So, you have officially sold your soul... I mean... submitted your statement of intent to register at the University of California, Berkeley. Congratulations and welcome! Berkeley is definitely a crazy and unique place to be. You will always find something new and exciting every day. However, Berkeley does take people by surprise. My first year here has been a wild ride, but I've definitely adapted to my new, loving home. Here are a few things to look forward to when starting your life at Cal.
1. Respect the squirrels.
Yes, every campus has squirrels, but there's that extra special sparkle in the Berkeley squirrels’ eyes. Day or night, rain or shine, the squirrels will ALWAYS be around. Be ready to have standoffs with a squirrel at least three times a day. Berkeley squirrels are a special part of the community, so please treat them kindly!
2. “Berkeley is the #1 public university in the world!!!”
Be prepared to hear this phrase every two seconds of your first week in Cal. Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't trademarked this phrase yet. At first, you'll be overwhelmed with pride because, yeah, it is a great accomplishment to be going to UC Berkeley. Give it a few more weeks, and every time you hear this phrase, your eyes will roll to the back of your head.
If Berkeley is famous for anything else besides being the #1 public university in the world, it is famous for our protests. Although our protests are shown as violent and scary on the news, just know the actual students of Cal are NEVER part of the violence. Students here protest peacefully and for good causes. Basically, don't be surprised if you see people covered in fake blood or chained arm in arm under Sather (SAY-THER) Gate.
Sproul is the most popular and well-known entrance to campus. Walking through Sproul Plaza is quite the overwhelming experience. The walk through Sproul should realistically take only about a minute. However, constant flyering and questions like, “Have you heard of our brotherhood, Sigma Apple Data Pie,” makes a one-minute walk turn into a 30-minute walk. Soon enough, like the rest of Cal, you will find the magic behind headphones and hoodies to keep people from approaching you.
Say goodbye to sunshine! It literally rains 95 percent of the time here. Even when your weather app tells you there is a zero percent chance of rain, do NOT TRUST IT! Before coming here, I suggest investing in the biggest umbrella and the most water resistant rain boots to ever exist.
UC Berkeley students thrive on memes. Literally, it's our life force. If you are not familiar with memes, you definitely need to join the Facebook page, UC Berkeley Memes For Edgy Teens, before coming here. Memes have really become a part of our community in a way that helps us to forget about all the stress we are put under for being students at the #1 public university in the world.
7. FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!
Your taste buds have the option of traveling all around the world. Berkeley is FLOODED with different restaurants. If you're like me, you will spend all day thinking about what to eat for dinner. The options are endless! Feeling Mexican food? Taco Sinaloa is a personal favorite. Feeling some pasta? Gypsy's is a Berkeley legend. Feeling Asian food? Literally, hundreds of options. The best thing about the food here? IT. IS. ALL. WALKING. DISTANCE! (Be careful of that freshman 15!)
8. Walking, and tons of it!
Everything in Berkeley is a walkable distance. Ranging from a five-minute walk to a 30-minute walk, you WILL be walking great distances every day. Sure, we have free bus passes, but you can't always trust the bus schedule. Campus is huge and, especially in Berkeley, there are a lot of hills to climb. So, if you aren't used to walking up, down and all around, start training! I find the walks to be a lot easier when listening to “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
You may or may not have grown up knowing more than the traditional sexualities/genders/identities. In Berkeley, we accept and respect all the identities people claim. NEVER ASSUME! This is not something to be extremely worried about, though: as time passes, asking someone their gender pronouns will be second nature!
10. Oski and "The Fight for California."
These are the BEAR (lol) basics of Cal. Basically, school spirit is a MUST and may overwhelm you when first coming here. Our mascot, Oski, will give you mixed feelings. Should you like him? Should he be creeping you out? It is ultimately up to you to decide (I, personally, love him). “The Fight for California” will be your favorite song by the end of your first semester and Cal Band will become your favorite thing about Berkeley. Mark my words.
So that is pretty much all you need to prepare yourself for when coming to Berkeley. Overall, Berkeley is a loving and beautiful place to spend the next four years. Welcome to the family and good luck!
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons