How to find your community at UC Berkeley

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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One foot in, and it was already hard to breathe. Struggling to find space in the overcrowded Sproul Plaza, the fast-paced atmosphere was palpable. The overwhelming number of people and fliers may make it difficult to get a true snapshot of Berkeley, but it is a great way to be exposed to all the facets of Cal. Most prospective freshmen who went through the ordeal of Cal Day were more excited to explore the nearly 1,500 clubs on campus.

“The beauty of the Cal student life is that it engages various ethnic groups, various political, economic and social interests,” said freshman Rushil Surapaneni. “Clubs and organizations on campus focus on different majors and help you grow in terms of academic and professional career.”

Finding the balance between academics and activities is one of the biggest concerns for Cal students. As fun as being involved on campus may be, it is vital to ensure that classes are always the No. 1 priority.

Regardless of the toll they may take and the attention they require, clubs are often the best way to find your Berkeley community. It is very easy to get swallowed up in a school of 35,000 students. Joining organizations, however, creates a smaller environment of like-minded people. It is often through these groups and organizations that friendships are formed and helpful skills are developed.

“Finding clubs was really overwhelming, but what’s really great about it is that there are so many opportunities,” said junior Palwasha Khatri. “You can always find people who are into the same things you are, and it makes the campus seem so much smaller than it actually is.”

As Khatri mentioned, taking the first step of getting involved is usually the most challenging. Because of the overwhelming number of clubs and information, it may be hard to know how to begin. But there are ways to overcome the stress of seeing booth after booth and receiving flier after flier. Although Cal Day is a great way to see the different clubs on campus, it would be most beneficial to come in confident about what interests you want to pursue at Berkeley.

“What’s really important is to make sure you know what you want out of a club — if you want something that’s related to your major, or if you want something cultural, or something completely new,” Khatri said. “That way, it becomes easier to see if it’s what you want, and it’s easier to narrow your choices.”

But don’t worry, if you haven’t figured out what you want to do yet, it’s never too late to join clubs or organizations. Cal Day isn’t the only opportunity to join clubs. Most clubs are always eager to get new-student involvement and may accept students throughout the semester. The key would be to contact the officers, explain why you’re interested in joining and ask them how you can get involved.

Regardless of when you join, clubs are a great way to meet new people and show your spirit. Those who have joined clubs often find it difficult to leave, whether it’s because of the people they meet or the skills they build. And students who don’t see an existing club that meets their needs, or if they have a better idea, can make their own. With so many different clubs, it would be difficult not to find something that interested you. Whether the organization is career driven or interest driven, clubs are a guaranteed way to find a group of passionate, like-minded individuals who may become your new Berkeley community.

Contact Ilaf Esuf at [email protected]