05 February 2010
Back to Berkeley!
I planned to go back here for 2010-2011 school year, but because of my responsibilities for my org and all those late night meetings I decided to move back to Berkeley--which means no more commuting from San Leandro! (I miss my bro's cooking though)
I also finally feel like a real college student living in an apt with other students. I finally get to hang out with my friends, attend meetings, and play more tennis (now I can even fit in volleyball in my schedule)!
So far it's been a great experience living in Dwight and Dana. Favorite part? I don't have to wake up at 7am for a 9am class. I can just wake up at 8:30, take a shower, grab food, then I'm good to go. Worst part? I miss my good cooking utensils at home :( Not to mention I'm living in a soft-story building.. no earthquake please until I graduate :s
Posted by John Cortez at 0:22 | Permalink
21 September 2009
I eventually got tired of wasting at least 1.5hrs commuting everyday. Not only I waste time, BART also costs me $6.10 which I can spend for dinner. Today, after my 4-5:30pm PS157 lecture, I went back straight to my friends' apartment. It feels refreshing to be able to relax after a long day instead of waiting one more hour to get back home. For these reasons, I miss living around campus.
Posted by John Cortez at 8:24 | Permalink
18 August 2009
Summer 09 Recap: Part 1!
So besides taking classes for almost the entire duration of my summer "break," luckily I managed to have a few days off to visit the East Coast for the first time! (except I had to miss two classes on the second week of June).
I stayed over at my cousin and her family in Washington, D.C. and then toured around there. I finally saw the monuments, museums, and government buildings I always see on movies! The White House, Supreme Court, Washington Monument, National Archives... there's tons of places to visit there!
My favorite part was being a window away from millions of dollars when I visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It was fascinating to see how money is printed--special type of paper, ink, security features, etc. I also found out that we still produce $2 bills and you can request a bank to get some for you (only if you ask for a huge amount). For souvenir I got an uncut sheet of 8x4 $2 bills (which are legally spendable if I cut them).
Posted by John Cortez at 3:38 | Permalink
27 May 2009
Vacation, Or NOT!
During the past few days my friends and relatives have been asking when my vacation is. I always say something along this line, "no such thing, I'm doing summer school the entire 'break' ". I usually get responses like, "That sucks!". But is it really a bad thing to do summer classes? Not necessarily.
From my experience with breaks (winter break, spring break, summer vacation), I have an especially hard time bouncing back to studying when school starts again. I have to be very cautious with long vacations because once I start feeling lazy, I just don't want to do anything. It carries over during school and I end up not doing homework. Homework piles up. I then start feeling stressed and hopeless that I have too much to do. It traps me in this cycle, "there's too much to do, I can't catch up, it's hopeless I do not want to bother". Repeat.
It's a terrible feeling! This is why I make sure I have busy breaks to keep the good pace. Two days or three of not having to worry about school work is good enough for me; anything longer gives me a tendency to feel lazy. I also realized that thinking what to do for the day somewhat adds to stress. Summer school gives me a goal to work on. So does summer school sucks? Nope. At least not in my terms.
Posted by John Cortez at 8:19 | Permalink
27 May 2009
CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2009 !
Graduation gives me these mixed emotions.
Posted by John Cortez at 8:47 | Permalink
14 May 2009
The most hectic time of the semester! Walking around looking for places to study, but all rooms and seats are taken. Can’t study at home because it feels too relaxing. Running away from the internet, but AirBears is everywhere. Getting a study group together, but ends up talking about what to do during summer, classes for next semester, and how Telebears messed some up. Finally finding a chair and table to study, but neighbors are noisy and someone beside you has a laptop and can’t help but glance over at the screen.
For some of us it’s not that our finals are hard, but we just can’t seem to find that perfect spot to study!! All I can say is, know what suits you best and good luck finding that spot! And lastly, it also helps to think about learning instead of grades.
GOOD LUCK ON FINALS AND PAPERS!!
Posted by John Cortez at 0:43 | Permalink
04 May 2009
Why I'm double majoring
When I applied for EEP, I was looking more towards the policy part than economics. I enjoyed U.S. history in high school because this country is a whole new place to me and I want to understand its government. I just want to learn about different governments, how it functions and affects a society. There are so many questions and twists that make Political Science interesting. Sometimes I wonder, “What is my primary major?” Am I taking Poli Sci so I would understand politics better and thus create policies that would go through our complex system? Or am I taking EEP to learn about environmental issues and use it as support for political theories? Either ways, I think both majors go hand in hand.
Besides personal interest, I also realized that doing a single major would not be enough to meet the 120-unit requirement to graduate. I put myself in a very good position by already deciding to double major after my freshman year. I was able to minimize the amount of classes I need to take and even have a semester to study abroad. Starting next semester I also only need to take 13 units until I graduate (thanks to summer classes, my classes are more spread out through my 4 years). Here’s the breakdown of my classes and units. I’ve taken a few 1 or 2 unit fun classes that I didn't list down.
Posted by John Cortez at 2:11 | Permalink
03 May 2009
This summer, I will also work less at the library. I want more time to study and hang out with friends; unlike last summer where I just went to work, class, work, and then home. I will also go, for the first time, to the East Coast to visit my cousin in Washington, D.C. I will have to skip about three classes and hopefully this would force me to talk to the professor (and maybe try to get a close contact since I need a second professor for letters-of-recommendation)
Three more weeks! I’m excited to get this semester over with and start a different class!
Posted by John Cortez at 8:38 | Permalink
02 May 2009
After my EEP152 lecture, I headed to Gypsys to get a combo calzone to go. I have work at Moffitt at 12pm, so I only have an hour to get food and go to my Poli Sci adviser. I went to my adviser a week ago asking how I would sign up for Poli Sci upperdivs in case my academic profile does not get updated before telebears. While waiting for my calzone, I realize that I shouldve went to my advisor first!!—her lunch break is at 11:30! I got my calzone and then headed to Barrows. Luckily, I made it on time and was able to sign up for advising. BUT, there were two other people waiting and I only have 25 minutes left before I had to walk to work!
I started eating my calzone knowing I won’t have time to eat after my advising. Bored, I took out my laptop to check Bearfacts. BAM! Finally after waiting for two months, my profile was finally updated right before my Telebears! Now officially declared for EEP and Poli Sci!! YAAAAAY! Seems like I didn't need advising at all. Haha! Off to work.
Posted by John Cortez at 1:31 | Permalink
05 April 2009
My college decision - recap
Here are two of my previous blogs about my decision and the factors involved
This year's Cal Day is on Saturday April 18, 2009
Posted by John Cortez at 3:11 | Permalink
26 February 2009
Anyways, I decided to take classes here at Berkeley this summer even though I don't really need to. I will take PoliSci 164 (Session A, which starts the week after the last final) and PoliSci 139a (Session D). I personally find it very difficult to bounce back to studying after long breaks (still recovering from winter break 08, sadly). Hopefully my summer classes would keep me busy and prepare me for Fall 09. As far as my college planning goes, it looks like Fall 09 is going to be my hardest semester.
Summer Telebears tip:
Don't be discouraged by waiting lists--talk to the department adviser and ask your chances of getting a class. Most of the time schedule.berkeley won't show the maximum seating until later. For example, when I signed up for PoliSci 164 the schedule says that max is 60 students. But when I visited the PoliSci adviser she showed me that there's actually 90 seating, although it was just set to 60 for the mean time.
Posted by John Cortez at 0:09 | Permalink
26 February 2009
FAFSA due in 4 days!!
For a while I kept postponing it thinking I don't want to deal with a lot of paperwork again.
I did mine last week and I was surprised it took me less than an hour! The website has a feature that will fill up your 2009-2010 application based on last year's application (but if this is your first time filing for FAFSA I suggest doing it ASAP, it can get really complicated). The only things I had to change this year is my address and income. I still have to wait for my parent's foreign tax return though, which I don't think would change much.
If you have any questions you can always visit our awesome Financial Aid Office in Sproul Hall. Website is http://berkeley.edu/apply/aid.shtml.
And some few tips:
1) If your parents work in another country and you have someone else claiming you as a dependent in the U.S., you still have to use your real parents' foreign income.
2) When asked how much savings you have, do not include those from loans and other financial aid (grants, university scholarship, work study)
3) Keep a copy of your parents' tax returns or at least be able to access it in case your school financial aid office asks for documents.
4) If for any reasons you missed the March 2 deadline, apply for FAFSA anyways--you might still get some financial aid. Better than nothing!
5) President Obama's stimulus package includes increase in financial aid (which may or may not increase eligible income range), so if you didn't get anything last year... you might this year! (though it depends what will happen to that package).
Posted by John Cortez at 8:43 | Permalink
19 January 2009
Yay for new semester! (and new president!)
1) See friends again and share stories about winter break.
2) Some of us will miss our parent's cooking, but I do miss Berkeley food! (Though I feel sorry for those who have to deal with dorm food again. Also, hopefully some of you folks who have kitchen learned some recipes during the break =P )
3) Exercise. I like walking. I've been sitting almost my whole break playing video games, it's sickening!! Now I can also play tennis more often since my schedule is not as hectic as last semester.
4) Do something productive like internships or simply doing homework.
5) I usually don't read by myself, now I'll be forced to learn something!
7) Meet new people ( but I think I have to go over facebook and review my friends' names. )
8) And whatever else may happen
Good luck and have a fun semester everyone!
Posted by John Cortez at 8:24 | Permalink
21 December 2008
Winter break plans
1) Sleeping schedule from 11pm-7am. I was able to do this when I lived in the dorms last year, but when I started commuting everything has been shifted 2 hours later. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with me feeling sleepy and needing more naps this semester.
2) Eating schedule. No more 11-2pm classes, so now I can eat lunch at noon.
Now for my winter break plans.. nothing that much since it has been raining a lot recently. I might probably just stay at home and
1) Play World of Warcraft (sigh... why am I playing this game again.. anyways I am on Dunemaul (A) and Frostmane (H) )
2) Watch Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X
3) Be a driver for my mom when she visits from my home country
4) Tennis.. but the rain!!!
Posted by John Cortez at 8:44 | Permalink
17 December 2008
Food in the house
Posted by John Cortez at 4:03 | Permalink
13 December 2008
EEP 100 + Commuting
This class has been one of the most difficult I've taken so far. It had more math than I anticipated. Also I noticed that my math skill has been getting rusty each semester. I would have preferred essays, but I'm not expecting it from any econ class. 50% of the grade comes from 10 problem sets, a 20% midterm, and a 30% final. Midterms and finals are curved, but not the problem sets.
Problem sets can give good grade boost since we usually had at least a week to work on it. However, commuting has finally took a toll on my academic performance. Most study groups happen at night and I have to leave campus by 8pm most of the time; I tried doing some problems sets on my own, but they were too hard and failed.
Posted by John Cortez at 4:35 | Permalink
18 November 2008
I lost yet another match. When am I ever going to win? =(
My tennis life makes much more sense now though. I lose not because I don't have enough desire to win. I lose not because my opponents are way better. I lose because when a game starts I can't find my usual strokes and serves. I can't seem to hit the ball well and my serves won't go in. How do I deal with this?
I need to play more sets instead of just rallying (I was playing rather quite well with another friend right after my match today). Most people tell me I'm pretty good for someone who's been playing tennis for just 1.75 years. I think I should stop demanding too much and give myself some credit. For now I'll give myself a break, but win or lose I don't think I'll never stop playing this sport (as long as my body permits) =D
Posted by John Cortez at 1:35 | Permalink
17 November 2008
It's been a year since my last tournament. I've been horribly losing my matches recently (actually I lose pretty badly most of the time). Probably because I don't care enough about winning, I lack practice, or I've been playing against better people. Possibly all three.
It's weird, but I feel guilty of winning 0_o
It's really awkward that I feel bad for beating my opponents
(maybe that's why I keep losing, -_-" )
Anyways, I'll post again tomorrow after my match =D
Posted by John Cortez at 1:47 | Permalink
27 October 2008
Don't know what classes to take
Right now I'm taking EEP100, History 14, and PoliSci 1. I'm finding it a little hard to switch between EEP and PoliSci/History and after this semester I only have 1 lower div requirement left . I'm thinking whether to have all EEP classes next semester. Should I do pure econ or mix it with some PoliSci upper divs? I usually give advices on Fresh Faces, but I think this time I need some advice =o
I'll update this blog once I made a decision. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Posted by John Cortez at 1:49 | Permalink
21 September 2008
Change Starts from Within
"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world." -Unknown Author
Posted by John Cortez at 0:30 | Permalink
18 September 2008
3 day weekends
More time to waste?
So as I mentioned in my last blog, I dropped one of my classes. As a result my Mondays are completely blank. 3 day weekends, yay? My friends are quite jealous about it, but I somewhat dread about it.
As for a commuter this is great, that's $5.70 right there plus the food I would spend on campus. However, I never find myself doing anything productive during my extra day. It's always been that time management issue I am having difficulties with--probably harder to get over with than any class, but also the most important. I believe so because if we master our time management skills, everything else will get easier. But if we finish a class, it doesn't necessarily mean our future classes are going to be easier. In my personal perspective, the biggest thing we can learn from college is not what's on the lecture slides, but rather personal and social skills; personal skills such as time and stress management and social skills such as networking, group work, etc.
Posted by John Cortez at 2:25 | Permalink
18 September 2008
Dropped a class...
It was a challenge to drop the class because I felt like a coward running away from school work. Worst thing is it says on my Fresh Faces profile "Interests: ... learning Japanese". But deep inside, although I really want to learn the language, I have to face the truth that I can't handle the course load.
I was taking 18 units, 6 of which were Japanese1A and a supplementary listening class. I am also taking Env Econ100, History 14, and PoliSci 1. My course load from the other three classes are minimal, but J1A was a little too much for my "fun class"--class that fulfills no requirement. I thought it's quite off to stress over this class than my major requirements--so I decided I will just focus on my three classes this semester. Probably play more tennis and spend more time in ASUC.
Posted by John Cortez at 1:32 | Permalink
20 August 2008
Yay financial aid !
It's one of those day when I get a huge lump of money in one day. It's tempting to use it to buy stuff I don't really need (eg another tennis racket). I have to allocate my money properly each month, if not I'll be broke before semester ends (that'll be so horrible to have no cash for Thanksgiving/Christmas).
Good thing I have an online-only HSBC account. It's quite a hassle to withdraw money from it, so once I put money into my savings account I just don't want to get anything from it. It also has the highest interest rate, 3.5% right now. Now I just have to make sure I don't "oversave". It makes me wonder though how much I should be saving because some people say to "just spend it, what's the point of working for it if you don't use it?"
Posted by John Cortez at 3:42 | Permalink
16 August 2008
Watching Live - a little break before school, again
So I went to sleep at 1:15am and set my alarm to 3:00am.
More like a nap.
All this for Olympics tennis! Watching Djokovic and Blake right now fight over the Bronze medal. This is unusual for both because rarely in tennis players try to win for a consolation prize. Both have lost their semi's match against Nadal and Gonzales respectively.
For the Gold and Silver medals, Rafa Nadal of Spain goes against Fernando Gonzales of Chile. As far as tennis Olympics go, it's been rare for top 5 players to win Gold. It might be an exception for Nadal this time. Having beaten Federer in his homecourt (Wimbledon) and stealing away his #1 ranking in two days, can Nadal ...
----CUT--- (something happening with Venus and Serena Williams' doubles match)
Posted by John Cortez at 3:47 | Permalink
12 August 2008
Summer 08 Finals
Can't seem to concentrate during this summer semester :(
I wanted to keep myself busy this summer (which did happen), but having to worry about grades is no fun! Poli Sci 3 and Stats 21 have been interesting and fun, but I had this mindset that I should be having fun--so I didn't really focus studying. I like taking classes and I don't mind doing the schoolwork, but grades.... tsk tsk
But I guess I'm just having time management issues again. Anyhow, I gotta get studying and get over with Stats 21 so I can start memorizing Hiragana for my soon-to-be Japanese1A class =D
Posted by John Cortez at 1:55 | Permalink
06 August 2008
Telebears?! More like Teletubbies --> annoying!
Arghhhh!!! All four classes I want to take next school year are wait-listed! Hopefully I can work my way through it.
Are you having your own problems getting into classes?
Here are some personal advice.
Posted by John Cortez at 1:21 | Permalink
27 July 2008
Not So Fresh Anymore
Whatever. I just checked my Bear Facts, and I'm no longer "Fresh".
Now looking at my first year grades, I see some good (and bad) patterns. Hopefully recalling what happened to my grades would help find my strengths and weaknesses and what I can do in the future (my sophomore year to be specific).
Posted by John Cortez at 9:51 | Permalink
21 May 2008
Posted by John Cortez at 1:13 | Permalink
21 May 2008
Lessons to learn
Posted by John Cortez at 7:52 | Permalink
21 May 2008
Posted by John Cortez at 6:48 | Permalink
21 May 2008
First year at Cal
It seems yesterday I was just moving in. All of sudden, now I'm packing up.
I just can't believe my first year is over.
Posted by John Cortez at 1:19 | Permalink
14 May 2008
No more classes...
Also, Congratulations to the Class of 2008!
Now the school year is almost over (well for some people it is already over, lucky for those with no finals), It is time to plan out for summer! Actually let’s talk about that later. Let’s ace our finals first :)
Posted by John Cortez at 6:39 | Permalink
25 April 2008
Temptations, temptations... part 2
As I mentioned in Chapter 1, I was controlled by video games. That was two years ago. Now is time to strike back.
Posted by John Cortez at 1:43 | Permalink
25 April 2008
Temptations, temptations... part 1
Midterms were over last week (at least for me), about time I caught up with all my readings (10 minutes ago, finally), and now I'm deciding what to do. It feels great that I have more time again, but I'm sure this won't last long; my final paper in College Writing R4B is due in three weeks and finals are up that same week.
Again, like always, I'm facing against the temptation to slack off and not do my homework in advance.
Posted by John Cortez at 8:34 | Permalink
12 April 2008
Dealing with Berkeley's Academic Reputation
Actually during Senior Weekend I was talking to a student and she told me something similar. I faced this problem too when I was admitted to Berkeley. I imagined myself going to class with 4.0GPA, perfect SAT scores, and super bright students that I'm going to get C's and D's. But after my first semester, I realized that was not the case. There's actually more than just being bright to survive Berkeley.
Posted by John Cortez at 9:59 | Permalink
02 April 2008
John's Guide to Choosing a College!
Posted by John Cortez at 0:06 | Permalink
14 March 2008
So this is my first blog and before I can start providing advices I will introduce myself first. My name is John Cortez and I'm a freshie studying Environmental Economics and Policy (geez such a long name). I am also planning to double major in Political Science because I am mainly interested in policy making and solving public issues. Actually, I thought I was going to become an engineer, but...
Posted by John Cortez at 8:46 | Permalink