Lessons learned from a summer in Berkeley

Carli Baker/Senior Staff

When I enrolled in summer classes last spring, I dreaded having to spend another three months on campus while my friends traveled or started new internships and jobs. And when the first day of summer session A rolled around, I dragged my feet as I walked to campus, frustrated that I had to spend the next few months in Dwinelle Hall during the sunniest time of year. 

But as summer classes began, I soon found that UC Berkeley in the summer was exactly the college environment I had daydreamed about back in high school. Not only were the buses empty, they ran on time. Not only were the lines at Caffè Strada only two people long, there were empty seats inside too. And not only was campus easier to navigate with thousands of students absent, the rowdy squirrels seemed to go home for the summer too.

Luxuries aside, summertime also taught me a lot about UC Berkeley. And as fall classes begin again, I hope to take the following lessons into my remaining time as a student here.

Professors are real people

Taking classes in the summer is ideal for no one — especially professors. And if anyone wants to be lounging on the beach instead of sitting in a stuffy lecture hall more than you, it’s the professor. This summer, not only were my classes canceled often, but they always ended early. And at the end of the session, forget the inspirational final day of class “you’ll do wonderful things” speech — instead, the professor was the first person out of the lecture hall doors. So if taking classes taught me one thing this summer, it’s that professors are real people too.

People in your classes want to be friends

Maybe it had something to do with having three hours of class with the same people, five days a week. Or maybe it was the communally accepted dread of sitting inside a classroom while the sun shines outside. But this summer, instead of remaining strangers with my classmates for 15 weeks, we became a group of friends. And if that taught me anything about other students, it’s that my classmates are always worth getting to know, regardless of which semester it may be. 

It’s important to take more time for yourself

Finding the motivation to study for summer classes was difficult, especially because I was no longer surrounded by the overbearing study culture we all know in the fall and spring semesters. So instead, this summer I learned that it’s OK to not study all the time. Throughout the summer, I found myself saying yes to seeing friends and skipping study sessions more than I usually do. And as a result, I found myself feeling less stressed and more inclined to study when I actually needed to.  

We are lucky to call Berkeley home

I probably already knew this, but if summer in Berkeley solidified anything for me, it’s that we are lucky to call this colorful and thriving community of Berkeley our home — whether it’s the sparkling street of College Avenue or vendor-filled, stereo-booming Telegraph Avenue. And from the grassy hills that radiate at sunset to the grandiose campus filled with passionate and unique minds — Berkeley is special. And maybe it took a few weeks of reluctantly dragging my feet to Dwinelle Hall this summer to remember just that. 


Emily Denny is the blog editor. Contact Emily Denny at [email protected].