Surviving my first semester at CalDecember 15, 2023
As of yesterday, I just finished my first semester at Cal. And somehow, I miss it. It’s already been one of the funnest periods of my life, and I can’t wait to go back.
Picking classes & orientation week
Picking classes is going to be a breeze if your major isn’t popular (think anything computing or health related). A good litmust test is to see if it’s an HD major, but there are other majors not on that list that have classes which are hard to get into. Make sure to map out your requirements, classes needed, and any alternatives very early, as things will definitely change, but you can graduate on time with enough due dilligence.
Orientation week is honestly going to be a hit or miss depending on your orientation leader. I had a really passionate set of orientation leaders so I attended everyday, but it’s not for everyone. If you do want to go to frat parties, I’d definitely take advantage of it now. They’re not as strict compared to the school year, but if you can get in normally anyway, then there’s no need to worry about it.
Adapting to courseload
This is probably the best piece of advice I ever took. TAKE THINGS LIGHT. One or two classes may not kill you later on, but it’ll definitely get you your first semester. Really take this time to explore the opportunities around you and have as much fun as possible. For some majors (eg: pre-med MCB), you’ll immediately need to jump into hell mode, but that shouldn’t stop your from leaving some space in your schedule to take things you’re passionate about.
I’m sure this doesn’t need to be said, but stay dilligent, and using a time-management tool like Google Calendar will help balance your schedule a lot easier.
Getting involved; do what YOU want to do
Picking up another major You should takes things really slow. Definitely take a survey of all the student orgs available whether that be or throughout the semester as clubs table on Sproul.
These groups definitely get super clique-y, but that’s by design. They can’t take every person available at school, not every person is going to be dedicated, and it’ll definitely save you time if the vibes aren’t right. If anything, just join the fun orgs that take general members (these are usually hobby-oriented like the OCF or cultural, like AAA). The more involved you are though, the more fun it’ll be.
I’m going to be real blunt with you; making friends is hard here. Your most important priority freshman year isn’t to join the super-competitive orgs, start research, or maintain a 4.0, but rather getting a solid set of friends. These can be your floormates, but in my case, since I lived off campus, most of my friends were in the same orgs I was in.
Arguably, the most important asset of going to Cal is the connections. There’s never been a greater period in your life where you have access to such a high concentration of talent in one area, and you never know what they could do for you in the future.
A lot of people say Berkeley social life is dead, but I think that’s the complete opposite. We’re by no means Chico, but the social life is definitely more inclusive if you decide to do things besides go to frat parties all day. Starting off, there’s plenty to do in the Bay Area, especially when you’re connected to BART and the AC Transit bus system. The opportunities even open up further if you find someone with a car (that’s me).
If you’re craving the feeling of friday night lights in high school, Berkeley’s one of the best places to go to. Not only are there amazing tailgates during the football games, but if you’re not into that, Berkeley’s rally committee does lots to keep school spirit alive. If you’re a frat party person, there’s always going to be places you can hit up every Friday and especially during Halloweekend.
If you’re Plenty of student orgs (plugging AAA again) hold their own hangouts, whether they be psuedo-frat parties, retreats, other activities
(ill add a pic here EVENTUALLY)