“As difficult as architecture school is, it is also one of the best times of your life.”
If you were to go around to anyone on campus and ask, “what do you think the life of an architecture student is like?” most of them would respond with: “They never sleep!” or “I never see them” or “they’re all perfectionists.” And while it is true that architecture students (or design students in general) work incredibly hard and spend a lot of time in studio, many people who have not been through the studio experience neglect to touch on the fact that studio life is an incredibly life-changing, valuable, and enriching experience. You become aware of all of the little details that can make or break one of your critiques, you learn how to talk with professors, take criticism, and pour your heart and soul into a project, only to be told that your professor is not very fond of it. You learn to defend your work and present you ideas coherently and concisely, taking criticism not as a personal attack but as a chance to develop your own ideas and skills. You learn to manage your time, optimize your studio work space, and balance your other extracurricular commitments, all with a family of students behind you.
One of the most crucial parts of the studio experience that many people ignore is the network of friends that you build, and the “were all in this together” mentality that becomes a driving force behind the teamwork and comradery that comes out of the experience. Often times students will stay in studio working on projects into the early morning, with other students there to encourage, relieve some stress, and offer an outside point of view on their project. You spend an incredible amount of time together, and you easily start to love the projects you pour your heart into. You take harsh criticism together, grow stronger because of it, and at the end of the day, you bounce back for the next tough project together. Studio is a family, and is one of the most valuable learning experiences I have had in my life.
Having a second home you can come back to, having people working tirelessly alongside you, and having truly inspiring mentors that have all changed the world in one way or another gives you an unforgettable experience, and one that is extremely unique to the Berkeley architecture experience: Studio life is something that is so difficult to appreciate unless you have been through it yourself, and have had the chance to grow tremendously because of it.