How to Make the Most of Your Time At Cal

Hello friends, happy spring! As I type these words, it is the last week of instruction for the semester, and, in fact, it is only a handful of days before I officially graduate.

I have had a truly wonderful time here at UC Berkeley and International House.  I’m feeling very nostalgic right now, especially as one of my friend’s younger sister prepares to enter Cal as a freshman next fall.

Whether you are an American here for your entire undergraduate career, or an international student enjoying a single semester, I hope you can use the tips below to make the most out of your time at Cal. Let us know if you have any additional tips in the comments below. Go Bears!

Join Clubs

There are SO many clubs, associations, and organizations on campus, that there really is something for everyone. You can join groups that help with your professional development and career goals, such as the Anthropology Undergraduate Association or the Asian American Law Journal, or you can meet people who share your hobbies and interests, such as our Quidditch league or Azaad, the Bollywood dancing team. Putting yourself out there is uncomfortable, but by expanding your comfort zone, you can find people to connect with! Check out https://callink.berkeley.edu/organizations for more information.

Study Outside Your Room

Sounds simple, but if you’re the typical Berkeley college student, you probably have a lot of coursework and assignments to complete. If it’s not adverse to your productivity levels, then I recommend studying outside of your room. There are plenty of locations within I-House (I even wrote a post about it, which you can see here), but you can also study at the multiple university libraries, several cafes surrounding the campus, and even out on Memorial Glade or next to Sproul Plaza. Honestly, even reading your required novels in a public place is a great way to meet new people – I met one of my best friends here by sharing a table with her during rush hour at our favorite bubble tea place!

Make Friends in Every Class

Now, making friends in every class does two things: first, you’ll feel less alone, which, in a lecture hall of 200+ people, is always a good thing, and second, if you ever can’t make it to class, you have someone you can (hopefully) borrow notes from. Most people are very friendly, and a simple greeting and compliment can really open the door to a great friendship. In fact, if you’re in a class for a major requirement, you’ll probably end up seeing your new friends in a lot of your department activities, which is even more fun!

Follow Social Media

Facebook is very popular at UC Berkeley. Nearly every organization uses it to advertise events, socials, and parties, so take advantage! You can go there to meet people, you can go with people, or, if you took my previous advice and joined a club, you can help facilitate the event! Honestly, social media is one of the main ways I find out about what’s happening on campus, and I’ve been able to do a lot of cool things because of it, from petting llamas during finals week to buying cookies from sororities to support non-profit organizations. 

Keep in Touch with Loved Ones

My home screen

Credit: me when I’m homesick :’)

Finally, but most importantly, keep in touch with your loved ones back home. Friends and family will want to know how you’re doing, even if you simply send them a photograph of you having fun here in California. Setting up a specific time to call and Skype, or mailing the occasional postcard, can also alleviate some of the symptoms of homesickness. So, make new friends, but keep the old!

About Loyalty Traster-Lee

Loyalty Traster-Lee was a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in anthropology. She was born and raised in Long Beach, California, but has traveled extensively, including attending kindergarten in Singapore, volunteering with the Lions Club in Germany, and studying abroad in England. Loyalty's favourite Berkeley sights include the Botanical Gardens and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which, for the record, are both within walking distance of each other and free with student identification. Loyalty graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2019, but considers living at I-House to be one of the highlights of her undergraduate experience.
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