A Drastic Change of Plans

Graduation photo in front of Doe Library entrance

It’s jarring how quickly your life can change, especially when you think you have it all figured out. For better or for worse, change can leave you reeling, particularly when you hadn’t even started thinking about how to say goodbye to the stepping stones you oh-so-carefully laid for yourself. In the midst of complete fear, sadness, or internal panic, how do you find it in yourself to take a deep breath, give yourself a hug, and move on? In fact, one of the hardest things I learned this year was to do just that: to hoist myself up and recover, before I was even done mourning the carefully planned future I had lost. read more

Finding Emotional Balance

A small wave crashes onto the shore, with mountains in the background

Most of my life, I’ve learned not to rely on social media, and to view digital connection as inferior to human contact: to be present in the moment, to focus on in-person interaction and to value the impact of a warm embrace. However, what happens when you can no longer hug your friends, celebrate a momentous life transition with a party to remember, or create memories that are worth putting down the phone for? What happens when your life becomes a series of online interactions, and your ability to connect with others starts to rely on the strength of your own internet connection? How do you make memories, and how do you live in the moment? How do you seek out moments of intimacy when the safety of your community relies on its nonexistence? read more

Unprecedented Senior Sendoff

It’s hard not to picture your college graduation day: weeks, years, or even a whole decade in advance. Maybe you grew up seeing an iconic framed photo of your parents on their graduation day, wiping back tears and throwing their cap into the air, youthful, happy, and proud, surrounded by family and encouraged by celebratory shouts. Maybe you’re the first person in your family to have ever gone to college, practicing your walk across the stage, planning your photo opportunity, and imagining what you want that special day to be like – the tears, hugs, kisses, and giggles accompanying the emotional celebration of a new start for your family: proof that their work paid off. You picture your relatives laughing and hugging, your baby cousin posing for a comedic photo wearing your much-too-large graduation cap, and your parents beaming with pride and joy and whispering to each other “we made her!” As remaining months turn into days, you think about your last college photos with your best friends before life pulls you all in a hundred different directions. You start to prepare yourself for goodbyes, anticipating your last shift at your long-term job, your final lecture, exam, and presentation, or your last run around the field as a college athlete. There’s this simultaneous push and pull, as you get ready for the next life shift but take time to soak in every single moment you have left and appreciate your increasingly melancholy memories. read more

The Benefits of Being a UC Berkeley Campus Ambassador

The Campus Ambassador team grouped on the front steps of Wheeler Hall on Cal Day

You may have seen us around campus before: always yelling about the Campanile, gesturing boldly towards Memorial Glade, or cruising around on golf carts while giving special driven tours. We’re always out and about on campus, so many people know us as tour guides. However, when you look past the golden name badge, cleanly labeled jacket, and witty campus facts, you start to see the extent to which Ambassadors are actually involved on campus.

Throughout my four years at Berkeley, I have been lucky enough to work as an extension of not only the student body, but of Public Affairs and the professional Berkeley sphere, as well as in outreach, marketing, and communication roles that extend far beyond the 1.5 hour limits of a campus tour. Whether it be fulfilling my roles as a lead coordinator for Cal Day (Berkeley’s annual open house where we welcome over 40,000 people to campus every year), working press conferences and community conversation events, welcoming visitors to the Campanile, writing for the Bear Talk Blog, or facilitating joint department events on campus (collaborating with Cal Athletics, Cal Housing, and many more), this job has kept me incredibly busy, never quite knowing what next shift I could pick up, or what new people I could meet. On the Berkeley campus, as a paid employee and representative of all that Berkeley celebrates, we are trusted with high-profile VIP tours, donor outreach, and important information management, and we are put on the frontlines of the visitor center to field any and all questions about the university. In all honesty, I have never participated in an ambassador/guide program quite like the one at Berkeley, and have certainly never been given such high responsibility, respect, and recognition from the surrounding community as I have in this role. read more

What I Wish I Knew as a College Freshman

My friend and I posing for the camera on the sand at Stinson Beach

“The next four years will fly by… just you wait!”

Every new student hears these words when they enter college, but seldom pay attention. “Yeah, yeah, I get it… I should enjoy my time here,” you might respond. I know that my first year I heard older students say these words, and I understood that I would miss college once I was done, but the end seemed so far away that I really didn’t think much of it. I chalked it up primarily to nostalgia on their part: seeing the potential of new students and remembering when they felt the same. As all students do, I got wrapped up in the constant rush of school, making it through school one day at a time, not thinking much about the fact that I would be going out into the world, on my own, in just a few years. Of course the future was always on the horizon, but I was a student and I always had been, and at that point I didn’t know how to think of my life as much else. read more

Senior Year Nostalgia

Campanile at dusk

I still remember the first time I came to Cal Day, almost 5 years ago as a junior in high school, eager to get started on the college application process, but unsure about how I was going to pick the place where I would spend the next 4 years of my life. I knew college would be an incredible experience, and I knew that I would experience an immense amount of personal growth, but what I didn’t know is that my time as an undergraduate student would pass by quicker than any other time in my life.

Here I stand, 5 years later as a college senior at UC Berkeley, with my entire life ahead of me, and all of the possibilities in the world awaiting me. I feel nervous and scared, uncomfortable with the idea of working a 9-5 office job, nervous about my skills and capabilities, a head full of what-ifs and curious dreams, and a desire to make sure that whatever I do benefits humanity and the natural environment around me. I’m scared, and I really don’t know what my life will look like in just 1 year, but beyond the academic preparation and mental growth, Berkeley has taught me to be okay with not knowing. After all, some of the best things in life, though earned and worked for, grow out of complete uncertainty, and taking leaps of faith that send you into something amazing. read more

Summer Abroad in Prague

My classmates and I visiting St. Vitus Cathedral during a short field trip across town.

As I walked up to the baggage counter and strapped my luggage tag to my suitcase, the reality of my life for the next 3.5 months sunk in. I hoisted the bag up onto the scale: “50.00 lbs.” My parents chuckled behind me, as we had just spent the last two days narrowing down my luggage to stay under the 50 lb limit. I chuckled too, knowing that everything I was going to need for the next 3.5 months was included in that 50 lbs. As the conveyor belt dragged my suitcase away, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, but also a new feeling of anxiety as I got ready to leave my parents behind. I walked to the security line and said an excited but melancholy goodbye before I walked through the line, waving behind me periodically. I was nervous, and as I sat down to write my first entry in my journal that I had decided to bring abroad.

I truthfully had never been so scared to leave home. I wasn’t even nervous about the culture I was about to jump into, or even missing my family or being scared of new experiences. I was beyond excited, however I was nervous about my own emotions and being able to remain independent when abroad. I was worried I wouldn’t have someone who I could go to if I was feeling sad, and I was scared about having to navigate my way through numerous countries where I could not speak the language whatsoever. Little did I know, my summer abroad would be the most incredible, life-changing experience I would ever have, and I would meet friends whom upon my return I would say the same tearful goodbye to as the ones I said to my family 3.5 months prior. I had no idea that it would be even harder to leave my home abroad and come back home than it had been to leave my real home in the first place.

Above all, studying abroad taught me to be emotionally independent, and to figure out a world in which I did not know the context or social dynamic. I learned how to travel via plane, train, tram, and bus, relying on what little knowledge I had, remaining self-aware and taking in everything I possibly could about my surroundings. I found a new favorite park to walk around when I felt sad, and I learned enough of the Czech language to explore without getting lost, order food, and converse on a basic friendly level. I pushed myself throughout my time there, even meeting a lifelong best friend with whom I cried, laughed, and danced the night away. The level of anxiety I had coming into the experience faded away, and it became easy to just be excited about any new experience that came my way. I put all my energy into the time that I had there, running to catch early morning trains, sleeping on the floor of the cheapest hotels we could find just to be able to spend the night in the heart of Florence, Italy, and walking 15 miles per day around all of Munich and Berlin. The whole summer became a huge adventure, with every night filled with trips to the Czech beer gardens, the Opera, or relaxing paddle boat rides on the Vltava River. I checked hundreds of experiences off my bucket list, getting to ride the line between being a tourist and a local, unfamiliar with the surroundings but having to long term grocery shop, manage my budget, and go to classes. I felt an interesting sense of belonging, and after 3.5 months it was hard to imagine how my life would change upon coming back home. Even after coming back, my time abroad felt like a dream, and I constantly look back on the feelings of anxiety I had upon leaving with amazement. I was terrified to leave, but in just 3.5 months, Prague had become my home away from home, and leaving the Czech Republic felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind with it. I grew more in these past few months than I ever thought possible, and it gave me a newfound love for traveling and making myself vulnerable. It’s become more and more clear to me that living abroad was the most challenging, yet most rewarding and unforgettable experience I have ever had, and I know that I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

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Summer Limbo

We’re all counting down the days until the end of spring semester: the end of academic responsibilities for a short three months, the beginning of warm weather and free days to escape to the beach or the forest or the mountains, and the short span of time where your schedule is entirely up to you. For some, it might mean starting a new internship, or going back to a job you found last summer and really loved. For some, it might mean flying across the world and exploring somewhere new, and for others it might mean taking that much-needed vacation or coming home to visit your family again. Maybe you are graduating and you have the rest of your life ahead of you in just one short month, or maybe you just started college and you have to figure out how to occupy yourself for the next three summers. Whatever point in college you’re at, summer is a period of time where you have the freedom to choose what you spend your time doing (whether it be a job, a vacation, or strictly unscheduled time), and meet new people in a different setting. What are Berkeley students up to this summer? read more

Getting the Most out of your Visit to Cal Day

You park your car at the top of the campus, eager to step out and get started with the day. It’s been years in the making: You’ve applied, you’ve waited months to hear back, you’ve jumped for joy after your acceptance, and you’ve accepted your offer of admission without hesitation. You’ve always known that you wanted to be a Golden Bear, but now it’s real. Now you have thousands of current college students, waiting to meet you and welcome you to Berkeley.

As you walk out of the parking lot and up to California Memorial Stadium, you see the waves of visitors start to pick up pace. Faces just like yours, wide eyed, excited, and maybe a little nervous, are all around you, and you feel lost in the thousands of admitted students coming to visualize their future at Berkeley. With so much going on and so much to see, where do you start? How do you know if this zoo of a campus is right for you? How do you even find your way around? read more

Mid-Semester Self-Care

Image result for uc berkeley self care

“Treat yo-self.”

It’s not just a saying, a joke, or a phrase to justify your fourth cupcake of the day. It’s incredibly important to treat yourself, to take care of yourself, and to only hold yourself to a standard that is healthy and productive, but not push yourself over the edge. Being honest with yourself and being kind to your body and mind are infinitely important, and are often pushed to the back-burner in college. Whether it’s work your professor assigned last minute, or your group not putting in their portion of work, or maybe even your boss scheduling you too many shifts over the weekend, it’s your job to tell people when you’ve had enough. It’s your job to know your limits, and push yourself without putting your own well-being in harm’s way, and it’s incredibly important to make sure you give yourself breaks to recharge.

But how do you even do that? How are you supposed to take a break when you have 2 midterms, 3 papers, and one project due all next week? When do you find the time?

There’s a difference between taking a break and slacking off. Taking a break and putting yourself first means letting your brain recharge, allowing you to be more productive and happy in the long run.

First and foremost, the best thing you can do for yourself is sleep. Although this may be something that you’ve heard non stop from your parents, professors, friends, and anyone who has been through school themselves, often times sleep is the first thing to be neglected. Sleep makes you productive, happy, and motivated, and it lets you come up with ideas that actually may save you time in the long run. When you’re rested, you’re more efficient and more invested in everything around you, and you will ultimately feel more in control over what you put your time into.

After sleep, exercise and healthy food are both key to a happier, more productive life. However, I’m sure you’ve heard all of that a thousand times before. I’m not here to tell you the same things over and over, so take sleep, exercise, and healthy eating as a given. What else can you do for yourself? Here are 5 ways to de-stress during the middle of the semester, not taking too much time, but giving you the rest you need to realistically be more motivated later on.

  • Write lists.
    Ok, maybe this isn’t a way to forget about everything you have to do, but it helps you visualize your time. I make lists for everything, and even if I don’t stick to every part of it, it always helps me to write out everything I have to do, use a calendar, and check off boxes after each completed task. That way, you stop thinking about everything you have to do all at once, and you start thinking about the step-by-step progress you’re making instead.
  • Reward yourself.
    Yes! Treat yo-self! Don’t make this frequent enough where your incentive loses value, but when looking at your calendar at a tough week ahead, reserve time for yourself at the end of it to take a daytime nap, eat out at your favorite restaurant, or binge-watch your favorite tv show all weekend. Whatever your version of a treat may be, create a reward for your hard work and dedication: if you want others to appreciate the work you do, you have to appreciate yourself too.
  • Take a warm shower!
    Warm showers are naturally therapeutic! Take some time to not only prioritize your own hygiene, but give yourself some personal time to think and reflect, sing in the shower, or just wash away all the bad feelings of that day. Showering helps you start over, relax for a little bit, and come out fresh and ready to take on the rest of your work!
  • Call your parents.
    Yup. You heard me. Remember how mom has been texting you about how you never answer her texts on time? Give her a call! Tell them all about why you’re stressed, tell them what you have going on, and just keep that support system open. When things get tough, your parents are always there for you, so use them as a resource! They’re smarter than you gave them credit for when you were 13 and angsty, so see if they have some good insight. If anything else, it’s always nice to have someone there to talk to who will love you unconditionally and root for your success no matter what.
  • Get out!
    Take a walk, ride your bike, or just sit on a bench outside. Fresh air, regardless of whether it is rainy or sunny, is good for your body and your mind. Staying cooped up in the classroom and heading straight back to the computer after getting home never helps. Stimulate your senses, explore a little bit, and take time to see all of the things around you in nature that you forget about on a daily basis. If anything, you can learn to appreciate your surroundings a bit more than usual, and feel happier as a result!
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