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Located at a distance which allows for frequent trips to the cities of Oakland and San Francisco but at the same time allows for quiet nights dozing on the couch, UC Berkeley is a college perfectly situated in the suburbs of two major cities. While the adventurous can explore the bustling cityscape of San Francisco, the studious can spend weekends studying at the library without the noise of city life. For local attractions, Telegraph and Shattuck, the two streets running perpendicular to the Berkeley campus, offer various small boutiques and specialty restaurants, as well as street vendors promoting their wares. However, if you are looking for the nearest DennyÕs or California Pizza Kitchen, be prepared to drive to the neighboring cities, as the reduction of large scale commercial chain stores in Berkeley city has been enforced by the city council in order to maintain BerkeleyÕs unique atmosphere. That said, only at Berkeley can you find an institution of such high academic standing and extreme school spirit. Athletic events are an integral part of the social life at Berkeley, not only for the current students, but also for returning alumni who can be seen milling around at football tailgating events with their families or grabbing ÒfroyoÓ at Yogurt Park before late night basketball games. Every year, the Big Game against our rival Stanford bring more and more students and alumni together in hopes of winning ÒThe AxeÓ and re-establishing our dominance over the Stanford football team. Through the annual Bonfire Rally and other school-wide events, the Rally Committee Ð a student organization similar to a spirit commission - provides an opportunity for students to bond together and to incite a sense of school pride which reverberates to the core of the student body. Although one of the many stereotypes people have of Berkeley students is that they would rather study than eat or sleep, I have found that to be a great exaggeration. Even if there are the few students who live from midterm to midterm, here, most students swear by the phrase: Òstudy hard, party hardÓ - working hard during the weekdays to catch up on readings and assignments, and loosening up on weekends in celebration of the end of a long week. This equilibrium between academia is very refreshing, and keeps the stress of schoolwork from becoming a constant and debilitating aspect of student life. However, as much as I love Berkeley, I would have to say that it could use great improvements to its bureaucratic system. Every semester, come time to schedule classes, complaints of long waitlists and full classes can be heard all around campus. Scheduling and requesting classes are a hassle, and often depend on class standing, so that while seniors have priority when it comes to signing-up for classes, freshmen and sophomore have to fight for a position on the class roster. Still, the system is pretty lenient, and ÒcrashingÓ courses allows both wait-listed and non wait-listed students to attempt to add a class. Although most students end up getting into the classes that they want at the discrepancy of the instructors, some students are not as lucky. Most of the time, instructors do make exceptions for students who need a certain course to fulfill a major requirement, but many students still end up having to diverge off their major track in order to accommodate the designated number of seats in a class. If Berkeley could create a scheduling system which is easier for students to navigate, I think it would be positively received by the student body.
Before I came to Berkeley, I didn't know who I was. I didn't even want to come to Cal. Four years later, I have been shaped by this place like no other experience in my life. I don't know now if I am Berkeley, or Berkeley is me. Sounds cheesy, but as I am about to graduate I very much like I owe Cal for what it has made me. Berkeley, on a sunny day (which is usually all of spring semester), is the most glorious sight. Students are littered across the various grassy areas of campus, sitting in groups, as the bustle of classes beginning or ending flows around them. Sitting on campus gives this feeling of happiness and belonging I cannot describe. I have school pride because my experience here has been wonderful and exactly what I would want out of college. Yet, I have only been to one sporting event in four years. That part of campus life, which is very popular, doesn't really appeal to me. I love Berkeley because of the people I met here. This place attracted people who are smart, interesting, and unique.
One of the most important part of Berkeley is school pride, seen most vividly during football season. The students here are proud of their accomplishments and of other Berkeley students' accomplishments and give their best to the activities in which they're involved. Most of the world does not understand UC Berkeley because of the many misconceptions that have been propagated through the years. Berkeley is not a hippie school; while many students hold liberal values, a sizable population also holds conservative values. With the wide range of activities and events on campus, there is a niche for every student. That said, Berkeley is a large, public university. The first year here can - and often is - overwhelming, not only because of the social and academic adjustments but also because of the lack of support from the school. While the resources are available, you must reach out first - no one will take care of you. You must take care of yourself. In this sense, Berkeley prepares students well for the real world. At Berkeley, you have to do everything for yourself. No one will take you by the hand and guide you through college life. You have to make Berkeley your own. If you're unsatisfied with your learning experience, your grades, the social scene, or even dorm food, you have to take the initiative and make the change. This is why Berkeley students are student activists; we know that success and change won't be handed to us on a silver platter.
I like Berkeley because it has exposed me to a whole new culture. It's intelligence is on a whole 'nother level. Students are passionate about social activism and environmental responsibility. One thing that really bothers me, though, is that the majority of students seemed depressed. Everyone always looks pale and unhappy and way too stressed out. The academic competition is ridiculous. If you miss a lecture for whatever reason, good luck getting notes from a classmate!
The best thing about Berkeley is the way it rewards people who know what they want from it. And the longer you go here, the more accurate your expectations are. You can learn a lot about music, or just about your major. You can develop life long friends, or set a strong career path for yourself, or most likely both. The size of the school is a both a blessing and a curse. It gives you the room you need to live how you want, provided you have some notion of what you want already. People outside of Berkeley tend to react well, and that is a source of real school pride. The school pride concerning the football team, though loud, is mostly a freshman experience, and has little to do with real feelings of pride about the school. ItÕs the intelligent and passionate people that you see on campus every day who really make the wheels turn. UC Berkeley is integrated humorously with the city of Berkeley, and there is a lot to learn from that. You can live far or close to the source of student energy near campus, and your experience will be shaped by that choice. Sometimes the distraction of student life is overwhelming, and sometimes the isolation of life down University Avenue or in Oakland can leave you hanging. But on telegraph, academia, homelessness and the hyphy movement tend to collide without regard for one another, and to great comic effect. The administration of the school, and the student government make a lot of noise, through sidewalk chalk and through the daily cal, but my experience is that they can be almost fully ignored without effecting your demeanor if you are good at saying ÒnoÓ to flyerers in the spring, and if you donÕt read email bulletins from the chancellor. It seems like students can be intimidated by the impersonal aspects of their Berkeley experience, and often feel like the academic and social aspects of the school are disconnected and donÕt support one another. But there is a lot of life and energy at UC Berkeley, and if you put in a little effort you can learn a lot about it.
Robin SeniorReviews provided by: Unigo