Senior Year Nostalgia

Campanile at dusk

I still remember the first time I came to Cal Day, almost 5 years ago as a junior in high school, eager to get started on the college application process, but unsure about how I was going to pick the place where I would spend the next 4 years of my life. I knew college would be an incredible experience, and I knew that I would experience an immense amount of personal growth, but what I didn’t know is that my time as an undergraduate student would pass by quicker than any other time in my life.

Here I stand, 5 years later as a college senior at UC Berkeley, with my entire life ahead of me, and all of the possibilities in the world awaiting me. I feel nervous and scared, uncomfortable with the idea of working a 9-5 office job, nervous about my skills and capabilities, a head full of what-ifs and curious dreams, and a desire to make sure that whatever I do benefits humanity and the natural environment around me. I’m scared, and I really don’t know what my life will look like in just 1 year, but beyond the academic preparation and mental growth, Berkeley has taught me to be okay with not knowing. After all, some of the best things in life, though earned and worked for, grow out of complete uncertainty, and taking leaps of faith that send you into something amazing. read more

Senior Year Bucket List

While this bucket list absolutely applies to every Golden Bear, it is of the utmost importance that every student in their last semester or last year does these five things before they graduate. While there could probably be a list of about five hundred things to do in the bay before our time is up, I chose five that mean a lot to me and are some of the best ways to spend your time here.

  1. The Campanile

Look at those views! I have met way too many seniors that decided to take their first trip up to the top of the Campanile during the finals week of their last semester. That is simply unacceptable! A ride to the top is free for us while everyone else has to pay, and it there is no way it’s too far out of the way when you’re heading to or back from class. This is one of the best parts of our campus, as is being able to see everything from a bird’s eye view including the cities of Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco and the infamous Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. Plus, our tower is twenty two feet taller than Stanford’s Hoover Tower! What more could you ask for? read more

1 Lecture, 4 Halls

First day of sophomore year was thrilling. Maybe I am the only one that still gets those “first day jitters.” Maybe most college students are used to it. Not me. Every year proves to provide new emotions: whether its nerves, confusion, excitement or maybe for some, indifference. First day of my Freshman year provided a lot of the first two, in addition to a general sense of self-consciousness that everyone around me knew I was lost. It was exciting, yes, but the tour I had taken months prior in addition to a week of GBO did not even remotely prepare me for knowing the exact location of Cory Hall- I am still confused as to why my English lecture was placed in that building anyhow- it’s an EECS building!  read more

Discomfort and Growth: My Berkeley Experience

As I walked into the classroom, my palms were coated with a thin veil of sweat. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, hands, head, everywhere. I felt my brain spiraling as I realized the moment that I had been dreading was becoming a reality. The room was empty except for my teacher, perched at a desk in the front of the room.

“You can start whenever you’re ready,” she said, distractedly shuffling the papers in front of her.

As soon as she looked at me, I began to speak. “My name is Natasha and today I’ll be talking about my experience in China. First… first…”. My heart stopped. I couldn’t remember what I wanted to talk about! My nervous mind scrambled to think of anything to say, but in that instant, I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t think of anything, say anything, even think to ask to start over. I was frozen. We only had two minutes in the room. What was I going to do? read more

A Definitive Ranking of My Housing Experiences

International House lit up in blue and yellow lights as viewed from my co-ops sundeck
A view from one home to another: from my co-op’s backyard you can see I House!

Renting my own off-campus apartment? Been there. 

The quintessential freshman dorm experience? Shout out to Unit 1 Deutsch Floor 4! 

The Co-Ops? Spent a lovely summer in Berkeley in a house.

And now, I’m residing in International House, back to dorm-style living. While many Berkeley students try to stick with one residence to reduce the amount of moving, I have not exactly taken this approach. From experiencing these four very different, unique housing situations so far, I wanted to comment on my experience in each! read more

Taking Every Opportunity

This summer, I had a friend ask me if I wanted to go to a concert at the Greek Theater. The concert started in three hours and I didn’t listen to the bands playing very often but I had never been to a concert, so I said yes. Two weeks later, my roommate’s friend’s car broke down and I had 30 minutes to decide whether or not to buy her ticket to the concert at the Greek that night. I bought her ticket and, 30 minutes later, texted my dad a picture of one of our favorite artists singing right in front of me. His response made me think a lot about life.
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My Strangest Educational Experiences at Cal

Hey there! My name’s Violet and I’m excited to be writing for the Bear Talk Blog this semester.

I study physical geography and atmospheric science, and maybe its just me and my major, but I feel like I’ve done some pretty weird things for class. This post lists five strange things I’ve done for school, it coincidentally also doubles as a list of some of my favorite memories here. I can’t wait to add to it!

1. Licked rocks

Introductory Earth science courses at Berkeley include labs, several of which focus on mineralogy. In one of my lab sections I was once asked to identify a solid sample of Halite (solid NaCl), and given the option of licking it as a foolproof method of identification, I did. It was salty. read more

Lost in Europe

Ever wonder: how can I study abroad with a highly technical double major and also not pay for it? Wonder no more! Here is my tale of unexpected opportunity, subsequent thrilling scientific discovery and European adventure.

I’ve been involved in research since I applied to a lab through URAP (Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program) my freshman year. After studying spider chemical ecology in this lab for a year(spiders are pretty neat I’d say), my supervising grad student presented me with an incredible offer. A PhD student working in Germany and former undergraduate in the same lab was looking for undergrads with Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) experience to investigate Argiope cryoprotectants at her home university over the summer. Intriguing! Tell me more. The student selected would be awarded a fellowship and grant covering travel, housing and food expenses. MOST INTERESTING! How can I get my name on a list?? read more

My Summer at Cal

When I first decided I was going to stay in Berkeley over the summer, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Most of my friends were leaving, I was living in an apartment for the first time, and I was worried that I wouldn’t have much to do. However, I ended up loving staying at Cal, and I felt like I really got to make the most out of my summer. 

As an MCB major, I often find my schedule to be pretty full, so being able to alleviate some of the craze by taking Bio 1A was really helpful. Even though I was in class a lot, the material was really interesting, and everything definitely feels a little more laid back over the summer. I also didn’t have class on Fridays, which was a perfect opportunity to do some exploring. read more

Growing into a Farmer in the Student Organic Garden

Annual crops in the Student Organic Garden
The south side of the Student Organic Garden, facing the annual crop beds, some of which are used by classes like ESPM117: Urban Garden Ecosystems.

When I think of my summer, I think of the Student Organic Garden Association, or SOGA, the garden where I spent long afternoons in between work and classes, getting leaves, sticks, and even caterpillars in my hair, scratches from blackberry bush thorns and purple stains from its fruit on my hands, and endless gratitude to be in this place, at this time.

Only a block from campus on the northwest side, any student of any major can stick their hands in some soil in the garden, pull the always plentiful weeds, make art, harvest and eat food, or just simply relax on the porch swing. Through the chain link fence you can see the ground in the Student Organic Garden is over a foot higher than the sidewalk outside, the soil built up by years of students and community members loving the land, using the space to gather and to grow not only food, but themselves as well. read more