Flying from Minneapolis to San Francisco International Airport, the first sign I saw when I stepped off the plane had directions to a yoga room. Needless to say, I had arrived in California! Too many suitcases and boxes in hand, my mom and I made our way through three-hour traffic over to the East Bay and our hotel right near my new school, the University of California at Berkeley.
Move-in day was relatively smooth. My mom seemed to die a little inside each time she saw the size of my room, but I got the bottom bunk, which had been my main focus. To all future college dorm residents: the bottom bunk is essential to your overall happiness, so sacrifice other battles to win this one.
Along with the great bed situation, my randomly selected roommates turned out to be awesome. Picking random is a risk, but it also allows for the chance for you to meet people you might not normally reach out to, which is something that I definitely recommend.
So far, during the one month that I have lived here, Berkeley and life in California have lived up to almost every positive stereotype and expectation that I’d had coming from Minnesota.
It wasn’t just California’s weather that drew me here, but the stereotype that the people are generally open minded and progressive. The atmosphere of the student body and the type of people living in Berkeley were really important to me, and I think that these are factors that can greatly affect your adaptation to college, especially if you’re going far from home. I was able to bond with my floor-mates and most people I met quickly due to our similar values and mindsets. My Spanish class bonded right away through our discussions on Donald Trump and immigration, for example.
Another enticing feature of Berkeley for me was the stereotype that students were not only socially aware and passionate about creating change, but that they were less mainstream and a little weirder than most student bodies. This is something that I found to be true as soon as I moved in, and is one of my favorite parts of being here.
Anything and everything goes here – whether that concerns clothing or recreational activity or whatever else. I joined the Berkeley Quidditch team and am currently enrolled in a Harry Potter class called “UC Hogwarts.” These were two of the best decisions I have ever made. The unique personality of the student body largely corresponds to the cultural diversity of the campus, and this is another factor that I have found to be really important.
Over half of my floor is international and thus racially and culturally diverse. In the one month I’ve lived here I have already learned more about east Asian and Indian culture than in my whole life up until now!
Just as Berkeley exceeded my social expectations, the rigor of the academics was by no means exaggerated!
I walked into my first day of chemistry class with 400 very intelligent students to find a rotating blackboard filled with foreign concepts entitled, “A review of the fundamentals.” That being said, don’t be discouraged from applying or attending a prestigious school. I soon realized that most people were in the same boat as I was and I’ve developed good study habits that benefit my schedule.
I look forward to providing more Berkeley updates throughout the coming year!