How did you spend Cal-O-Ween?

It’s the most spooky-filled time of the year…IT’S HALLOWEEN!

Or as we like to call it in Berkeley, Cal-O-Ween! October is my favorite month of the year. Not just because I was born during this month, but because I am a huge fan of all the festivities that go on during this spooky season.

What’s great about Halloween is how universal the scary theme is. So for those of you who miss the annual pumpkin patch back home, there’s still the chance to catch it here in Berkeley–and the Bay area! But living in Berkeley comes with the perks of our own Cal-O-Ween celebrations, so here’s my brief run-down of things to do during the Halloween season: read more

Rhetoric, or How I Chose my B.A. in B.S.

I still remember it today: “Everything has a rhetoric. Even this has a rhetoric,” My professor noted as she lifted her iPhone off her desk in front of her. I rolled my eyes. The class was an R1B, one of the college writing courses students are required to take. Our topic was “The Rhetoric of Autobiography. In it we read poetry, novels, and essays, as well as an autobiography or two.

On my application I had listed philosophy as my major but over the course of that semester I found by reading for Philosophy 2 (Individual Morality & Social Justice) to be more and more tedious. My Rhetoric reading, however, I found more and more exciting. Poetry, novels, some of the most creative essays I had ever read. Our discussion got more and more fascinating too. Philosophy was slow, dotting every i, crossing every t, making its list checking it thrice. Rhetoric blazed ahead, regarding grammar only as another device to be used or eschewed depending on ones aims and cultural context. read more

Two Different Programs, One Year Abroad

I had the pleasure of studying abroad in Spain for the full academic year, first spending the Fall semester in Córdoba and later extending my stay for another semester in Spain, but in a different city – Granada. Being abroad for the full year turned out to be a great decision, yet the way the two programs differed made a big impact on my experience. If you are interested in studying abroad, consider some of these features and select a program carefully!

One thing to focus on is if your program is centered around a community of US, international, or local students, and similarly, who your classes are with. In Córdoba, my program was composed of 14 UC students, so I spoke a lot of English and traveled around Europe with those friends. My classes were also offered only for us abroad students, and were taught in easy-to-understand Spanish by local professors. In contrast, my classes in Granada were at the official Universidad with local students and professors, helping me make local friends and forcing me to listen and communicate in Spanish much more frequently. This greatly aided my Spanish acquisition and cultural knowledge and also incentivized me to stay put in my program city during weekends. Here I also saw the importance of an immersive academic experience in order to truly learn the language. read more

Making the Most of Your Berkeley Experience: Concert Addition

One of my favorite things about attending UC Berkeley is that we all get to live in a city environment, as opposed to exclusively a college town or something similar. On top of that, we have the extraordinary privilege of having the city of San Francisco a free public bus ride or a twenty minute BART ride away. Basically, there is simply no excuse to ever be bored here. If, for some incredulous reason you do find a way to get bored, I have one word for you: CONCERTS!

Concerts are something that you never regret attending, especially if you find an amazing concert for a great price.This is usually pretty doable in the Bay Area, particularly because there are so many different venues to choose from. Here is a play by play of some of the best venues the Bay has to offer: read more

How To Keep Your Parents Happy

Ah, Parents’ Weekend. It’s an interesting time here at Cal. For most Freshmen, it’s the first time they’ve seen their parents since move-in. It’s a time for them to go out to dinner and share stories of their new best friends, give updates on their classes, and show them around campus. I love talking to new Cal Parents—they’re just so excited to hear everything about Cal! I personally would have never made it to Cal nor been as driven, motivated, and determined to success as I am without the support my parents provided me. The way I see it, the least I can do is keep in touch with them and allow them to stay involved in my life—even though I haven’t been home for more than three weeks in over two years. read more

My Berkeley Firsts

College is a time full of new experiences and exciting new endeavors. There are certain first experiences at Berkeley that I will never forget.

My first close friend at Berkeley was made in the Stern Hall laundry room. Everyone told me that I would make friends in the dining hall because everyone has to eat; however, everyone also has to do their laundry. The best friends I have made at Berkeley I have met in the places I least expected.

Photo taken through the telescope!
  • My first time seeing the moon up close was through a research telescope on top of Campbell Hall. I saw all the minute details of the moon and Saturn’s rings which made me feel so small in our massive universe. I’ll never forget the pride I felt seeing Albireo, aka the Cal Star. Berkeley discovered Albireo that illuminates the sky with our school colors of blue and gold.
  • The first time I went to a Professor’s Office Hours: I was a little nervous and I let out a sigh of relief when I saw that I wasn’t the only one there. I had all these planned questions, but instead the professor posed us a question I’ll never forget: how would we put life on Mars? He was so interested in finding out how freshman would solve such a big question. I realized my professors are truly interested in my thoughts and were intently listening to my opinion.
  • My first time going to the RSF aka the Recreational Sports Facility. I went for a late-night yoga class on a Wednesday. I’ll never forget all the pretzel-like moves I attempted, the delight I had with my successes and laughs at my failed attempts.
  • My first discussion section made my large lecture class feel small. Discussions sections changed the way I viewed learning. In high school, I thought learning was done on your own. However, I now value group work and collaboration because everyone has different experiences which offer new perspectives that will alter the way I approach future problems.
  • My first time hiking the Big C was an exhaustive effort. I’ll never forget hiking with 100 of my peers while all I heard was my heart beat with the increasing incline. The climb is worth every step to see the gorgeous views of Berkeley from the top.
  • My first time skiing: I had the opportunity to go up to Big Bear with my residence hall! I had never skied before and fell down a lot! By the end of the day, I mastered that iconic zigzag pattern and I was so happy to check something off my bucket list!
  • The first time I saw a fawn up close: I was walking to my morning class and outside Stern Hall at the bottom of the hill was a mom deer and her baby eating at the shrubbery. It was a Snapchat moment as they both looked at me.
  • My first Big Game: It was Cal against Stanford on a sunny afternoon that turned into a rainy evening. My friends and I stayed in the stands cheering our football team on as we became drenched from head to toe. Our spirits were up, and our voices got louder, especially after we got some hot chocolate!
  • My first time writing for this blog: Looking back on my freshman year, I realize my best college moments are the ones I never saw coming.
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    Celebrating the California Culture

    Homecoming is many things –It’s about tradition. It’s about family. It’s about community. It’s a celebration of all the people involved in our community, including the many different cultures. This Homecoming Week is a bit different from the past. Rather than having a simple “Homecoming Rally,” the UC Rally Committee has decided to switch things up and brand the new “California Culture Rally.”

    UC Berkeley has more than 100 student organizations that are culturally based, and this rally is intended to offer groups like these the chance to showcase their cultures and traditions. This year one of my clubs, Cal Hawai’i Club will be performing. For us, this is the largest scale event we’ve ever performed at. Cal Hawai’i is one of only two Polynesian organizations on campus. read more

    Telluride, Ever Heard of it?

    Have you heard of the Telluride Film Festival? You can go ahead and google it. I’ll wait. No really please do–famous people go! It’s a real film festival I swear. Check it out.

    I first heard about the Telluride Film Festival in office hours. I was talking to a professor about Preston Struges, a guy who wrote and directed some of the best screwball comedies of the early 40’s. My professor mentioned he had seen something by Sturges recently, up at Telluride–he said it casually, but knowingly, like it was something I would recognize. I returned a knowing nod, but (just like you now) I had no idea what he was talking about. A quick google search in the hallway revealed that “Telluride” was a small town in Colorado that hosted an annual film festival. read more

    Becoming a True Berkeley-an

    In this world, there are stereotypes about everything, and the city and school of Berkeley are no exceptions. Some of these stereotypes or reputations we have come to be known by are being very academic and intelligent people (because we ARE the #1 public university no matter what anyone says), being very politically active all the way since the Free Speech Movement of the 60’s, and perhaps being a little hippie-like, among others. We can’t forget about the classic style stereotypes including North Face jackets and backpacks, Cal gear galore, and our beloved Birkenstocks. read more

    My Journey at Cal

    What’s that? Some new Cal freshmen doing a face mask–xoxo gossip girl

    Up until August 23th at 9am, I was constantly reminiscing about freshman year. I’d always reflect on my amazing memories from the dorms. I remember meeting my two roommates for the first time and our first picture together—which yes my mom would later that semester ship me and my roommates each a mug with that first picture on it. Anytime I had to study, I’d miss the “two minute dance breaks every 90 minutes” that we would have in our room (great way to study by the way). I remember the exact night I was studying in the lounge for General Chemistry and met Pablo across the hall. Little did I know that he would end up becoming one of my closest friends here at Cal. read more