If you’re an incoming freshman, then this is probably an exciting time for you. It will be a time for a lot of firsts. And it can be intimidating to be in a new environment and be expected to make friends and settle in while juggling classes at the same time. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you transition a little faster, so that Berkeley starts feeling like the place you belong.
Don’t be too dependent on Google Maps. It’s totally acceptable at first to use it to help you find your way to class and around in general. But after the first few times, try to resist the urge to look at a map right away when you feel like you don’t know where to turn next. This way, you’ll get used to the campus a lot faster because you’re forcing your brain to figure out where things are without help. On top of that, try to find slightly different routes to class every time — it’ll all come together a lot faster this way.
Try to eat out, at least on the weekends. A place starts feeling more like home the more you explore and know your way around, and a great way to cultivate that feeling is by checking out the restaurants. In the first few weeks, try to spread out as much as you can so you don’t miss any potential favorites. It’s usually the case that as the weeks go on, you’ll start frequenting a handful of places. So you want to try and have as much variety in your bag before you pick those final favorites. It’s also a good excuse to get some distance from the dining hall food.
At least until you’ve found a constant group of friends, go to all the events that your Resident Advisor set up. Your RA will probably set up social events so that people can meet each other. Take advantage and talk to different people until you’ve found someone that you just click with. And don’t worry if in the first two weeks or so, you still feel like you haven’t met a perfect group of friends. It’s often the case that you start settling in after that. And some of the friends you make will be in completely unexpected ways, so be open to that.
A great way of making friends is over food. Even if you don’t have anyone to sit with when you walk into a dining hall, make it a point to sit next to someone. It could be a large group of people who all look like they’ve just met each other moments ago. Or if you see someone else that also looks like a lonely freshman, ask if you can sit with them and introduce yourself.
With so many students, it’s easy to meet someone, have a great conversation and then never see them again. If you want to spend more time with someone, you’re going to have to make an active effort into meeting up with them, especially if they don’t live in the same dorm or take any of the same classes as you.
Basically, the bottom line is: interact with your environment as much as possible. The more you jump into what’s going on around you, the more quickly and easily you will be able to transition. And since everyone isn’t the same, don’t worry if some people adapt more quickly than you. Also remember that it’s OK if you make mistakes or act clueless in the beginning. You’re not expected to know where the dish room is or where to throw your trash away in the dining halls. These are all little things you figure out as you go. And a few silly hiccups are no big deal, so don’t dwell over them.
Make the most of your beginnings as a Cal Bear and just have fun with it!
Contact Zeyana Musthafa at [email protected].