Secret Life of an RA

So we’ve all probably heard of that weird acronym called “RA” before, right? Well, RA stands for Resident Assistant. RAs are older students who live in the residence halls and help new and continuing students become accustomed to campus. The RA also puts on events to build community among the floor of students.
Whether you are a current Berkeley student, or alumni of Berkeley, you will probably never forget your first RA’s name. Freshman year, I lived in Unit 3 Norton, and my RA’s name was Miki. I lived on an all-girl’s floor, so I’m sort of confused how a majority of my friends at Berkeley are male… but that’s beside the point. During my freshman year, I really loved meeting everyone on the floor and in my building. The residence hall was such an easy place to meet new people and make new friends because we all shared a communal bathroom together and had numerous lounges to hang out in. From game nights to birthday parties, we all became super close friends. Being an out-of-state student and not knowing anyone at Berkeley, I really appreciated the opportunity to meet a bunch of people, especially because I know I will be friends with them for life.
My entire experience in the residence hall my freshman year is why I wanted to be an RA. I was super interested in putting on events to help my residents build the same community and friendships that I was able to have my freshman year. This year, I am an RA at Clark Kerr Campus to 55 first-year students. I love all of my residents. Getting to know everyone’s interests, quirks, likes, and dislikes has been such a rewarding part of this experience. I truly feel like I can be friends with my residents after they move out of the hall at the end of the semester. Seeing these first-year students grow from a fresh-faced, just-out-of-high school student who may be experiencing freedom for the first time, to a more mature, studious student who is discovering their identities has been amazing to observe.
Being an RA and having all of these new experiences is a great talking point when meeting new people. Many friends usually ask if I have any crazy RA stories (I do) or they ask if I have ever written anybody up (I have). In addition to creating community and helping students adjust, the RA is also responsible for documenting residence hall policy violations. This job can be very stressful during emergency situations or just living in the residence hall in general and hearing students being loud in the hallways passed quiet hours. But, all of this is what makes the RA job truly unique: it is definitely a hands- on learning experience.
The RA is the mother bird and all of our residents are our little chicks. I’m going to be sad when my current residents move out at the end of the semester into other living situations, but I will be excited for the upcoming group of residents that I will get next fall! read more

College Decisions and Everything in Between

Thank you for applying to the University of California, Berkeley. The Office of Admissions carefully reviewed you application and we are not able to offer you admission at this time . . . we would like to offer you a position on our wait list for potential openings that may become available for admission for the 2016-2017 academic school year.

This was a common email I received during my college decision process because I was waitlisted at a majority of the 11 schools that I had applied to. Throughout high school, I was super involved, from interning at NASA to working in Congress, myself, as well as many other high school seniors similar to me, thought we were shoo-ins for all of the prestigious universities. read more

Applications on Applications

What does November 1st to November 30th mean to you? It’s Berkeley application period time! Not only are Berkeley’s undergraduate college applications open, but current Berkeley sophomores can apply for the Berkeley Haas School of Business program.

If you think applying to Berkeley-Haas is similar to applying to colleges as a high school student, you would be right. Similar to the regular Berkeley application, the Berkeley-Haas undergraduate business program application period is also November 1st to 30th. Current sophomore students have taken the prerequisite courses and are set to complete the application to apply! From the Berkeley-Haas website, the Admission Committee looks at numerous factors, including: performance in key prerequisites, consistency of academic performance, leadership skills, and accomplishments in extracurricular activities. After application submission, students accepted into the two year Berkeley-Haas undergraduate business program hear back mid-February of their sophomore year. They start taking courses their junior year and then graduate from Berkeley with an undergraduate business degree from the Haas School of Business. read more

Done with Exams!

Can you believe that it is already November 1st and the fall semester is going to be over in a month and a half?! I can’t believe it! Being here at Berkeley for a little over a year now, I am itching for a mini vacation. I am going to be finished all of my midterm exams this week, so I’m getting some friends together to do some fun activities over the weekends in November:

  • Color Factory: A pop-up shop in San Francisco, this exhibit has some super cool interactive displays that involve colors! Tickets sell out super quickly, so you have to buy them probably a month in advance right when they go on sale. The Color Factory was super cool to visit. It was a ton of fun taking artsy pictures and playing in the giant ball pit at the end of the exhibit!
  • Corgi Con: Twice a year on Ocean Beach, California, there is a Corgi Con festival. Basically, a bunch of corgi dogs (and other breeds) are dressed up in cute little costumes and are hanging out on the beach. My friends and I went this past summer and we saw the little corgis race across the beach and even participate in costume contests! If you love dogs, this is definitely something to check out!
  • San Francisco Zoo: A 100 acre zoo located in San Francisco, California. The zoo has zebras, buffalos, monkeys, elephants, and even bears and large cats! As Berkeley is super close to the Bay Area, I feel like I should be taking advantage of everything San Francisco has to offer. The zoo is a super easy BART ride away from the Berkeley BART station; super accessible!
  • Lake Anza: A 15 minute drive from UC Berkeley, Lake Anza is a recreational swimming reservoir in Tilden Regional Park. If you don’t have a car at Berkeley, don’t worry! There are a ton of easy ways to get around! You can rent a car through Zipcar or Gigcar, Uber there, or even use Berkeley’s ridesharing group! This would be a super easy, fun activity to do on a weekend to relax and hang out with friends.
  • Six Flags: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a theme park with roller coasters and other amusement rides. A 45 minute drive from Berkeley, this amusement park is too close to not take advantage of! If you are a student living in the Residence Halls, sometimes the Residence Halls will bus students to the theme park for a day! Super neat!
  • Concerts: In a few weeks, I’m going to see Fall Out Boy at Oracle Arena (a 20 minute BART ride from Berkeley). In December, I’ll be going to Poptopia, a music festival with artists like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and the Chainsmokers! There are a TON of concert opportunities here in Berkeley, whether at the Greek Theater on Berkeley’s campus, or in San Francisco. Perfect for a concert junkie like me!
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    The End of the Semester

    WOW! This week is the last week of instructional class, which means… FINALS. Every professor is ending their class with the sentimental, “I’m so happy to have taught you all this semester, if you ever need anything, please feel free to reach out to me.” With the school year coming to an end, my clubs are ending as well. Some clubs I can still participate in next year, but others, like Hall Association, is a year-long position in the student government of my residence hall. In the class I take for Resident Assistant (RA) training, we talked a lot about how change is a good and healthy thing. Even though I am sad that my first semester here at Berkeley is over, I am excited for the changes that are occurring. read more

    Have You Voted?

    “Hey, are you interested in voting in the ASUC election?”

    This is the line I have been repeating over and over again while campaigning on Sproul Plaza this past week. The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) is Berkeley’s school-wide student government organization: one of the largest autonomous student bodies in the nation! Every year, elections are held where students have the opportunity to vote for five Executive positions as well as twenty Senate positions. Senators run on campaign platforms that they hope to fulfill throughout their year-long position. UC Berkeley even has political parties for candidates in the election. Each year, the ASUC election is super competitive, and that is why I was out campaigning on Sproul. This past week, many candidates and their campaign teams have been working tirelessly in the hopes of garnering votes in order to be elected to make the changes their constituents want to see! read more

    Berkeley’s 19 Things I Learned by 19

    Last month I turned the big one-nine! I spent my birthday with my friend who also has the same birthday as me as well as a few of our closest friends. As it is spring break and almost the end of my first year here at Berkeley, it got me thinking… I have always wanted to have a YouTube channel and I really enjoy the videos that reflect on (insert age number here) things I learned by (insert same age number here), so here goes:

  • Time flies when you’re having fun: I can not believe we only have six weeks left of spring semester. I feel like yesterday was move-in day and I’m saying bye to my family until December. Then winter break was over and I was saying bye to my family until May. I made a ton of great friends this year, and I’m going to be sad when we’re all not living in the residence halls together next year.
  • Cherish your family and old friends: After high school, I stayed really close with a few friends from back home. We still text each other to chat about our problems, mainly boy problems, but sometimes it was just nice to get a taste of back home and life before college. I really want to find more time to call my parents and friends from back home.
  • Time management: Know when to separate “fun time” and “work time.” This is a skill you have to learn when you first come to college.
  • Take time for yourself: School can be stressful and you want to make sure you don’t overwork yourself, so do take time for self-care and wellness.
  • Sometimes you won’t get the grades you’re hoping for, and that’s ok: I feel like a big difference from high school and college is that in college one test can count for 30% of your grade. If this test goes poorly, it may feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t. There are many ways to improve for the next test!
  • Join clubs: I have met some of my best friends through clubs here at Berkeley. We have similar interests and passions so we get along really well.
  • Go to the library: I love going to the library to study because I get so much work done. It’s super fun to try studying in all 27 of the different libraries on campus.
  • It’s ok to eat alone: I used to hate eating alone because I always felt awkward, but it’s actually nice to sit and contemplate life.
  • Make plans with people: In order to maintain friendships with people from other residence halls, actively ask them to hang out: go to the library together or get dinner together!
  • Have late night conversations: I feel like these kinds of conversations are the best kind: they’re super real and you get to learn to much about people.
  • Take risks: This is what college is for! Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things! Take the class you’re interested in or join the club you’ve always wanted to join!
  • Go to events on campus: Take advantage of all of the amazing events that happen at UC Berkeley. Get a group of friends and go!
  • Get off social media every once in a while: I feel like I’m always on social media and this is something I need to work on so that I can enjoy everything that’s going on around me.
  • Hike the Big C: A group of friends and I hiked this trail at night time and it was a gorgeous view. 10/10 would recommend before graduation.
  • Go to the top of the Campanile: I’ve been to the top of the Campanile twice now and you can see 360 degree views of Berkeley and the Bay: so pretty.
  • Explore San Francisco and the Bay Area: DO THIS. There are so many things to do in San Francisco and the Bay Area! I went to my first cat café in San Francisco a few weeks ago!
  • Eat out every once in a while: Try some of the amazing restaurants nearby Berkeley’s campus. This is something that I need to do more often!
  • Stay in every once in a while: Everyone loves a chill movie night with friends! Think of innovative ways you can have fun and relax at the same time.
  • HAVE FUN: These four years are going to fly by! Make the most of them!
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    A New School and a New Club

    As an out-of-state student from Maryland, choosing to fly across the country to attend UC Berkeley was a scary, nerve-wrecking experience. Coming to a school with almost 28,000 undergraduate students, knowing nobody, I was anxious to take such a big leap from my home, family, and friends in Maryland. After completing my first semester at Berkeley, I can truly say that UC Berkeley is my home.

    In high school, I was really involved in student government, and wanted to continue my passion of representing the student voice at Cal. Thus, I applied for the Residence Hall Assembly (RHA) Representative position in my residence hall’s Hall Association, which is the student government of the residence halls. I was elected RHA Rep and began to attend weekly meetings where Reps from every residence hall across campus come together and have the opportunity to vote on different sponsorship and legislation bills. At one of the meetings last semester, the RHA Executive Team announced a unique opportunity for us to attend a three day leadership conference at the University of Southern California (USC) where students from across the west coast would come together and learn about leadership. read more