Stay motivated: a UC Berkeley survival guide

Hopi Hernandez/Staff
Hopi Hernandez/Staff

UC Berkeley lives up to its reputation as an academically challenging school. With midterms right around the corner for some and over for others, this is a survival guide to help you ace those classes and keep your sanity. This guide includes resources and tips to help UC Berkeley students do what UC Berkeley students do best: succeed!

1. Use a calendar!

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

Have you ever forgotten a homework assignment that was due or, even worse, a paper or midterm? Have you not gone to class simply because you forgot about it? It happens to the best of us. Fortunately, having a calendar can be the solution to this very problem. Keep a planner that suits you. If you handwrite your notes, try having a physical calendar and handwriting your event. If you prefer typed notes, try having a digital planner. If you enjoy highlighting or Post-its, implement them into your calendar! Personalize it and make it yours. We suggest always keeping your calendar or a smaller version of it with you so you can always check what you have to do for the day. You can also use ScheduleBuilder and CalCentral to help organize your classes and priorities.

2. Exercise

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

You’ve probably heard this before, but exercising is good for you, and not just physically: It can also help improve your mood and brain power. What is better than brain power? Stressed out about your exam? Stretch to rid some of that built-up tension. Angry about your midterm score? Go take a kickboxing class! In a funk? Try running. Having a full-on panic attack? Cry first, then try running! Do whatever helps you feel better and gets your body moving. There are so many classes available at the Recreational Sports Facility on campus. They offer everything from abs and back to kickboxing to Zumba and yoga. For more information click here.

3. Routine

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

Having a routine might sound like a drag, but it can greatly improve your habits and increase your productivity. Try finding a routine that suits you. Some questions to ask yourself include: Are you a morning or a night person? When and where do you study best? When are where are your extracurricular activities? Build a system so you know how your day is going to play out and what to expect from it. Take advantage of your GSIs’ and professors’ office hours. Check the bus times around Berkeley and incorporate their schedule into your routine.

4. Sleep

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

Do you wake up tired in the morning? We know a lot of students who do, including ourselves. Getting an adequate amount of sleep at night can actually help you become more productive throughout the day. It is more difficult to do work when you are sleep-deprived. Doing homework can take twice as long when tired, leading to more late nights. It is usually recommended to get seven to eight hours of sleep at night, but everyone is different. We are forever envious of those who can function on only four hours every night. Find what your body needs, and try to get proper rest! Don’t be afraid to take naps on campus if you need to! Some great places include Doe Library, Main Stacks, Memorial Glade and North Field.

5. Save partying for after midterms/papers

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

There are always events and socials going on at UC Berkeley. Just because you miss an awesome party tonight doesn’t mean there won’t be more later on! The phrase “work hard, play hard” applies here. You can always celebrate after your midterms! Go dance with friends. Go to a concert, such as the Ed Sheeran concert Dec. 4 in San Francisco. Reward yourself for your hard work. Some students go get piercings or tattoos after they complete a grueling midterm. If you want something less extreme, go get a henna tattoo from one of the vendors off Telegraph Avenue. Buy a sundress at Francesca’s or Crossroads Trading Co. Try the movies at Shattuck Cinema or United Artists Berkeley 7. Just make sure you indulge yourself AFTER your test.

6. Feed you soul (aka passion)

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

Academics is a big part of the life here at UC Berkeley, but it is does not have to be everything. Joining a club, picking up a new hobby, finding an internship and exploring the city are just some of the options available here. Doing what you enjoy will help keep your days busy and fun and will let you make new friends. If you want to be a journalist, join a newspaper (pssst, The Daily Californian). Do you want a career in teaching? Find a mentorship club whose members teach children in the city. Is your hobby dancing? Go join one of the many dance clubs on campus, such as MainStacks and AFX. There are so many opportunities available at UC Berkeley, so go out and fly!

7. Learn to say no

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Hopi Hernandez/Staff

Unfortunately, you can’t join everything at UC Berkeley. Stretching yourself too thin is very possible. There are so many amazing opportunities here, but unfortunately, no one can take them all. It starts when your roommate asks you to go to his or her archery club. You say yes. Then, a stranger in the archery club asks you to come to her business club. It sounds cool, and you decide to join. Then, you find out there is a Harry Potter DeCal! OMG — you love Harry Potter, so of course you join. One week later, you’ve joined seven clubs, have picked up a new hobby and have separate study groups. You give it one more week and finally crash. After 10 calls to mom or your therapist, you start to cry and realize you can’t do everything. We’ve been there and it’s OK to say no. (By the way, these are all real clubs here at UC Berkeley! Click on them and it will link you to a site for more information — just try not to  join them all!)

8. Have fun

Hopi Hernandez/Staff

Hopi Hernandez/Staff

No matter what happens this semester, remember that you are amazing. Remember that it was YOU who got into UC Berkeley. Be great, do great things and have fun!

Contact Hopi Hernandez at [email protected].