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Quirks at UC Berkeley that new students learn to love

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MARCH 20, 2019

To all the newly admitted students out there — congratulations! As every admissions office will tell you, this is truly an exciting time for you, and we at the Clog couldn’t agree more. As you consider where you’ll spend the next four years of your life, we felt it was our humble duty to give you an honest depiction of life at the No. 1 public university in the world. We’ve created a list of all of the little UC Berkeley quirks that when you ultimately decide to come here (because it is obviously the correct choice) might throw you for a loop. But take it from the seasoned pros — you’ll learn to love even the wildest parts about UC Berkeley, and these little quirks are the things that make Berkeley so special.

The hills

So what’s up with (what feels like) the 1,000-feet elevation increase between Li Ka Shing and Haas? Walking through campus to get from class to class, you’ll undoubtedly notice weird dips and steep hills that feel like mountains when you’re trekking up them. Although the Berkeley hills can be irritating not to mention tiring, they’re a great way to get some exercise in (gotta fight that freshman 15 somehow), and if you know where to go, taking them on can give you some great views of the Bay.


If you’re seriously considering coming to UC Berkeley, it’s probably because you’re already someone who appreciates social action and activism. If not, all it will take is one encounter with AFSCME Local 3299 to be persuaded to join the social justice cause. To newcomers and outsiders, strikes and walkouts and sit-ins may seem like liberals going off the rails, but to students they are empowering reminders of how engaged our community is in pushing for meaningful change, not only on campus but in the world.

Berkeley Time

Berkeley Time is the weird unofficial yet official system where everything starts 10 minutes after it’s supposed to. Your 8 a.m. lecture actually starts at 8:10 a.m. and your 9:30 p.m. club meeting starts at 9:40 p.m. It can be confusing to adjust to primarily because it’s a bad look to show up 10 minutes late to everything else in life, but trust us — the 10 minutes will save your life when you’re running late in the morning or have back-to-back classes in Mulford and Kroeber.

One day, four seasons

If you’re from the Bay Area this one might not be so surprising, but to all of the out-of-state and SoCal admits out there, the weather in Berkeley can shift pretty dramatically over the course of a single day. In the morning it might be cold and cloudy. By 2 p.m. it will be warm and sunny enough to lounge on Memorial Glade for hours — that is, until the sun goes down and the temperature drops again. It might be frustrating when you’re unsure whether or not you’ll need a jacket, but you’ll master the NorCal art of layering so that you can show off your favorite sweatshirt and sundress all in the same day.

We could go on for days about the quirks that make this city and campus the best place to spend your college years. But even the things that sent us running for the (aggressively steep) hills as freshmen are the things we look back on most fondly when reflecting on our time here, and as a student here you’ll be able to find your own unique set of quirks about Berkeley to cherish.

Contact Hannah Nguyen at [email protected].

MARCH 20, 2019