Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

26 September 2007

Is it time for exams already?

It seems like school has just started and exams are already in progress? Wow, time sure flies when you are in school. Many of you have probably already had your first exam (yes I like to call them exams because since when are there more than 1 middle of the semester?) Or maybe you have your first exam next week like I do. But regardless, you are probably wondering how do I study now that I have just transitioned from a fun summer to actually sitting down and studying for exams?

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Posted by Samantha Bell at 5:34 | Permalink

26 September 2007

Buckle Up and Study!

By this time, most of you have had your first midterm (or studying for your second, or even not have taken your first like me!). Once the first midterm rolls around, a continuous cycle of midterms just keep coming and coming until finals week. So how do you study and where do you study?

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Posted by Irene Liao at 3:02 | Permalink

19 September 2007

My 1st Year

I remember my freshman year fairly well. I was somewhat overwhelmed, and I attended many different club meetings. I took Chem 1A, Math 1A, an ESPM seminar, and ESPM 11 (forestry). I went to a lot of the Career Center's workshops on balancing extracurriculars, how to get involved in research, becoming a doctor, and other health career options. I was involved with AMSA (a premed club on campus that's really cool about giving you an introduction to the premed field) and I attended ABSK, what's now known as Koinonia, a Christian fellowship on campus. I met very friendly people there and I got to learn more about the Bible and how it applies to everyday, college life. It was an awesome experience. I didn't start participating in volunteering until my sophomore year, just because I wanted to concentrate on my classes my first year. It depends on the individual and how much you are able to handle! I had a difficult time being away from home, and I felt somewhat overwhelmed with trying to decide my career as a freshman, which was something I shouldn't have worried and stressed so much over (now that I am a senior). So, my advice to you if you are a freshman is to focus on your major and think about what classes you want to take, and find clubs that you are interested in and will stick with for the next few years. Explore areas around campus that you could volunteer or work in. Talk to your professors, and go to office hours. Join IM sports or casual-for-fun sport clubs. Be active!

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Posted by Adrienne Doi at 2:21 | Permalink

19 September 2007

Setting The Tone

Adjusting to college was not an easy transition for me and it really put some pressure on my academics. I took Chem 1A, Math 16A, Sociology 3AC, and Asian American Studies 20A my fall semester and Chem 3A/3AL, Spanish 3, and Math 16B my spring semester. Overall I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in those classes. I wasn’t taking school seriously thinking that I already knew most of this stuff from high school. So things started to build in: lack of motivation, having too much independence, slacking off. I guess it came down to having some sort of an identity crisis my first year and I started to become confused, intimidated, asking myself questions like “Why? Or What am I doing with my life?” (lol) I just needed to find that balance between school and personal life. … to find that direction to help point the way. (It actually took me about 2 years to finally reach a sense of catharsis). Besides taking classes, I wanted to get involved in extracurricular activities my first semester and one activity I was interested in was singing. I was pretty shy about singing (still am), but I thought that it was a good opportunity to try something new in college so I looked at various a cappella groups and ended up joining the UC Men’s Chorale, the oldest college a cappella group on the west coast (started back in 1885). Turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences I had at here at Cal. Singing helped to get my mind off of school and personal life. It was fun and I was able to improve my singing technique and build confidence by performing in front of large audiences. Most of all, it was where I met some of my greatest friends here at Cal, who’ve been supportive over the years. Overall my first year was great in that I was able to make a lot of new friends, but I guess time-management and prioritizing my responsibilities were things I really had to work on. In my opinion, you should allow yourself some time once in a while to re-evaluate your goals and to find that passion, meaning that you should do what you love. Your first semester/year will really set the tone so do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes to find a comfortable and healthy position for yourself because it will truly make a difference in the long run.

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Posted by Dale Dualan at 2:13 | Permalink

18 September 2007

Freshman year

Freshman year was a memorable year for me. Everything was exciting. Everyday was like a field trip. Classes were interesting. People were friendly. I quickly fell in love with Berkeley. I loved walking amongst the crowd in upper Sproul and taking all the flyers that was handed to me. In addition, I signed up for numerous mailing lists by the Career Center, social clubs, pre-med clubs, RSF, Cal Performances, Cal Corp, etc etc. I actually took time to look at these emails and flyers and wrote in my planner the events I could go to. My spare time after classes was saturated with these events. Since I had not decided what activity I was more interested in, attending all these events, forums, and socials gave me a glimpse of what Berkeley has to offer. After the fourth week of school, I joined the Taiwanese Student Association (TSA) and became one of the interns. My weekends were then obligated to hosting its social events like BBQ, ice skating, karaoke nights, potluck, beach day, and movie nights. Besides TSA, I attended premed info sessions by the career center to learn more about the whole med school process. I found these info sessions really helpful. Career center also offers a myriad of other events for other career fields and majors. Attending forums and info sessions not only makes you more prepared for future plans but also gives you the opportunity to meet friends who are interested in these same topics. In your first year, you should discover spots that you can study. Depending on your study habit, you might want to try different cafes, the memorial glade with sun glasses and sun block (UV lights are harmful), different libraries (Berkeley has over 30 libraries), study centers in residential halls, or the OCF lounge. All in all, freshman year is the year to discover as much as you can and have fun! Don’t forget to go to classes and study for the coming midterms!

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Posted by Amy Lin at 2:49 | Permalink

17 September 2007

My Life as a Freshman

My first semester as a freshman had its share of ups and downs. I lived in Unit 1 with a friend from high school, so the transition to living with a roommate wasn’t so intimidating. I remember feeling a little bit homesick when my parents left after helping me settle in. But I found that the great array of welcome week activities helped me forget those initial feelings. Beginning my first week of classes was also a bit overwhelming, since my first chemistry class consisted of 500 people. I can recall the panicked feeling I felt when I incorrectly answered the automated chemistry questions (you know, the ones with that remote control thingy). At one point I even called my older brother to say that I would never be able to get through this class and would subsequently fail all other classes at Berkeley. Thankfully, things got better. I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. There were many tutoring services available to help me academically and studying with others helped me see that I didn’t need to struggle alone. Looking beyond my experience with Chem 1A, every other aspect of college life was great. Some of the best memories come from late nights spent with floor mates and venturing out to the Asian ghetto to grab food at 1 am in the morning. I also got plugged in with a Christian fellowship on campus and am amazed at the strong friendships that I have been able to form. Berkeley certainly has character, with its unique selection of restaurants and shops. Whenever I got tired of eating at Crossroads, I would explore the restaurants along Telegraph, or make a late night run over to McDonalds on University whenever I had a craving for French fries (yes…even nutritional science majors can splurge once in a while). While my experience as a freshman may have had a rough start, it turned out to be an unforgettable experience filled with its share of mediocre midterms, visits to Yogurt Park and endless rounds of Texas hold’em.

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 3:12 | Permalink

17 September 2007

This Time Last Year...

I was in the same position as some of you. I came to CAL as a transfer student so my fall semester was a bit crazy. I was taking upper division classes like biochemistry (which was quite an adventure). Nonetheless, my first semester was a learning experience. First, don't overload yourself with a workload that you can't handle. Start out small and figure out exactly how much you can handle. Not everyone is the same. Some can handle 6 hours or less of sleep per night, a part-time job, 17 units, and be an active member of more than one club. On the other hand, if you're like me, you can only handle little more than half this load. Second, it's really important to balance everything. Academia is important. I mean, we're here to learn aren't we? However, it's also important to get involved with the campus. There are MANY opportunities at CAL that you should utilize. I regret not getting involved with things like research, clubs, etc. I was definitely missing out. Third, enjoy your experience at CAL. There were times when I wondered how I ever got into CAL and it got in the way of enjoying the Berkeley environment. I know for some people, stressing over grades and classes can have the same affect. Try to make the best out of your four years (or even more) at Berkeley. Think about it. You're at CAL, the top public university in the nation! Have fun!

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Posted by Rebekah Kim at 2:44 | Permalink

17 September 2007

1st year of college!

my very first classes at berkeley were the typical premed required class such as Chem 1A and Math 16A along with Music 26AC and NST 10. I was still undeclared then but already had in mind Nutritional Sciences as my major. Initially, I had no idea how college will be like or how the work load will be like. I still had senioritis from high school and since i was taking chem and calculus, i did not feel any pressure to study much since i took them before in high school. That was a big mistake since college chem, for some reason, differed from the chem class i took in high school. One thing i really liked about my first semester was that i got rid of my AC requirement so that i did not have to worry or think about it throughout the year. It is a good thing to finish the AC and english requirements early then to postpone them for later college years. Because my first semester load was not too intense, i was able to try out new things, meet new people, and join a variety of clubs. One of the clubs i remembered participating in was AMSA, which is a premedical club at berkeley. I was able to meet a lot of other premed students whom i can talk to about various things and ask for advice. One thing i remembered enjoying most during my first year at berkeley was having meal points and living in the dorms. I lived in Foothill, which was more suitelike than dormlike. It was very quiet and i only had 7 other housemates. We all got together very well and had a lot of fun. Meal points were very very convenient because whenever i wanted something, all i had to do was swipe from my id card =). I also enjoyed DC hopping with friends to try and experience different DC's food and atmosphere. Too bad they didnt have as many choices to swipe with than now.. Anyways, things that i might change during my first berkeley encounters....I think i would have explored more clubs since i had a lot of free time. I would have also like to meet more people. Living in a suite in Foothill did not really allow me to meet a lot of people since it was small and compact. I felt that if i had lived in the regular dorms like Unit 1 or 2, i would have meet more people on my floor and in the entire building. It is great knowing more people and having more people to talk to and hang out with. but overall, my first year at berkeley was quite alright. It did not make me love berkeley yet....i didnt start to love berkeley until my 3rd year here....WHY?? hmmm i guess berkeley just grows on you. I guess the environment and atmosphere eventually hits you and make you fall in love with it. One major pro is the ethnicity and different restaurants berkeley has to offer! =)

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Posted by Linda Truong at 4:11 | Permalink

13 September 2007

3 years ago...

Hi I'm Stephen and I am one of the new peer advisors for this semester. I am currently a senior MEB major and it's hard not to look back the past 3 years and see what I have done with it. When I first came to Cal I did not have the usual "jitters" most freshmen have, mainly because I was so uninformed about everything in Cal. As a result my first year was less than smooth and I was quickly waken to the harsh reality that is Cal. Haha, ok maybe I am exaggerating, but I still think freshmen year is probably the toughest year for me. When I first came to Cal I didn't get involved in too many extra curriculars and as a result I did not meet many people that were outside of my class or dorms. Also, as I mentioned earlier, because I was largely uninformed about Cal, I ended up taking too many tough classes in one semester and that is never any fun. Besides that, I had to deal with the usual freshmen symptons such as homesickness, adjusting to a new environment, starting fresh, and in general dealing with all the unfamliarity of Cal. Although I had a relatively rough first year, looking back now I believe I could easily have avoided all those things if I just participated more in extra curriculars. Towards the end of my sophmore year I began to take amore active role in the Cal community and it has made all the difference. So I would really recommend all first years to take part in some sort of activity even if you believe you won't have time for it . You get to meet people, you get to clear your mind from studies from time to time, you're not just cooped up in your room watching downloaded episodes of chapelle show all the time, and best of all you are doing something you enjoy! As for the unfamiliarity of Cal, I heavily suggest talking to advisors (like us!) about what to expect from classes, or any other things related to Berkeley life. We are here for a reason, and we expect you guys to use us!

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Posted by Stephen Kwan at 9:04 | Permalink

12 September 2007

My (somewhat easy) transition to Cal

My transition from high school to college was probably a little different then most people here. I’m from Albany—no not Albany, New York—but Albany, California, you know, that little town right next to Berkeley where people go bowling? Well if you don’t know, it’s like 10 minutes away…if that. Even though I lived in the dorms, I had the privilege of taking the bus home whenever I wanted. Like Alex, my senior class was very small; I knew everybody by name and pretty much grew up with them since first grade. Only a hand-full of us went to Cal, so socially, everything was pretty new for me. At first I was a little nervous about meeting new people but within the first few days, I met some really great people who shared similar interests as me and have formed some really tight friendships. Don’t be afraid of introducing yourself to new people! Don’t be afraid of checking out campus clubs, student groups, etc. too. There are so many opportunities on campus to explore—look out for flyers, emails, or ask people—I’m sure you will be able to find something that you are interested in! At first you might think that concentrating on your studies is the only thing you should do, but honestly, getting out there and doing fun things are important too. Try to break out of your shell and just think that everyone else has to do the same exact thing—you aren’t alone! If you need some fun ideas of where to go or what to do, just drop by our PAL office hours and ask us! We’d love to talk to you!

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Posted by Julie Ching at 4:08 | Permalink

10 September 2007

Back in the day...

...when I was a wee freshman, my first few weeks of Cal were pretty intimidating. I had heard most of the stereotypes involving Berkeley--the hippies, large classes, bell curves, hangovers, bookworms, football, and even Berkeley time! I was one informed new kid on the block. No matter how prepared you are for college, it'll still throw you a few curveballs. For me, adjusting to such a large school was probably the most challenging aspect. Coming from a senior class of about 315 (which is probably pretty standard for many suburban high schools), I felt like I was suddenly thrown into a vast pool of anonymity. Yes, that rumor about UC's turning students into numbers became especially true when I enrolled in Chem 1A. That nifty radar what-cha-ma-callit effectively turned my name into DC14953 on the overhead projector. On the flipside, Lonnie's demonstrations were pretty freakin' cool. Meeting new people also became a daily affair, and I'm sure most new freshman can relate to that. Very few people from my socal high school actually came to Berkeley back in '04, so socially, I had to pretty much start over. In a way that is good, because you can pick and choose who you want to associate. Don't just limit yourself to people on your dorm floor or suite (although they can be cool people); carve out your own niche on campus! If there's one cliche that really rings true, it's the one that proclaims "there is no stereotypical Berkeley experience." The friends you make, the classes you take, the profs you actually talk to, and the activities you pursue will all culminate into a surprisingly cohesive collegiate experience by senior year. Lastly, you'll have to learn to balance work with play. This may be the hardest to carry out, and many freshmen swing too far towards one side when they first arrive. Some flip out and study like there's no tomorrow. Other's forget that colleges are degree granting institutions. Set schedules for yourself that include both study and free time. Get involved in clubs and community service, but don't let activities take up too much of your time. If you find that you really can't be involved in tutoring children, coaching basketball, and building homes for the poor all at once, make a choice and focus fewer extracurriculars. Hope this gives some two-sense. If you have any questions about college life, CNR, or anything at all, drop by our office hours on the second floor of Mulford, right outside of room 260! We'll be happy to give advice or simply chat. You can also e-mail us at

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Posted by Alex Lau at 4:15 | Permalink

05 September 2007

Welcome back to CNR!!

Welcome back all CNR students (or welcome to CNR, freshmen!) I hope your summer was relaxing and fun because this semester CNR has lots of events to keep you busy! With the addition of four new PALs (Peer Advising Leaders), we have been working hard to provide hours upon hours of open office hours for you to drop by and get your questions answered. Click here for more info: busy to visit in person? Email us at or join our new Facebook group or our Myspace group. I think you get the point... we are here for you guys! Good luck to you all this semester and come visit us! We'd love to hear from you!

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Posted by Julie Ching at 8:15 | Permalink



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Is it time for exams already?

Buckle Up and Study!

My 1st Year

Setting The Tone

Freshman year

My Life as a Freshman

This Time Last Year...

1st year of college!

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My (somewhat easy) transition to Cal

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