A Surprising Friendship In the Time of COVID-19

In previous blog posts, I have talked about how my experience as a Campus Ambassador has kept me feeling close to campus despite being hundreds of miles away. While this has been absolutely crucial, an even more surprising element popped up. A person, a wonderful friend, really, who would end up changing quarantine entirely for me. We never should have even met, let alone connect to the extent we did. The stars had to align for a set of crazy circumstances to come together.

First semester freshman year in Fall of 2018, I joined a club called Project SMILE, a middle school mentorship club that worked out of two different schools to bring college accessibility to middle school students. I was placed at Longfellow middle school and absolutely loved my experience working with them. I’d joined the club to make friends and to make an impact on the Berkeley community.  I went to all of the social events, every field trip, every possible opportunity I had to get involved. read more

Reflecting on a summer of community service

My summer plans were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s no surprise, as I don’t know a single person who can’t say the same thing. When the spring semester ended, I decided not to take summer classes and instead to fill my newly-empty days with volunteer work. I had spent too long simply witnessing injustices in our society being heightened by the pandemic and wondering how I fit into UC Berkeley’s campus community of changemakers during this pivotal moment. I spent hours peeling through newsletters of local elected officials and emailing staff members of community organizations only to volunteer a handful of times. Though I knew the work I was doing was important, I felt no connection to it or to any type of community, and I subsequently found myself losing my motivation. read more

Summer in the Surf

I was so close to subletting a summer apartment in Berkeley when out of curiosity, I hopped on the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Facebook housing page. When my original internship based out of San Francisco was cancelled, I miraculously landed a similar, remote internship which gave me location independence! With nowhere to call “home” for the summer and the severity of the pandemic looming over the  Bay Area, I decided I would spend my summer in Isla Vista, California.

Katia holding a surfboard at the beach
I’m in love with my baby blue wetsuit and surfboard!

While I am a proud and loyal Berkeley resident, I’ve always longed to live among the palm trees and Pacific Ocean that line Isla Vista or “IV,” the college town adjacent to UCSB off the central coast of California. I’m quite the outdoor-oriented individual, so like many of us, the first two months spent inside in quarantine took a toll on my physical and mental health. Santa Barbara has always been a special getaway for me and my family as we have years of memories visiting our relatives down south. I’ve also been surfing intermittently for four years and realized that much like Disney’s Moana, the sea was calling me. So in mid-June with the temperatures picking up and my internship due to start in a week, I decided to commit to a summer of surfing in IV. Two months into my time here, I can definitely say I understand what the surfers mean by “living to surf.” read more

How Quarantine Cooking Changed My Major

For a lot of people, coming to college is a chance to find yourself and solidify the person you want to be. That being said, the moment you start applying to colleges you are supposed to select a topic of interest that potentially determines your entire future. This was always a moment of cognitive dissonance for me as my family and friends would speak of the formative years of university while also asking me what I planned to study for each of those years. Another idea that people, especially academic advisors, loved bringing up was that for medical school I could really major in ANYTHING. The sky’s the limit they’d say — as long as the prerequisites were satisfied — but here I was fresh out of my high school education knowing I liked biology and that’s about it.  read more

How I Survived as a Pre-Med and Army ROTC Cadet at UC Berkeley

The photo shows myself at a UC Berkeley Army ROTC FTX (or Field Training Exercise)

Hey there! If you are reading this, then it means that you have either chosen to depart on this insane Pre-Med x Army ROTC cadet journey or you might just be thinking about it. Or…the 3rd option is that your scrolling through our Bear Talk Blogs and this popped up on your screen, and you were like “hey this sounds interesting :).” Either way, I’ll be sharing classified information for your eyes only. DON’T TELL ANYONE THAT I POSTED THIS… the Ultimate Survival Guide to a Pre-Medical/Army ROTC Student Life. This guide is a culmination of all my experiences in “Goku-level training” as well as superhuman studying that made me into the person that I am today. In this blog, I will give you all the tips and tricks you need to become successful in this pursuit. Before reading, please check out my previous article as I give you a glimpse to My Life as a YouTube Travel Vlogger at Cal! read more

Moving Back to a Quiet Campus

This past March when we were sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I originally thought I would be home for only two weeks, an extended Spring Break. Although it was quickly evident that myself and all of my friends would be staying home for the remainder of the Spring semester, I had complete faith that we would all return to campus in the Fall, and that everything would return to normal.

As the months passed, my faith that I would return to a full campus and in-person classes diminished. The university notified students of hybrid classes, and then recently switched to beginning the Fall semester instruction completely remotely. This caused many of my friends, peers and co-workers to decide to remain at home for the Fall semester, either to save money or to lower their risk of contracting the virus or both. Although I too was faced with the difficult decision of whether to continue my plans to move back to Berkeley this August, I decided that it will be best for me to move back, even if it won’t be in the way that I expected. read more

A Rising Sophomore’s Guide to Whether or Not You Should Take Summer Courses at Cal

So, you’re considering taking advantage of UC Berkeley’s numerous summer courses? I had that same thought at the beginning of my second semester. I said to myself, “ya know what? Getting ahead this summer seems like the perfect use of my time!”

When you’re hired as a campus ambassador, you’re required to work the first summer following your employment, which meant I would have to be up in Berkeley anyways, so why not take advantage of it, right? But I will admit, coming into summer courses I was severely under-prepared for what I had signed up for. read more