36 Hours in Berkeley: COVID-19 Edition

Berkeley looks a bit different without its students milling around and filling the streets coming to and from lectures. That being said, this college town located just across the Bay from one of the most well-known cities in the world is relying on its local charm and beautiful nature to allow students and residents alike to adventure in a COVID conscious way. 

FRIDAY

  1. Sip and Stroll 3:30 p.m.Studying at Strada

Coffee shops are a staple of Berkeley’s culture with minimal chain restaurants and family-owned stores aplenty, it can be hard to choose from the amazing selection of cappuccinos and matcha lattes. Cafe Strada, a 30 second stroll from the UC Berkeley campus is a Cal favorite where on an average day you can see students and faculty alike working alongside one another in their beautiful outdoor seating. Once you’ve grabbed your caffeinated beverage of choice, take the long trek across the street to see the beauty of the glass Music Library and through Faculty Glade you might just catch students rolling down the grassy hill in hopes of a 4.0. Journey alongside the critters of Strawberry Creek stopping to gaze at the 307-foot clock and bell tower against the city skyline of San Francisco across the bay. read more

A day in the life of a Berkeley student on campus… without the Berkeley students

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. read more

Remembering RBG, A Jewish American Feminist Icon

As a Jewish woman living in America there are few female icons that compare to the inspiration that was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Growing up in a conservative Jewish family where my synagogue became my second home of sorts, Judaism has always been an integral part of my identity. I have constantly been surrounded by strong Jewish women who have taught me to have empathy, a strong will, and maintain my authenticity above all else.

Reading RBG's biography "My Own Words" on Memorial Glade last year
Reading RBG’s biography “My Own Words” on Memorial Glade last year

 It was my great grandmother, an integral part of my local Jewish community, who would always tell me how important it was to do a good deed, not for the purpose of recognition or something in return, but solely to be a good person. Having so many female role models both in my own Jewish community, and in the larger Jewish world, is not necessarily a coincidence, but highlights a fundamental aspect of Judaism that is widely appreciated by the mass amounts of Jews that identify as culturally Jewish rather than religiously so. In my adult life I have realized that I fall in this category myself and that the reason I have been drawn to so many Jewish spaces is the underlying value of tikkun olam or “repairing the world”. Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself expressed a very similar sentiment in her 2017 Rosh Hashanah visit to a historic synagogue in Washington D.C., “The Jewish religion is an ethical religion. That is, we are taught to do right, to love mercy, do justice, not because there’s gonna be any reward in heaven or punishment in hell. We live righteously because that’s how people should live and not anticipating any award in the hereafter.” Upon the passing of Justice Ginsburg the entire country lost an incredible feminist and progressive icon, and the Jewish community lost a woman who embodied Jewish values and used them to change the world. read more

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.  read more

Robert Reich’s Wealth and Poverty Class: COVID-19 Edition

Each time you ask a Berkeley student the golden question, why Berkeley? Or maybe just asking what they love most about the university, you’ll end up finding a different answer. To me, that might be one of my favorite things about this campus — the fact that there can be 40,000 students learning in a single environment and each individual can walk away with a unique Berkeley story. When I walked onto campus as a student for the first time I had never been a very politically active person and tended to shy away from politically charged discussions for fear I wasn’t educated enough or simply wishing to avoid conflict. Therefore, what drew me to Berkeley wasn’t necessarily the political history and progressiveness of our campus, but instead the academic environment and the opportunities I might find learning under experts in the fields of science and medicine that I was studying. Of course, I did end up finding myself in general chemistry lecture halls named after Berkeley professors who have paved the way for modern science and being taught by pioneers in the field; however, what solidified my Berkeley story and my own personal growth was something entirely different.  read more