Photo essay: What makes Berkeley feel like home

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Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

Current UC Berkeley students were asked about how Berkeley began to feel like home for them after they moved here for college. This is how they described settling into an unfamiliar place.

Sayi Boddu, freshman

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Photos: Daniel Ho/Staff

Before freshman Sayi Boddu arrived at UC Berkeley, he wasn’t sure how he’d fit in. But on move-in day, he immediately hit it off with his roommates and felt as if he was at home almost instantly.

During this past year on campus, Boddu found a home not only at his residence hall but also in his pre-medical fraternity, Sigma Mu Delta. For Boddu, the people whom he surrounds himself with determine whether or not he feels like he’s at home.

“The memories that we make and the fun that we have together really makes me feel welcome and makes me feel part of the community, so it feels like I’m essentially at home,” Boddu said.

Whenever Boddu has needed personal or academic advice, he has looked to his fellow fraternity brothers for guidance. He said that they have always been there for him, helping him transition into college and succeed academically. He added that this support is the greatest benefit of joining his fraternity. For incoming freshman, Boddu highly encourages students to join clubs and organizations to find what makes Berkeley home for them.

“Just try out new things and experiment,” Boddu said. “Eventually, you’ll find your group of people that you really click with and enjoy spending time with.”

Salome Ragot, freshman

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Photos: Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

First-year Salome Ragot attended high school in Berkeley, but when she arrived, she found that UC Berkeley was a whole other world compared to the city itself. When Ragot thinks of what makes UC Berkeley feel like home, Cafe Milano comes to her mind.

The café sits on Bancroft Way, directly across from campus, and it is bustling with customers who have settled down to do their work. Ragot has come here with her friends and her family — it brings back a lot of memories for her.

The first time she came to the coffee shop was with her family, after her brother had slept over in her residence hall room. In the morning, they went out for breakfast at Cafe Milano.

“We were sitting on top in the balcony and we were just looking out of the back window,” Ragot said. “It’s just a really friendly and warm memory. “

Ragot said she loves that so many different people come to work at Cafe Milano. She likes to people-watch and imagine what various people could be working on, what they could be passionate about. Both in and out of Cafe Milano, Ragot finds that being just one in a crowd makes her feel like she’s at home. She said she can just be herself because she is not restricted by how others view her.

“To be an individual and do exactly what I want to do and not have people around me have certain expectations,” Ragot said. “That’s kind of why I feel like Berkeley is a home to me.”

Vagisha Barot, senior

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Photos: Joshua Jordan/Staff

Every now and then, fourth-year Vagisha Barot likes to visit the the girls bathroom on the fourth floor of Doe Library. Attached to this small, old-style bathroom is a small balcony, where Barot likes to visit and look over California Hall, Moffitt Library and the San Francisco Bay.

“You can see the campus and see the trees and things are happening, but it’s still very quiet,” Barot said.

Barot and her friend came across this balcony when exploring Doe Library. She said for her, home is where her friends are. When she is surrounded by people who care about her, she feels at home.

She explained that it took her two years to get acclimated to Berkeley and find a circle of people whom she likes spending time with. Now, as she will graduate this May, she feels a sense of grief, leaving the people she has grown to love.

“It’s strange because it takes two years to feel comfortable, and then in two years you’re gone,” Barot said. “And then immediately again, you’re on your own, in open waters, not sure where you’re going, having to create that sense of community.”

Now as a senior, she describes graduating as bittersweet. In a sense, she is glad to feel some kind of loss in leaving, because it signifies that Berkeley meant something to her — it means that in fours years, Berkeley became her home.