Namaste! My name is Charlotte, and I’m a junior Cal Bear currently studying abroad in New Delhi, India. I’m a double major in Linguistics and South Asian Art History (shout out to the humanities!) and am originally from sunny Los Angeles, California. Back in Berkeley, when I’m not in class, I keep myself very busy by singing in an a cappella group, giving tours as a Campus Ambassador, going to the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) for pilates, hiking in the Berkeley hills, and enjoying nights out in San Francisco. The organization I’m most involved in is Camp Kesem Berkeley, which is a student-run non-profit that provides a free week of summer camp for children affected by a parent’s cancer (you should check us out on Facebook to see the cutest photos of all time!). I am incredibly lucky to be a Cal Golden Bear, and even luckier that part of my Berkeley experience gets to be spent in a country I have always dreamed about visiting: India.
UC Berkeley gets thousands and thousands of visitors a year from all over the world. As students, we easily get caught up in a routine of class, work, and studying without realizing all the interesting people there are to meet on campus. One of the best places to meet and talk to people is actually at UC Berkeley’s best known symbol: The Campanile, officially known as Sather Tower.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Campanile, meaning that it’s definitely a special year to visit. My Monday morning Campanile shifts from 9:30 am – 12:45pm always start my week with something memorable. The occasional student pops in between classes to view the gorgeous scenery of the bay, more so this week because of the beautiful weather. Many students use the Campanile ride to de-stress – it’s actually a great way to take a breather and appreciate the beautiful campus we are lucky to call home. I have the occasional conversation with students panicking about midterms. Most of the time, curious visitors from somewhere in the United States, or commonly visitors from Europe or Asia inquire about taking the stairs. I wouldn’t recommend it – its 307 feet tall, a LOT of stairs. Sometimes, there’s a language barrier and I take a leap of faith when the conversation isn’t making sense and I speak in Mandarin. Many of us tour guides speak multiple languages and we give tours in different languages too. This sometimes comes to use at the front desk.
With March coming to a close, many students are wrapping up the application process after applying to a variety of summer internships throughout the Bay Area, the country, and even the globe. Although I do not exactly know where I will be working yet, I am grateful to at least know where I am going.
Perhaps it was my hopes of entering into a career of public service someday, perhaps it was the fact that I love the city, or perhaps it was my obsession with The West Wing that inspired me. All the same, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work in Washington, D.C. this summer thanks to UC Berkeley’s renowned Cal in the Capital program. Cal in the Capital was founded nearly 50 years ago, and supports students in finding undergraduate internships in Washington. Utilizing alumni connections, networking sessions, and resume and cover letter workshops, Cal in the Capital prepares students for an unforgettable summer where professional skills can be developed in a diverse array of professional opportunities available throughout the D.C. Metro Area. By far, one of the best perks of being involved with the program is the fact that participants are guaranteed housing accommodations right at the UC Washington Center, located in the heart of the city next to DuPont Circle.
I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and there are many reasons why I now feel as though I could never live anywhere else than the Golden State. California has a little bit of everything you could want: sun, surf, snow, cities, small towns, and everything in between. Furthermore, there is no shortage of things to do on the weekends. May I call to mind the beach, museums, concerts, or even the most magical place on earth, Disneyland? While all of these things are enough to make anyone jump in a covered wagon and head out west, my very favorite thing about California can be summed up in one word, weather. This entire week Berkeley has been 75 degrees and bright and sunny. I’ll be the first to admit I am a typical San Diegan sun addict and Berkeley has decided to bless me this week with copious amounts of vitamin D and sunburns.
Though Football season is pretty much over after the fall semester, all the spirit surrounding Cal’s basketball games has kind of made me nostalgic about my first semester here, and also my first football season back in good old 2012.
But let’s get things straight; I don’t understand American football. Multiple well wishing friends have offered to explain the game, but it just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s generally the same blank response I get when I try to explain cricket to them, granted sports in general have never been my forte. Yet why do I always end up at the Cal football games, cheering to my hearts content all decked in blue and gold? For me it has little to do with sport as I hardly even watch the game. It’s actually about verbalizing my pride for going to UC Berkeley. Realistically, when else can you be so pompous and proud of your school without appearing to be a bit of an… idiot? I just love being surrounded by other people all sharing the same pride. I love our campus, our vibe, our academics, our labs, our squirrels, and I want to release this love in a healthy manner. Did it matter that we were probably going to lose? A little bit yes, but not enough to counter the sheer amount of exhilaration I feel when we chant in unison. It demonstrates the sheer power of mob mentality, which I admit is a bit frightening to me.
Editors Note: Over the course of the semester, we will be featuring posts from campus ambassadors currently studying abroad around the world.
The Boboli Gardens in Florence
Ciao! My name is Sarah and I am a third year Golden Bear studying abroad for a semester in the beautiful city of Rome. I am a pre-med Public Health major with a minor in English. I’m from Huntington Beach in sunny Southern California and therefore have an unbreakable bond with the ocean and the beach. I have also found true love in Cheeseboard pizza, extra dark chocolate, and spicy coconut tofu strips from the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Yum. In addition to being a Campus Ambassador, I’m very involved in the Health Service Internship organization within the Health and Medical Apprenticeship Program on campus and Chi Omega sorority. My only regret with choosing to study abroad this semester is having to miss the best day of the year: Cal Day on April 12th—be there!
(If you think this is bad…these are only books for two of my five midterms.)
When I checked the syllabi for my classes at the beginning of the semester, I noticed that March 12 came up a couple times. Strangely, March 11 also seemed to be a recurring date, and hey… I swear I marked something down on Thursday, March 6! Why were these days so close together?! It didn’t really register with me at the time.
Two months, later, I was faced with the prospect of taking five midterms in the period between Thursday, March 6 and Tuesday, March 12.
It’s true, Berkeley has a huge variety of study spaces. With the campus currently in the height of midterms, students will be flocking to campus to find that perfect space where concentration is at its peak. From the quiet halls of the libraries, to the clinking cups of coffee in cafes, and even to the often overlooked bench in the Eucalyptus grove, here are some of my personal favorite study spots that serve as a great help to surviving midterms:
1. Caffé Strada. Yes, I do practically live here. Yes, I recognize I should order decaf more. No, I still probably won’t. There’s no denying that Caffé Strada stands as one of the most popular cafes in Berkeley. From it’s perfect location near campus (located on College Ave & Bancroft Way), to its serene outdoor space, and most importantly, to its delicious espressos and free WiFi, I still remain ever-faithful to this place for providing me ample space to study for midterms. It’s also a great spot to meet friends and/or study groups. So, if you’re like me and think learning and coffee go well together, don’t miss out on this treasured Berkeley spot.
I remember the first time I went home to San Diego after joining Alpha Chi Omega and telling my friends from home that I was now in a sorority. These friends, whom had known me since elementary school, looked at me as if I’d gone insane. They were shocked that I would be the type of person that would partake in that seemingly shallow and dramatic culture of “buying your friends.” But I expected to get this reaction from my friends, because I had never thought of myself as the “sorority type” either.
I’m always eager to learn and I passed through a phase where my intended major was changing more frequently than the seasons here. Yet there are always those majors and subjects that still daunt me. Statistics for one, or maybe anthropology are pretty good examples. The winner though has to be biology. The last time I took biology was in middle school, when we learnt where the heart was in relation to the lungs. After that class was over I vowed to myself to never step foot in a biology classroom again. Flash forward to this semester and I find myself sitting in Biology 1A, a notoriously intense biology class, trying to understand why this class is a prerequisite for Chemical Engineering. The class began just how I thought it would, with a lot of facts and even more enzyme names that I had to remember or I wouldn’t be able to pass. Though as lectures progressed I began to slowly enjoy the class. As much as my pride tried to convince me that biology was boring and tedious, I found myself listening intently to the professor, not because I wanted to pass, but because I was deeply interested in what she had to say. DNA, RNA suddenly seemed a lot more fascinating than I could have ever imagined. After my first midterm I was pretty convinced that I had begun to tolerate biology. It still maintains its position as my least favorite science, but I have a new found respect and understanding of the subject that the middle school me would have never thought possible.