100 things we at The Daily Californian wish we knew as freshmen

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Nikki Dance/File

We’ve all been in your position before. Once upon a time, we, too, were new students at this magnificent university. We wandered wide-eyed, accepted copious amounts of fliers and made more mistakes than we can count. So with the intent of keeping you all a bit more informed than we were, we’re offering up some of our best advice.

  1. Everyone is just as excited and nervous as you are.
  2. No one knows exactly what they’re doing their freshman year, and that’s totally OK.
  3. In fact, it’s better to take this time to experiment and discover what you’re interested in and passionate about.
  4. Don’t pick a major because it seems like the “right thing to do” or because your parents would approve. If you want to succeed in your classes, you have to enjoy them.
  5. If you go home after your first semester and don’t want to come back to UC Berkeley, you’re not the only one. Moving away from home is really hard.
  6. There are so many libraries on campus. Branch out and explore beyond Main Stacks.
  7. The Bay Area is full of amazing views and natural beauty, so go out and soak it all in.
  8. Spend time hiking in Berkeley with friends. You’ll feel more connected to the city and maybe solidify some friendships.
  9. Oski can, and will, haunt your dreams.
  10. Get over him or her. They’re not the only special person you’ll meet in life, let alone in college.
  11. Remember the three Fs when you go out at night: phone, friend, FOB (or key).
  12. Even if it seems dorky, do all the residence hall bonding activities during move-in to meet people and make some friends.
  13. Your friendships in high school took years to build; don’t expect to have best friends after four months, but don’t give up on trying to create them, either. Many potential friends will come and go, but the ones you really want in your life will stay.
  14. It can be tough to make good friends in class, but try to make an acquaintance in each so you have a study buddy or someone to get notes from if you miss class.
  15. School is going to be really hard and time-consuming, so don’t forget to have a social life and work at friendships, too.
  16. Check out the cafes in and around campus for studying.
  17. Experience Greek rush. Greek life isn’t for everyone, but you won’t know unless you try.
  18. If you’re anxious or unsure about rushing in the fall, there’s always spring rush. (But know that it’s much harder to join in spring because not all houses participate.)
  19. Check out the co-ops for other communal living arrangements.
  20. If you’re eligible, enroll in the Disabled Students Program, or DSP, as soon as you get to campus.
  21. Even if you’re in DSP, some teachers and departments are not as flexible or receptive. Remember to stay in touch with your teachers and make an effort to meet outside of class if your disability is preventing you from going.
  22. You’re going to be unhappy sometimes, and that’s healthy.
  23. If you have a long day of classes, bring snacks and a water bottle so you don’t have to spend money during the day.
  24. Go to late night at Crossroads and weekend brunch at Clark Kerr.
  25. Go to every game day during the fall — they’re precious and few.
  26. Make an effort to go to San Francisco and explore the city.
  27. Free Speech Movement Cafe doesn’t accept meal points.
  28. Don’t forget about Northside! Some of the best eateries in Berkeley, many of the co-ops and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive are north of campus.
  29. You’re going to make a lot of weird mistakes, and you should go ahead and feel good about them.
  30. Getting good grades at UC Berkeley takes consistent effort all semester long. Cramming doesn’t get the same results as it did in high school.
  31. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask people to hang out. UC Berkeley is so big that creating your smaller community is something you have to actively pursue.
  32. Keep your mind open to different kinds of relationships, both platonic and romantic, than you were used to in high school.
  33. Try to resist the drunchies — greasy food always makes you feel more sick in the morning.
  34. No one is better than you just because they have a supposedly harder major or if assignments seem easier for them than for you. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t belong, too.
  35. On that note, there are no easy majors. Never feel guilty for studying something you’re passionate about.
  36. A complete stranger in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions believed in you when they accepted you. They knew you could do it. Believe in yourself!
  37. Grades aren’t everything. Study to learn, and learn to live.
  38. Find a good alone spot, one you can return to during your college career — preferably away from the public, such Strawberry Creek or the area above Memorial Glade.
  39. If you know your major, declare early and get keycard access to your home building if majors are eligible — no more desperately trying to find a table in the library for studying.
  40. Take risks.
  41. If you plan to work at all in college, try to do it early on in your freshman year. You’ll learn time management faster and it’ll become a normal part of your routine (rather than trying to squeeze it in as a sophomore).
  42. It’s always easier to drop extra curricula than to join later on or regret not joining at all. Be ambitious, but know your limits of what you can handle time-wise.
  43. You don’t have to stick with an extracurricular activity all four years. Don’t be afraid to try something different when your current activity no longer makes you happy.
  44. Explore the campus and take pictures of all the aesthetic places you find.
  45. Many clubs and organizations require applications or attendance at info sessions to join. Don’t be intimidated, just go and give it your best shot.
  46. Find your favorite cafe and make it your home for studying, catching up with friends and first dates. Having a place that feels like yours is invaluable.
  47. Finding the right housing option can be difficult, but you’ll find somewhere you’re happy living. If you have a positive attitude, any place can feel like home.
  48. Remember to reach out. If you don’t get invited somewhere, it’s likely nothing personal. Reach out to a group to ensure someone knocks on your door the next time your floor spontaneously decides to go get dinner.
  49. Get a planner, and use it religiously.
  50. Go through all your syllabi and write down important dates in your calendar or planner. It doesn’t matter where you write them, so long as you have the dates on your radar.
  51. Say yes to everything.
  52. Log out of your Netflix account, change the password and throw away the key.
  53. You might actually end up becoming best friends with people you meet at orientation. You just have to put yourself out there and follow up once you arrive on campus for good.
  54. You’re definitely packing too much.
  55. Invest in a sturdy umbrella and a pair of rain boots. You’ll need them.
  56. You can actually get sleep, good grades and have a social life. It isn’t impossible — it just takes incredible time management skills.
  57. Making even one friend is going to make a world of difference.
  58. Your friends don’t only have to be freshmen. Try reaching out to upperclassmen who are in your activities. They’ve already lived through the tough spots of freshman year, so they might know what to do when you hit them up for advice.
  59. Call your parents.
  60. It’s perfectly normal not to have a bunch of dates in your first couple months of college.
  61. Try to have a good relationship with your roommates. You don’t have to be friends, but you’ll be much more comfortable in your room if you’re at least civil.
  62. Learn how to be clean and organized. It’ll make your life so much easier.
  63. Try to spend your meal points when you can and save money so that you can always go when friends suggest a midnight boba run.
  64. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but seriously, get involved! Try to join at least one or two activities you’re interested in, and even if you end up not liking it, you’ll probably get to know a few people you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
  65. Don’t act like you’re too cool for school spirit. Nobody is too cool for school spirit. You worked hard to get here, now be proud of it.
  66. Google Calendar is your best friend. Get your schedule in from the get-go — your senior-year self will thank you.
  67. Jump out of the Berkeley bubble once in a while. Even if you don’t make the big BART trip to San Francisco, Emeryville and Oakland (and even north Berkeley) are only one AC Transit ride away.
  68. Take advantage of the Recreational Sports Facility — a part of your school tuition is going to maintain it. Go take a class of sunrise yoga or kickboxing conditioning.
  69. Speak up in discussion section. Don’t fear of being wrong. People will love to hear your voice.
  70. Get a reusable to-go box at the dining commons. After you finish eating, pack another meal in it — two meals for the price of one.
  71. Plus, “stealing” utensils and plates is covered in your tuition. If you feel a bit sly, why not grab a spoon or two to use in the residence halls?
  72. Make sure to check out Daiso on Telegraph Avenue.
  73. Have a little inspiration board on your wall with a few pictures of the people or things that mean the most to you. When there are times that feel low, glance at it to give yourself a boost of motivation and a smile.
  74. Don’t be too lazy to vacuum.
  75. Try something really crazy once with friends, seriously.
  76. Bechtel Engineering Library is the best place to study if you’re in search of a library that’s totally chill with you munching on your food loudly.
  77. There’s never too much UC Berkeley gear.  
  78. Freshman 15 is not a myth and attacks several innocent baby Bears. Make sure to work out when you can.
  79. Late night isn’t open on weekends. Make sure you remember this so that you’re not sorely disappointed when you realize there’s nowhere to spend meal points at midnight on Saturday.
  80. Join a club and make friends with the upperclassmen. They’re great sources of advice for academic problems, personal matters and big life decisions. Bonus points if they have a car.
  81. Taking Snapchats of squirrels is only acceptable within the first week of school. After that, prepare to be judged.
  82. Invest in an electric tea kettle. It heats a larger amount of water more efficiently than a microwave does, and you can use it for all types of things — instant coffee, tea and of course, ramen.
  83. Sometimes failing at something could be better for you than succeeding. You’ll learn a lot more about yourself.
  84. It’ll be hard, but make a conscious effort not to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter.
  85. It’s a lot easier to skip class in college than in high school, but resist the urge to not go. You’ll probably learn a lot more by going than by reviewing the PowerPoints after, and one lecture may convince you to major in something that you would never have considered if you had skipped class.
  86. If you leave the residence halls after freshman year and move to an apartment, the transition to living alone might be rough and, at times, lonely. Don’t just stay in your apartment all the time. Find a good support system of friends or activities to keep you just as busy as you were freshman year, when you had all those structured hall association activities and instant best friends living right next door.
  87. Join a lot of things and quit a lot of things. Don’t get stuck in something you don’t enjoy just because you’re scared to quit — you’ll be way happier when you let go.
  88. Get a ricemaker and one of those huge draped-over-a-Thai-villager bags of rice. Cheapest and easiest food you can make.
  89. Don’t be afraid to do something that doesn’t have perceived legitimacy just because your social group doesn’t respect it. Small groups that no one’s heard of can become important campus institutions through the thoughtful hard work of a small number of dedicated people.
  90. The RSF is the iron crucible in which you become strong. Be sure to worship thy Iron God Brodin there.
  91. It’s never too early to realize that good alcohol can be enjoyed like a fine meal. Enjoy and savor.
  92. Once you become a Cal sports fan there are two certainties: the fact that the teams will bring you hope only to crush it in a way that will test your cardiovascular health, and that you will come back next week to the same bleachers.
  93. Don’t go out with the goal of getting blackout drunk. Throwing up in the dorm bathroom for several hours under the disgusted and watchful eye of your RA is a distinct possibility, and it’s going hurt like hell in the morning.
  94. Don’t have loud sex in the dorms when your neighbors are home.
  95. You probably won’t have any idea what you’ll be doing after you graduate. No one does, not even second-semester seniors.
  96. Learn about the DARS report. Learn to love the DARS report.
  97. Slow down. Now stop. Enjoy these moments. You’ll be graduating before you know it.
  98. Be proactive about housing if/when you plan on staying off campus.
  99. Joining a student organization on campus is one of the easiest ways to make friends. With that being said, pick one that genuinely interests you. It’s easier to mesh with a group of people who have similar interests.
  100. Take a seminar while you can, it’s the worst not being able to take one when you’re an upperclassman.

Enjoy, baby Bears! UC Berkeley is an amazing place that we can’t wait for you to experience.

Rachel Feder is the blog editor. Contact Rachel Feder at [email protected].