So Close and Not So Far Away


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"Ahh, it's so great being back on campus," said my friend, currently a UC Davis graduate student, when she visited UC Berkeley earlier this year.

"If I see the Campanile one more time, my eyes will bleed," I responded.

OK, so I don't actually mind campus that much. After five years in Berkeley, I've come to see the city as my home - where I blossomed into the amazing person I am today. I graduated in the spring of 2009 and have lived closer to campus than many students since then.

Soon enough, all you 2010 graduates will be busily decorating your cubicles while working obscene hours at your new workplace. You'll probably be heading out of Berkeley to a tiny $2,200 studio in San Francisco, or back to your pre-college life in super cool cities like Modesto.

I, on the other hand, will be staying here for another year, and will probably be here until the sun burns out. This will mark my fifth year in this hippie haven, and if you happen to stay another year, I invite you to be my friend. Before you dive into this whole new world, albeit the exact same place, understand that your daily life will be very different.

You'll first notice the amount of free time at your disposal. You'll finally have time to engage in once unattainable activities, such as taking a nap after work or grabbing a beer during happy hour. You might even have time to read a book for fun.

However, going onto campus is an entirely different ordeal. Based on my experience, you'll probably fall into one of two categories.

Category one: You desperately need to move on, like that one loser who keeps writing columns for grad issues.

Category two: You are terrified of being seen by undergraduates on campus, taking alternate routes or looking away from people you know while pretending to talk on the phone. I always call in my order at Thai Basil 15 minutes in advance, so I can sneak in and out as quickly as possible.

If you think navigating Berkeley during the day is a feat, navigating it at night might seem insurmountable. The college party, once the staple of your social life, is now absolutely off-limits.

My bet is you'll be welcomed like the second coming upon visiting your first post-grad college party. Hugs will abound and shot glasses will be raised in your honor. During your second post-grad college party, about half the people from the first party will hug you, while the others will whisper ... then point at you. By the time of your third party, they will probably take a celebratory shot after you leave.

But living in Berkeley after you graduate is pretty nice. I'm sure all my friends who moved to Washington, D.C. wish they still had the same circle of friends and familiar food.

And if you're anything like me, you'll never see Berkeley as just another college town.

Tags: GRAD ISSUE 2010

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