The University of California Berkeley: the number one public university in the world, Cal, California University, UCB, UC Berkeley, Berkeley. While we have a ridiculous amount of nicknames, and an even larger amount of political stigma, we seem to be a complete mystery to the rest of the world. No one really knows exactly what we do here, unless they are an alumni, and even then most of the alums are too old to have experienced UCBMFET(UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens). Berkeley is almost a mythical place in a way where we seem to have complete political freedom, as well as the complete freedom to do whatever we want in our city without any sort of repercussions. Yet, there’s this essence of something else here entirely that is very difficult to explain to those who only see our campus from the outside. Our campus is not just some sort of liberal playground for students who are just too woke to function in regular society, but instead it’s as though we’re all trapped inside this cloud of Berkeley; sometimes it is depressing, sometimes it is liberating, and sometimes it is blissful.
Cal is hard. I don’t mean that only in the academic sense, but also in the sense that the livelihood of students here is just a series of events which never seem to end. Most students begin their days early in the morning, and don’t get to settle in to bed until close to the end of the day – 8, 9, 10 pm. This is how life works at many other universities too I am; the rigorous nature really drains any bit of energy you may have for anything else other than school work and networking. If you want to get a decent GPA and have friends you better say goodbye to sleep or become some sort of superhuman – especially if you’re in a more difficult major on campus – so you can actually survive. I don’t mean that Berkeley is hard only in the same ways that other schools are difficult, there are also outside factors that lead to it having a high difficulty level. There are so many people around you who are so extremely busy that even in a school with 27,000 undergrads and 36,000 students total the competitive atmosphere of certain majors can make the whole experience just a bit more lonely.
Berkeley is this odd, overly political zone where you are allowed to have extreme opinions as long as you openly express them at literally EVERY opportunity you can. Or maybe you just have regular opinions that you are feeling particularly interested in expressing, that’s alright, I’m sure there will be some protest for it on Sproul next week.
All jokes aside, the hardest part about making it at Cal is creating lasting, meaningful friendships. With everyone on the go so often, it’s often more forced to bond with those who have to spend more time with you through club activities than anyone else. Not saying that those you meet through involvement should not be your closest friends, just that there are so many new amazing people to meet everyday, it sometimes feels as though you’re losing those relationships before they even begin.
Berkeley has led me to some of my closest friends already, and has helped me form multiple communities filled with diversity which always teaches me something new everyday. I never stop learning in any instance here; my brain is always trying to wrap itself around all of the new information that is thrown at me every day. Berkeley is definitely not something you can explain to someone who has no ability to share the experience with you first-hand, and even then everyone’s experience is dictated by the separate clubs and activities they are involved in; there’s no real way to explain this place other than Go Bears!