Each time you ask a Berkeley student the golden question, why Berkeley? Or maybe just asking what they love most about the university, you’ll end up finding a different answer. To me, that might be one of my favorite things about this campus — the fact that there can be 40,000 students learning in a single environment and each individual can walk away with a unique Berkeley story. When I walked onto campus as a student for the first time I had never been a very politically active person and tended to shy away from politically charged discussions for fear I wasn’t educated enough or simply wishing to avoid conflict. Therefore, what drew me to Berkeley wasn’t necessarily the political history and progressiveness of our campus, but instead the academic environment and the opportunities I might find learning under experts in the fields of science and medicine that I was studying. Of course, I did end up finding myself in general chemistry lecture halls named after Berkeley professors who have paved the way for modern science and being taught by pioneers in the field; however, what solidified my Berkeley story and my own personal growth was something entirely different.
I think one of the most important questions in college is to figure out who you are. I’m personally from a very sexist region. When I was young, people constantly told me that because I’m a girl, I would never achieve great things. Even though I tried really hard during high school and got into Berkeley, I still don’t have a lot of confidence in myself.
During the first week of school, I saw so many people going to different social events. I was scared. I am not a very social person and I tend to be very shy when I meet people for the first time. However, I thought I was supposed to follow the crowds and pretend that I’m a social person in order to join as many events as possible.
When I came to Cal Day last year as an anxious senior in high school trying to decide on which school to commit to, I was waiting for that one wow factor to solidify my decision. Walking along Sproul and talking to Cal students from all parts of the world really opened my eyes. I knew right then that I could never pass up this opportunity to learn alongside such diverse people and take advantage of the wide range of perspectives.
In my time here at Cal, I have to say that the one thing I love most and eagerly look forward to everyday is meeting new people. I never would have imagined that my best friend would be a student from Southern California studying Integrative Biology but also actively seeking to understand the bridge between society and language, or that my roommate would be an international student from Turkey with more to say about feminism than your average American protestor. Just the other day I was at Golden Bear Cafe and I met someone in the line who had actually met with President Obama and Michelle Obama for a youth conference. We purchased our coffees and ended up talking outside for an hour about the major flaws in the American healthcare system.