Honestly, one of the things I was most nervous for when I first committed to Cal was how I was going to make new friends. From my graduating class, we sent a record amount of students here. Two. There are four people total here from my high school, none of whom I was super close with. To this, my high school was home to barely 1,000 students total, compared to Berkeley’s whopping 31,348.
I remember convincing myself I wouldn’t be able to make a home for myself here. I grew up surrounded by the same people for 18 years, I had made all my friends on the four square court in elementary school and stuck with them up until we all went our separate ways for college. I didn’t know how to make friends!
Nothing makes me happier than being able to tell you that I was so wrong.
For about a week, I was terrified. I didn’t go out with my roommates, I didn’t take advantage of any of the social events planed LITERALLY to help us make new friends, I hid myself away thinking there was no hope. And then Caltopia rolled around, an activities fair hosted to introduce new students to over 1,000 student run clubs and organizations here on campus. It was here that I found the UC Rally Committee. I had heard of this group in charge of the spirit traditions here on campus, I knew they fired a cannon at football games and wore blue and gold striped rugbies. They reminded me of this thing I had been involved in back during my high school days about two months prior, and I knew that this was my best shot at new friends.
So I joined as soon as I could. After talking to a few older members and signing my name on an interest form, I was walking back to my dorm with the welcome week calendar in my hand. The first event was an ice cream social, which I anxiously watched from behind a tree (yes. I was hiding behind a tree) until I could work up the courage to introduce myself to someone.
Five months later and those crazy Cal fans are my family!
The moral of the story here is that it’s not impossible to find new friends here. Berkeley does a wonderful job of presenting opportunities to make new friends, to find one’s place here, around every corner. All you have to do is reach out and take those opportunities. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know how difficult that is -remember how I said I hid behind a literal tree? But believe me when I say, nothing has been more rewarding than stepping out of the shadows that day. Putting yourself out there is terrifying, especially when you feel so alone. What I didn’t realize is that everyone feels like that too, you’re not alone in this sense.
If I can make new friends, anyone can. Every campus, whether that be Berkeley or anywhere else, will have somewhere for you to fit right in. Just don’t forget to start looking.