The Best Beaches by Berkeley

If you are choosing to attend Berkeley because of the awesome location, I totally second that decision. We are so lucky to have both the urban vibe of the city and the peaceful escape to nature in the Berkeley hills. Even better, while we are not quite located  near the beach, we have access to some fantastic spots, many of which I have been visiting my whole life growing up locally.

I think one of the best outings you can have during the pandemic is going to the beach by yourself or with your household. Even in the colder months, the ocean water is so healing, the sunshine peeks out every so often, and perhaps you can even arrange a socially distant hang-out with folks outside your household! read more

Being Average Here is Amazing

“Being average here is amazing” is the best advice I’ve gotten in college.

It’s what my high school best friend, Bianca, told me the first time I got overwhelmed by academics a few weeks into my time at UC Berkeley. I only applied to Berkeley because Bianca came here one year before me, and visiting her in her freshman year intrigued me enough to apply, and then enroll at this special place.

Katia and Bianca walking with the Campanile in the background
Walking through campus for Bianca’s grad pics, 4 years after she introduced me to Berkeley!

As a campus ambassador, it is literally my job to share the best of Berkeley with you all. I am meant to stand tall and smile, to recount my most inspiring memories and  moments at Berkeley.  It is a dream job for me, since even before college I aspired to be a tour guide wherever I ended up. And many days the job is so easy and so dreamy, knowing I can make a small contribution to a student’s life-changing college decision. read more

Falling in Love with Berkeley (again)

I’ve considered Berkeley home for the last three years, and spent every semester and summer in this city since 2017. However, after a semester abroad and a pandemic, I’ve been away for the last 10 months and just came back yesterday.  It’s bittersweet to witness how some of my favorite pieces of home have stayed the same, while others have adapted to the state of the world. I feel fortunate to look at Berkeley with fresh eyes and in many ways, fall in love all over again with this place and people.The Campanile and reflecting pool with the sun peeking out of the trees. read more

Summer in the Surf

I was so close to subletting a summer apartment in Berkeley when out of curiosity, I hopped on the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Facebook housing page. When my original internship based out of San Francisco was cancelled, I miraculously landed a similar, remote internship which gave me location independence! With nowhere to call “home” for the summer and the severity of the pandemic looming over the  Bay Area, I decided I would spend my summer in Isla Vista, California.

Katia holding a surfboard at the beach
I’m in love with my baby blue wetsuit and surfboard!

While I am a proud and loyal Berkeley resident, I’ve always longed to live among the palm trees and Pacific Ocean that line Isla Vista or “IV,” the college town adjacent to UCSB off the central coast of California. I’m quite the outdoor-oriented individual, so like many of us, the first two months spent inside in quarantine took a toll on my physical and mental health. Santa Barbara has always been a special getaway for me and my family as we have years of memories visiting our relatives down south. I’ve also been surfing intermittently for four years and realized that much like Disney’s Moana, the sea was calling me. So in mid-June with the temperatures picking up and my internship due to start in a week, I decided to commit to a summer of surfing in IV. Two months into my time here, I can definitely say I understand what the surfers mean by “living to surf.” read more

Studying “abroad” from home

Katia standing in front of the University of Cape Town on first day of school.
My first day of school featuring Sarah Baartman Hall and the cloud-covered mountains!

This past semester, I got to experience school in the most incredible way possible, studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa through the UC Education Abroad Program. It was more than a dream, and although I’ve had my heart set on this trip for six years, it still managed to exceed all my expectations. For context, while South Africa is a less traditional study abroad destination, I was drawn there because it is perfectly nestled at the southwestern tip of the continent, surrounded by both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. It has an identical and opposite latitude to Los Angeles so the climate is just like California, the university is the best in Africa, and it frames the stunning 3500 ft Table Mountain as the ideal place to get outdoors while still having the urban city lifestyle. Needless to say, the seven weeks that I studied and lived in South Africa were the highlight of my life, and fly 10,000 miles home in late March when the US issued a global travel advisory was sad and scary! read more

Secondhand Shopping

Ah, yes second-hand shopping, a favorite past-time of mine. When I realized that neither my wallet nor my sustainable-living habits matched my excessive shopping habits, I found a solution to my problems in thrift shopping. I spend too many days and hours scouring the various Goodwills of the world, and I can definitively rank my favorite local shops for all your thrifting adventures.

#5 Crossroads (Shattuck and College locations)

This would be better put as a consignment store than a thrift store because they only buy nice brands and vintage pieces, but hello it’s all about the sale section! If you’re just getting used to secondhand shopping, this is an easy place to start, but be mindful about how much you’ll dish out for something. A used dress isn’t always worth $30, so I recommend only going for high quality or clearance. read more

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

About once a week I try something different and break from my routine. Maybe I decide to skip a class (don’t worry, I watch the recorded lecture online!), I walk the longer route to school, or I go to a cafe that is a little off the beaten path. Being in college is so fun, so fleeting, but it doesn’t help that as our schedules fill up, we forget to stop and smell the roses. Yet, I think the most precious moments that give personality to Berkeley are all the moments that happened by chance when I took the path less traveled. read more

A Definitive Ranking of My Housing Experiences

International House lit up in blue and yellow lights as viewed from my co-ops sundeck
A view from one home to another: from my co-op’s backyard you can see I House!

Renting my own off-campus apartment? Been there. 

The quintessential freshman dorm experience? Shout out to Unit 1 Deutsch Floor 4! 

The Co-Ops? Spent a lovely summer in Berkeley in a house.

And now, I’m residing in International House, back to dorm-style living. While many Berkeley students try to stick with one residence to reduce the amount of moving, I have not exactly taken this approach. From experiencing these four very different, unique housing situations so far, I wanted to comment on my experience in each! read more

Why I love the College of Chemistry

I study chemistry in the College of Chemistry, a college only home to about 800 undergraduates and several hundred graduate students. Because of it’s ranking (it truly is the strongest department in the world) and because of it’s intimacy as one of the smallest colleges on campus. I chose to become a student here, and my time in the College of Chemistry has been my defining experience so far.

In the heart of the College of Chemistry complex.

For one thing, unlike the majority of students at Cal, we come into our majors declared, meaning there’s a little less apprehension about our course of study. The prerequisite courses- Chem 4, physics, and math- may appear as large lectures to the average student, but I quickly found my community in my classes, because it’s not uncommon to bounce from lecture to lecture with a peer in your major that has the exact same sequence. Our college has fewer breadth requirements, so while many folks are taking classes from all different subjects, we chemistry kids stick together. Now, as a sophomore, if I meet another sophomore for the first time who tells me they’re also in the College of Chemistry, I’m usually surprised that we haven’t yet met because our college really is that small and community-based. These prerequisite courses sure aren’t easy, but having friends to get through four hour labs and dozens of exams together makes the whole experience just a little less daunting.
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Making easy money as a student!

Are you a student that has spent a few too many dollars at Kingpin donuts and Berkeley boba shops and needs a little extra spending cash? Getting a job can be a big commitment, in fact I’ve tried and failed to juggle multiple paid positions at one time. If you’re looking for a more low-key way to make money, here is an easy way for students to earn some cash.

1. Sign up for studies through the Xlab, which runs experiments through Haas School of Business and the psychology department. As a freshman, I earned something between $500 and $1000 over the year from actively participating in these cool studies. They can be anywhere from hour-long social experiments to four hour experiments in an MRI machine, or with a cap of electrodes on your head. I recommend you skip the short, low paying studies and go for the longer psych studies where you can earn $50+ dollars per study. With the flexibility of the Xlab portal, you can choose from different dates and times to fit in between your busy schedule. Additionally, some of my friends have done contact lens studies through the School of Optometry. If you’re around Pimentel, they always are posting for participants, just know you might have slightly wonky vision one day as they test out different prescriptions. read more