As I finish my very first semester at Cal, there are a few things I noticed about our school. Although while in Berkeley they did not strike me as abnormal, as I came home and revisited the beginning of my college experience with friends from high school, I realized that there are a lot of things I find normal that really are just Berkeley things.
The lack of door handles.
Nothing conveys the craziness that is our extremely active student body than the fact that our campus cannot have two outer door handles. Why, you ask? To keep the students from chaining the doors shut. Yes, our campus’ physical structure is embedded with precautions against particularly motivated students who may take a protest a little too far.
Immunity to screaming.
Yes, it has only been one semester of college, but I have already built an immunity to the screaming and shouting that are common to Sproul Plaza. Oh, you were trying to warn me against the approaching apocalypse? Sorry, I didn’t notice.
I have no idea what it is, but the squirrels on Berkeley’s campus are aggressive. It’s like nothing scares them! I have seen squirrels crossing through Sather Gate in the middle of classes when hundreds of students are stampeding through! How are they not scared?! I have also had the privilege to witness a squirrel scaring a student away from her backpack because it wouldn’t leave. How do these squirrels have such guts? Also, can we please address the girth of these squirrels? I have never seen fatter squirrels than at Cal.
It may not be the best skill to have, but since coming to Cal I have learned how to effectively ignore people. Honestly, it’s a necessary skill when having to walk through Sproul every day. First day, I made the mistake of not only being ill-prepared and not having headphones, but actually making eye contact with these all-too-eager students “fliering” (a word that I recently learned to be a “Berkeley thing”) on Sproul. Since that day, I never go to campus without headphones, even if I’m not actually listening to music, and I have learned to never ever make eye contact with anyone lining the sides of Sproul.
Being late to everything.
Apparently the rest of the world does not run on Berkeley Time…
Seeing a creepy mascot randomly on campus.
Despite loving him, there is absolutely no doubt that Oski is creepy. What’s worse than having a creepy mascot? Randomly seeing him in the library during Dead Week or in the stands during Big Game Week. Why must you haunt us, Oski?
Cringing at the word St******.
They may be just across the Bay, but since arriving at Cal I have developed a gag reflex to hearing the name. Honestly, the aggressiveness I use when referring to “them” is bordering on problematic because when I leave Berkeley, I seem psychopathic.
Being surprised when it doesn’t smell like marijuana.
Walking down Telegraph and all around Berkeley, I have gotten so used to smelling marijuana that it has become a part of my surroundings. Honestly, I don’t notice when there IS weed around anymore, I notice when there isn’t.
Internally gasping when someone steps on the seal.
You know it means you’re going to fail, so why even risk it?
Becoming a people-watcher.
With so many different types of people that walk through the Berkeley campus I have become adept at people watching. Oh, I have some time between classes? Let me just grab some coffee, find a spot to chill, and people-watch. (FYI, I have found that the best spot for people watching is a table at GBC).
Seeing people that don’t go to Cal.
I probably see just as many people walking through campus that are not enrolled at the school as I do students. Whether they are locals, prospective families, or even little children, a day does not go by where I don’t see someone wandering around who does not go to Cal.
Setting the bar at “not failing.”
Attending a school famous for grade deflation definitely puts a dent on your self-esteem. The bar that was set high has gradually fallen to simply not failing. I didn’t fail a test? That’s a win in my book!
You want to get into a frat party? Let me see your wrist. No bid? Yikes.