, March 13th will live on in the memories of Cal Women’s Basketball fans forever. It was on this day, when all hopes of an NCAA March Madness bid seemed lost, that Cal earned a 9 seed. The team jumped for joy as they learned they were going back to the Big Dance. I was ecstatic and immediately began composing emails to all my professors letting them know I would be in Waco, Texas. As a member of Cal Band, I had the unique opportunity to travel with the basketball team to the NCAA Tournament and cheer them on. Fortunately for me, my professors were all very accommodating and allowed me to miss class on Friday and Monday, provided I stayed on top of all the material and assignments I missed.
Right now, I’m sitting just off campus in our newly minted Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), the renowned art collection open free to all incoming students, in the bright Babette Cafe. Through a peek-a-boo window, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia reads like a billboard for a recent gallery collection. The collection is a perfect allusion to Berkeley’s aesthetic: trendy ripped jeans, trusty Birkenstocks, a thrifted flannel tied around our waist. In every discipline, these same students are working to apply course content towards a better version of the future. It’s difficult, and we face setbacks, but Berkeley students are lucky enough to be surrounded by 36,000 other students – and 1,500 innovative, supportive faculty – seeking the realization of similar visions.
As an out-of-state student from Maryland, choosing to fly across the country to attend UC Berkeley was a scary, nerve-wrecking experience. Coming to a school with almost 28,000 undergraduate students, knowing nobody, I was anxious to take such a big leap from my home, family, and friends in Maryland. After completing my first semester at Berkeley, I can truly say that UC Berkeley is my home.
In high school, I was really involved in student government, and wanted to continue my passion of representing the student voice at Cal. Thus, I applied for the Residence Hall Assembly (RHA) Representative position in my residence hall’s Hall Association, which is the student government of the residence halls. I was elected RHA Rep and began to attend weekly meetings where Reps from every residence hall across campus come together and have the opportunity to vote on different sponsorship and legislation bills. At one of the meetings last semester, the RHA Executive Team announced a unique opportunity for us to attend a three day leadership conference at the University of Southern California (USC) where students from across the west coast would come together and learn about leadership.
Office Hours. Those two words are repeated over and over as a student. From my parents telling me to go to them, professors reminding about their office hours, and even friends talking about questions they would ask, I hear about office hours on a daily basis. But in all my time here I have yet to attend a professor’s office hours. I have always been scared about going because I usually can get my questions asked in class, so I never had any questions I could ask and I didn’t want to go and be awkward without any questions. But this all changed when last week I mustered the courage to go to my professor’s office hours.
On Wednesdays some may wear pink but last Wednesday, my roommates and I decided to switch it up and spend an evening with Lemony Snicket, Cecile Richards, and some other fascinating figures at Zellerbach Hall.
The event was part of a unique event series called ‘Front Row’ hosted by Cal Performances. ‘Front Row’ was designed to be a performance series that represented three traits of the Cal student community: “innovation, freedom of expression, and diversity”. With these three core themes in mind, Cal Performances wanted to invite a local and culturally significant person to help curate the show – enter Daniel Handler, otherwise known as Lemony Snicket, the author of the beloved children’s books ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ and other novels. Together, Daniel and the crew of Cal Performances put together a whimsical and insightful evening with guests that Daniel invited he believed to represent passion, activism, and social justice.
Spring has sprung, girls and boys! (Though much earlier than anticipated.) And contrary to popular myth, UC Berkeley is not constantly smothered in fog and cold and sadness. Sure, I’m also grumbling about losing an hour of sleep, but we have finally left Frozen behind and moved on to Frozen: Spring Fever, and I for one am more than ready to spring into springtime. (Are these dorky plays on words properly portraying my excitement?) And even though it is midterm and project season still, and though I like to consider myself a good noodle student, entering into this new season of sundresses and patterned shorts, blooming buds of springtime flowers, pollen drifting in the wind, and a truckload of Claritin, I decided to document how I’ve been soaking up my vitamin D this past week (and I’m sure many other Cal students too).
When I got to college, I, like most all college students, packed what I could into suitcases and left my family behind. After living with my parents and two little brothers for the past eighteen years, college would be an opportunity for me to “find myself” – and my new family. In an effort to reassure trepid freshmen that we wouldn’t be lost in the onslaught of an incoming class of six thousand students, we were reminded of an age-old adage: friends are the family you choose for yourself. The saying started popping up on sparkly, rhinestone encrusted canvases just weeks into our freshman year. Sorority big-little weeks had begun.
Let me tell you something kind of ironic. One of my favorite hobbies is looking at blogs of people who are just really organized though I, myself, find it hard to keep things very organized; for example, my closet looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster 75% of the time. But I know that I’m not alone in this hobby! There is an entire category of these blogs called “Studyblrs”, with aesthetically pleasing photographs of things like diagrams, bullet journals, and notes color-coded in possibly fifteen differently-colored gel pens. So, of course, scrolling through these organization prodigies with far greater hand-writing than I could ever dream of achieving has become a vicarious kind of pastime. But here’s the irony: when I would get a little too stressed or overwhelmed by classes, I’d choose to ignore the work in favor of the distraction of scrolling through blogs owned by people who weren’t ignoring their stress … by staying organized?
This year, I finally made the connection, and have transformed the fun of organization into a tool to actually aid me in staying on top of my studies. And it’s rocked. So to you all, reading this blog – past, current, future, or honorary Golden Bears – I want to share with you a few fun ways to keep your (most likely multiple) responsibilities on track!
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.
I hope that everyone had a lovely winter break and holiday season! We are about one month into the spring semester which means that classes are in full swing and believe it or not, midterms are nearly upon us. During the precious month we had off, I split my time between the rain (and even snow!) in my hometown of Seattle and the desert sun of Palm Springs, where I was able to get in some hiking and yoga. While winter break was relaxing, it is definitely good to be back and it’s surreal to be marking this as my last semester at Cal. My hopes for the next couple of months are to enjoy my classes and the opportunity to learn before I start work. Luckily I was able to take some classes that I’ve been wanting to take since freshman year, such as French and Development Studies C100: the History of Development and Underdevelopment.