On Feb. 12, 2013, I Instagrammed a poorly filtered picture of Doe Library and the Campanile with the caption “#home.” I know this for two reasons: One, because I am a Millennial who is far too aware of her presence on social media, and two, because I think I’ll always remember the feeling I had when I took that picture more than three years ago.
I had just finished my first shift as a copy editor at The Daily Californian, and walking back to my room in Priestley (and making sure not to step on that seal by Memorial Glade, I stopped and looked at the library and felt, really for the first time at UC Berkeley, that I was home.
I felt like I had a purpose and as though I had accomplished something beyond just showing up for a discussion section or hanging around my floor’s lounge — never mind the fact that what I had “accomplished” was scooting around a few commas that my editors would later scoot back. I had contributed to something and stepped out of my comfort zone — and it made me feel at home.
When I first committed to UC Berkeley, I was still on the waitlist for schools I wanted to go to more, and as dumb as it sounds, I submitted my intent to register expecting to rescind it soon after. Berkeley was too big and too close to where I grew up to possibly be where I would spend “my college years.” Excited for college but not too much for Berkeley itself, I was lacking all sorts of freshman-year emotions. Outwardly, I was having fun (and learning things) and living the college experience. But at the same time, I was questioning my place, how I fit in, if I would ever feel the way toward my college that people had always told me I should.
I spent a lot of that first year wondering what my life would have been like elsewhere, just like I’ve spent a lot of time throughout the years wondering what my life would have been like if I had taken a different class or gotten into a different extracurricular or studied abroad in a different place. But what has shocked me the most throughout my relatively short time on this earth is how few plans will work out the way you intended — but that’s usually because you weren’t all that aware of what you needed. Four years ago, I was trying to think of ways to get out of going here, and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Just like the way I walked home from the first night at the Daily Cal, I’ve walked around this campus countless times and made little pockets of it my home. The shady spot on Memorial Glade where I saw the lyrics to my favorite song on a Post-It attached to my friend’s laptop and we realized we had both been listening to it on repeat; the counter at Caffe Strada where I ordered too many blueberry muffins because they’re just that damn delicious; the hallways of Dwinelle Hall that I walked around for what seemed like days looking for my adviser’s office so I could get her to sign off on my study abroad courses.
And now that I’m faced with the reality that I can’t exist in this little bubble forever, that in a matter of weeks I’ll be across the country in God-knows-what sketchy Craigslist sublet in a city I know relatively nothing about, I’m coming to terms with the fact that all these tiny spots, all the little memories, are exactly what have made Berkeley a home for me. And I’m coming to terms with the fact that my biggest challenge moving forward, more than grad school applications or job searches, will be making where I am feel like home. But I’ve got a head start on it this time, because even though I may not always know exactly where home will be or what it will look like, I’ll always know what it should feel like.
It’ll feel like tea time with my roommate as we freak out about finding our first apartment, it’ll feel like the back porch at Benvenue as the sun goes down and the string lights above us gets brighter against the sky, like Photobooth selfies as the third hour of Senior Editorial Board discussion continues on without us, like Morrison Reading Room and like that first night walking back from the Daily Cal and feeling as if I had carved out my own little place on this campus. Home will feel like Berkeley.
Simone was the spring and fall 2014 night editor and the 2015-16 staff representative. She joined in spring 2013 as a copy editor. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history.