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Freshman Year

When I first came to Cal, I was used to midnight curfews and making up elaborate lies as to where I would be spending my weekends. Then Welcome Week began and it hit me: No more rules or run-ins with awkward ex-boyfriends or cliques or anything associated with the past four years of high school.

I remember my first night out of Welcome Week. It was like going into one of those picturesque masquerade balls where no one knows who anybody else is. The only difference was that the champagne flutes were replaced by red cups-and the masks, well, depends on how much you had to drink that night.

After the thrills of Welcome Week begin to settle and the class schedules start to grow routine, freshman year picks right up again with Game Days. If you thought your high school football games were exciting, just wait until you're crammed into a standing-room-only sea of Blue and Gold students. I guarantee that you will never cheer, clap, jump and chant as loud and full of pride as you will at these games your freshman year.

Lastly, the icing on the cake for a long Game Day, night out or midnight study session comes with the discovery of late night food. Freshman year opens the doors to a variety of late night spots available for those 2 a.m. hunger cravings. Berkeley was the first place I experienced the ability to walk 10 minutes away and fill my late night cravings with Top Dogs, super burritos or iced donuts.

So my advice: Live up freshman year and take advantage of all it has to offer before you have to deal with the pressure to find internships, the freshman 15 catches up with you or you realize that weekly visits to Urban Outfitters and La Burrita have been slowly wearing away at your bank account.

-Liz Cunningham

Another Year

By junior year, TeleBEARS, frat parties and Crossroads are so "2000 and late," as you freshmen might say. For the most part, you are only taking upper-division (read: interesting) courses and you know what to expect. You are finally able to take classes because you are interested in them and not because they were the only ones that were open by the time your TeleBEARS appointment rolled around.

Both the city and the campus have become familiar: You can go just about anywhere, know exactly where you are and what bus to take home.

You have a close-knit group of friends that has hopefully expanded beyond your hallmates from one of the units. Chances are your freshman friends were pretty boring anyway, and doing shots of Popov in your dorm room with the lights off after your RA goes to sleep gets old really fast. UC Berkeley can be big and anonymous, but by junior year you have not only found your niche, but you are also succeeding there. You're a leader in your frat, club or co-op.

And while there is certainly nothing as exciting as that first lecture your freshman year, it is much more comforting to know what to expect from a class. By junior year, you know that professors don't expect you to show up at their office hours with an incredibly insightful question-some of them would actually rather talk about that great party you went to last weekend.

You also figure out that the world won't end if you didn't do "all" of your reading or "occasionally" missed a class.

Most importantly, perhaps, your junior year is the year Berkeley feels like home. It is your domain (or your "domicile," as Tedford would say) and you really, truly understand what it means to be a Bear.

-Will Kane

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