Berkeley’s my home through and through

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When the pandemic hit, I decided that I wanted to stay in Berkeley. When quarantine arrived, I was able to unpack and nestle into my apartment. As months went by, everything started to get into a routine within my academic, work and personal lives. Berkeley has enacted safety precautions within stores and I’m able to wear a mask and socially distance in my daily life. Trips to Target locations and taking walks around campus with my boyfriend are activities that helped us both spend time with each other and connect with the outside world. Spending time on campus has been particularly bittersweet. The campus hasn’t been the same since learning has been moved remote and mostly everyone returned to their hometowns. There were numerous reasons why I didn’t want to return home, and it wasn’t just because home would miss the breezes of fresh air, beautiful views of the ocean and Campanile bells ringing every hour. My greatest adventures since moving here have come when taking day trips to San Francisco with friends, voyaging to local coffee shops to study for my midterms, walking around campus to find the hidden gems (did you know that you can find lobsters in Strawberry Creek by the science building? Or that there are racoons that like to roam during the night?), hammocking at the Glade and reading for hours on end. There are so many memories that I have made here and there is so much history that I continue to learn.

I couldn’t go home because this is my home now and until I graduate. Even though I’m away from family and friends, the comfort of Berkeley and the little opportunities that I continue to find are enough to make me want to stay. I continue to discover myself and practice self-care here as best as I can.

I didn’t feel at home with where I lived before I came to Berkeley. I was born in Los Angeles and had to move to Fresno when I was 8 years old. Honestly, living in Fresno seriously sucked for various reasons. I was away from the home that I built in LA — where my family and friends lived, the places that I visited and adored and where most of my memories were created. When letters of college acceptances came in, I became conflicted. I badly wanted to go back home to LA, but at the same time, I wanted to take the opportunity to live and experience something new. Once I decided on UC Berkeley, I was eager to move into a new environment and make new friends and memories. I was excited to meet new people from all walks of life, where I could continue to learn and grow with their discussions. I remember moving into a Foothill quad room my first year like it was just yesterday! I was ecstatic about starting anew and I knew that I was going to find my rhythm and happiness while pursuing a degree that I am passionate about.

Honestly, the pandemic has been rough on me and has made me question everything about myself, my mental health and the people and the world around me. Some advice for incoming freshmen: Everything must seem difficult right now and the world around may feel like a place of discomfort and hatred, but just know that your feelings and needs are valid. If home life isn’t an ideal place to be right now, I advise you to come to Berkeley in the fall if you can and start becoming familiar with the campus and area, and maybe even make some friends through Zoom when classes begin. Even though this isn’t the perfect situation and everything seems to be moving fast in your life, going to Berkeley to start your journey can be a life-changing experience that you may need. Take your time and familiarize yourself with the resources that our school provides. Welcome home, Bears!

Contact Gisselle Reyes at [email protected] .