After countless hours dedicated to dorm furniture shopping, rewatching Animal House, figuring out and yelling at Telebears, tearful goodbyes with your hometown friends and family, and buying a ridiculous number of Cal t-shirts and hoodies, you’ve finally made it to Berkeley. You’re a college student now! Little did you know that living in a dorm with co-ed bathrooms or being on a campus with 36,000 students could be overwhelming. Do not fret! Here’s a simple guide to help you survive your first weeks and first year in college.
1. Take all different types of courses.
Your parents may have attempted to brainwash you to be pre-med or pre-law, but this is your first year – you have time to explore and find out what you’re truly interested in. You might find out that you’re passionate about something that you have never thought of before. For example, you could learn about the effects of drugs on the brain with Professor Presti or study public policy with Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor. With professors on campus who are leaders in their field, including 9 Nobel Prize winners, there are a countless number of opportunities to learn from the best of the best.
2. Don’t be afraid of your GSIs and Professors.
GSIs and professors don’t bite, I swear. If you have a question or need help in your courses, go to office hours and talk it out. They want you to succeed. Most professors hate sitting in office hours doing nothing and feeling lonely. Going to office hours is also a good way to get to know your professors and to rack up some of those critical participation points.
3. Join clubs and be open to making new friends.
I know your high school friends are awesome, but there are some pretty awesome people in college too. Joining clubs and other student organizations during your freshman year can create a smaller environment that makes it easier to meet people. From swing dancing to improv comedy to business fraternities, Berkeley has it all! In class and on campus, be open to meeting all different types of people: jocks, nerds, hipsters, athletes, etc. This is an opportunity to branch out and meet people that you may not have talked to in high school. You never know, you may become besties with the next Mark Zuckerberg or Nathan Adrian.
Check out Cal’s student organizations here: http://students.berkeley.edu/osl/studentgroups/public/index.asp
4. Go to sporting events!
This is Cal, the home of 17 London Olympic medalists! Don’t just sit in your room and watch Hulu all day. Football, basketball, swimming, rugby, lacrosse – Berkeley has everything. Maybe you’ve never cared for, nor understood football. Well, you should still go to a Cal football game! Trust me, game days are crazy fun and will probably cause you to start bleeding blue and gold by the end of the day. There’s nothing like singing the Cal fight song with your fellow Golden Bears.
5. Work hard, play hard.
College is fun, but don’t forget you have to get some schoolwork done before going out to party. College is all about balancing your social life and schoolwork. It’s important to get into a study routine to make sure you don’t fall behind in class. Utilize Berkeley’s 32 libraries or use the study room in your dorm (I recommend the tables in the East Asian library next to the windows.) If you’re not much of a library person and you want to explore Berkeley, you can find a cozy study spot at your local cafe. Once you get into the habit of getting work done, you’ll have tons of time to go on adventures and have gratuitous amounts fun!
Freshman year can be one of the most exciting/terrifying years of your life. Go out and take advantage of the opportunities that surround you and I promise you won’t regret it!