Earlier this week, I attended the Star Party with Professor Filippenko, hosted by the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars Association’s Faculty Committee. In a span of one and a half hours, we got to gaze at stars, planets, and nebula, and talk about fascinating stuff! A large, high-power telescope was focused on the Orion Nebula, and we could see four bright dots in a diamond shape clustered in the center of the bluish cloud of gas and dust, adjacent to Orion’s belt. Professor Filippenko mentioned that it takes a million years for the stars to form out of the particles in the nebula, and each of the bright dots we saw formed at different points in time.
This past Saturday on February 28, over 2,000 attendees packed Zellerbach Hall for TEDxBerkeley, an independently organized TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event. Centered around the theme of wisdom, compassion, and connection, this year’s TEDxBerkeley featured 21 speakers and performances on an array of topics, including Ebola, forgiveness, computing literacy and gender equity, and happiness.
My friend, Erin Roberts, curator of TEDxBerkeley, and her TEDx team, had been working hard all year to coordinate the event, and it was exciting to see everything come together so beautifully. As a volunteer for TEDxBerkeley, I had the opportunity to see some of the behind-the-scenes aspects, as I served lunch to attendees, transported heavy items around Zellerbach Hall, and assisted with security backstage. It was my first time in the backstage of Zellerbach, and it was an amazing experience meeting the speakers, cheering them on before and after their talks, and seeing their warm interactions with each other.
We are coming to the end of the semester here at UC Berkeley, and this means a couple of things. First, we are only weeks away from summer and the little kid in all of us is busting out of the seams to swim and hike and rest. Second, before we get to enjoy the spoils of summer we have to make it through Dead Week and Finals. Dead Week, actually called Reading/Review/Recitation Week, is the week before final exams where we have no class but instead are encouraged to spend all our days poring over our books and past midterms to prepare ourselves for the coming test of what we have learned this semester. Thus you can see why we call it Dead Week, because campus is dead and you kind of feel like you’re dying. But I think the most effective dead weeks are those that are interspersed with adventures, silliness, and many a study break. How often do you really get a chance to have no class but still be at school with all your friends? A week like this should be taken advantage of.
If you have recently been admitted, or are thinking of applying to UC Berkeley, you will soon come to a point in your life when it will be time to contemplate what you want out of dorm life. There are essentially two styles of dorms here, the classic floor style and the suite style. Suite style means that there are typically four double rooms all opening onto one common area and bathroom. Floor style consists of buildings with long floors of about thirty or forty students and can be either coed or unisex. Both of these options offer a unique experience and it is important to consider what your ideal freshman living situation is before you begin the housing process.
This Spring Break my best friend came to visit me all the way from Cambridge in the UK. It was interesting because while I had shown my parents around the city before I had yet to share this place with someone similar to me in views and age. When he arrived, he brought with him a preconception of what Berkeley was. Being the 5th most reputable school in the world means that most people have heard about our academic prowess, but it also means that Berkeley has a reputation to uphold in terms of its non-academic culture. Berkeley’s counter culture protests of the 60s, liberal ideologies, and great intellectual movements are all legendary. Berkeley the city should not be held independently of Berkeley the school. The city, while incredibly diverse, revolves around the school and is very much a college town. I personally feel it is a symbiotic relationship where the school gains its vibrancy from the city and vice versa.
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.
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.