Choosing UC Berkeley

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I initially didn’t want to come to UC Berkeley.

It’s surprising for me to admit that truth following the last four months of calling this campus my home. Yet, after an exhausting, harsh application season I had secretly hoped that UC Berkeley would not be the outcome.

I had originally attended a respected, private university in New York. Though I loved it, I decided to leave suddenly because of the massive costs of attendance. It was a devastating choice to abruptly leave a place I had made my home. I was given no warnings, no closure, no goodbyes. I felt as though I was ripped from a life I had dedicated so much time and passion to, and was just left adrift for the next year to find a new home at another university, if any other would take me in.

After leaving New York, I returned to my hometown in the Bay Area — a place I was grateful for, but longed to leave again.

So, when I applied to transfer to UC Berkeley, I didn’t do so eagerly. Although I didn’t believe I would be accepted, I knew I should apply for the practical reasons — close to my family, immensely cheaper and a renowned institution.

It wasn’t that I dreaded attending UC Berkeley, but I couldn’t ignore my urge to be back in the East Coast,  hopefully, getting as close to my old life as I could.

Following a relentless stream of rejections, I was certain I would not get in. I became helpless from the idea that I would have nowhere to go and perhaps, I deserved that — continuing my year of heartbreak and disappointment.

On the last day of admission notifications, I desensitized myself to further rejection, mindlessly opening UC Berkeley’s admissions decision letter. Even as the digital confetti of acceptance showered down on my computer screen, I couldn’t fully grasp that my long year of sadness and setbacks could be over.

Sure, it wasn’t my first choice, but UC Berkeley provided me with an assurance of stability and a opportunity to learn again.

As friends and family congratulated me on being accepted, I was proud to say I would attend, but my uncertainty if I would love it as much as I loved my old school remained.

That uncertainty lingered for some time after, and I can’t quite pinpoint when it completely disappeared, but it had by the time fall semester began.

Perhaps it was before I had even begun school when I visited campus, with bands of professors, staff and students speaking to me as though I already was a part of their school. Or after walking through Berkeley and seeing nearly every home parade signs of, “Refugees Welcome Here,” “Black Lives Matter” or “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate.” Or living in a house that welcomes a colorful array of different students and bubbles with activity every night. Or the free flow of ideas and discussion in classes that focus on global poverty, social equality and honest politics. Or merely walking through campus and realizing that I am part of a cohesive community erupting with insight, intellect and innovation.

Despite the immensity of Berkeley, I have been overwhelmed by how this school is persistent in being a unified community — one that is intricate, but exhilarating and nearly tangible as I walk across the Campanile each morning.

It is experiencing all of these incredible facets of that makes it difficult for me to quite believe that I had endured a great period of misery when now, I burst of sheer elation and gratitude of being here my home.

Contact Katrina Fadrilan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @katfadrilanDC.

Contact Katrina Fadrilan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @katfadrilanDC.