I’m not going to lie… this definitely has not been your average semester and as a sophomore only being able to have experienced one full semester at Berkeley I’ve definitely longed for the days when I can sit in Pimentel surrounded by 600 fellow chemistry students clicking away on my iClicker. But for now, I’ll just have to settle for the Zoom polls submitted alongside faceless names on the screen. The one thing that has been maintaining some semblance of normalcy throughout all of this has been the decision to move back to Berkeley for the semester and live less than a five minute walk from campus. As I mentioned before, I am definitely not an expert on all things Berkeley life as I only had a half dozen months here before returning home, but I think it’s safe to say that the feeling of being on campus is anything but normal. That being said, this absence of normalcy has made way for a new appreciation and pride in calling myself a golden bear. Never before would I have discovered that the women’s faculty club has the perfect bench for a quiet read outside. Or which trees on Memorial Glade are the perfect distance apart to set up my hammock. Or even which streets around Berkeley are lined with the best persimmon trees to snatch on my run. This emptier campus has slowed down the hustle and bustle of the city as a whole and me right along with it. Don’t get me wrong… classes are still in full swing but the extended amounts of time inside have found me appreciating the outside that much more. Coming to Berkeley, nature was the last thing on anyone’s minds and the last thing I ever heard about the campus. Urban life? Yes. Academics? Yes. The occasional political protest? Of course. But the beauty of the Bay Area and the city of Berkeley in particular was never discussed. This oversight has been made countless times and was even made by me in my first months as a Berkeley student… but not anymore.
This Fall semester, I moved back to Berkeley, not sure what to expect of college life during a pandemic. I knew that this semester would be completely different from the way I remember my freshman year, surrounded by people all the time, always having an adventure to go on with my friends in this new city. I knew that this semester, only half of my friends would be back in Berkeley, and many things around the city would be closed, as well as social gatherings prohibited to keep students safe. Halfway through the semester, I’ve gathered a list of new things I’ve enjoyed doing in Berkeley during this weird and unusual time.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,”
It was office hours.
Office hours are the time set aside each week by professors, graduate student instructors, and teaching assistants with the explicit intent of answering students’ questions. Often, in weeks where no exams loom near or assignments are due, office hours are often poorly attended, or even empty. Although I imagine some busy instructors are happy to have this time free, I know many more are simply lonely, waiting for their students to come by.
Tired of your human friends? I get it, being around the same people can get old, even out of quarantine. But, gee, do I have exciting news for you! There are so many squirrels roaming campus just waiting for you to take a seat on the glade with a charcuterie board curated just for them!
Up in the trees or right at your feet, walking to your 8 am or getting out of your 8-10 pm midterm – these fun little critters can be spotted all throughout campus and at any time of day. If you’re really craving some squirrel time, I recommend heading to the Eucalyptus Grove. That’s where I made my first squirrel friendship and I have a lot of hope for you too! All you gotta do is make kissy sounds and your friend crush (the squirrel) will immediately hear you, see you, and love you. You may need to kneel down and pretend to reach out, but I assure you, you’ll have it’s attention. Boom. Friendship. I don’t recommend, however, getting too close to the squirrels or feeding out of hand because they are known to carry West Nile Virus and may not be able to tell fingers from food if you’re trying to give them, say, a peanut. The goal is to form a friendship from afar.
“Being average here is amazing” is the best advice I’ve gotten in college.
It’s what my high school best friend, Bianca, told me the first time I got overwhelmed by academics a few weeks into my time at UC Berkeley. I only applied to Berkeley because Bianca came here one year before me, and visiting her in her freshman year intrigued me enough to apply, and then enroll at this special place.
As a campus ambassador, it is literally my job to share the best of Berkeley with you all. I am meant to stand tall and smile, to recount my most inspiring memories and moments at Berkeley. It is a dream job for me, since even before college I aspired to be a tour guide wherever I ended up. And many days the job is so easy and so dreamy, knowing I can make a small contribution to a student’s life-changing college decision.
October is labeled in my google calendar as Friendship Month. I’m writing this sitting across from my best friend, who won’t know I’m writing about her until this draft becomes an official post or when a snippet of my writing gets posted on social media. Why Friendship Month? Let me explain.
My first few days of freshman year consisted of me convincing myself I wouldn’t make any friends. I couldn’t seem to make lasting interactions with the strangers in my class, and my roommates hit it off so well it was like hanging out with two people you just met who have known each other their whole lives. This lasted for about a month.
I have recently realized when most people think of Berkeley, a few things typically come to mind: academics, political activism, and an urban environment. While these things are all true, what people don’t typically think of is nature. Now, it is true UC Berkeley is located in an urban environment; right off the south side of campus is downtown Berkeley. However, nature is also extremely prominent throughout campus and in the surrounding areas, and is personally one of my favorite things about Berkeley.
You’d think that it would be straightforward getting in contact with people in college, but it may be more complex than you’d think. UC Berkeley is a hub of tech entrepreneurship, and along with that comes many new ways to get connected. While text messaging is often complicated by which kind of phone you’re using, alternative social media apps have come along to save the day. Since coming to Cal, I’ve been introduced to numerous messaging and teamwork apps, some which I like a lot and some which aren’t as user friendly. You’ll find that getting in touch with other students is important, whether it be for classes or clubs, especially during learning in the virtual realm. So here’s my guide to some of the apps you may find yourself using at Cal.
Celebrating women’s accomplishments was a very unfamiliar concept to me, even as someone who attended an all girls’ high school. It was so common to see every campus project, milestone, and contribution done by my female peers that I often forgot every single thing was achieved by women. Living in such a bubble was an absolute privilege, I’ve learned after graduating. The world beyond the bricks of my high school was nearly as optimistic and sure of women getting the job done, no matter what it may be. This difference was demonstrated after my admission into Cal.
Is it possible to survive with 25 units at UC Berkeley? Let’s think about that for a moment…With academics being rigorous at Cal as well as the millions of other things you need to do, your answer might be: NO WAY. Why in the world would I do that to myself in the first place? That’s a great question. And the answer is…you don’t need to! However, if you do and have no other choice, then this blog is tailored to you—those who are thinking of taking a high unit load in the future semesters.