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. 

So there I was beginning of my freshman year at Berkeley intending to do the Biology + Business program and not knowing a thing about business or even what “consulting” meant despite hearing the word every time I walked across Sproul Plaza. Throughout my first year, I was pretty unsure of my path and within the College of Letters and Science, I had a good amount of leeway to explore. I actually ended up joining a consulting club, then resigning the following semester and abandoning business altogether, looking into a Molecular and Cell Biology major, shifting to psychology prerequisites, and even entertaining the idea of switching colleges. Right around this time I traded my dorm room for my childhood bedroom and transferred my whole college life into a single household. However, this also meant I traded my mini-fridge and microwave combo for a fully stocked kitchen and pantry completely at my disposal. 

With the school year wrapping up and programs being canceled, my biggest responsibility was to figure out how to fill up all this new free time. With the help of Tik Tok, Pinterest, and vast knowledge of my google search engine, I started delving into the world of cooking and nutrition. My dad came home one day and said that someone at the hospital where he works had been doing the keto diet and that became my first project. I started researching all about the diet itself but was especially interested in the biology behind it. So many diets and meal plans I had heard about were loosely based on random theories that typically just reduced calorie intake in elaborate ways. Ketosis made sense though. Studying the biology behind using ketones as fuel rather than glucose intrigued me and it became a fun puzzle figuring out recipes substituting keto-friendly ingredients in common dishes. From there it was a  short step to making a whole cooking Instagram page and spending most days trying new recipes to share with my family.

As I was falling in love with cooking, summer session enrollment started and I figured why not take an Introduction to Nutritional Science course to turn this interest into something I could get units for. That class has been one of my favorite classes and probably the most applicable classes I’ve ever taken and inspired me to look into the Nutritional Science major in the Rausser College of Natural Resources. It also works perfectly with my path towards medical school because, you know, the sky’s the limit. The craziest thing to me is that I have no clue if I ever would have explored this path without being able to return home and cook in my kitchen or if my dad hadn’t mentioned keto that one day or even if my summer was full of plans that wouldn’t allow me to take a class. This whole experience goes to show that although this isn’t the ideal situation and there has definitely been a lot of ups and downs throughout quarantine and navigating a global pandemic, there can be small miracles in the hard times that lead you to where you’re meant to go.

cooking in quarantine
Some Cooking in Quarantine ft. Benji the Schnauzer