Back in February, I was really excited for this summer. I was going to study abroad in Ireland to take physics, travel, and explore. One of my friends and I were planning which countries to take weekend detours to and which tourist sites to see. When our program got cancelled, I was at first really disappointed- spending a summer studying abroad seemed like such a perfect opportunity because I would have gotten the abroad experience without having to miss a semester in Berkeley. However, what was initially disappointing news has turned into a really fun and relaxing summer. In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the ways I’ve made the most of my summer at home.
When I applied to Cal, I knew that I wanted to be an English major. I joined the Daily Californian and have been reporting for them since January. When I heard about the opportunity to get a minor in journalism in just one summer, I was ecstatic.
In high school, I was the editor of the literary magazine and found passion in leading a team of creatives to publish a collaborative book of expression. My high school was super strict and students found it to be a huge limiter on their self-expression. Writing is a unique way to let another person see inside your mind and understand your way of thinking.
It’s jarring how quickly your life can change, especially when you think you have it all figured out. For better or for worse, change can leave you reeling, particularly when you hadn’t even started thinking about how to say goodbye to the stepping stones you oh-so-carefully laid for yourself. In the midst of complete fear, sadness, or internal panic, how do you find it in yourself to take a deep breath, give yourself a hug, and move on? In fact, one of the hardest things I learned this year was to do just that: to hoist myself up and recover, before I was even done mourning the carefully planned future I had lost.
A few weeks ago I got a phone call from my friend Katie. I answered, thinking I would catch up with a friend and former housemate, but instead she led me in a direction I didn’t expect. On that call, she convinced me to leave Berkeley in five days and hike the John Muir Trail with her, a famously beautiful (and difficult) trail which connects Yosemite National Park to Mt.Whitney, the tallest point in the contiguous United States. The traditional route sends backpackers Southbound, giving them time to gradually adjust to the high elevations and tackle the most difficult terrain later in the trip, however that route is notoriously difficult to find permits for. With a few adjustments to the itinerary, including going “NOBO” (Northbound) and beginning almost 25 miles South of Mt.Whitney, I paid a visit to Recreation.gov to purchase the $11.00 permit for my three week vacation! All in all, we took 18 days to cover 240 miles of trail.
This past semester, I got to experience school in the most incredible way possible, studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa through the UC Education Abroad Program. It was more than a dream, and although I’ve had my heart set on this trip for six years, it still managed to exceed all my expectations. For context, while South Africa is a less traditional study abroad destination, I was drawn there because it is perfectly nestled at the southwestern tip of the continent, surrounded by both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. It has an identical and opposite latitude to Los Angeles so the climate is just like California, the university is the best in Africa, and it frames the stunning 3500 ft Table Mountain as the ideal place to get outdoors while still having the urban city lifestyle. Needless to say, the seven weeks that I studied and lived in South Africa were the highlight of my life, and fly 10,000 miles home in late March when the US issued a global travel advisory was sad and scary!
“Share your name, your pronouns, your major, your hometown, and a fun fact about yourself.” It’s an introduction I must have been asked to share fifty times in my first week of college, probably 300 times by the end of my first year. But on the first day of Golden Bear Orientation, the soon-to-be common icebreaker took me by surprise. I listened to the forty-four other members of my group confidently list Molecular Cell Biology, Computer Science, Business, and a few other topics as their intended majors. When it came to be my turn, I was the first and last person to say “I have absolutely no idea what I’m studying.”
Before Covid-19 decided to run rampant throughout my life, I had made one of the best choices taking Landscape Architecture 12. Now I understand that the title of this class may not seem like “BEST FIRST CLASS EVER”, but trust me when I tell you that it absolutely was.
Imagine an introductory to environmental science class except you get to meet real people (as guest lecturers) from a variety of backgrounds who are or were working on research or projects that were to make the world a more sustainable place. The passion that these guest lecturers gave off talking about their life’s work was inspirational. It felt like I could actually solve climate change, which I can’t. At least not without help anyway. The point is, I had an amazing experience listening to people trying to save the world. That was a bit of a stretch, I admit. But, when you start hearing about all the possibilities that are out there, nothing seems impossible.
If you clicked on this post, then it means that my title worked! As a YouTuber, I need to constantly think of “Clickbait” titles that promote audience retention as well as constant viewership. Welcome to my first post as apart of the Bear Talk Bloggers team! I’m super excited to share my journey at Cal as well as how I was able to balance student life with my passion as a YouTube travel vlogger :). You might be wondering…how did I get involved in travel vlogging on YouTube? Is it because it’s the “trend?”
As a Campus Ambassador, my job encourages me to share my personal stories about myself and Berkeley’s wonderful campus. Whether I’m sharing our campus traditions, how I met my best friends at my campus job, or the reasons why I call Berkeley home, you can always find me telling stories to whoever will listen. However, before starting my campus job, telling these personal stories scared me and I resisted telling them to my Berkeley friends all together. Going into freshman year, I expected people to act uninterested towards the more personal details of my life, to dismiss me if my stories failed to reflect a common character archetype, and for people to switch the subject back to themselves when convenient. Thanks to my campus job, that mindset failed to last for long.
Each time you ask a Berkeley student the golden question, why Berkeley? Or maybe just asking what they love most about the university, you’ll end up finding a different answer. To me, that might be one of my favorite things about this campus — the fact that there can be 40,000 students learning in a single environment and each individual can walk away with a unique Berkeley story. When I walked onto campus as a student for the first time I had never been a very politically active person and tended to shy away from politically charged discussions for fear I wasn’t educated enough or simply wishing to avoid conflict. Therefore, what drew me to Berkeley wasn’t necessarily the political history and progressiveness of our campus, but instead the academic environment and the opportunities I might find learning under experts in the fields of science and medicine that I was studying. Of course, I did end up finding myself in general chemistry lecture halls named after Berkeley professors who have paved the way for modern science and being taught by pioneers in the field; however, what solidified my Berkeley story and my own personal growth was something entirely different.