The beauty of a Berkeley summer

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For some, the fact that you’re spending the summer in Berkeley is less than ideal. You find yourself thinking of how much you are missing out on back at home, but this is a chance to get to know Berkeley. Although I have lived in this city for a year before taking my first summer course, my freshman year was centered around the evil that is Chem 1A, making new friends and deciphering building locations on campus — simply put, being a freshman. However, this could be the summer when you and I both actually take advantage of what the city of Berkeley has to offer, even while taking summer classes.

Some may wonder why people would bring such woe upon themselves, but take my word: Summer classes are not so bad. Sure, courses have the ability to be even more intense than they are over the academic year, but summer allows for more focused study time considering that classes are at most a few hours a day, leaving the remainder of the time to study. Even if you take more than one class in a single summer session, your attention is targeted only to a couple of classes, not four. You might also come across some of the best professors during summer courses, making learning material at a quicker pace manageable and less painful. Material will build up quickly, but not to worry — attend the office hours that are typically held more frequently over the summer. The best part is that after a summer session of three, six, eight or 10 weeks, a course that would have typically taken a whole semester will be completed. For those who are currently taking summer courses or will in a future summer session, it is worth it.

Although summer courses can be work-intensive, there is still plenty of downtime. If you were waiting for the next somewhat-less-hectic season in your life to take on a job or research position, or both, this would be it. Last summer, I began volunteering at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland and will continue volunteering there through this summer as well. This is the chance to take that next step and get more involved in either the school or local community, especially for rising sophomores who were preoccupied with adjusting to Berkeley their freshman year and may not have gotten involved as much as they would have liked.

Of course, all this takes planning. Once you know your class schedule for the week, start filling in the empty spaces with other commitments. Do not underestimate the effort needed to do well in your summer course and book your schedule completely, but do make other commitments so you can look back on the summer and see that it was more than just a summer class.

Now, once your obligations are met, there should be extra time for some fun. Besides being able to hang out with friends more often, be creative with the way you spend your time. Meet the huge group of Irish students who seem to study here every summer and experience Berkeley with them; make your dream of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge a reality; explore downtown San Francisco; become the tourist you now have the time to become.

Put that shiny sticker that is located on your Cal 1 Card to good use, grab a friend and hop on the next bus. Maybe smaller adventures are more feasible. So, before heading into the depths of San Francisco, take a trip to Emeryville or visit the Rose Garden. Use your status as a Cal student to get into the UC Botanical Garden and the Berkeley Art Museum or wind down your Thursday evening at Off the Grid on the corner of Telegraph and Haste.

Focus on your summer courses, take time to fill out the application for that job you have been eyeing and approach that professor you admire and express your interest in his or her research. Begin your inconsistent relationship with the 51B and experience the gloriousness of Zachary’s Chicago Pizza and all the other cuisine Berkeley is known for. Summer will be as memorable as you make it, so be conscious of your time, so you can enjoy the beauty of a Berkeley summer to the fullest.

Contact Monica Mikhail at [email protected]