Let’s face it — at one point or another, we’ve all felt the daunting pressure to be a “Golden Bear” among 25,885 other undergraduates who also proudly bear the name. How does one reach out, connect with others and eventually form a community within one of the nation’s largest student bodies? Besides the usual “Join a club! Live in a dorm! Smile at everybody!” words of wisdom, here are some perhaps less common ideas to build your Berkeley family.
Join a sport, be it intramural, recreational or club. Preferably a competitive, grueling one that’s demanding and takes place in all kinds of terrible weather conditions including but not limited to rain, freezing winds, fog and/or mud. You’ll bond with your teammates in no time. You’re also sure to get super fit as a bonus! If you really don’t want to be on the field, cheer on our Golden Bears by attending the sporting events. They are ridiculously fun and a great way to meet fellow enthusiastic students in the stands.
Your classmates in your discussion sections are not just other students who also pretend to listen to the GSIs and frantically write papers the night the before the same deadlines. Be kind, actually participate in group activities, form study and review sessions and reap the benefits of intellectual college-level conversation.
Remember your pals from CalSO? Or International Student Orientation? Or Finding Your Way? Chances are, they remember you too. Make an effort to get contact information and reinforce those connections! If the purpose of freshman orientation isn’t to introduce you to Café 3 (aka your refuge from Crossroads if you live in Unit 1 or 2), an alternate advantage is to help set up your initial college network. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversation — be it in the ridiculously long noon hour lines at GBC, while trying to navigate the campus, in the dining commons or at campus events held throughout the year.
Take the time to enjoy all that the University has organized for incoming and returning students alike, including Calapalooza, Caltopia, academic major info sessions, new student convocations and, of course, any event that advertises free food. Perhaps for the first time ever, you’ve entered an environment where age matters less and less, and it’s more about who you are and what you can bring to any given community. Don’t let the age factor keep you from connecting with upperclassmen during your involvement in campus organizations and events. Better yet, seek out mentors in students you admire and want to learn from or collaborate with. Who knows where these friendships can lead you?
Key takeaways: fellow students are nicer than you think, keep an open mind and take some risks. Ultimately, everybody has been a newcomer once. With that, we wish you a warm welcome to Cal, and as always, Go Bears!
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