As the frenzy of finals comes to a close, it ushers in a completely different experience: summer in Berkeley. For me, spending the summer in Berkeley is accompanied with mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m excited to work extensively as a campus ambassador and only have one class on my schedule allowing me hours of unstructured time to do things that I put on the back burner during the semester. On the other hand, it meant that my time with my family and friends back home in Irvine, CA would be significantly truncated before I started the fall semester. This conflict was conspicuously apparent on Father’s Day.
For college students, summer break is the perfect time to kick back, relax, and rejuvenate our minds and bodies before jumping right back into the rigors of classwork and exams—that is, of course, if you’re not planning on taking up a summer class, an internship, or maybe even a job or two, which, let’s face it, is probably what most of us are guilty of doing here at UC Berkeley. We may be taking on more responsibilities, but we most definitely are not squandering our precious 3-month break. Sure, summer means more time to relax, but as ambitious golden bears, we’re always looking for the next challenge, the next opportunity for growth and experience.
My sophomore year was a make-it-or-break-it year. I’ll soon find out if I qualify for my two majors, Media Studies and Political Economy. It has been a very busy year for me; I’m studying extra hard to make sure I get good grades to declare. In the midst of studying diligently, I didn’t eat as healthy as I could have. I started eating more Chinese takeout, cooking Spam and fried eggs for almost every meal, and sometimes I only had pastries and mocha drinks. Looking back at my year, I was sad that I didn’t get around to cook better meals, since I love cooking and baking. I just always viewed cooking something more wholesome than a Spam with rice meal as sacrificing study time (although I have to admit that my urge to procrastinate did play a role in my apparent lack of time for studies)
One of my favorite things about going to school at Berkeley is the constant exposure to the hustle and bustle of a campus teeming with vibrant activity. By virtue of attending school at a large, prestigious public university in an urban setting—and, of course, by being surrounded by fiercely passionate and wholeheartedly enthusiastic peers—there’s always something exciting going on. This past weekend, that special “something” for me was the 2016 Minorities in Health Conference. This year’s theme: Owning Your Identity—A Self-Navigating Guide to Careers in Health.
With finals looming and a substantial amount of class material to learn for my linear algebra and differential equations and probability classes, I headed to Evans to study on Sunday afternoon. This normally wouldn’t come as a surprise; I’m an economics and statistics major and Evans Hall is home to the mathematics, statistics and economics departments. Except I found myself on the opposite end of campus, at the other “Evans”: Evans Diamond.
Watching baseball games was one of the most memorable parts of my high school experience; I was even my school’s PA announcer at the games. After heading to an A’s game two weeks ago with a friend and having a great night, I renewed my love for live baseball and pledged to catch at least one game before end of the semester. Then came the best part: I learned that with a flash of my Cal ID, home games were free!
My classmate and I attend the same church, called the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, which is located behind the Unit 3 Residence Hall. One day in class, while we were waiting for the professor to arrive, she invited me to the Chiapas Trip Reflection Event, where college students from the Fellowship of College and University Students group, also known as FoCUS, reflect and talk about their experiences on the mission trip to Chiapas, Mexico during spring break.
FoCUS is the undergraduate student ministry group in our church where a lot of Cal students, who are Presbyterians, join. There are many other spiritual fellowship groups on campus that provide niches for students with different religious beliefs: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and etc. I was curious about and interested in joining the FoCUS group. So, I decided to take the first step in knowing more about this ministry by attending the reflection event. I was also looking forward to hearing other students’ experiences, especially after hearing my friend’s stories.
Sitting in class on a lazy Tuesday afternoon, I felt my phone vibrate twice. It read, “What are you up to this evening?”. I simply replied, “For?” A few minutes later, I got, “Sonny Gray $5.” A couple of texts back and forth and it was confirmed; we’d meet at Oakland Coliseum at 6:20 to catch the Athletics play the Angels with A’s ace starter and one of the best pitchers in the American League, Sonny Gray, on the mound. In addition, we’d get to watch A’s starting shortstop Marcus Semien, who played baseball at Cal.
I love watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I was a kid, I fell in love with Legolas. Although his handsomeness was big plus, my key attraction was his impeccable skill in archery. He becomes this sharp and swift warrior as he holds his bow and arrow; that’s why I always had my eyes set on him.
Because of this, my brother and I had a makeshift bow, made out of a wooden stick from a back scratcher and a packaging string. We would partake in mini adventures in our bedroom, jumping to and from our beds as we attacked our enemies: our pillows.
Sometimes, life at Cal can get busy—really, really busy. As students at the number one university in the world, it’s only logical that we dive right into our college experiences, immersing ourselves in academics, clubs, work-study jobs, intramural sports, student government—the list goes on and on. We live for involvement, thrive on competition, and frequently excel at pulling all-nighters to compensate for our tendencies to over commit… Okay, maybe that last part is just me, but I guarantee every Berkeley student has experienced this at least once in his/her college career. It’s inevitable. Where there’s success, there’s hard work. Where there’s hard work—yup, you guessed it—there’s stress. While I admit, I occasionally fall victim to that characteristic midterm season stress, I heard something today that completely changed my attitude.
Cal’s location in Berkeley, CA affords the campus good weather most days of the year. However, as a native southern Californian, I don’t care for the number of rainy days we do encounter. This past Saturday was one of those days. As such, the prospect of some warm, hearty food was certainly appealing. Given that it was the weekend, I could take more liberties with my time and venture of Berkeley to make it happen.
Two of my freshman floormates suggested Homeroom Mac + Cheese, a small shack on the ground floor of an apartment building in neighboring Oakland. Growing up, I had severe allergies to a variety of foods; any time my family went out to eat, Kraft Mac and Cheese from the kids menu was a staple. With age and treatment many of my allergies subsided, but my love for macaroni did not. We took AC Transit’s 1R bus line south down Telegraph Avenue from campus and after a 10 minute walk from the stop, there we were. In typical Homeroom fashion, there was a 45 minute to an hour wait: just the right amount of time to explore, according to my friends; I grudgingly went along.