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No One Looking Over Your Shoulder

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AUGUST 17, 2011

No longer having parents looming over your shoulder is both liberating and terrifying.  All of a sudden, you are responsible for everything that you do.

You are also away from prying eyes.

For perhaps the first time, your parents don’t know everything about your medical care.  Sexual health tends to get swept under the rug in order to avoid parental scrutiny.  It is time to air it out:  teenage STD rates are terrifying.

If you have had sex, go to the Tang Center — that big orange-and-teal building on Bancroft — and get an STD test.

If you don’t have SHIP insurance, the Berkeley Free Clinic on Durant, not far from the Tang Center, has free testing on Saturdays for women, Sundays for men.

While you’re in the area, go to the Tang Center and pick up some condoms. Even if you aren’t having sex, head over and pick up some condoms.

At $2 for 10, they are cheap enough and last long enough that that they are worth having.  Be prepared for your (or your friend’s) late-night drunken decisions.  Having condoms can mean making bad choices with fewer consequences.

Unfortunately, the responsibilities of college don’t begin and end at sexual health.  There are other ways that you need to start taking care of yourself.

With a meal plan, food is abundant; and with UC Berkeley, stress is abundant as well.  The two combine to create the perfect environment for the Freshman 15.

Luckily, UC Berkeley offers resources to deal with the stress and the overeating it causes.

The Student Learning Center offers study groups led by knowledgeable facilitators for many of the basic general education requirements.  Find the study groups for your classes, and start going before the class seems overwhelming.

Prevention is easier than recovery.

Your college classes will not be easy even if high school was a breeze.  The Study Strategies class can help with the adjustment.  Learning how to deal with the sharp increase in difficulty and expectations makes everything much easier.

The SLC also offers drop-in tutoring for writing, so you can get help on papers. Knowing what professors expect is half the battle in getting a good grade.

Once you have a list of the study sessions that you want to check out, it is time to look into the second part of the two-pronged plan to defeat stress and the Freshman 15: the Recreational Sports Facility.

As someone who deeply resents exercise for being so damn helpful, I sympathise with resistance to gym-going.  But an hour at the gym can make everything seem more manageable.

Luckily, the RSF offers more than just treadmills and free weights.

It costs students only $10 a semester to join, and membership gets you access to the facilities and an extensive list of exercise classes.  Whether you want to wind down with yoga, sweat it out with cardio kickboxing, or boogie down with dance classes, the RSF has you covered.

If none of the classes tickle your fancy, there are also sport clubs.  From the traditional (basketball, soccer, baseball) to the little more esoteric (ballroom dancing, squash, table tennis), there is enough variety that anyone can find something he or she likes.

Being away from the parents means that you are now the only one looking out for your health.  Offset the upswing in alcohol consumption by utilizing the resources that can help.

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AUGUST 17, 2011