The Cal Student Orientation is your first impression of the incredible smarts and urban eccentricity that is Berkeley. We at the Clog sure haven’t forgotten our own CalSO experiences. If you’ve already had your CalSO years and years ago, we hope you’ll find something you can relate to in our stories, and if you’re a new freshman admit, we hope you’ll learn something!
Freshmen, meet Tele-BEARS.
How sweet were the days in which I had no clue what Tele-BEARS was. If only it really were an intergalactic bear floating somewhere out there in space. But it’s not. It’s your worst nightmare.
I can recall both my sense of naivety and the aching of my calves while trying to keep up with my CalSO leader heading into Tolman Hall. I had no course control numbers written on a notepad — just a bunch of classes I thought I would be interested in (a list that I would soon realize was useless). Upon finding an unoccupied computer, I sat listening to what sounded like the fast-forward Terms and Conditions in a sketchy infomercial on how to work the thing. After nodding, acknowledging, “Yes, I totally understand completely,” when we were asked if we understood their directions, I was released to attack the beast — in less than 30 minutes.
I proceeded to add and drop classes like I knew what I was doing. My heart would break a little each time I was wait-listed for a class I wanted to take that was my only option. Wasn’t college all about having the liberty to take the classes you wanted?
I didn’t have the best first Tele-BEARS experience, but I learned the importance of using ScheduleBuilder and having course control numbers and back-up plans ready. Lots of them.
— Karen Kwaning
Thank God for caffeine
It’s amazing that I was able to stay awake at all during CalSO. Because the transfer student CalSO is only one 12-hour day, I opted not to stay the night before. Plus, I didn’t want to pay to park my car overnight, because I knew that no matter what, I would be driving to Berkeley. Who knows — maybe my subconscious was telling me that although I’d never visited Unit 3, I definitely wouldn’t want to sleep there. So I woke up at 3 a.m. to drive to CalSO. Did I mention that I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight?
I made it to Berkeley just as the sun was beginning to rise — or rather, just as light was starting to poke through the overcast sky. There were hardly anyone on the streets (an image I recall on days when Telegraph is bustling). I don’t think I have ever seen Berkeley as quiet as I did that morning. I parked at Underhill right before 5 a.m., and I’m sure I was the first student to show up that morning. So I just relaxed in my car until I could head over to Unit 3 to sign in.
For the rest of the day, as many incoming Cal students will soon find out, I practically sprinted from one end of campus to another, trying to acquaint myself with as many new resources and people as I could in 12 hours. It was one of the most tiring days of my life, but that also means that I’ll never forget it.
I would like to thank caffeine — both Starbucks and Dr. Pepper — for making my CalSO experience possible.
— Jessica Rogness
Is that a … mustache?
I had a CalSO leader with a mustache … who was a girl. She was super friendly and laid back and introduced our CalSO group to the joys of falafel and vegan dining options at Cal. She got me thoroughly excited to be at a liberal-minded college after living a very conservative region of Orange County for so long.
— Liz Zarka
From SoCal to NorCal
My CalSO experience started at the Oakland Airport the night before orientation. I arrived about as wide-eyed as any suburb-slicker would; admittedly, I was a tad nervous but still eager to take on the big city (truthfully, Berkeley is quite a modestly sized city. It felt big at the time). As I strolled through the airport, I emphatically quipped “Go Bears” to an older man with a Cal sweatshirt; I saw Berkeley merchandise at a vendor’s window. Soon, I was walking with an unwarranted sense of belonging. I felt at home.
Unfortunately, all those good feelings disappeared when I arrived at BART. As a native of southern California, public transportation was never my strong suit. But in a stellar example of the pride, friendliness and ubiquity of Cal’s student body, I saw a fellow Bear wearing a Berkeley sweater. I asked her if she was en route to the school and thankfully, she said yes. I was guided through the terminals, through Center Street and right to the west side of campus. Needless to say, I was awestruck by Berkeley’s unique blend of urbanity and forest.
The next day, I woke up bright and early to get ready for orientation. As I sat in 2050 VLSB, getting my “bear”-ings, an advisor enthusiastically said, “ Even some of your classes will be taught by Nobel laureates!” The person sitting next to me casually looked down the aisle to make eye contact with his friend, turned to me, and casually said, “Yeah, his father is a Nobel laureate.” I was starstruck and a little overwhelmed. But looking back, that is Berkeley in a nutshell: Academic excellence is somehow both revered and everyday. CalSO, like Berkeley in general, is special because it prepares its students for bigger and better things.
— Griffin Mori-Tornheim
Image Source: ctsnow under Creative Commons.