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

23 April 2008

Spring semester as a PAL....

Becoming a PAL for CNR has been one of the greatest choices I have made these past four years. I not only get to help students during my usual office hours, but I also get to be involved with some really fun events hosted by CNR. Spring semester is a busy one for the PALs because we are involved in a lot of additional outreach to potential freshmen admits, answering questions, participating in online chats and meeting with students and their parents. Cal Day, especially, was fun since we held student panels, gave campus tours, and I got to meet a lot of eager high school seniors. This semester I am also the website coordinator for PAL. I create photo pages of our recent events and help maintain the PAL blogs. We’ve received so much positive feedback from our blogs and I am so happy that our hard work is appreciated among the campus community and beyond. I’ve actually been recognized, while running errands, as a PAL because of our blog page so it has been really exciting. Each week we post multiple entries to share our experiences and provide lots of advice, so check us out regularly! Aside from all the advising we do, the PALs also host movies nights for students. It’s a great way to meet new people, watch a film you’ve been dying to see, eat some great food and relax from the stress of classes for FREE! We’ve seen so many great movies like Into the Wild, Ratatouille, Juno, and The Transformers! We have big comfy couches to watch to film in so it’s super cozy. I will be graduating soon so I keep reflecting over my experiences here in CNR and how much fun I have had, how much I’ve gained from getting involved with the activities, and how I’ve grown these past four years. Being a PAL has given me leadership experience, a voice in the CNR community, and the confidence to speak in front of large groups. I have also met so many interesting students and faculty on campus by becoming a PAL and have so many stories to take with me when I leave CNR. I hope you get as much out of the PAL program and CNR as we put in, and I hope to see you at some of our events!

Continue reading "Spring semester as a PAL...." »

Posted by Julie Ching at 2:09 | Permalink

17 March 2008

How I picked my future career....

Wow, this is my last semester here; time has flown by so quickly! As I look forward to finishing my undergrad time at Cal, I also can’t wait to start my new plans after I graduate. First thing on my to-do list: SLEEP!!!! (Yes, this merits four exclamation marks.) I’m actually going to take a year off before heading to optometry school in order to enjoy what precious time I have before another four years of school. So how did I decide upon optometry school? That’s a great question….my story goes like this: As a freshman, I needed a few more units to add to my schedule so I decided to take a vision science freshman seminar (Vis. Sci. 24). We would just sit with the professor and dispel eye/vision myths that we all thought were true. Like, sitting too close to the TV, lasik = perfect vision, etc. –very casual and fun. This sparked my interest in vision and eyes. Then, a series of events took place that sealed my interest tight. My mother was bordering on being diagnosed with glaucoma, but by working with her optometrist, she was able to prevent the disease. I started thinking to myself, “Wow, this person was able to catch certain signs that prevented my mother from potentially losing her vision—that’s pretty amazing.” I hadn’t thought about my vision and how precious I value it until someone I knew could have had it taken away. Then, I started going to some Foresight (pre-optometry club on campus) meetings and different representatives would come and try to “sell” their campus to us. After researching optometry as an occupation, I started to understand how valuable optometry is to a community and how interesting their job is. Then, I started shadowing/interning at an optometry office. This was the best-I learned (and still learning) what it takes to be a great optometrist, and how rewarding it is to run an office. Now, I’m actually working at that office and having a blast. I look forward to work every week, and have a blast when I get there. Next year, I will be studying for the OATs (optometry admission test) and applying to different optometry schools throughout the nation, and hopefully get into a normal sleeping cycle! Is optometry for you? Want more info? Come share your career plans with us during the PAL office hours! I would love to hear about your future plans!

Continue reading "How I picked my future career...." »

Posted by Julie Ching at 5:49 | Permalink

26 February 2008

A few tips in finding that perfect apartment....

Wow! Alex, Wendy, and Stephen have done an awesome job giving great advice when searching for a place to live after freshman year. Since I have been living off-campus for three years now, I wanted to bring up some interesting points that you may want to consider when looking for a place. First, if you want to live with someone, make sure you two can really get along. Maybe have a trial run first to make sure you two are compatible. Don’t let this end a friendship! I’ve been living with my roommate for three years now and it has been great. Keep in mind all the little expenditures you will have to pay for. This includes water, electricity, gas, garbage, building maintenance, food, internet, cable, etc. Most of the time if you live in an apartment, your landlord will pay for some of the services, but make sure to ask! My landlord pays for water, garbage, and maintenance, but others may provide internet, cable, gas… The further you move away from campus, the cheaper the rent, the bigger the apartments, and more space for parking. I’m living in a two room, two FULL bathroom apartment a little further from campus, but there are two bus lines, with stops directly in front of my apartment, that go to campus. We also get a parking space for the car. We looked on Craigslist a few weeks before the semester ended. This let us get the first pick of apartments, plenty of time to decide (no stress during finals week). Like Wendy said, Craiglist is a great place to look for open apartments. They usually provide some pictures and open house times. Finally, the best tip I can provide: Don’t limit yourself to open houses. If possible, make an appointment to see the potential apartment in private. This will give you more time to actually look at the apartment without the pressure of the competition. I’ve gone to open houses, but everyone was walking around, looking at us like we wanted to steal it from them. Everyone was so busy filling out applications and I don’t think they really looked around closely. When we walked around our future apartment during a private viewing, we were able to ask the realtor specific questions, and we had plenty of time to figure out if this place was right for us. Renting yearly is a great financial, emotional commitment, and I’m really happy we took the time to figure out what we wanted. Good luck in finding your new place! If you have any great stories about how you found your apartment, or if you are looking for one and have some questions, feel free to drop by our office hours and let us know!

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Posted by Julie Ching at 1:50 | Permalink

08 October 2007

Bored? Not anymore!

Want to break free from campus before the next round of midterms arrives? Well, there are hundreds of amazing things to do around the Bay Area to give your mind some rest. First, the obvious: Go shopping! Like Alex said, there are so many great shops to go to in San Francisco. Many companies have their flagship stores in SF, with a much wider selection than you would find at a department store or mall. If you take BART, the Powell St. Station drops you off in the SF Shopping Center, literally. Hate shopping? That’s impossible! Fine, head on over to the Yerba Buena Ice Rink/Bowling Alley with a bunch of your friends. After you have fallen on your butt one time too many, you can relax and rent a lane at the bowling alley. Not intellectually challenging enough? Fine, fine, fine. Head on over to the Metreon and visit the new Da Vinci exhibition. It’ll be running through the end of the year. I’ve heard that it is pretty interactive. How about Body World 2 in San Jose? It’s an exhibition showing real (dead) bodies dissected and arranged in different poses. Maybe it’ll help you with your anatomy midterm that’s coming up. More of the outdoorsy type? Take a hike! in Tilden Park that is. There are many cool trails to explore and while you are there, go visit the Little Petting Zoo. No, it’s not full of miniature animals, as some may hope; it’s just a small (in size) petting zoo. My apologies for those who are disappointed. Want more ideas? Come visit us during our office hours! We would love to give you more ideas of what to do around the Bay, and would love to hear your ideas as well!

Continue reading "Bored? Not anymore!" »

Posted by Julie Ching at 7:04 | 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

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

28 April 2007

Yay! Summer is almost here

My third year at Cal is coming to an end! Finals are coming too quickly and I’m going to miss a lot of my friends who are graduating. Looking back, this semester has been really busy for me. I became a PAL (yay!), joined a new club, and took some really challenging courses. It’s sad (and happy, and sort of scary) to think that next Fall and Spring semester will be my last, but I get to look forward to going to optometry school. This summer will be pretty busy for me too. I plan to take a few classes here at Cal, study for the OAT (Optometry Admissions Test), shadow/volunteer at my uncle’s optometry office, and if I have time, get more sleep! Unfortunately I can’t slack off this summer, but I know it will be worth all the hard work! Good luck on your finals! Come to our office hours and tell us how your semester went and what your plans are for the summer!

Continue reading "Yay! Summer is almost here" »

Posted by Julie Ching at 2:58 | Permalink

18 April 2007


Why did I pick my major? For all of the UCs that I applied to, I put the usual molecular biology down, but Cal offered something different: Molecular Environmental Biology. I chose MEB because it sounded interesting. I knew I wanted to do something in science, but at the time that I was applying, I didn’t know exactly what yet. I looked online for more information about the major and instantly knew that MEB was exactly what I wanted to do. It mixed two things I am really interested in: environmental issues and public health/science. One thing I really like about MEB, now that I am in it, is that it isn’t specifically a pre-med major; there are lots of career options for me to choose from. The courses offered in MEB are so vast that I feel I have a better overall understanding of many health and environment issues, rather than focusing on something specific. I take the classes that a lot of MCB and IB students are taking, but I also take the classes that let me apply that science to something important. For example, ESPM 167: Environmental Health and Development let me use my understanding of biology to see how environmental toxins affect us, and what we can do to change it. Being in MEB has its perks! It’s in CNR so I get the small college warmth with the big university resources. The MEB advisors are amazing and really care about the students. I feel completely comfortable asking them questions and I don’t have to wait a long time to see them. If you have any questions about MEB feel free to drop by my office hours or email us at:

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Posted by Julie Ching at 0:21 | Permalink

11 April 2007

My Extracurriculars

In the rare event that I’m not in class, studying in the library for class or holding office hours for PAL, you can usually find me in a club meeting! I’m involved in AAHS (Asian American Health Society) as the treasurer intern. We have tons of pre-medical, pre-health events held on campus throughout the semester, so be sure to check our website, or look for flyers around campus. AAHS also has a mentorship program where an upper div. student helps mentor a lower div. student and I recently started mentoring a freshman. In fact, tonight we have a Telebears-info session in 108 Wheeler, 6:00pm—come by if you have any questions or are looking for some interesting classes to take next semester! I’m also in Foresight, the pre-optometry club on campus. It’s a great club especially if you are interested in applying to Cal’s Optometry school since they have numerous faculties come by and give advice. I also volunteer for Project Homeless Connect, a non-profit organization in San Francisco (and I think around the country) where the homeless can get free healthcare (optometry, dentistry, medical) and other valuable services like free phone calls, shelter info and free books. It’s really fun and you get to meet a lot of cool people. If you want more information, be sure to check out the PHC website. Come by to our office hours (now near the front doors of Mulford) to tell us what you do in your spare time!

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Posted by Julie Ching at 9:45 | Permalink

06 April 2007

Why CNR?

I applied to CNR (unknowingly) under the Molecular Environmental Biology (MEB) major because I knew that I wanted to do something in science and health, but I didn’t know exactly what. As I was selecting the majors that I wanted to apply under for the UC application, MEB immediately stuck out—Cal was the only school that offered this major and it seemed interesting. I had an interest in science, but I was also interested in renewable resources and environmental awareness. Environmental Science major seemed good, but I liked the fact that MEB included a lot of pre-health courses, which kept my options open. So after doing a little more research online, I knew MEB was exactly what I wanted to major in.

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Posted by Julie Ching at 3:35 | Permalink

20 March 2007

Spring Break!

Spring Break is almost here! We have all been working our butts off for our midterms and a lot of us will get some much needed time off. Unfortunately for me, my spring break is sandwiched between midterms (I have two midterms this Friday and another one the Tuesday after) so I’ll be busy studying for a good part of the week. Just like Jen, though, I’ll be headed to Monterey for a few days just to relax, enjoy the beach and take in some touristy things (aquarium, Cannery Row) with my boyfriend. I haven’t been there for 8 years now so I’m excited to see what’s new. Then, off to the dentist I go! Wish me luck!! Drop by our office hours and tell us what you’ll be doing over the break or if you have any cool tips on where to go in Monterey! Have a wonderful Spring Break!

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Posted by Julie Ching at 9:12 | Permalink

12 March 2007


Studying for midterms?!?!?! Don’t they seem never-ending? My main trouble is to actually start studying, and once I (finally) get the ball rolling, it seems to go relatively smoothly. Here are a few tips that I have found to be incredibly helpful for studying: 1) Organize the material. There may be tons of information we have to pack into our heads but one thing I found to be incredibly effective is to figure out how the various topics relate to each other. Once I find the links and get the large picture, it’s easier to study the details. 2) Alternate between classes. If I have more than one midterm in a day, or within a few days of each other, like I have coming up (next Friday), I find that studying for a few hours for one class, then switching, helps me keep me focused. I tend to get bored and my mind wanders so I have to keep things fresh. 3) Don’t worry about others. Don’t worry too much how other students will do on the midterm—this will just make you more nervous. Try to focus on doing your personal best and try to stay calm. I hope these tips help! Come by our office hours and tell us how you study! GOOD LUCK ON YOUR MIDTERMS!!!!

Continue reading "Midterms" »

Posted by Julie Ching at 3:38 | Permalink

08 March 2007

My favorite....

Going to school in the Bay Area has its major advantages. For instance, I can get Italian, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, American, or Mexican food all within a couple of blocks. Where else can I do that? Berkeley is an amazing city for finding little places to go between classes and for late night coffee runs. I can’t say where my favorite place is because there are so many! What I can say is that my favorite band, Rancid, indeed comes from Berkeley! They are incredibly talented and every album has a completely different sound. They have been around for a long time, but still haven’t gotten too big—I can still go see them at the Warfield in San Francisco. The lead singer was raised in Albany, where I’m from, and it’s cool to listen to him singing about the same places I go to too.

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Posted by Julie Ching at 3:17 | Permalink

27 February 2007

my role models

The people I look up to, without a single doubt, are my parents. My mother has always pushed me to be myself and stand up to what I believe in. She has encouraged me to speak my mind and not just sit back and stay quiet. (Maybe that’s why I’m at Cal ;oÞ ) Although small in stature she can be a force to be reckoned with. She believes that one person CAN make a difference and continually demonstrates this through her progressive community work in my hometown. She gives me courage and is always open when I need serious advice. I also completely admire my father. Among the many life lessons he has taught me, there is one in particular that I hold close here at Cal.

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Posted by Julie Ching at 3:28 | Permalink

05 February 2007

My favorite class so far...

My favorite class at Cal so far is a class I had taken as a freshman: EPS 39A. It's a freshman/sophmore seminar that teaches students about California geology with weekly lectures and a 3 day camping trip! My camping group's theme was "Fire and Ice" and we got to basically look at glacial markings in Lake Tahoe (ice) and volcanoes near Mono Lake (fire). It was one thing to listen and look at slides in class and quite another thing to actually go on mile long hikes and touch the mountain sides ourselves. We visited a lake where all the trees surrounding it were dead because of the sulfur leaking out from the lake floor and also took a dip in a natural hotspring. As a freshman I was shy and quiet and this class really opened me up.

Continue reading "My favorite class so far..." »

Posted by Julie Ching at 6:57 | Permalink



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Spring semester as a PAL....

How I picked my future career....

A few tips in finding that perfect apartment....

Bored? Not anymore!

My (somewhat easy) transition to Cal

Welcome back to CNR!!

Yay! Summer is almost here


My Extracurriculars

Why CNR?

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