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

04 April 2008

Why I came Cal

UC Berkeley was the last school to notify me of my acceptance or rejection. I remember nervously clicking on the website and seeing those words “congratulations on your admission to Cal.” I was quite surprised considering the several rejections I received from other colleges earlier in the month. At this point, I was torn between attending UC Davis or UC Berkeley because they both had specialized programs in nutritional science that I was interested in. To learn more about both schools, I talked to several people who went to either Davis or Berkeley and listened to their experience at their respective schools. Quarter system vs. semester, cow town vs. city life, warm weather vs. cold weather by the bay- the list was long, and unfortunately, I couldn’t rely on anyone else to make the decision for me. In the end, I chose Cal because it would be more challenging and it had the reputable name. Come on, I couldn’t deny attending the top public University! Honestly, I was a little intimidated of large lecture classes of 500 students and felt like I wouldn’t be able to succeed at a place where EVERYONE was smart and came to Cal with high school GPAs greater than a 4.0. Despite my fears, I was comforted knowing that graduating from UC Berkeley would carry me far in my career and open up many opportunities for me. As I look back at the challenging classes and all the struggles I endured, I somehow managed to make it through. But I know it wasn’t without help that I pulled through those tough Chem midterms. With the help of the student friendly resources, such as the CNR Pals and the on campus SLC tutoring, I can look forward to graduating in 1.5 months with a degree from UC BERKELEY! Go BEARS!! 

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 6:56 | Permalink

04 March 2008

How to Deal

Having been in college for more than 3 years now, one would think that I learned how to deal with stress. Judging by my lack of sleep this past week, it seems that I have much improvement to do in this area. Each new semester brings a different set of challenges and I am constantly trying to juggle my schedule. I’ve seen how increased stress can bring about physical illness, so in order to avoid this, I’ve learned the importance of maintaining a balanced life so that I can enjoy my college experience, without letting it whiz by. So here are some things that I do to deal with stress: 1) Incorporating some sort of work out in my day: whether it’s a short time at the RSF, running on the fire trails near Clark Kerr, or swimming at Hearst Gym, I find that physical activity is a great way to blow off some steam and helping me focus on what really matters. 2) Writing down my schedule: This helps me see everything that I need to accomplish in a day, so it gives me a visual to set long and short term goals. This makes things appear more manageable, so I do not feel overwhelmed by the stress. 3) Talking with Roommates/Friends: Venting can be really great sometimes! Talking to people you trust about certain issues gives me perspective and a chance for feedback. We all need someone to listen. 4) Writing in a journal: This takes a very short time, but reaps a huge amount of benefits. I always start with the word “Yesterday” and debrief the day before. When I write down my problems/struggles, I can clearly see my thought process, identify what the actual stress came from, and why I was feeling that way. Hopefully some of these things might work for you too! And as always, if you’re feeling stressed, especially for academic reasons, please feel free to talk to one of the PALs. We’re here for advice or simply an open ear to listen.

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 3:23 | Permalink

12 February 2008

Tough Times

One of my more difficult times here at Berkeley is dealing with ….graduation. I’m a senior finishing up my last semester. The count down is fast, 3.5 more months till I can call myself a Berkeley Alumni. Exciting, yet still uncertain, I’m faced with new challenges that cannot be solved by hours of studying or attending office hours with my professors. Should I get a full time job, apply for grad school, or take a break and travel? If I had unlimited funds I’d do the latter, but my practical side pushed me to apply for grad schools. As I am still eagerly awaiting for responses, my best advice to myself and to future ‘08 graduates is to breathe and take a break! Sometimes I feel like my GPA doesn’t matter that much, but to say that your classes aren’t important would get me in trouble. Enjoy the free time, don’t fight senioritis so much, and worry about your choice of school when the acceptance letters come. But for now, spend those precious months with your friends and make some memorable Berkeley moments exploring the area. I have my checklist of things to do before I graduate, so enjoy your last few undergrad months while it lasts!

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 4:54 | 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

01 May 2007

The Final Stretch

I’m glad that the end of this semester is ending. Completing finals means a chance for good quality time spent at home with family and a time to take a step back. It seems like this semester whizzed by, with little opportunities to take a breath and relax. With back to back midterms and projects, I look back at my planner and am amazed that I actually got through all of it. With only a couple weeks left of my junior year left, the ending is bitter sweet. While I am that much closer to exploring the next chapter of my life after college, I am also that much closer to ending my career as a Berkeley undergrad With this in mind, I want to make it my goal to enjoy this final summer and year as much as possible. I want to enjoy the Berkeley campus scenery as I walk to class everyday. I hope to appreciate the community atmosphere at CNR even more. I also want to grow deeper in my relationships with my friends I’ve met at Berkeley. This and many more hopes I have for my final semesters at UCB. Enjoy the simple things that make you smile and I wish everyone a safe and fun summer!

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 2:35 | Permalink

18 April 2007

Choosing a Major

I chose to pursue the dietetics major because I knew I wanted to work in a health field that dealt with how food impacts our body. With a food allergy, I was especially sensitive to what food was made of and what negative effects could have arisen, had I consumed that food. Having this awareness made me want to share my experiences with others, and becoming a dietitian seemed to fit my desire. Fortunately, my passion has not changed since freshman year, and I still hope to be a person who can educate and inform others about the nutritional implications of a person’s diet. However, even in my first few years at Berkeley, I was very uncertain about whether or not my major was the right one, whether I should just forget the sciences and pursue a music degree, or a if I should choose a different career path. I decided to investigate all of my insecurities by taking a few classes to test my appetite. Because I was so interested in music theory and improving my musical skills as a singer, I thought that I might double major in music. However, after taking a few music classes and seeing how many classes I would have to take in addition to the nutrition classes, I decided that I could satisfy my musical desires by joining musical groups outside of the classroom. I also considered becoming a pharmacist, after achieving my BS in nutritional science. However, I realized that this goal was only encouraged by my parents, by the money a pharmacist can make and by the practicality of the job. For me, my passion did not lie in making money or choosing a path made by my parents. I knew that my enthusiasm lied in nutrition and becoming a registered dietitian would allow me to share that. In the end, I learned that determining my major was a matter of knowing what I wanted, why I wanted it and who I was trying to please. After exploring all my opportunities with different volunteer experiences and talking to various people, I could identify my interests more clearly. I highly encourage you to explore different clubs or organizations to get a better idea of what your interests are. Feel free to read our past blogs to get ideas on extracurricular opportunities if you are still searching. And as always, we have our open office hours where you can talk about your concerns about choosing the right major for you!

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 7:35 | Permalink

10 April 2007

My Extracurricular Activities

In addition to being a PAL for CNR, I am also a dietetic assistant at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. I am learning a lot about customer service and what processes are involved for providing meals to patients staying at the hospital. This is also my first paid job, so I am finally learning how to balance school, work and fun. More recently, I became a student intern for the New Haven Unified School District Food Service in Union City. This was my school district growing up, so I have a personal interest in wanting to help and learn from the director of food services. So far, I was able to create an elementary breakfast program promoting National School Breakfast Week for children. Currently, I am working on the nutrient analysis of elementary school lunches. It is great to see how what I learn in my classes tie directly into this volunteering experience. Also, me and 3 other dietetic students volunteer weekly with the Oakland Based Urban Garden (OBUGS) after school program. We work with elementary students to help water, harvest and plant vegetables in the garden. Somedays, we even get to cook what we grew! If you’re interested in this organization, you can check out www.obugs.org to find out more about their work study program or opportunities to volunteer. Finally, I am also apart of a Christian fellowship on campus, Acts2Fellowship, which is associated with Gracepoint Fellowship Church in Berkeley. Since joining my freshman year, I have gained lifelong friends and have seen God working tremendously in my life. Yes, all of these things require a certain time commitment and the ability to balance everything at once. However, I’ve gained so many memories, friends, and skills in these experiences. I encourage you to talk to any of us PALs about opportunities to volunteer/work or for suggestions on how to balance school and extra curricular activities.

Continue reading "My Extracurricular Activities" »


Posted by Crystal Kwan at 5:15 | Permalink

05 April 2007

Why I chose CNR

I came to Berkeley knowing that I wanted to major in Nutritional Science. Because I grew up with a food allergy since I was a child, I wanted to learn more about foods and how they affected our body. I didn’t know anything about CNR, but was pleasantly surprised learning about the college at Cal Day. I remember there was a panel of students who positively talked about their experiences getting to know their professors and having so many opportunities to expand their education through research and studying abroad. Through the years, I’ve learned that their accounts were true of most students here at CNR. I’ve experienced a close community that genuinely cares for its students. I find that faculty doors are always open when I have even the smallest question and the CNR sponsored programs help to push my goals outside out of the classroom. I’m so thankful for where I ended up and hope that you will experience some of the benefits that so many of us have discovered!

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 5:40 | Permalink

21 March 2007

My Spring Break Plans

Hooray for a breather! Next week, I plan to catch up on my Zzzzz's as well as with friends and family. My younger brother gets home from UC Davis the same week, so there will be some time for some interesting conversations...I also hope to do a lot of shopping with my friends from high school and watch lots of movies, some of which won this year's Oscar. Whenever I go home, I always enjoy running and biking at Coyote Hills. There are numerous trails to explore and lots of wildlife to see! Unfortunately, I'll have to fit in some studying time during my day, especially since I get to look forward to three midterms the following week. But thats ok, 'cause at least I'll have time to spread out my studying. FYI, the Fall 2007 schedule comes out today! So if you're confused or have questions about your schedule, come by office hours at Mulford Hall and we'll be happy to help you out!

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 7:17 | Permalink

10 March 2007

Who I admire

Both parents have been excellent mentors in my life. My mom- a sacrificial, selfless mother who continually puts her children first. My dad- a level headed, logical and encouraging father. Among four kids, it would seem difficult to divide time and attention to myself and to my three brothers. However, they have treated me and my siblings as individuals, without comparing each person against one another. They have successfully managed to nurture each one of us; encouraging our strengths and helping us improve upon our weaknesses. To me, they are the examples of what parents ought to be- loving and committed to their children and to one another.

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 1:44 | Permalink

08 March 2007

Things I like to do for fun

If theres one thing I learned in life, it's to have a balance. And that includes what I eat. I love to eat out with friends. I enjoy trying cuisines from different cultures and find that Berkeley is the perfect place to do it! I recently discovered how GLORIOUS the "Berkeley Guide to the Good Life" coupon book is. Not only does it summarize a majority of the restaurants around Berkeley, but it has really good deals. Ever walk past Adagia restaurant on Bancroft and College and wonder if you'd ever be able to try it on a student budget? Fear no more! Adagia offers to for one entrees for dinner and the first time experience is worth the price. Thanks to these hidden deals, I try to make it a point to use those coupons to encourage me to try new places at cheap prices. I also enjoy reading. Over winter break, I began a reading Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series. It is a three part Fantasy series that had me enticed from beginning to end. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the book before the final Harry Potter book comes out. Can't wait for that! Some of my favorite TV shows include LOST, Heroes, American Idol, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and Brothers and Sisters. Buying the first season of LOST on DVD got me hooked...I hope everything is ok with Jack..... And it's obvious that I adore most of what ABC has to offer on T.V. Shopping, spending time with family, running and enjoying the sun are other ways for me to relax and get away from the busyness of life. School can be pretty daunting at times, but it is good to take your mind off the stress, if even for a little bit!

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Posted by Crystal Kwan at 2:48 | Permalink

05 February 2007

Some of my favorite classes

Although some of my upper division courses in dietetics have been quite interesting, I really enjoyed classes outside of my major. I really enjoyed taking Music 26AC, music in American Culture. This class focused on music history throughout the 20th century. Professor Brinner taught the course beginning with folk music and ending with rock music in the late 1990s. You got to sample music from different cultures as well as share your own musical experiences with classmates. I also enjoyed taking music courses to fulfill my music minor. I took Music 49B and Music 49C. These were musicianship classes that taught music theory, sight singing and basic harmony. By the end of the classes, I learned how to compose my own chorales! Learning about music history and improving my musical skills helped to balance out the many science courses that I was taking. I'm glad I could take classes at Berkeley that satisfied my interests outside of nutrition.

Continue reading "Some of my favorite classes" »


Posted by Crystal Kwan at 4:21 | Permalink

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