The Last Lecture: The Importance of Being There

Last week was the final week of classes for the spring semester. With graduation in just one week, the past couple weeks have been a series of joyful and poignant final moments—classes, tours, meetings, recitals, banquets, and get-togethers.

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As part of Senior Week, I attended “The Last Lecture” on Monday, April 20. Martha Olney, an economics professor at UC Berkeley, gave a talk on “The Importance of Being There.” She shared about creating memories, like watching Bandaloop on Cal Day, being there for The Play IMG_0489at the 1982 Cal v. Stanford football game, attending concerts and plays, being in nature, and attending graduation. Her point reminded me of a wonderful quote from The Phantom Tollbooth that has resonated with me this past year: “The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.” Reflecting on my time at Cal, I have very much appreciated the journey and the “in between” moments. I have enjoyed conversations with strangers on Sproul Plaza (I once had a 30-minute conversation with someone about spaghetti), celebrated final finals with midnight hikes to the Big C, and gone on spontaneous adventures to San Francisco with friends. Sometimes impromptu or unscheduled happenings are the most memorable. read more

Flowers at UC Berkeley

I adore springtime at Berkeley. Warm, lovely sunshine. Blue, blue skies. And beautiful flowers. It’s funny, but when the weather is really, really nice, I notice. When it’s raining, I notice. When it’s an in-between non-rainy partly sunny/ cloudy sky, I don’t always remember what the day’s been like. With the recent bouts of great weather in the past few weeks though, I’ve been noticing not only the sunny skies, but also the flowers blooming around campus.

IMG_0379On the first day of April, I discovered a sea of purple asters blanketing a gradual incline across from the north side of Memorial Glade, on my way to the Kresge Engineering Library. They were a bright and joyful addition to my day, and the start of my collection of flower photos around campus.IMG_0398 read more

Stargazing with Professor Filippenko

Earlier this week, I attended the Star Party with Professor Filippenko, hosted by the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars Association’s Faculty Committee. In a span of one and a half hours, we got to gaze at stars, planets, and nebula, and talk about fascinating stuff! A large, high-power telescope was focused on the Orion Nebula, and we could see four bright dots in a diamond shape clustered in the center of the bluish cloud of gas and dust, adjacent to Orion’s belt. Professor Filippenko mentioned that it takes a million years for the stars to form out of the particles in the nebula, and each of the bright dots we saw formed at different points in time. read more

Danceworx Sproul Showcase

One of the things I was really excited about when I came to UC Berkeley was the opportunity to explore different interests and activities. Before college, I had swum competitively and played piano and violin for over a decade each; while I still love swimming and music, Cal has introduced me to a panoply of additional extracurricular possibilities. Our university has over 1,200 student organizations, including a cappella singing groups, ethnic student associations, community service organizations, and many others. I remember the exhilaration of Calapalooza during freshman year and visiting dozens of tables and picking up flyers for various student organizations. read more

Golden Bear Champion Swimmers

If UC Berkeley were its own country, it would have been sixth in the world for the number of gold medals won in the 2012 London Olympics. Of the 11 gold medals won by Cal Olympians, an impressive 7 of them came from swimming. Cal swimming has been a powerhouse in the past few years, and this past week was no exception!

Missy Franklin

Finishing with a school-record 513 points, the Cal women’s swimming team captured its fourth NCAA Championships title on Saturday, March 21. Missy Franklin, a sophomore at Cal, scored huge points with individual wins in the 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, and 200-yard backstroke. Following her stellar performance at the national meet, her final meet as a Golden Bear before turning pro, Franklin was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year and is one of four nominees for the Honda Sports Award for women’s swimming and diving this year. read more

A Discussion on Prosocial Behavior

IMG_0307One of the perks of being a student at UC Berkeley is the opportunity to attend talks by renowned researchers and experts in various fields. Last week on March 9, I attended Professor Frans de Waal’s talk on “Prosocial Primates.” Professor de Waal is listed as one of Times’ most influential people, and he has authored numerous papers and books about empathy and cooperation among primates. As I am currently taking the Psychology of Human Happiness class with Professor Dacher Keltner and topics of empathy, compassion, awe, gratitude, and social interactions are a staple of the course, I was excited for the talk and arrived with a friend before the 2:30pm start time in Sibley Auditorium. read more

Cheerful Chimes of the Campanile Carillon

The first time I heard about the carillon four years ago, I was standing at the base of UC Berkeley’s beloved Campanile. Peering up, up, up at the 61 bells that loomed impressively from the top of our 307-ft tall bell and clock tower, the first word that came to mind was “Wow!” Ever since I’ve heard about this majestic instrument, I’ve wanted to learn how to play it. This semester, I am one of twelve lucky students in the Carillon DeCal, a class facilitated by two experienced carillon students. We will be having weekly private lessons, and at the end of the semester, I will be playing the bells for the entire campus to hear! read more

TEDxBerkeley 2015: Wisdom. Compassion. Connection.

This past Saturday on February 28, over 2,000 attendees packed Zellerbach Hall for TEDxBerkeley, an independently organized TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event. Centered around the theme of wisdom, compassion, and connection, this year’s TEDxBerkeley featured 21 speakers and performances on an array of topics, including Ebola, forgiveness, computing literacy and gender equity, and happiness.

IMG_0261My friend, Erin Roberts, curator of TEDxBerkeley, and her TEDx team, had been working hard all year to coordinate the event, and it was exciting to see everything come together so beautifully. As a volunteer for TEDxBerkeley, I had the opportunity to see some of the behind-the-scenes aspects, as I served lunch to attendees, transported heavy items around Zellerbach Hall, and assisted with security backstage. It was my first time in the backstage of Zellerbach, and it was an amazing experience meeting the speakers, cheering them on before and after their talks, and seeing their warm interactions with each other. read more

Newsies, the Musical

One of the best aspects of UC Berkeley’s location is its proximity to San Francisco, located just 15 miles and half an hour away by public transportation. In addition to being home to the Golden Gate Bridge, amazing food places, and beautiful beaches, San Francisco is also a culturally rich city with many museums and performance centers.

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IMG_6387This past Saturday, I went with friends to see Disney’s Production of Newsies, in the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. It was an incredible performance! I was blown away by the choreography—the split jumps, aerials, and high-energy kicks—the funny storyline, and the talented singing and acting. For almost the entire musical, I was leaning forward on the tip of my balcony seat, eagerly soaking in everything happening on the stage below. read more

The Joy of Psychology

Did you know that dolphins sleep on one side of the brain at a time, and that the two hemispheres take turns sleeping while the other is awake to control swimming and breathing? Or that cells in biology labs where the lights are on all the time can get jet-lagged? (“I’m so tired… It’s been day for 3 months!”) Or that there’s a fairly strong relationship between happy mood and increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex? I was having an amazing day a couple days ago, and I thought to myself that my left prefrontal cortex must really be tickled with all that happiness. read more