Becoming best friends with my random roommates

It was the summer of 2018. On a peaceful afternoon, my phone buzzed, and the ringtone indicated that I received a new text message:  “Hello Annika and Jade. This is Crystal, and I am from LA. We are going to be roommates next semester”. I immediately sat up straight in my chair and searched for “Crystal” and “Annika” on all the social media platforms. 

Let me explain. You see, I decided to move from New York to California for college because I wanted to experience the west coast. Although I was excited to become independent, I was nervous about finding a community here since I was the only one from my high school to come to Berkeley. There was a Facebook group for all the new students to post introductions and find roommates. But I did not feel like a five sentence paragraph and a few photos were sufficient for me to decide if I want to live with someone for a whole year. I chose to let fate decide and go random with roommate selection, meaning I filled out a survey about my habits and Berkeley Housing paired me up with other people with similar lifestyles. So when Crystal texted, I was eager to learn more about these girls that were going to be my first two friends in Berkeley away from home. We briefly talked about our hobbies and moved on to enjoy the rest of our senior year summer.  read more

Learning from Each Other – Democratic Education at Cal Experience

During one of my first weeks at Berkeley, as I walked through Sproul Plaza, I was stopped by someone holding up a poster board with bolded letters “BTS” written on it. I knew BTS is a popular k-pop band, but I was not interested in joining some sort of fan club. The girl, however, stopped me to explain that she is a facilitator for a BTS decal course at Berkeley. She introduced me to democratic education at Cal, known as decals, which are student-run classes that can grant students with university approved academic credits. For the BTS specifically, the course would explore factors in the media that contributed to the success of the international k-pop group. It turns out, Cal students put together over 100 different courses every semester across diverse topics. Ever since I started my Berkeley journey, I have been taking a decal class every semester. read more