5 things I’m doing differently this semester

Illustration of different people with different occupations walking through a cheery city
Genesis Cruz/File

Related Posts

My biggest goal last semester was adjusting to life at UC Berkeley. Having lived abroad my entire life, I had no idea what to expect from college, nor did I know how to navigate living alone in a new city all by myself. I was so consumed with figuring out the structure of college classes, finding friends and navigating this city that I didn’t have the time or the ability to be the very best version of myself.

Unfortunately, this past week at UC Berkeley has still been a period of confusing schedules and messy routines for me. However, I’ve been reflecting on the personal and academic changes that I’d like to implement into the semester, and I’m determined to accomplish my top five goals.

Say “yes” to the people of Sproul Plaza

It’s become a natural instinct to put on my headphones, shove my hands into my pockets and look directly at the ground in order to avoid contact with people tabling on Sproul Plaza. Through the process of developing this response, I’ve forgotten that the people I’m trying my hardest to avoid are just there to advertise their work. I tell myself I want to make the most of the countless social opportunities I’ve been offered at UC Berkeley, and yet I find myself dodging them every single time. The next time someone hands me a flyer and asks me if I’m interested in attending an orchestra concert this weekend, I’ll say yes. The next time someone asks me if I want to try their new meal replacement formula — let’s not kid ourselves — to that I will continue to say no. 

Get over my fear of office hours

One of the most consistent pieces of advice I’ve received in my first semester was to attend office hours, but the crazy and somewhat embarrassing truth is that I don’t even know what office hours are. I spent my first semester merely imagining what going to my professors’ office hours would look like. I feared that if I didn’t have any questions about the course content, they would end up asking me too many questions, ultimately putting me on the spot. This semester, I’m forcing myself to go to every single one of my professors’ office hours from the get-go to conquer this fear.

Explore more cities beyond Berkeley

I spent the majority of my first semester getting to know Berkeley itself. One of the most exciting parts about moving away for college was getting the chance to live near San Francisco, yet I’ve seen very little of it. This semester, I want to explore and make the most of where I am, even if it means being a tourist.

Make my dorm more livable

Let me set the record straight: I pretty much hate living in my dorm. It’s small; it gets hot during the day; there’s no space for any of my things; I don’t have any privacy. Don’t get me wrong: I love the people around me, but I hate the living space. I spend very little time in the room, and I make minimal efforts in making it a comfortable space. This semester, I want to abandon those negative thoughts and messy habits that had me trapped last semester. Maybe I’ll even put effort into personalizing my room a little.

Start a steady workout routine

As if finding time to exercise isn’t hard enough in college, I can never find the space for it either. As I said, I live in a small dorm, and I get quite intimidated by the idea of gyms. I love yoga and stretching, but I don’t exactly fancy being observed while I do a downward-facing dog on Memorial Glade. This semester, I’ll look for a more low-key yoga club, or maybe I’ll try out a workout class at the Recreational Sports Facility. 

I’m excited to tackle these goals, and I’m feeling optimistic about this semester. Here’s to making it a good one!

Contact Salma Sarkis at [email protected].