Lessons UC Berkeley teaches us outside the classroom

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Zainab Ali/File

Over the previous years, numerous lists have been concocted so that newly-admitted UC Berkeley students might get a peek into this new exciting phase in their lives. Yet very few include the very personal, intellectual changes that a person is likely to undergo among the administrative learning curve, which is no less than a horror ride. Here are nine things you are most likely to soon recognize (if you haven’t already in high school) after one or two semesters at UC Berkeley:

1.You need to stop comparing yourself to others. You may take longer to complete readings than your friends or may not be immediately ready to join any student clubs. You may like a particular professor that everyone else seems to despise or may just not find it worth spending meal points at Crossroads. Whatever the case may be, remember: You do you. Nobody else has had the same experiences as you and so nobody can understand what goes on in your mind.

2. God is truly in the details (also applicable in scheduling). While signing up for classes, it’s easy to miss out two key factors: the final exam and office hours schedules. The first one is important to identify well ahead in time so you can mentally prepare yourself what you are getting yourself into. The latter is also useful to be aware of, so in case any overlaps exist, you can find other avenues for getting extra guidance for a specific course such as the Student Learning Center or hiring a personal tutor.

3. Wall calendars from Walmart can be pretty useless. Trust us, living in the dorms makes you so passive that even reaching out to the bulletin board above your bed will seem exhausting. So, hoping to consistently write stuff on a piece of paper hanging up there is as implausible as expecting a cow to fly. We recommend Google Calendar, period.

4. Don’t give people too much credit for their personality. It’s human nature to take almost everything you see or hear at face value and think it to be the prime truth. While at UC Berkeley, you may often forget that the people you’re interacting with on a daily basis are in the very same age bracket as you. They will, more or less, still be unsure of who they are exactly or what they want to be. Hence, it’s wise to note one thing when forming friendships: People change, just as you will.

5. Physical education does exist at UC Berkeley. The last thing anybody wants is to be staring at a muffin top in the mirror halfway through the year and cursing themselves for not hitting up the RSF regularly. If you aren’t self-motivated enough to keep fit, the university gives you the option of taking half unit courses from swimming to contemporary dance. Perhaps, the notion of actually receiving credits will be enough to get you moving.

6. It’s not bad to enjoy doings things alone. Don’t ever miss an interesting event that sounds thrilling to you, just because your friends aren’t too keen on it. If there’s a new eatery opened in Downtown that you are dying to try, encourage yourself to go even when no one is willing to ride the 51B bus with you. Inevitably, you’ll end up sharing fun conversations and building new relationships in a novel space. Understand one thing: At UC Berkeley, studying alone doesn’t count as “me time.” It takes a lot more to discover yourself.

7. You can’t be happy all the time. Many incoming students come in with the misconception that they’ll be rejoicing every moment now that they’re a part of the number one public university in the world. Here’s the bad news: There will be moments where you question whether you should be here at all. There is good news, though: If you’re truly a Golden Bear those feelings will wear off by the year end.

8. Be nice to your fellow Bears. As much as your life seems like hell, don’t forget the fact that there are many freshmen in the same boat as you. And a casual greeting, a smile or a hug on Sproul Plaza might just save someone from sinking into a river of hopelessness.

9. Refrain from adopting the “self-acclaimed immortality syndrome.” In other words, don’t take yourself super seriously all the time. In the process of trying to constantly prove yourself worthy of being at UC Berkeley, it’s very easy to forget that ultimately we’re all mere mortals. Recall: Your tuition fee receipt doesn’t come with a free jar of elixir as compensation. So learn to laugh off and learn from your failures rather than waste energy worrying that your stumbling will stop the world from continually tumbling.

Welcome new Bears, we hope this helps.

Contact Heeral Shivnani at [email protected].