07 October 2008

Chem 3BL

I am taking Chem 3BL this semester. For those of you who are not science majors, Chem 3BL is the lab course accompanying the second semester of organic chemistry. It is worth 2 units, but you have to put 10+ hours into it each week. Sounds ridiculous, huh? Let me show you the math.

So each week, you would spend about 4 hours doing the experiment, and another hour sitting in the lab lecture where the instructor talks about techniques and theories used in organic chemistry laboratories. That’s already 5 hour there. Then you would spend 3-4 hours working on your lab report, answering supplemental questions and assigning NMR spectra. On top of these, you have to spend another 2-3 hours reading for the lab you are going to do next week and completing the pre-lab exercises.

If you are planning to take Chem 3BL next semester, do think if you are able to put in this amount of time on top of you other classes and extracurricular activities. And it is actually not a bad idea to take the lecture part first and then do the lab. This way, you will know all the reactions and possibly do better!

Continue reading "Chem 3BL" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:00 | Permalink

27 August 2008

Where to get your textbooks?

If you have attended the first class meeting, you will have the book list. Otherwise, you can actually acquire the booklist for most of your classes from www.calstudentstore.com by clicking on "Find your textbook and course materials". This is the website for the student store on campus. You may also want to check out http://www.nedsbooks.com/ucb/ (a bookstore right across from campus) since the books there are often cheaper. In most cases, both bookstores have new and used textbooks and it’s truly up to you.

If you want great deals, here are several alternatives:

1. Comegetused.com: You arrange to buy books from other students who have taken the same courses. The buyer and seller arrange meeting time and place to complete the transaction.

2. Facebook Marketplace: Very similar to comegetused.com. The buyer and seller arrange meeting time and place to complete the transaction.

3. Amazon.com: you get a discount for most of the books and if you shop over $25, shipping will be free. You may also check out the copies listed by Amazon Marketplace sellers. Some of them can be very cheap.

4. Half.com: You may find international editions from sellers. In general, international editions are exactly the same as U.S. editions content-wise, but with different ISBNs and covers.

Let’s try to spend less and good luck!

Continue reading "Where to get your textbooks?" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:33 | Permalink

07 August 2008

Another "complaining" post on Tele-BEARS

I just had my Tele-BEARS appointment a few days ago, though I am a rising Junior! As I expected, the classes I wanted to sign up were full, and so was the wait list for one of them!

It seems to me that scheduling becomes more and more of a problem as I go along in the years. I guess a lot of that is definitely the budget cut’s fault. No matter whose fault it is, competition for class seats will become tougher and tougher, and your schedule will become harder and harder to plan.

In case you are wondering how your Tele-BEARS appointment times are assigned, here it is:

For Fall
1st: athletes and DSP students
2nd: graduating seniors
3rd: seniors
4th: juniors and incoming students (fall-admitted freshman transfers)
5th: sophomores

For Spring:
1st: athletes and DSP students
2nd: graduating seniors
3rd: seniors
4th: juniors and incoming students (spring-admitted freshman transfers)
5th: sophomores
6th: fall-admitted freshman

So I guess the lesson is that not everything will go according to the plan! Keep in mind that some classes are semester-specific, ex. only offered during fall semesters, so be sure to factor into your class scheduling plans too.

Good luck! Scheduling is definitely part of the Cal experience!

Continue reading "Another "complaining" post on Tele-BEARS" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 1:21 | Permalink

05 August 2008

What to say to a roomie-to-be?

So I guess the real questions are: What kind of things should intro messages to new roommate(s) include? And what should be avoided? Is it better to state preferences right up front, even though these may not be well received?

Here is my $0.02.

In a very first message, I would just do a “hello” type thing, like “Hi, new roomie! I’m so excited and I can’t wait to meet you!” I think it would be best to start off by getting to know each other, trying to find common interest and forming a friendly friendship. I would not start rambling off preferences as it could provoke defensiveness and animosity right off the bat.

Once we’re a little more comfortable with talking to each other, I’d start bringing up some real business, like how to split between the expenses of dorm furniture (microwave oven and fridge for the most part). As to the room preference, I would wait till we move in, because during Welcome Week, roommates will be expected to discuss and then fill out a roommate contract thing. And that’s probably the best time to sit down, go over the logistics and work out the details. However, for now, it doesn’t hurt to chat a bit to get a general feeling. For example, people can take turns to ask and answer roomie type question like: what is your typical neat/messy? what is your living pattern? Starting out openly is a very good way to begin, but one has to take it gradually.

And don’t be frustrated if your roommate(s) take a long time to respond. A lot of people are going on vacation around this time, and sometimes people are just unable to access the school email.

Good luck!

Continue reading "What to say to a roomie-to-be?" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:49 | Permalink

28 July 2008

The Olympics!

So 10 days till the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games!

1. The Stadium

The Chinese build a new National Stadium, also known as the “Bird’s Nest”, for the Beijing Olympic Games. As the main stadium for the Games, the Bird’s Nest will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletics competitions, and football finals.

The Stadium covers an area of 20.4 hectares, has a floor space of 258,000 square meters and will seat 91,000 during the Games. According the Chinese, the Bird’s Nest fully represents a “Green Olympics,” as there is a solar power system on top of the ticket office, and a water collection system that processes 58,000 tons of rainfall annually for irrigation and cleaning purposes.

Here is the photo of the Stadium, being illuminated during the first rehearsal for the illumination system after its construction.

Continue reading "The Olympics!" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 5:27 | Permalink

23 July 2008

UC System Eyes Admission Changes

Even though we have already gone through the grueling college admission process, I guess it is always interesting to see where is direction is heading to.

In the Chronicle of Education and multiple newspapers last week:

“The University of California is moving toward a major revision in its admissions policy that would de-emphasize test scores and give the system’s nine undergraduate campuses greater flexibility in choosing their freshman classes.

The plan, which was discussed on Wednesday at a meeting of the system’s Board of Regents, would be the biggest change in how the university evaluates prospective students in at least a decade. It was proposed last month by faculty leaders who argue that the system’s strict eligibility formula disqualifies deserving students, especially those from low-income and minority backgrounds.”

Here is the link to the story in the AP State News.


For sure there are going to be lots of controversy to follow.

Continue reading "UC System Eyes Admission Changes" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 6:17 | Permalink

23 June 2008

Health Insurance

I just found a Business Week article on insurance coverage at college.

Since I am covered by health insurance provided by my parent’s employer, I choose to waive SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan), the insurance required by the University if a student does not have major medical insurance. The article makes me think about how good SHIP is.

For those of you who are still deciding whether to waive SHIP or not, visit the website
at http://www.uhs.berkeley.edu/Students/insurance/index.shtml to find out more.

Before making the decision, there are some problems/pitfalls one needs to watch out for:
- What is covered and what is not covered by the insurance?
- When does insurance coverage kick in, and for what?
- Do they have a preferred network?
- Know how ER works, since accidents are the most likely thing happening to college students.
- … …

Whether you have insurance through the school or through a parent's policy, you need to understand your policy.


Continue reading "Health Insurance" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 4:36 | Permalink

04 April 2008

Schedule Planning

I went to talk to the MEB advisor this afternoon since I really need some advice on planning for my upper division curriculum. I guess some students would probably roll their eyes and like: “it is just continuing in a bunch of science classes as the introductory ones we have been taking.” But trust me, the upper division requirements are quite different! In lower division, you would take Chem 1A, Chem 3A/3AL and Chem 3B/3BL to fulfill the chemistry requirement. For the biology requirement, it is Bio 1A/1AL and Bio 1B. For the physics requirement, it is Physics 8A and Physics 8B… You know all those mandatory, huge and competitive courses…

However, you have a variety of courses to choose from for the upper division requirements. For example, I am majoring in Molecular Environmental Biology, and there is the Upper Division Biology Requirement where I am going to take a course from each of the seven categories. In addition, I would have to choose an area of concentration and take another 12 units from a list of approved course.

Continue reading "Schedule Planning" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 1:41 | Permalink

31 March 2008

My First RPP Experience

So this afternoon, I went to my first RPP appointment. For those of you who do not know this, RPP is the Research Participation Program that gives undergraduate students a chance to participate in some of the research being conducted by graduate students and faculty researchers in the Department of Psychology. Since I am taking Psychology 2 this semester, I am required to participate in research experiments for a total of 5 hours.

I didn’t want to sign up for those experiments that would require putting wires around my head to measure some kind of brain activity, because what can I do if something goes wrong?! So I was trying to find survey-based experiment from the list of available studies online. Finally I decided to give a try on Experiment 73.

The experiment was scheduled in Tolman, and it was specified that the experiment would start right at the hour, not 10 minutes after. Tolman is that strange building that you can never figure out where you are. As I wandered around on the fourth floor, I thought that it would be such a good idea to just let us search for a room that does not even exist and record how long it takes us to figure that out! Anyway, after spending five minutes wandering around on the fourth floor, and I finally found room 4105.

Continue reading "My First RPP Experience " »

Posted by Yang Cao at 9:42 | Permalink

21 December 2007

What can I do without Internet?

I guess the title of this post has already revealed what I want to share with you guys. And here it goes…

Even though I finished my last final last Friday, I didn’t get to go home till yesterday since I still had to work. Everything before Tuesday was good, because I did not have any finals left and grades were not out yet. However, when I got back Tuesday night, I found out that the wireless network at my place was not working. I tried and tried, but I still could not get my laptop connect to the network.

I was not that willing to go to sleep early. So I decided to go to a place where there is Internet. But then I was too lazy to go out in such a chilly night and I stayed in my room. So what could I do?

I first organized my room and recycled all the scratch papers I had used when I was reviewing for my ochem final. After I clean my room, it was barely 9:00 pm and that was still early for me to go to sleep. So I borrowed magazines from my roommate so that I could have something to read. Even though those magazines were not the ones I would read, I still sat there and read them word-by-word, line-by-line, paragraph –by-paragraph and page-by-page.

I thought Wednesday would be better but I was wrong. The wireless network was still not working. So I spent that night reading the papers I have written for my English class this semester and went to bed really early.

Continue reading "What can I do without Internet?" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 3:29 | Permalink

21 December 2007

Get your Resume Ready and Apply for a Summer Internship

As a subscriber of the CareerMail, I have received several emails the past few days that are designated to encourage students to apply for an internship/job for next summer. I also agree with their suggestions.

First of all, most of us are busy with school and work during the semester. And we barely have the time to sit down, search for an internship/enrichment program/job and actually apply for it. Now we are in winter break, and it would be great if you can spare some time to do some research and then actually develop a resume and a cover letter for future use. So think about it!

Secondly, most of those opportunities have deadlines in late January and early February. But most of us don't even think about applying for one till late March. So act early!

Lastly, most internships/enrichment programs/jobs are very competitive and you want to submit an excellent application, not a crappy one that you would write in a hurry two hours before the deadline. So start early!

Here are a few of those opportunities:
1. 2008-09 Koch Associate Program in Washington, D.D
2. East Bay Outreach, Policy Analyst, and Media Internship with Greenbelt Alliance
3. QB3 Undergraduate Biotech Internship Program
4. Travel Department Internship @ The Commonwealth Club

If you are interested in any of the above listings or other opportunities, just visit http://career.berkeley.edu

Continue reading "Get your Resume Ready and Apply for a Summer Internship " »

Posted by Yang Cao at 1:39 | Permalink

19 December 2007

Sophomore 15?

The No. 1 thing people would warn you when you are about to enter college is: “Oh, be careful about ‘freshman 15’!” For me, I was really careful last year keeping a healthy lifestyle and consequently, I did not get my ‘freshman 15’.

But this year, it has been difficult. First of all, I moved out of the dorms so I am basically on my own for meals. As a result, I eat out much more frequently than I did last year. Secondly, I have developed bad study habits as I start to stay up late much more frequently than I did last year to finish my papers and cram in for exams. Consequently, I have to eat snacks (unhealthy ones) to fight away the hunger! Thirdly, since my vigilance toward ‘freshman 15’ has diminished, I do not go to do exercise as frequently as I should.

Here are a few tips I am going to give a try:

1). Go for vegetables and fruits whenever you can
2). Try not to develop the habit to drink sodas because once you get used to them, you would have one almost every meal.
3). It is hard to push yourself to go the gym on a regular basis. So you may want to find things to do with friends that are “hidden exercises”
4). Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “diet” because this may make you feel left out when you are hanging out with friends who not are not dieting. Have some unplanned days when you can eat whatever…
5). Try to maintain regular eating and sleeping times!
6). Never skip a meal, especially breakfast!

That’s what I have so far. Any suggestions?

Continue reading "Sophomore 15? " »

Posted by Yang Cao at 1:00 | Permalink

16 December 2007

A few things you may consider to do before you go:

For those of you who are already done with finals, congratulations! You have survived another (or your first one if you are a Freshman) rigorous semester at the nation’s #1 public university! For those of you who still have papers/presentations/exams next week, keep the good work and you are almost there!

Here are a few things you may consider to do before you go:

1). Sell your textbooks
You can go to Cal Student Store or Neds to sell back your books. However, if you feel that the price at which they are buying back your stuff is not satisfying, just visit comegetused.com to register and list your item there!
(Disclaimer: comegetused.com is a textbook classifieds network owned and operated by a Berkeley alumnus and an UCLA student. Though there is no charge for the service, there is no guarantee that someone will buy your book)

2). Do some laundry
Personally, I have piled up some laundry the past two weeks because I just don’t have the leisure to do them! But hey, you don’t want your dirty clothing to sit there (in a basket at the corner in your closet) until you come back in January. Technically, you could pack your laundry into a suitcase and bring them home. But you are a college student who has the ability to take care of yourself. So let’s finish them before you leave.

3). Finish spending your meal points if you have a meal plan
Wasting meal points = wasting your money!

4). Have fun!!!

Continue reading "A few things you may consider to do before you go:" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 0:25 | Permalink

06 December 2007

Two suggestions...

Check Bear Facts for test location!
Please do not rely on the final schedule / location printout that is posted almost everywhere! Though more than 95% of that information is correct, you don’t want to be one of those unlucky people who are misled by the incorrect 5%. For example, the final for Chem 3A was originally scheduled to be in 100 Haas Pavilion, but the location is just changed to somewhere in RSF because the basketball people want to play basketball there, according to my professor.

Have enough sleep!
People tend to pull an all-nighter when something needs to be done tomorrow and you can’t finish it by tonight. This happens a lot during finals’ time. However, pulling an all-nighter is NOT a way to get more time since you will eventually give those hours back by sleeping more the next few days, not even to mention the decreased level of work that you would accomplish during these half sleepy and half awake hours.

However, I am not saying there is no place for pulling an all-nighter, since sometimes, one hour tonight could be worth much more than two hours tomorrow. For example, if you have a final exam in a few hours and you really need the extra couple of hours to study. In this case, you should probably go ahead and do so because doing poorly on the exam may cost you many more hours later, as you may end up retaking the class or speaking with the instructor.
Here are some tips where I think are very helpful if you decide to pull an all-nighter
1). Stay focused, which means no online chatting, no Facebooking, etc.
2). Don’t take a nap since you may not be able to wake up ontime
3). Take a shower to refresh yourself.
4). Eat some sugary stuff to provide your body that extra bit of energy.
5). Go easy on the caffeine.
Good luck on your finals!!!

Continue reading "Two suggestions..." »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:59 | Permalink

16 November 2007

Can’t wait for my o-chem MT to be done!!!

5 more days till thanksgiving.
3 more days till Thanksgiving if you don’t count the lovely weekend.

However, this Saturday and Sunday will not be enjoyable to me because I am going to study for my second midterm in organic chemistry, which is next Monday evening. And I still have a writing assignment due the next morning! But after that, I am all free and ready to go home! Unlike a few of my friends who have planned out their Thanksgiving break, I don’t have much details at this moment, but eating good food, spending time with my parents, meeting up with friends and shopping are definitely on my list.

Enjoy the break – the peace before the turmoil of finals and papers attacks us again.

Continue reading "Can’t wait for my o-chem MT to be done!!!" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 3:51 | Permalink

20 October 2007

If anyone wants to know how exactly Berkeley does their admissions process...

This is quite a long read but I think it is interesting.



By Michael Hout
Professor of Sociology
University of California, Berkeley

Continue reading " If anyone wants to know how exactly Berkeley does their admissions process..." »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:27 | Permalink

20 October 2007

Just My $0.02

Having heard so many people complaining how academically stressed they are, I would like to give my two cents here.

Almost everyone here did very well in either high school or community college. So personally, I think it’s good to realize that you are not always the best, and there is always someone who can do just a little better than you can. Of course, that does not mean you should give up, you should just put in more work and not get upset if you don’t get the grades you want. Also, if you think it is hard, you will certainly make it harder. So the best thing to do is to keep trying and don’t worry so much about the results.

And do realize you are not only studying here, but also living here. So go out and do something! Look for posting on the board in different buildings or at Sproul Plaza. Check out a theater class or one or one of those really cool DeCals, even if you are not good at it.

And remember, you will not be at Cal forever. Do not constantly think “OMG, I still have to suffer through 3 years of this!” Time goes by much more quickly than you realize, and college is probably the best time you will have in your entire life!

Be strong and prove to yourself that you can do it!

Continue reading "Just My $0.02" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:15 | Permalink

20 October 2007

Botanical Garden!!!

Instead of sitting there and completing a ten page long worksheets, I actually had a field trip to the Botanical Garden for this week’s Biology 1B Lab. To learn some of California’s unique plant communities and the species that they contain, we visited the Alpine Fellfield Community, the Vernal Pool Community, the Chaparral Community, the Serpentine Community and the Redwood Forest Community. (I won’t bore you with the details on the plants belonging to these communities cope with their environment.)

Even though it was raining the whole time, I still enjoyed it a lot. I strongly encourage all of you to pay a visit there sometime. It is free for students with an ID and you can ride the Hillside Line at Heart Mining Circle. If it is raining, the ticket window would give plastic raincoat for FREE!

Continue reading "Botanical Garden!!!" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:02 | Permalink

06 September 2007

Whee! College!

For everyone who is new here…

The first few weeks of college experience are often a rush of excitement. Then things settle down and reality kicks in. That’s when you are vulnerable to the blues. No place is perfect, not even the wonderful Berkeley, and little things can begin to nag -- maybe tensions with a roommate, an unhelpful professor or GSI, or bureaucratic problems with scheduling or financial aid that don’t seem to get resolved quickly. I’m not saying any of these will happen, but you should not be surprised if something does. You can miss your parents, your old friends, home-cooked food, everything you would have enjoyed if you are still at home! But do give both Cal and yourself a chance, as you try to meet people, make new friends, establish connections and build your network. And then, with your developed resilience and new maturity from leaving home and entering college, get over the first semester and continue maturing until you become the individual/adult you had come in wanting to be.

Continue reading "Whee! College!" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 4:00 | Permalink

06 September 2007

When Bio 1B gets together with Chem 3A...

Since I am taking Biology 1B and Chemistry 3A this semester, I have 8AM class every single day. Even though I am not a morning person, but it is not that bad as most people would think.

First, since I wake up about the same time every morning, there is no need to adjust the alarm several times throughout the week. I have one of those alarm clock radios, where the hour is in 12-hour format. So when setting my alarm, it is easy to mess up with the AM and PM. And I remember last year, I often set the alarm to 9PM when I needed it to be at 9AM.

Second, because of my 8AM classes, I have to go to bed before midnight so that I don’t wake up in a cranky mood. Yay! No more staying up late at night for me, which in turn requires better time management in the daytime.

Oh, at last, one highlight from my Chem 3A professor: “For those of you who are interested in videotaping or film-making, you may want to consider making a film out of this class and naming it ‘The Berkeley OC – organic chemistry at Berkeley’ ”.

Continue reading "When Bio 1B gets together with Chem 3A..." »

Posted by Yang Cao at 3:34 | Permalink

20 August 2007

Things to do during Welcome Week

AC Transit Class Pass: Go get your Class Pass, a sticker for your Cal 1 Card that gives you free, unlimited rides on AC Transit, and on BearTransit campus shuttles.

Bike License: Register your bike if you have one. It’s the law in Berkeley!

Cal 1 Card (Cal Photo ID): If you have not gotten your Cal 1 Card from CalSO, go get it from Cal 1 Card Office located in 110 Cesar Chavez Center, M-F, 9am until 5pm.

Calapalooza: This is a resource fair where you you’ll meet representatives from over 300 student organizations and campus services, as well as view performances by student groups on the Doe Library Steps. Thursday, August 23, 11am-2pm, Memorial Glade.

Caltopia 2007: This is a festival of fun, music and Cal Spirit. Friday-Saturday, August 24-25, 10am-5pm (closes at 4pm on Saturday), Recreational Sports Facility, 2301 Bancroft Way.

Chancellor's Receptions for New Undergraduates: This event is a daytime outdoor party at the home of the Chancellor.

Tuesday, August 21 – Thursday, August 23, 4pm-5:30pm, Chancellor’s Garden, University House, attire is business casual.
• Tuesday, August 21: Clark Kerr and Unit 2 residents
• Wednesday, August 22: Unit 4 (Bowles, Foothill, Stern), Channing/Bowdich apartments, International House, and off-campus residents
• Thursday, August 23: Unit 1 and Unit 3 residents

College and Major Orientations: Wednesday, August 22, Various Times. For more info, please visit http://welcomeweek.berkeley.edu/orient.html

Confirmed Class Schedule: If you need a copy of your class schedule, you can view and print a copy via Bear Facts at http://bearfacts.berkeley.edu.

Financial Aid Checks/CARS Refunds: Refunds are issued via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). With EFT, funds are deposited directly into your checking or savings account. Otherwise, a check will be printed and held for you to pick up at the Billing and Payment Services Office, 140 University Hall. To activate or update your EFT authorization, go to http://eftstudent.berkeley.edu.

Continue reading "Things to do during Welcome Week" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 0:08 | Permalink

08 August 2007

Good News!!!

Good News!!!

I just found out that I am no longer waitlisted for Chem 3A, even though I was still No. 104 on the waitlist yesterday. The department increases the enrollment limit from 480 to 625.

Here is some advice from Christina (another blogger for Fresh Faces) and Irene (GPB Peer Advisor) about signing up for classes. Oh, big thanks to both you for your comments to my previous entry.

Here are the classes that you should not try to wait until Phase II to sign up for:
Chem 3A & Chem 3AL
Chem 3B & Chem 3BL
Bio 1A & Bio 1AL
Bio 1B
R1A & R1B: They are filled up very quickly since the English/R&C requirement is one of the university general requirements. Plus the small class size, you probably won’t have a chance unless you are within the top 5 on the wait list.

If you want to take those lower-division science classes, but absolutely have to devote some of your precious 10.5 units to other classes in Phase I, at least sign up for the lab if it has separate lab components. Lecture is almost always guaranteed when you sign up in Phase II, even though you might be waitlisted.

Oh, Bio 1A & Bio 1AL maybe an exception. From what I read from the note at schedule.berkeley.edu, it says that students must enroll in both 1A and 1AL at the same time. If you enroll in only 1A or 1AL during Tele-BEARS Phase I, you will be dropped at the start of Phase II (unless exempt). Enrollment only in 1A or 1AL does not guarantee enrollment in the other part of the course.

Continue reading "Good News!!!" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 3:06 | Permalink

06 August 2007

Schedule, Schedule and Schedule

I just had my Tele-BEARS Appointment for Phase II Appointment this morning. And I was at no surprised to find out that I am No. 104 on the waitlist for Chemistry 3A (the lecture part). Plus, the waitlist of ESPM 50AC, a class I really want/have to take, is full so that I cannot even add myself to the waitlist.

I do not intend to complain since
1). I know my Phase II appointment is late
2). People will drop classes during the first few weeks
3). I was able to enroll in Biology 1B, English R1A and Chemistry 3AL(the lab part) during Phase I
3). Maybe I should just have a 3-course workload for Fall 2007

But I am still a bit annoyed and frustrated…

Continue reading "Schedule, Schedule and Schedule" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 4:38 | Permalink

31 July 2007

Are social sciences more difficult than natural sciences (as disciplines…)?

A few college freshmen have asked me for my opinion on the difficulty of social science and natural science.

I would say social sciences are more complex to study because you deal with human beings, which gives rise to special problems. Abortion, evolution, Darwinism, genetic engineering, capitalism, Marxism, culture, human rights, et cetera, are all huge topics and involve a lot of thinking. Natural sciences are much more rigorous, as they follow the scientific method. It still makes you think deeply, about the world around you, and how things operate. However, the thinking is much more abstract.

By the way, there are currently changes in the way we distinguish between the natural and social sciences. Mathematical modeling is often applied to the social sciences - without forcing them to be reduced to more “fundamental” natural sciences.

Indeed, both sciences are very interesting and I think they are complementary instead of arguable over "harder". Pick the one you like best to study.

Continue reading "Are social sciences more difficult than natural sciences (as disciplines…)? " »

Posted by Yang Cao at 5:13 | Permalink

18 July 2007

How often do you talk to your parents?

I was in a discussion recently about how often parents (moms) expect to hear from their new college students. One friend complained that his mom just had to hear from him every single day, which seemed a bit excessive to me. But maybe with cell phones and free long distance, it’s not excessive? Another friend is just tired that her dad would call her cell phone whenever he felt like it, since he was paying the bill for it. Another friend is comfortable with his mom calling him every day as he walks to morning classes. For me, I have the expectation that I would check in with my family every Sunday afternoon.

I guess it is not easy to strike a balance between having independence while still keeping the lines of communication open. Maybe means of communication like IMs and email are the best bet? What do you all think?

Continue reading "How often do you talk to your parents?" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 0:26 | Permalink

27 May 2007

Residence Hall Reviews

After staying in one of the dorms for my first year at Cal, I would like to share my impression on all the residence halls.

Unit 1 is commonly considered the best of the units. It seems to be in the middle of social/academic priorities, such that you can study when needed, and the place isn’t like a giant fraternity 24/7. It is close to Crossroads (one of the dining commons) and is also pretty clean.

Unit 2 was renovated recently, and is only a ten minute walk from campus. Since it is a little bit farther away from campus, it is a bit louder and social.

Unit 3 is conveniently located as it is literally two blocks away from the Sather Gate. There’s the Bear Market, Cafe 3, and some other eating places. It is kind of loud and has a pretty diverse spread of class years.

Foothill is expensive, mostly unsocial, and far from the Recreational Sports Facility (gym). But if you’re a chemistry/mathematics/engineering/physics major, then Foothill is about 5 minutes away from most of your classes. If you’re humanity major, then you’re likely to whining about climbing up the hill in front of Pimentel Hall or the stairs behind Hearst Mining.

Clark Kerr Campus has really nice rooms, but it is very far away from campus. Another problem is that its DC only opens from 6-8 PM for dinner, and there is no late night service or restaurants around. So if you accidentally missed dinner, you pretty much have to stay hungry (snack is always another option) till the next day.

Bowles hall, though all male, probably gives you the biggest living area, with large closets, bedrooms, and an adjacent study/common room. It also sports a terrific view of Berkeley, if you get an outward facing room.

Stern Hall…not too sure…

Anyone has other things to add?

Continue reading "Residence Hall Reviews" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 0:22 | Permalink

26 May 2007

If I were a Cal freshman again, I would...

If I were a Cal freshman again, I would...

1. Check out a few clubs, join a club and actually get involved with it a little bit.

2. Go out to explore the place. Don’t just stay in the room 24/7. Go out to Shattuck on weekends even though it’s a bit of a walk. Go to SF once in a while.

3. Go to office hours, both professor office hours and GSI office hours. You hear this from me, from the staff at orientation, from other students, and chances are you still won’t go to them. But you really should.

4. Avoid getting behind in class. Once you fall behind, it is almost impossible to catch up. This also means to start papers and projects early. Just do it!!!

5. Make friends in classes just in case you miss something and particularly if you like to work in groups.

6. Set up a pattern of studying and keep it up. Go to the library or the academic centers often if you study well there.

7. Try to get decent-good grades, but don’t ONLY do schoolwork.

8. Take personal inventories. Try to think about what you want out of each day, of each week, of each semester, and of college in general. Try to complete these goals.

Basically, any advices that could be passed on to prospective students are welcomed and will be greatly appreciated!!!

Continue reading "If I were a Cal freshman again, I would..." »

Posted by Yang Cao at 3:51 | Permalink

12 March 2007

Oral Exam for Math 1B

I am going to have an oral exam for my Math 1B class in a week. Why do we ever need to present something orally for a mathematic class? Well, the answer is that the professor wants us to really understand the reasonings behind all the theorems we are using.

Here is the detail, for those of you who are curious. When it is your examination, you roll a 10-faced dice to decide which prompt you will get since there are ten of them. Then you will have 7 minutes to present your argument, and the two GSIs will ask you question during the next 5 minutes. The last 3 minutes will be the time for the GSIs to deliberate on what grade you will receive.

I don't know whether I should hate the oral or like it. We will see, I guess...

Continue reading "Oral Exam for Math 1B" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:35 | Permalink

10 March 2007

Ice Skating

Finally, I am done with midterms for now. Yay! It was so crazy that I had a physics midterm last Thursday night, a chemistry MT Monday night, and another one for ESPM Tuesday morning. But now, I will be FREE for a month!

So as a reward for myself, I went to ice skating tonight with my floormates in Berkeley Iceland. After I cumbersomely put on the skate shoes, I could barely stand up and walk, Fortunately, with a friend’s help, I managed to go the ice skating ground.

Now the hard part began. Since I was so scared to get on the skating ground, I stayed in my seat for several minutes to play with my shoes. I made them tight for one minute and loose for the next 30 seconds till I felt they were absolutely safe. Then, I entered the icy ground and held the wall tightly with both hands. I was afraid that I was going to fall if I let go of it. The need for a feeling of security…

My floormates skated by, and encouraged me to give it a try. With the promise that they were going to hold my arms, I started to walk on the ice cautiously. At first, I just felt that my body was leaning forward and I was going to fall. After a while, I felt more comfortable and tried to let one hand go, but it didn’t seem to work so well. Maybe it is because I had a sense of security when by holding the wall with one hand; thus, my fears were soothed.

Anyways, I had a good time tonight, and I would suggest to you all to steal a moment of leisure time under the pressure of midterms and papers. It is worth it!

Continue reading "Ice Skating" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 1:02 | Permalink

13 February 2007

Happy Valentines' Day

Even though it is still 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Valentines' Day, I have been receiving chocolates, candies and cards from my floormates and friends. Walking through the street, I feel I am immersed by those red and pink hearts. Here is a little FYI for those who are curious about the origin of Valentine's Day in North America.

Valentine's Day was probably imported into North America in the 19th century by British settlers. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, and she took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received. Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual "Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary."

In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manners of gifts in the United States, usually from a man to a woman. Such gifts typically include roses and chocolates. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine's Day as an occasion for giving jewelry. The day has come to be associated with a generic platonic greeting of "Happy Valentine's Day."

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!!

Continue reading "Happy Valentines' Day" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:37 | Permalink

15 December 2006

Just Some Random Thoughts

1. Finally, my laptop is back...

I just got back my laptop from the repairing place this Monday after three weeks of waiting. Only God knows how I endured through that period when I had to rush through my dinner and then sat in the Unit 2 Computing Center till it is closed...

2.. Finals

After scrambling through some limits, derivatives and integrals on Monday, trying to make sense out of some kinematics and thermodynamics on Wednesday, I am done with two of my finals. Yeah, I still have one more to go, for Asian American Studies.

The other day I was talking to my friend. We agreed upon that finals from 8 to11 AM is just too early, and you would probably need two alarm clocks so that you can wake up on time. The 12:30 - 3:00 PM ones are OK, except that you will probably starve a few hours because you don't really want to eat a huge meal before taking an exam. The 5:00 - 8:00 PM ones are just too late, and even if that is your last final, you have to wait till the next day to go home.

3. Meal Plan Points

I really had a headache when I realized that I still have 300 meal points left, and I have to spend at least 200 points before next Tuesday. I have always believed that "The more, the better."
But for those meal points ... the fewer, the better...

Continue reading "Just Some Random Thoughts" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 6:30 | Permalink

10 November 2006


Finally... After countless count-down on how many days are left till Veteran's Day, along with several stressful midterms, plus an unpleasant trip home, I am finally sitting in front of my computer and typing this entry.

Even though this may sounds an cliche, but I have to admit that time files! We are already 2/3 through the fall semester and winter break is on its way! Looking back at the past two and a half months, I see myself procarstinating, staying up to finish my assignment the night before deadline, playing UNO that can never be finished in the laundry room, leaving my laundry in the washing machine for more than one hour ...

What are your stories?

Continue reading "Finally..." »

Posted by Yang Cao at 4:18 | Permalink

12 October 2006

What is a "jerk"?

What is a "jerk"?

Definition 1:
The third derivative of position, the second derivative of velocity, or the first derivative of acceleration.

Definition 2:
Imagine that your friend was driving and you were in his car. Your friend saw the traffic light turned yellow and believed that he could make it. So he stepped on the gas pedal and you experienced a pull forward. Suddenly, the traffic light turned red and your friend had to stepped on the brake. You felt being pushed back and were like "Shoot, what a jerk..."

This is from my math professor when he was trying to explain higher derivatives and how useful they are in kinematics. So I guess the moral of the story is do not be intimidated by the huge lectures and do approach your professor during their office hours. They are very friendly and willing to help.

Continue reading "What is a "jerk"?" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 1:48 | Permalink

29 September 2006

Done With My First Midterm

This morning, I had my first midterm for Math 1A. I immersed myself in the sea of limits and derivatives. Even though I have taken AP Calculus in high school, the materials taught at Cal are really from a different perspective, even though the topics are pretty similar. All I learned before was how to plug numbers into formulas and let the TI-89 do all the calculations for me. But now I have to understand the reasoning behind each theorem before I apply any laws into problems. The real intellectual challenge!

And here I am, relaxing myself from academics for a while.

Continue reading "Done With My First Midterm" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 2:03 | Permalink

29 August 2006

My First day at Cal

Actually, this was supposed to be posted yesterday. But anyway, here is an account from a procrastinator. Oh, by the way, I am a first-year intended Molecular and Environmental Biology Major (MEB) at College of Natural Resources (CNR).

Yesterday (Monday, August 28, 2006) was my first official day at Cal. What I mean by “official” is because even though I have been living here since last week, it is the day when instructions begin. I woke up pretty early in the morning since I was kind of afraid that I might need extra time for this very first day. But everything turned out to be ok.

My first class started at 10:00 AM but I arrived there (1 Pimentel) around 9:25 AM, so I was able to oversee the last part of Chemistry 1A lecture where the professor did some “explosion” stuff (Hydrogen gas + Oxygen gas + sparkle, I guess). 1 Pimentel was a really huge lecture hall, and its front stage can be rotated so that the settings for each class would not disturb the other. I encouraged you all to check this out!

Then I was commuting between different buildings since I have back-to-back classes…

Even though most of the lectures I am in are huge and intimidating since you are sitting with hundreds of people, the professors were really trying to make class atmosphere as dynamic as possible.

Or by the way, the Freshman Seminar I am taking is really engaging since there are only 20 students there – allowing a more intimate and approachable environment. It is nice to be such a small class within the context of a public research institute, namely Berkeley.

That is about my first day, and I am really looking forward for my first semester of college life. GO BEARS!!!!

Continue reading "My First day at Cal" »

Posted by Yang Cao at 3:13 | Permalink