Thank you, Daily Californian.
Nine months ago, I was very sad. Very happy, and proud, and yet very sad. My oldest was leaving for UC Berkeley.
As you can guess, I am the father of a Cal student — an international student, to be precise. He is not my only child nor were we in financial distress because of his education. In fact, I had absolutely no rationale to be anything but elated with his success and opportunities. Yet, after I returned from the airport, leaving him at passport control (in this day and age one cannot go to the gates to wave one’s child away …), I felt sick to my stomach. So much void. Empty nest but not really, as there are other chicks finding their way around and looking up to big brother leaving to a far, faraway land. Fear.
Not fear from unknown. Myself, I had opportunity to study in the United States, so I sort of knew what he could expect. But it is one thing to go venture into the unknown oneself and completely something else to have your dependent do it. Will he be eating right? Will he be cold? Will he be abused in any way, shape or form? Will he be accepted, or will he be looked down upon as stranger? When I went to school in California a quarter of a century ago, then-Dean of International Relations Edwin Epstein said: You are lucky, as few students are from California — we all came from somewhere else, so you will not feel alienated. True at the time. Not true anymore, I reckon.
I did survive these past nine months. One day at the time. Without bothering my son with my thoughts, questions or doubts. Letting him explore, enjoy his victories and make (hopefully not too many) mistakes on his own. Not second-guessing his decisions. It was not easy — as parenting in general is not.
But I was not alone. I had The Daily Californian on my side. I suspect I was one of the most avid readers. I read almost everything: Every note, article and column. Even sports. Every morning. Followed Chancellor Dirks’ policies (well done), got scared because of the explosion in the fall, scratched my head about decisions related to BSC resetting the Cloyne Court, enjoyed Megaphone writings. Calming myself down. Getting reassured that most students at UC Berkeley are just as my son — hard working, goal-centered, inquisitive, thought-provoking. All ugly ducklings, all beautiful swans. And above all other: safe.
For that, I thank you.
My advice to parents of international freshmen?
Read the Daily Cal. It pays.