Reflecting on the Halfway Point: A Berkeley Narrative

The campanile on the first day of my freshman year.
The Campanile on the first day of my freshman year.

The month of March is a particularly trying time for high school seniors, and with my younger brother and his friends all biting their nails to find out where they’ll be accepted, I feel like I’m experiencing the confusion of college all over again. There’s the typical questions of what to major in and if dining hall food is any good, but also the more nervous, keep-you-up-at-night ones: will I make friends? Will I fit in? What if I don’t do college the “right” way?

As the oldest child in my family and the first to leave the nest for college, I definitely was worried about all these questions coming to Berkeley. Leaving the home I’d known for years and growing up is scary. After hearing about college life from my friends in grades above me and watching movies taking place on college campuses, I thought I had to follow these images that formed in my head in order to have the perfect story. And when I told eager adults that I would be heading to the Bay to Berkeley, I felt the pressures to strive to do everything I could to live up to the expectations of a prestigious school.  read more

Clubs: The Key to Finding Community at Cal

Let’s face it: Cal is a pretty big place. With over 30,000 undergrads and over 11,000 grad students, the moment that you step on campus can make you feel a little small. Or, at least, that’s what I thought. The summer before my freshman year when I was nervously awaiting my college adventures to begin I was plagued with fears of “Will I make friends?” while consoling myself with thinking “It’s okay to hermit in your dorm room for the entire year, right?”

I began to orchestrate a plan to ensure my “social success.” I spent hours prowling on student organizations’ websites and facebook pages, determined to find my own little community at Cal. There seemed to be so many options and I wondered how I could possibly narrow it down. I decided on a strategy of starting with one and expanding from there. read more

How I Found My Place Here In One Semester

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! read more

What I’ve Learned in Berkeley So Far

Stephens HallComing into a space like Berkeley I always knew I would grow as a person. And not to be cliche but I really do feel like Berkeley has pushed me forward so much, and I really do believe it is different from other colleges. 

One: There are so many communities on campus that actively work towards making an impact in their world. 

In my mind I always dream of making a difference and having a purpose in life beyond my own. And to this day I fight for what I believe in and want to shape my future years in education and career to align with my values. Over the course of a year as a Haas public service leader through the Public Service Center, I was able to meet a collective of passionate people who were organizing and working with community organizations to help undocumented high schoolers with legal papers, research legislation on the housing crisis in Berkeley, create pathways for indigenous people to come from Australia to the United States, and so much more.  read more

Deciding on Berkeley

Airplane takeoff with sunrise in background
An airplane leaving from Washington-Dulles International Airport

“Out-of-state.” It’s a label placed on me by the Berkeley Financial Aid Office and a label I impose on myself in social circles. In fact, no term could better characterize my Berkeley experience. I have flown back-and-forth from Baltimore to Berkeley numerous times over the past 3.5 years. Berkeley is over 2,400 miles away from my home on the East Coast, and everything from the weather to the culture is vastly different. Sometimes people ask if I took the opportunity to study abroad while at Berkeley, and I always say that, while I technically didn’t, it feels as if I have been abroad for eight semesters. read more

My Experience with Small Classes at Cal

Coming to UC Berkeley, I heard a lot about the big classes I would be taking. I heard about 500 person lecture halls and about the 25 person discussions that would go along with them. What I didn’t hear as much about would be the classes under 15 people that would be just as big of a part of my time at Berkeley. As a German minor, I have never taken a German class with more than 12 people. Even when the classes were taught in English, the classes still stayed smaller than I ever imagined a college class would be. Last semester I took two courses that I want to talk about in depth to show examples of what a small class at UC Berkeley can be like.  read more