My Experience at UC Berkeley: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome
BONUS: WHERE I GO TO CRY ON CAMPUS
Imagine being surrounded by a bunch people who are significantly smarter and more talented than you(possibly better looking and funnier as well lol). This was my college experience. I was the dumbest kid in the room…every single room on campus. Even the bathroom. I’ve heard many people claim that UC Berkeley students are “the cream of the crop” but I didn’t feel like the cream of anything. In fact, I’m lactose intolerant(and oat milk wasn’t a thing back then) so as you can already guess life was hard; every midterm wrecked havoc on my digestive system(figuratively and literally). I’d be shitting myself if I didn’t admit that I felt like absolute crap whenever grades were posted. Apologies for the poop puns, you get the gist; I didn’t feel like I belonged because I never considered myself exceptionally smart or gifted.
My classmates were intelligent in all aspects–whether it be emotionally or academically and I was the kid that asked the stupid questions(yes, there is such a thing) and came in late and sat in the back eating snacks because I was too busy cramming to eat a proper meal. Don’t even get me started about my professors…these extraordinary humans literally created waves and are still influencing the world as we know it. Everybody I knew had the potential to positively change the world and here I was, making bathroom jokes. How the F*** did I manage to get a seat in the same room as them?
To this day, I still ask myself that question…I don’t know how I managed to get into UCB but I am extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to be surrounded by and to learn from such incredible people and even call some of them my friends. I would not be who I am today and would not have learned how to think so critically and deeply had it not been for my experience at Cal. I am not going to lie, it was academically challenging for me and I had to work my ass off in order to keep up. I slept 4 hours a day on average and looked like a “stoned zombie”(according to friends who saw me on campus) lugging around my fat backpack full of textbooks and almonds for the campus squirrels. It was not a good look. As a matter of fact, I considered dropping out every time midterm season came up but I decided to tough it out(not without lots of bitchin’ of course because who doesn’t know that it’s the best form of stress relief).
How did I manage to graduate? I had to learn how to learn. Sounds confusing, I know. I think the most important thing I got out of college is the ability to learn quickly and to fully entertain an idea without completely submitting to the terms of that idea. What this means is I realized that understanding something and agreeing with it while attempting to apply it to real life are two different things and I had to juggle this everyday both in and out of classes. As many of you are aware, Berkeley is the protesting mecca of the country; the liberal way of thinking combined with endless ambition creates a setting for people to really fight for what they believe in. Like literally fight, I kid you not. Sometimes these beliefs are right and sometimes they are so wrong. I had to learn how to distance myself from the group think mentality and to think for myself by formulating my own opinions. It’s harder than it sounds. Most of the time, we just agree with what the majority believes in because it is easy and requires less effort/thought on our part; it is also a way to easily avoid responsibility for what occurs in our society. News flash, YOU ARE SOCIETY. You can’t blame society for your problems because you are a part of it and learning how to think is crucial in order to save this world from literally burning down.
Anyway, in my opinion college is not a mandatory component in becoming successful in life or making a difference in the lives of others; although I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn from such a great institution and to have that experience, I do not think it is necessary unless you want to pursue a specific path. So don’t feel bad if you did not have the luxury of going to university, the only thing you might’ve missed out on are the networking opportunities but those can be found anywhere if you seek them out, really. Don’t sweat it.
Side note: Aside from struggling to pass my courses, sorta maintaining a social life and always feeling out of place, I managed to find time to explore the area and have a couple recommendations for people who might be in town or are planning on going to Berkeley. So feel free to scroll down for that.
Berkeley is definitely not a party school but it does have a college town vibe and bomb food. Cheeseboard pizza makes up for whatever the school lacks in terms of frat parties and school spirit. FUN FACT: When I was deciding between UCLA and CAL, Cheeseboard was the determining factor LOL I chose Berkeley because of how good the pizza is. Yes, she’s a smart cookie.
There are ample hiking spots in Berkeley. If you are looking for a good sweat, the Big C, Grizzly Peak and the fire trails(my go to date spot at the time lol nothing like holding hands when you’re sweaty) are the best spots.
Cheeseboard and Sliver are my most fave pizza spots in all of California. If you get the chance to visit, please do not skip Cheeseboard. They have a different topping everyday and my favorite is the corn mmmm 🙂 Also try the sauce!
- Doe Library aka my crying spot! It is the most aesthetic library on campus in my opinion and I exclusively studied here because I liked the ambiance LOL.
- Campanile: The most recognizable spot on campus. You can go up and get a view of the entire campus/surrounding city.
- Frat row: What? the houses are really nice and there is a cute cafe across the street. You are also super close to Artichoke’s Pizza and Little Italy??? not sure what the name is since it’s been a long time but theres a spot with cheap and delicious food on this street.
- Science and engineering wing: It’s like a mini hike to get there and bonus you get to see the nerdy engineers in their natural habitat(LOL much love to my nerdy comp sci friends).