100 things we at the Clog wish we knew as incoming students

Michael Drummond/Staff
Michael Drummond/File
Michael Drummond/Staff

You’ve just gotten into the No. 1 public university in the world, and it feels like just yesterday that we at the Clog found out the exact same exciting news. Here’s a list of things we wish knew upon stepping foot on campus as wide-eyed freshmen; we hope you take them to heart. You’re in for one hell of an experience!

  1. It’s completely OK not to know what major you want to pursue.
  2. You don’t have to know exactly what career path you’re going to follow after college.
  3. Your only friends don’t have to be your freshman year roommates.
  4. It’s normal if there are days when you just feeling like crawling up in a corner and crying.
  5. You’re not weird if you choose not to drink; your freshman year will still be lit, we promise.
  6. And you’re not weird if you like to drink!
  7. Some people (in fact, a lot of people) don’t find their soul mates as undergrads.
  8. Join a club focused on something outside of your comfort zone.
  9. Don’t leave everything on your college bucket list to your senior year — go out and start exploring as soon as you start school.
  10. It’s worth waking up early to skip the omelet lines at the dining halls.
  11. AC Transit is a cost-efficient way to get around the city that you should take advantage of. Don’t lose your bus card!
  12. Don’t just explore San Francisco, but also explore as many of Berkeley’s neighboring cities as you can.
  13. Taking a physical education class pass/no pass is an awesome way to be motivated to stay in shape during college.
  14. Separating school from friends is a great way to stay on track — visit libraries and find your favorite.
  15. Invest in an umbrella, rain jacket and rain boots, if possible.
  16. Go to office hours! Attending office hours with your professors and graduate student instructors may not be necessary to do well in a course, but it may make you feel more comfortable about the course at hand.
  17. The friends you make freshman year may not necessarily be your friends for the rest of college.
  18. You’ll inevitably feel homesick at many points and that’s totally OK.
  19. Campus organizations are ready for awkward newcomers. Join a club and get to know people!
  20. Phase I and Phase II of enrollment are important. Pay attention to your exact date and time to add classes, because a lot of them fill up fast. And we mean fast.
  21. The Clark Kerr dining hall doesn’t have people serving the food in the morning on weekdays — take advantage of this and stock up your plate.
  22. Meal points can be used for food that isn’t dining hall food at some places on campus — buy fruits and snacks at Bear Market to stock up your room.
  23. There are a variety of one-unit classes (seminars, Berkeley Connect, DeCals) that you can take to fulfill your minimum units. Find something you’re interested in trying out!
  24. You can drop classes the first few weeks of the semester without it being too big a deal (besides the cost of books, of course).
  25. 8 a.m. classes are a lot harder in college.
  26. Clubs are pretty competitive here, so don’t get too stressed if you don’t get into the first one you apply to! Just keep trying — there’s a place for you here.
  27. If you’re into sports (or even if you aren’t), consider creating or joining an intramural team with floormates or study partners. It is a great way to stay active and meet people.
  28. Don’t put so much stress on keeping your friendships at home the same — it’s OK if you don’t talk every day.
  29. Facebook is a really big thing here (we have the most popular memes page), so expect that. Maybe make one if you don’t already have one.
  30. Become friends with the lovely people who work at Caffe Strada. You’ll probably see them every single day for the next four years.
  31. Comparing yourself to others is a complete waste of time and energy; focus on your own work.
  32. Bring Tupperwares to Crossroads and stock your minifridge with all the chicken nuggets and pizza that your heart desires.
  33. Educational Opportunity Program is a great resource for low-income/first-generation students — get on its email list ASAP!
  34. No, it isn’t unusual to have so much alone time in the beginning. While it feels bad now, you will come to cherish your quiet moments of solitude on campus.
  35. Even though it may not look like it, nearly everyone will go through the same feelings of inadequacy, stress and homesickness in their first year.
  36. Clark Kerr brunch is lit.
  37. Some people are really intense, and don’t let that make you feel that you need to be doing more. Do as much as you can, but don’t overexert yourself. Your mental health will thank you!
  38. Take advantage of all the events on campus, especially the free ones!
  39. Carry an umbrella with you at all times, especially between November and March. You really don’t know when it’ll just start to rain.
  40. Eating alone is not weird.
  41. Utilize breadth requirement courses to explore different fields of study.
  42. Layer up! If you’re not familiar with Bay Area weather, always carry a jacket in your backpack. You never know when the weather will turn and get cold.
  43. Buy the wraps at The Den. You’ll miss them when you move out of the dorms! (P.S. the best order is the spinach wrap with chicken, parmesan, garlic aioli, spinach and avocado.)
  44. There are more libraries than Moffitt’s fourth floor.
  45. If you choose not to stay in campus housing after your freshman year, start your housing search early! Finding an affordable and comfortable place in Berkeley is really difficult.
  46. You get several free counseling sessions with a school therapist each semester. Whether you’ve been in therapy before or not, this is an awesome resource for your first semester and every semester after that.
  47. There is no need to overexert yourself your first semester with a full course load and a million activities. That said, if you are passionate about something or were involved in a certain group in high school (e.g. theater, art classes, sports, mock trial, journalism) don’t be afraid to jump in your first semester!
  48. Don’t be afraid to talk to people in class. Your peers become some of your greatest resources and study buddies. This is a competitive school, but people want to help you.
  49. It’s not horrible if you aren’t besties with your roommates! Living with someone and being friends with someone are totally separate.
  50. Don’t be embarrassed about making an effort to be friends with people, especially those on your floor. (Literally, knock on all of their doors and ask to go get boba or dinner — floor friends are fun!)
  51. Each semester, the ASUC art studio offers some really amazing art classes in a number of mediums that are truly exceptional. They fill up quickly, but “Unwind at the Wheel” is a dope class (and it’s BYOB)!
  52. Don’t buy a bike.
  53. For textbooks, look on Free and For Sale first and then other online websites (Chegg, Amazon, etc.) for cheaper options.
  54. Frats are kinda gross, so you aren’t abnormal if you don’t like them. Smaller house/apartment parties thrown by your friends are way more fun.
  55. You won’t get much work done in your floor’s lounge.
  56. Try Brown’s, a cafe on campus. It takes meal points! You won’t regret it.
  57. You don’t have to like boba to go to school here.
  58. Don’t be scared to use the resources at the Tang Center. Make a counseling appointment before you think you need it; appointments fill up fast, and it’s nice to know who you can go to when you need something.
  59. Getting a B or C in a class isn’t the end of the world. Don’t stress.
  60. If you realize a class is super overwhelming and you’ve missed the drop deadline, it’s OK: Everyone gets one free late drop without ramifications during their academic career.
  61. Force yourself to take a “fun” class every semester — not for grades or your major, just for you.
  62. Make sure you take Astronomy C10 with professor Alex Filippenko before you miss your chance.
  63. There’s a cafe in Dwinelle Hall!
  64. Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive is free for all students.
  65. There’s always going to be one person that’s smarter than you in each of your classes. That’s OK. Learn from them.
  66. Oski is actually the best.
  67. Don’t step on the seal.
  68. UC Berkeley is stressful and competitive, but your mental health is important. Skipping that lecture because you need a break won’t tank your grade.
  69. The Den sells Noah’s Bagels in the mornings! They are toasted and you can add cream cheese, avocado, etc.
  70. Cafe 3 is a vegetarian’s dream.  
  71. Some colleges have puppies as destressors — we have alpacas!
  72. We have puppies too!
  73. You can use your meal points to purchase your favorite drinks at Peet’s.
  74. Dead week is great. Utilize it!
  75. The dorms have heaters! You’ll definitely be using them in the winter.
  76. Spending money on going out to eat with your friends really adds up, so set limits on yourself, or else you might end up overdrafting your checking account.
  77. Everyone has a different definition of a fun Friday night, so don’t feel bad if your ideal weekend kickoff is not the same as others.
  78. Take time to be thankful you’re at UC Berkeley. 
  79. Adults are always cracked out on how college is the “best time of your life,” but don’t worry if you aren’t having a blast 24/7 or if you feel that it isn’t the best time of your life.
  80. Find a job if you can! Having a little extra spending money for 2 a.m. burrito runs is key.
  81. Journal as much as you can during these four years.
  82. Drop-in advising is an absolute game-changer. Spots fill up quickly, so get there early!
  83. The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, or URAP, is a great way of finding research positions in various fields of study! Even if you don’t get URAP, you can always send an email to professors asking if they have any opportunities available. It’s always worth a shot!
  84. The best way to make it out of Sproul without being bothered is by putting your headphones in your ears, your hands in your pockets and your eyes on the ground. You’ll thank us later.
  85. Never underestimate the power of a study playlist.
  86. Sometimes it feels like everybody knows what they’re doing but you. They don’t.
  87. Chilling on the Glade and taking a step back from reality is one of the most peaceful experiences. Take advantage of it.
  88. Don’t try to catch up on your schoolwork before having fun. Chances are you’ll always feel a little behind, and that’s OK. You still deserve to give yourself breaks even while you still have things to get done.
  89. Ask upperclassmen for class recommendations! Look into the Letters & Science Discovery courses and try to find classes that sound really interesting to you, not just classes you’ll need for your prerequisites.
  90. Freshman year is a huge adjustment period, and it may feel like a really unstable time in your life. Friends will change, your passions will change, and you may be constantly questioning your career path. That’s OK!
  91. It’s OK to ask for help.
  92. Try to focus less on achieving a good grade and more on the learning process. You will have amazing professors, and it’s a missed opportunity if you aren’t taking your classes seriously.
  93. The coffee shop in the School of Information is a dank spot.
  94. You will be surprised at the number of times you will trip — in every sense of the word.
  95. Take at least one coding class. It’s part of the Berkeley experience at this point. 
  96. You’re the most amazing person we’ve ever met for getting this far in the list.
  97. If you ever feel lonely, just shout out to your squirrel friends.
  98. If you take that coding class, particularly Computer Science 61A, take it with John DeNero. Please.
  99. Berkeley has amazing hiking trails with amazing views. Make sure you actually go on the Big C hike and sit on the swing.
  100. You’ll do great, and we believe in you so, so much! Go Bears!!

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