Sharing My Berkeley Experience

Sara and I at Yellowstone National  Park

One of the most exciting aspects of going to college is living on your own for the first time.  You get to move away to a new city, live with your best friends, and have all sorts of amazing experiences.  For me, moving away from my small town was a big change. I was one of two students from my graduating class who chose Berkeley, so unlike many of the other freshmen I met in my first weeks who had high school friends, I didn’t have that sort of security net.  I had a hard time adjusting to college in those first few weeks because finding new friends, sitting in large lectures, and living in a city were all brand new experiences for me. I missed the comfort and safety of home a lot during those first few weeks, but I started to adjust to my new environment.  Now, as a junior, I feel like I’m finally starting to figure things out.

This fall, my younger sister started school here at Berkeley.  Growing up my sister, Sara, and I were always really close despite our two year age difference.  We played all the same sports, were both involved in music, and even shared bunk beds up until my 8th grade year.  We went to the same elementary and high schools and even had some of the same friends. I was excited to have Sara here at Berkeley, but also knew it was important to let ourselves have our own unique college experiences.  

That first week of Sara’s freshman orientation, I did my best to let her have her own experience, without the influence of her older sister.  Though we’re still really close to each other, we have vastly different interests and I wanted to let her explore and discover Berkeley on her own, just like I had the chance to when I was a freshman.  At the end of her orientation week, we met up to get ice cream and I got the chance to meet some of her new friends. She already had a whole community of friends, roommates, and clubs to help support her through those first few weeks of transition, and she didn’t seem nearly as lost as I had when I first started college.

A couple weeks ago, I was having a rough day.  I was stressed about my midterms and hadn’t been sleeping well.  Sara wanted to get dinner with me but I had a lot of studying to do, so I asked if she wanted to come over and study with me.  We made dinner together, ate way too much popcorn, and drank more tea than most normal human beings. We talked about our classes, our friends, and joked about how she accidentally slept through her physics midterm.  It was almost like I was back at home, and it was a nice break from the stress of college classes.

A lot of people choose to move away from home to college for the new experiences.  However, for me, having my sister here has not only helped me feel supported and grow as an individual but also allowed me to share some of those amazing new moments and accomplishments with someone who has watched me grow my entire life.  I am so glad that I have a little piece of home with me at Berkeley.

Kelly D'Ambrogia

Author: Kelly D'Ambrogia

Hi! My name is Kelly and I'm a junior from Petaluma, California. Here at Berkeley I study both Molecular Environmental Biology and Spanish - two very different subjects that I absolutely love. If I'm not in the library, you can usually find me performing on the field with Cal Band or working in the lab with mantis shrimps and octopuses. In my free time, I love going on adventures in Berkeley and San Francisco with my friends. I love Berkeley and I can't wait to share my experiences with you. Go Bears!