Freshmen, Take Heed: There Is Much To Do Before Graduation

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Freshmen are so adorable. They arrive excitedly, thinking they have four (or more) years ahead of them. So much time to take hold of "the best years of your life," right?

Wrong. In fact, college is a period that can potentially slip right through your fingers, starting now. Take it from a straggler from the class of 2008-come commencement, you're bound to have a slew of pesky "shoulda, woulda, coulda's" haunting you in the depressing period between the end of your last Berkeley classes until whenever you start that first real job.

Here's a list that hopes to minimize such regrets as much as possible.

Party. This is a given for most people, but all you chronic studiers should heed this warning: When you're 22 and graduated, getting crunk on Frat Row is a big no-no. So unless you're blessed with visibly eternal youth, party now before you become known as one of those sad alumni who refuse to grow up.

Get involved. We all have passions, and now's the time to explore them with the wide range of student groups dedicated to things like polyamory, rubber bands and even Super Smash Brothers. With 30,000 people and hundreds of registered groups, there's bound to be a few that pique your curiosity.

Fill your weekends with campus and city events. Instead of complaining that there's "nothing going on," why not look for something to do? If you're bored on a Tuesday night, there's probably a poetry slam, stand-up comedy open mic, conspiracy lecture or a capella show going on somewhere. Keep up with festivals, too, which celebrate anything from kites to chocolate to the question, "How Berkeley Can You Be?"

Pop your Berkeley Bubble. There's a reason why people think La Burrita is the best Mexican food in town. Many don't often travel outside a 10-minute radius of the dorms. Take your bus pass or hitch a ride to nearby cities where you can be charmed by the small-town offerings of Albany, El Cerrito, Oakland and of course, San Francisco.

Take a class that has nothing to do with your major. Somehow, a lot of the most interesting classes fly under everyone's radar. Yes, there's Filippenko and his exuberant lectures on supernovas, but there's also rumor of a Gutenberg printing class and four units of theater costuming. Also, take small classes-their atmosphere works wonders for future grad school applications, not to mention your Facebook friends list.

Vote in the ASUC Elections. The ASUC controls about $1.4 million of our money. You decide who gets to play with it. Or, you can run for office yourself. Student political antics generally possess a high entertainment value.

Take part in a Berkeley tradition. Try library streaking during finals. But if baring your soul isn't your cup of tea, there are always spirit activities like a hike to the Big C, cheering on our Bears from the student section or attending the Big Game bonfire rally.

Take advantage of free (or cheaper) stuff. What other people have to pay for, we get for free: the Berkeley Art Museum, a view from Campanile and access to the fifth largest academic library collection in the country that you don't need to use simply for your research on the mating rituals of anemones. See $3 movies at the Pacific Film Archive. Cal Performances are half-off, too.

Talk to people who don't look, act or think like you. The brochures love to throw around the D-word-diversity-but do students actually experience it? If you see yourself getting too comfy in one nest of friends with the same background, religion or political views, perhaps it's time to branch out a little bit. Ask a homeless person about his life. Befriend a tree-sitter. Berkeley is one of the few universities where you can meet so many different people in one place.

Make your mark. Whether you scrawl an inspirational quote in the Dwinelle Hall bathrooms or somehow convince the UC Board of Regents to lower student fees, you'll be making an impression. Being here is enough, as long as you do it with style. Just don't wait too long-you'll be graduating soon, after all.


Contact Patrici Flores at [email protected]

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