Everything I Learned Outside of the Classroom

In my four years at Berkeley, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about how organic molecules are formed, about the duality of particles acting as waves, and about how chemicals contribute so much to our world, both good and bad. I read thousands of pages of chemistry textbooks, some of which kept me up at night because they fascinated me, many that put me to bed because they were so dry and boring.

But as most soon-to-be college grads will likely agree, I know that I learned far more beyond the classroom. I learned to become a somewhat dysfunctional, sometimes functioning adult. I developed some vices I’m not so proud of (an addiction to caffeine) but also perfected the level and intake of caffeine that will give me the ideal amount of focus to get to work.

I learned to be extremely inquisitive and curious about the world. Berkeley gets an inaccurate rap of being a liberal bubble, but on the contrary I think it’s made me very open-minded to people of different beliefs. At Berkeley, we generally hope to have political beliefs and ideology that serve the greater good, but if something in our aligned political party isn’t serving the American population, then we’re not going to blindly support it. We are critical of our government and actively brainstorm alternative solutions in and out of the classroom. We show up to protest causes we are against, and show up in even greater numbers for the causes we support— take the Climate Strike in 2019 that gathered thousands of students that are behind oil divestment, progressive climate policy, and the Green New Deal.

One of my greatest takeaways of attending a huge undergraduate institution with a diverse student body is how to foster an inclusive environment. From little things, like the language we use to address other people so as not to assume their gender identity or sexuality. Or larger issues, like how to host an event or activity that is going to accommodate for people of all abilities. Or even thinking about the kind of people that are going to show up in a space, and if our organization reflects students of all backgrounds so as to make everyone feel welcome and invited. Learning how to cultivate a safe and positive environment is a skill that will be implemented far more than my knowledge of quantum mechanics ever will! read more

Living in Berkeley: Ultimate Travel Guide [Part 2]

Here is Part 2 of the Ultimate Travel Guide for Berkeley. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, then please click here.

Our next HIGHLY RECOMMENDED sightseeing place IS:

3) The View from the Lawrence Hall of Science/Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

This location overlooks the entire city of Berkeley as well as San Francisco in the distance. One of the best views of the Bay Area can be seen from this site. Travel up with your buddies in the afternoon and stay for the sunset/night views! I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed with this visit. There are 2 ways in which you can get up to the Lawrence Hall of Science: 1) By hiking up the fire trails (which connects directly to the Mathematical Science Research Institute and leads to the Lawrence Hall of Science) OR 2) Get a car ride from the Memorial Stadium to the Lawrence Hall of Science (faster route; on the way, you should pass by the UC Botanical Garden). read more

Dear Sophomore Year

Dear sophomore year,

I’m so glad you’re almost over. This year has been so hard in so many ways, I’m ready to move forward and leave you in the past. Spending a full academic year virtually has really helped me come to appreciate normal college life more. I’m tired of never leaving my house and I miss all the clichés from my freshman year. Staying in the libraries until they close, sitting down in class out of breath because I hate having gaps in between my classes nd have to run sometimes, spending all day on campus and walking home as the sun sets.

All of that was stolen from me and everyone else on campus this year, and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive you for that. Sophomore year, why did you have to be so hard? Zoom burnout, academic burnout, social burnout which I didn’t even think was possible considering I only ever see my housemates. I’ve taken to making jokes about how I peaked last year, how fall 2019 was the best year of my life. But as time progressed and now we’re here at the end of it all I can’t help but feel the truth in that sentiment.

Sophomore year, while you were kind of awful I want to focus on the good that came out of you. I rediscovered why I’m passionate about my majors, and I changed my concentration in the Rhetoric department which I am so excited about. Speaking of Rhetoric, I just filed for the paperwork to declare it as my second major, having also declared my first (Philosophy) last fall. You’ve given me the chance to really bond with the people I live with, creating a really supportive atmosphere that I could not have made it through the pandemic without. My classes really kept me afloat, providing structure and routine. Just like last year, I had some really cool professors and GSIs that I hope to stay connected with, maybe take a class with them in person. Overall, I’ve just been existing. It was kind of cool to be a part of history like this, but I’m ready for it to be over now.

Next year is already off to a much better start (no offense). Being in small departments, all of my classes will be in person meaning I get to be on campus again. I’m passing on the mantel of Director of Security in the UC Rally Committee to a really wonderful and dedicated new member who I am beyond excited to mentor and help. Not only that, but I’ve made a few new friends who I care about so deeply, and I’m anxious for the day that we meet in person and I can give them the biggest hug. Even though I won’t have an executive position in the UCRC, I’ve come to terms with that and am ready to help my friends who did in any way I can. I’m excited for them to move back to Berkeley as well. I live with lot of them already, but it’s just not the same without everyone.

I think the hardest part is how many people are graduating this year. I hate that their senior year was ripped from them, and I hate that I have to watch them go without really even getting to say goodbye. I know it’ll hurt like this every year, like it did last year, but this one is a little bit different. If any of you seniors are reading this, you made this year special for me and I’m going to miss you so hard.

I want to apologize, because I know that when I look back on you I’ll see you as the worst year of my life. But it wasn’t all bad, and deep down I’ll remember that too, although I’ll be too stubborn to admit it. One day, sophomore year will be a great story to tell.

With love,

Bridget

 

P.S. to the senior who reads all these posts, runs the blog, and made me the campus ambassador that I am right now: you were such an amazing cohort leader and I’m thankful for that every time I clock in to work. Congrats on graduating, you’re going to do some amazing things I just know it 🙂

 

Not a house, but a Home

Contrary to popular belief, I’d say that the most stressful part of going to UC Berkeley is trying to secure housing. Finding the perfect place to live can be a hassle, between finding an apartment or condo the right distance from school or making sure you and your friends can live close by, the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming. But once you do find the perfect place, it may feel more like a temporary residence than a home. And it shouldn’t feel like that! So here’s the story of how I made my apartment something unique.

When I first moved into my apartment last August with my friends from the Rally Committee, I didn’t really know what to expect. The front room had 3 mismatching couches and crayon colored pictures on the wall. The living room featured 2 mismatching tables of different sizes complimented by benches with white vinyl padding. My roommates living there over the summer didn’t have a naturally eye for decorating, and the atmosphere of the house reflected this cluttered and disorganized vibe. Most of our first semester, a majority of my housemates and I studied alone in our rooms rather than hanging out in the common areas. I felt like I was living in the dorms again, but less welcoming.

Finally, my housemates Joseph, Bridget, and I got to thinking about how we could better utilize the space. The first step was evaluating the usefulness of each room. By moving our couches and TV to the living room, and putting a more fitting table in the front room, we easily created two areas for recreation and study. Next was to clear unnecessary clutter, including papers, unused shelves, and replacing worn out benches with cushioned chairs. Finally, we added decorations and accents to the house that reflected our love for fun and Cal spirit loving energy. Old donated Cal banners adorn the walls, and posters from Bonfire Rallies in years past line the room. Sitting on our mantle next to the TV is a picture of my house, as well as our friends in the upstairs apartment, celebrating one of our housemate’s birthday. These three main additions transformed our house, from a messy, confusing aggregation of things, into a home filled with memories and a loving touch.

The perfect living space, no matter the location, means putting your personal vibe and flair into your home. The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be expensive: a stop to the local dollar store or a trip to a resale store will provide you with an unlimited about of decorating supplies to provide your common spaces with a personal touch. Additionally, the great thing about Berkeley is the unexpected shops and popup stores that often provide you tapestries, wall art, or plants for you to add to your residence. College for me is a time to find my community and my place, and what better way to do that then making a home!