Am I Satisfied with my Berkeley Degree? From a UC Berkeley Alumni

The answer to this question is what every incoming student wants to know. Is a Berkeley Degree worth the investment? And that’s a valid question. As a UC Berkeley alumni, I want to provide my perspective on this. Hopefully, by the end of this blog, you will be able to gain additional insight to your education here at Berkeley. This will also be the last blog that I will write for Bear Talk. If you’d like to read my previous blogs, then please check out my profile here.

First, I want to start off by saying that everyone’s experiences will be different depending on the track and major you go with during your undergrad. A computer science major will be provided with different learning tools compared to a STEM major. And a humanities major will focus on activities that are completely different from a music major. Your experience at UC Berkeley depends on the major you decide to go with as well as the activities that you partake in. read more

Why ALL FIRST-YEARS Should Do Summer Bridge (coming from a former bridgee!)

Hey there! Congratulations on making it to UC Berkeley! You are about to embark on an amazing four-year journey here. Now, you may be wondering… How can I make the most of my summer? Well, I have got the answer for you! Summer 2021, I was exactly in your situation. I was doing Golden Bear Advising (GBA) and wondering what else can I do to get a head start on creating my Berkeley experience. That’s when I signed up for Summer Bridge at the very last minute. Do I regret it? Absolutely not!

What is Summer Bridge (no for real though)? read more

What’s “relaxing?”

Since I was 7 I remember being constantly on the move, going from one thing to another. After school, I had gymnastics at least 9 hours a week and was dragged to everything my older sisters had to be at – meetings, doctors appointments, sporting events, etc. My whole life, I haven’t known anything other than hustling. After being knowingly overwhelmed in high school with AP classes, sports, school clubs, and other extracurriculars, I decided that I wouldn’t let myself put too much on my plate when I got to college.  read more

A review of LINK rideshare scooters

In the era of convenience, electric scooters and skateboarders have become the norm for transportation, especially for UC Berkeley students. Almost everyone has an electric scooter or skateboard, or is thinking of getting one. As someone who prefers walking and street skateboarding though, I vowed to never buy an electric scooter / skateboard. 

My morals were questioned however, until one of my most hectic summer days. Starting off with an 8:30am work shift at the visitor center, picking up the keys to my new apartment in downtown Berkeley, then moving all mine and my roommates’ stuff from three locations around Berkeley, I decided that a scooter would be a good idea to get around. read more

CS@Cal

Hey!

Hey you!

Yes you 🙂 You look like you clicked on this article looking to get a better sense of what studying Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley is like!

Well that’s what I’m going to try my best to do in this delightful little blog post here, so bear (ha ha) with me as I take you through a beginner’s guide of this wild and wacky world of CS @ Cal, everything from classes, to projects, to the L&S declaration process, and finally a little sneak peek at what you could potentially get out of this small, niche, oft under-the-radar major here at Berkeley!

(Just to be clear that last bit was sarcasm)

A little bit about me! My name is Jeff, and I’m currently a Junior studying CS and Economics (pre-emptive plug, but if you enjoy this article do please check out my follow up “Econ@Cal” on 7/5), and I hail from Boise Idaho, but have spent the majority of my life bumbling about between continents and countries all across the world. Unlike many of my illustrious peers here at Berkeley, I had come into Cal with absolutely no intention of taking computer science at all; I had a passion for Economics and thought my future lay in law school or politics, where I had a vague but optimistic goal of leaving this world a little bit of a better place than I found it. Some would say that CS found me (and some would say that that is a very cliched writing trope), but in many ways that’s true! My first brush with any kind of programming came when I took STAT20, a probability class that was a prerequisite for the Economics major – where for some projects and data analysis we used R, a relatively simple programming language that was sort of the middle-ground between a big calculator and a higher-level programming language. I walked out of that class with a passable knowledge of probability but a surprising new-found intrigue in programming.


Quick sidenote (oof that’s a lot of tangents already. Starting to understand why online recipes always start with a sprawling life story): Often one of the biggest hurdles into any STEM field, especially ones that can seem especially intimidating and male-dominated such as CS, is the mistaken belief that you are not as qualified as your peers. The main reason why I chose to write such a guide is to show perhaps a different perspective on CS than ones you might have heard about before, from someone who not only had zero experience in the field but still to this day doesn’t know how to work his google calendar. Compsci is not a particularly special field, programming is not magic, and anyone can 100% learn to code. If you do choose to continue on this path, just know that if the going gets tough, you are absolutely not alone in this! Cal has some fantastic resources, and office hours or piazza threads are where even experienced folk come to for salvation more often than not. It’s absolutely doable!

So what exactly is Computer Science? Well right off the bat, you might have noticed that Berkeley actually offers three (3!) majors that address some aspects of this ever-growing field of CS. Two of them are offered in the College of Letters and Science, which are the more traditional Computer Science (CS) major and the much newer Data Science (DS) major. For students coming into the College of Letters and Science undeclared, both of these are fantastic options to add to your repertoire of skills if such a field interests you. CS and DS share some lower division classes, but are fundamentally different majors that have different goals. While CS focuses more on the functionality of programs/systems, with more emphasis on algorithms and theory, DS leans more heavily on analysis, statistics, and can be more applicable with many other fields. For more information, the respective major websites are a fantastic place to go to find detailed information about what each major entails, as well as the requirements for declaring! The third major that Berkeley offers is Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), which is taught in the College of Engineering. Students are likely to already be declared in this major upon coming into Berkeley, but transfers within the College of Engineering are not uncommon. EECS and CS have a fair amount of overlap, especially in their lower division requirements, but EECS allows students to branch out more effectively into the hardware and circuits components of computing, including exciting fields such as semiconductors and machine learning. EECS majors also have a Physics requirement that neither CS nor DS have. For this article, we will focus more on the CS track and declaration process, but for more information do check out the EECS department website! Lots of great information there!

Alright let’s get back on track! The first CS class you will probably encounter in Berkeley is read more

Keep Dancing Like the Class of 2022: My Years At Berkeley As Described By Taylor Swift Albums

Before I was a Cal fan, I was a Taylor Swift fan. While our graduation speaker wasn’t Taylor Swift (I almost flew to NYU just to see the queen get an honorary degree), I still have found many valuable lessons in her songs that relate to my time at Berkeley. Most of the time I was jamming to her songs on the way to class, or getting hyped on a Friday night to her catchy tunes. I can see my four years through the eyes and ears of her song lyrics. Every high and low could be remedied somewhat by listening to Taylor’s discography.  read more

Dear Freshman Me: An Open-Letter to My Freshman Self

Dear my freshman self, 

Well, this is going to be a wild ride! Your first year at Cal is full of things you didn’t expect. I know we came in with this idea about college and what it was going to be like. Let me tell you, as your now second-year self, nothing you thought about college is true… well not entirely. Here are the four things you should know coming into your first year here: read more

Reflecting Upon my Junior Year at Cal

Along with the passing of May came and went the last month of my junior year at Cal, and the realization that I had only a year before graduation left me nostalgic with so many mixed emotions, and even more self-growth to reflect upon. As someone who spent my first two years of college figuring out who I was and struggling to differentiate that from the ideal college self that I thought I would be, there was a lot that I had to come to accept, the most challenging being that I had to pursue my own career goals to gain my own happiness, even if it diverged from the pre-med student my family wanted me to be. That being said though, this was the first year that I was truly able to explore classes beyond the limited scope of what I thought I had to take, and just barely being able to declare my public health major, that ended involving all the major and minor requirements I’ve been slacking on. But public health is a very broad subject, and my decision to minor in very different topics (Chinese and Education), resulted in me being able to explore fun classes, and take classes that I never thought I would take before. For my public health major, that included classes such as ECON 172 (SubSaharan Africa Case Studies in Economic Development) with Professor Edward Miguel (highly, highly recommended, regardless of your economics background) and a PBHLTH 142 (Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health) with Professor Mi-Suk Kang Dufour (who by the way traveled all the way from Canada despite the asynchronous platform of the class just to support us before finals), and for my Chinese minor (which I ended up finishing this semester!) that included language courses (100XA and B) with Ms. Liu (which had the best energy with the most fun, loving, and welcoming community anyone could ask for) along with a Buddhism in Contemporary Society course that high school me never would’ve imagined taking. Despite my total number of classes this year totaling at 16, 7 in the fall and 9 in the spring (which, by the way,  is definitely not normal; for reference, a full-time student at Cal only has to take around 3-4 classes depending on what college and major they belong to), because the classes ended up being so interesting and fun, it didn’t feel like 9 classes at all. In fact, I’ve had semesters where I’ve taken four classes and there has been at least one semester that felt worse than this (and that just goes to show how studying something you’re interested in will shape and change your experience at Cal- definitely pursue something you’re interested in!). read more

Summer in Berkeley – a Comprehensive Guide

Berkeley is a blast during the school year – the hustle and bustle of classes, club meetings, sports games and projects keeps students busy from August to May. However, a decent handful of students opt to stay in Berkeley for the summer months, whether they’re working or taking classes. Although campus isn’t as busy as usual, I’ve come to appreciate the quieter summer months in my college town. Here are a few of my favorite summer activities to do in Berkeley!


1. Take an art class through the Berkeley Art Studio
I took my first pottery class through the Berkeley Art Studio last fall, and it unlocked a new skill I never knew I had! I was fortunate enough to finish most of my pieces before Christmas break, and they made excellent handmade Christmas gifts for all of my friends and family. While I’ll be enrolling in intermediate pottery this summer, my roommate opted for a painting class. The studio holds open hours when classes aren’t in session where students can come in on their own time and practice or work on pieces. It’s an excellent outlet for when work gets a little monotonous, and you end the session with a great new decor piece or handmade gift! read more