I spent just about my entire childhood in San Jose — minus the first four years of my life that I lived in the Netherlands — so naturally, it feels like I’ve just about nearly seen and done everything there is to see and do in the Bay Area.
I know that isn’t literally possible since there’s probably more things to do and see in the Bay Area than there have been days in my young adult life. But still, the list is getting significantly shorter and shorter by the day. Which begs the question: How on Earth was I supposed to make the few years I had at UC Berkeley feel like a new experience when I wasn’t really entering a new environment?
After all, I’m quite literally only a one hour drive away from home.
Granted, I had not done everything there is to do in Berkeley, but that list grew small fairly quickly as well. Berkeley is fairly small: You can only eat out at the same restaurants or go hear the same live music so many nights before it starts to feel repetitive.
However, that is exactly where the problem to my question lies: newness.
We tend to focus so much on needing new experiences when we enter college — a new city to explore, a new home to decorate, finding new sights to see and checking off all the new foods and restaurants we absolutely need to try.
By putting so much pressure on discovering new things, we tend to forget what exactly makes these experiences feel so exciting and special in the first place: the people we have these experiences with!
Sure, I’ve been to Santa Cruz so many times I’ve just about explored all the beaches, I’ve visited the museums, parks and restaurants in San Francisco more times than I can count and I’ve seen the views from the tops of almost all the Bay Area mountain ranges.
But, that was all before college. I had not done these things with the new friends I made at UC Berkeley. While these places may not be new to me, to many of my friends who are not Bay Area locals, they are entirely new and exciting.
Seeing the genuine expressions of wonder on their faces as they see the sights I grew up surrounded by makes me experience these places as if they are new all over again. Their excitement is honestly infectious and brings back those feelings of childlike joy I had felt the very first time I saw these places.
Which brings us to our answer: Don’t prioritize the new, prioritize your friends.
The people you choose to have these experiences with — whether they are new or not — make all the difference in enjoying your college years. So, even if you’re going to a place you’ve already been to what feels like a million times, take in the glowing smiles on your friends’ faces and the excited energy they are radiating outwards.
Trust me, when you see the expressions on their faces, it’s hard not to be overcome with the same feelings of joy and fascination. Their excited reactions make me look at these places with a renewed sense of appreciation and I could not be more grateful for it — after all, the Bay Area is a beautiful place to call home.
That’s actually why I’ve learned to enjoy being a Bay Area local in Berkeley so much. I absolutely love having the privilege of bringing my friends to all the places I grew up frequenting and showing off all the absolutely amazing things we have to offer.
So, moral of the story, if you ever feel yourself getting down about not moving to a new environment for college, take your friends to all of the places you adore about home. The location may not be new, but the memories you make with your friends definitely will be!
If anything, it’s amazing to look back at all the pictures you have at one location over the years, from childhood to adulthood, and see how much you’ve grown as a person since in each one.