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

06 December 2006

Winter Break Plans

I'm sooo excited that winter break is just around the corner, although it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I still have to study for my bio final :( ... after a really stressful and demanding semester, I'm looking forward to going home and relaxing. I love Christmas so much because it means I get to spend a lot of time with my family and my dog... I plan to hang out with my friends a lot, go on a couple snowboarding trips, and most importantly, get ready for my SEMESTER IN BELIZE for spring! I leave January 4th so I've got a lot of packing to do, but it's going to be amazing. Anyways, I hope that everyone has a relatively stress-free finals season and a great holiday break.

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Posted by at 6:20 | Permalink

29 November 2006

Where I'm Bound...

Being a junior in college is supposed to mean that you have everything figured out. And whenever I go home, I'm always prepared to get assaulted with questions like "what are you going to do after you graduate?" or "what do you want to do with THAT degree?" Usually I fumble some non-committal answer -- law school is a great excuse :) -- but truth be told (and don't tell my parents)... I HAVE NO IDEA! But you know what? I'm not that upset about it. When I first came to Berkeley I thought I was going to be a Political Science major, maybe even study art. Two years later, I've fallen in love with environmental science and know that I never want to do anything else... maybe. But I've had a great time figuring out what I'm interested in and I'm not in any hurry to pick just one career for the rest of my life. My dream job would be to travel abroad to some Central American country to do research or work with developing governments, but I would be perfectly happy to stay in the beautiful Bay Area and do environmental work for a non-profit or for-profit environmental company. I'm really interested in interning with companies like Save the Bay, the Pacific Institute, Foundation for Sustainable Development, or just about any green-minded company out there. I'm also really getting into sustainable agriculture and green building at the moment, so would love to get some work experience in that field. All in all, I'm excited to see where the future takes me. Although most of the time, that excuse doesn't really work that well on my parents... ;)

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Posted by at 6:12 | Permalink

29 November 2006

Friends

When I was just a senior in high school thinking about coming to a big place like Berkeley, my main concern was being able to make friends. I was leaving behind people that I had known for years and people that knew me so well... how could I ever find replacements for them? Well, I realized I couldn't, but I eventually made lots of new friends that could never take their place, but still supported me in so many ways. I found it's easiest to make friends by joining clubs, playing intramural sports, or getting a campus job. I got a job at the library, joined CLAM and CalSO, and looked for smaller classes where I could get to know people easier (Spanish and language courses ROCK for that reason). The residence halls also made it really easy to meet people because... yeah... when you share the same bathroom with 15 guys you kinda have to get to know them quick. I met a lot of people who were just like me because we were interested in the same stuff, and they have come to be my community here at Cal. I would be nothing without them because they calm me down when I'm stressed out, cheer me up when I'm sad, and are just plain awesome to hang out with if I want to get out and do some explorin'... yep, I'm so grateful for everything they have done for me over the years! So if you're lookin' to meet some new people, you have to branch out a little bit! Clubs are made solely so people can meet other people... take advantage of it! Your new best bud might be out there somewhere waiting for you... :) But no matter what... I never forgot about all my old friends back home. I think it's the most fun to come back for holidays and visit all my old friends because they really do know me the best, and it's nice to share adventures with them when you're home from different places. It's like that song goes.. 'make new friends, but keep the old'... it's probably the best darn advice out there.

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Posted by at 6:02 | Permalink

06 November 2006

From 707 to 510

I'm from a small town on the Northcoast of California called Eureka. When I first came to college I got used to responding, "Eureka: it's a small town about five hours North of here on the coast" when people asked where I was from, because inevitably no one knew. Even though no one seems to know where this place is, I was born and raised there and will always have a soft spot for it. Although I love the constant activity of Berkeley, I always look forward to going home and taking a break from all the hustle and bustle of life in a city. The best things about Eureka are the natural surroundings: I'm ten minutes from a beach, ten minutes to the forest or a campground, twenty minutes to the mountains, half an hour to some inland sun. You can actually drive twenty miles in twenty minutes. Traffic doesn't exist, I leave my front door unlocked during the day, and people are a little less superficial than in the city. A lot of my high school friends, including myself, have experienced a lot of trouble in adjusting to life in an urban area after leaving for college. If you live North of Santa Rosa, you know what I mean. Sometimes I just want to tell everybody to slow down and stop worrying, but I guess in Berkeley there is plenty to worry about. There are still a lot of things that I love about Berkeley and the Bay Area in general, such as the cultural diversity, the AWESOME concerts that we get, the tasty restaurants and the great education. But I love going home and being able to relax with my friends and family where things are a little more familiar and not so overwhelming. Luckily, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner! :D

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Posted by at 7:20 | Permalink

06 November 2006

Berkeley's Best

There are a million things I love about this quirky little city, but after a couple of years I've narrowed down some of the best for you. I'm sure in the next two years I'll find even more tidbits... When I need to study, nothing beats Cafe Strada's outdoor tables or FSM's cozy interior. I love that you can grab some tea or a snack and get your reading done at the same time, and the white noise of a little coffee shop somehow helps me focus. Tip: get a table next to a heating lamp at Strada if you're going to be there for a few hours! I also love the North Reading Room in Doe Library for some hardcore, no distractions, nose-to-the-pages studying action. Anything to get me away from my friends or my apartment where I can't seem to ever get any work done! I love to walk around and go for day-hikes, and anyone who has been to the Berkeley hills knows that there is no shortage of awesome sights. I recommend the Fire Trail (just east of the Strawberry Canyon pool, trail head at the parking lot) for anyone looking for a relatively easy day-hike in the Canyon with a sweet view on top. It's about 5 miles round-trip and good for releasing some energy on a sunny day. The Botanical Gardens are also really close (and free with your Student ID!), and Tilden Park is also a must. You can swim in Lake Anza, ride a carousel, hike the trails, or even hit a bucket of golf balls there. Be warned though, it's kind of a long walk. I recommend cruising up there on your bike. As far as good eats go, man does Berkeley have just about every other place I've been to beat. I have a huge running list of tasy places, but here are some of my favorites: Crepevine for breakfast or lunch (on College Ave, by Rockridge BART) has the tastiest scrambles and burgers, The Thai House (Channing and Telegraph) for my favorite type of food, Dara (on Northside) for amazing Laotian food in a cool atmosphere, Bacheeso's (on Dwight and San Pablo) for awesome Mediterranean/European brunch, and of course, the Cheeseboard (on North Shattuck) for the tasiest pizza place with the weirdest hours I've ever found. Whew! Not to mention Yogurt Park, Cafe Intermezzo, House of Curries... I think you get the point. And lastly, some of the coolest things about Berkeley are its community events. You absolutely have to come out and have brunch at the Thai Temple (Sundays, Russell and MLK) at least one Sunday while you're here. It is always crazy busy and many of Berkeley's community members show up to eat some tasty thai and hang out and chat. Also, the Ashby Flea Market (weekends, Ashby and San Pablo) is always a fun experience to find all that eclectic stuff you didn't even know you were looking for. Critical Mass, an anti-war/oil bicycle protest, also happens once a month (you can check dates online) and is really awesome to take part in. There's always something going on in this crazy town... check out the Berkeley Daily Planet for a schedule of events sometime!

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Posted by at 6:47 | Permalink

23 October 2006

Bummed About Midterm Scores?

Getting midterms and papers back can be one of the most relieving or the most disappointing moments of the semester. I know that after working hard to get an assignment turned in or studying all night for a midterm, I immediately want to know how that's going to affect my grade in the class. I've taken some extreme hits in my day as far as bad scores go, though... and I'm here to tell you that there is hope. After getting my first Environmental Science midterm back as a freshman and realizing I hadn't done nearly as well as I had hoped, I panicked. I thought my grade would be reduced for the entire semester based on this terrible midterm score, and could almost see my GPA falling to below AP level. I went and talked to my GSI about it and she consoled me a little by letting me know my options. First, knowing how much each assignment is worth is infinitely helpful because it lets you know which tests you should study weeks in advance for and which ones (if any) can be studied for in a day. It also helps you calculate your grade if you're really worried, and most of the time this information is on the course syllabus, or you can ask your professor. Sometimes a course or professor offers extra credit that can help ease the burden of a bad midterm score. Just meet with them in office hours or check the syllabus to see if this is possible. And sometimes, bad paper or midterm scores really help me focus in on what I need to do for the semester. It lets me know how to change my study habits or analytical skills, and ultimately I end up doing better on later tests. A bad midterm score isn't the end of the world; for my ES10 class I got C's on both midterms and ended up getting an A- in the class. Just make sure that you work hard on the rest of your assignments and you can bounce back from any yucky grades!

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Posted by at 5:19 | Permalink

23 October 2006

Stressed Out?

It's that time of year again... midterms and papers are suddenly all happening at once, and I can feel the tension on campus as students are starting to get more and more stressed about grades and time management. Never fear! There are things you can do to beat stress and have a happy and healthy midterm season, without all the hair-pulling and nail-biting. Of course, the number one thing we students can do to beat stress is STUDY! Sounds a little obvious, but it works, I promise. But if you're like me, you may not be totally 100% prepared in advance for those midterms and exams. I recognize that I can't do it all, but I try to prioritize my workload so I get the important stuff finished on time. Usually I try to keep track of when assignments are due so I can start working on the ones that need to be finished sooner before.. you know... watching more Family Guy episodes or something. Another thing to remember about stress is that it isn't that great for your body. Too much anxiety and stress can affect your diet, sleeping habits, and behavior negatively. I try to stop and smell the roses every once in a while to ensure that I don't go crazy thinking about tests and papers... but within reason. For example, going to the gym for a workout is a great way to relieve stress and get your mind off of school for a while. Spending a little time away from your computer and work can rejuvenate you and re-motivate you into doing your academic best, so take breaks every once in a while! And above all, remember that it won't last forever. You may have to sacrifice a few nights of sleep for that ESPM paper, but as long as you put as much time as you can into current projects, you'll have time later to recover from the stress of midterms. So GOOD LUCK and remember to study hard!

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Posted by at 5:00 | Permalink

02 October 2006

Time Management, or: How I Learned to Stop Facebooking and Get My Stuff Done.

Time management is one of the most important things you can master in college. I remember my first year here was a whirlwind of activities, of which class was a lower priority. There were people to meet, trips to San Francisco to take, concerts to go to, parties to attend, clubs to get involved with... and I couldn't seem to juggle my academic and social life. But I've learned a couple of tricks here at Berkeley that have gotten me by and although I still have trouble with procrastination, I've definitely improved on my methods over the past two years... 1. PRIORITIZE -- the oldest trick in the book, but I swear it works. Figure out which assignments are most important and which ones will take longer to complete. Tell yourself you'll go out to that party with your friends... but only after you get your chem reading done. 2. GET OUT -- your dorm room, living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. may not ever be totally conducive to studying. I always get distracted by my computer, my phone, or basically anything in my apartment that could possibly prevent me at all from having to read another chapter of my biology book. I find that going to the library for a couple of hours a week will help you get your work done faster, with no distractions. You can even go in between classes instead of going back home. 3. GET A PLANNER -- when I first moved into Unit 1 and they gave me a free planner, I gave it away. I thought I would never need that dorky thing... wrong. Having a planner gives you a visual of when projects are due and when you have upcoming events. That way you won't forget about any event you have coming up. 4. GET OFF OF FACEBOOK -- i know... gasp! I cancelled my facebook for a couple of months during midterms and finals and it was great. That thing sucks your life away and is not that important in the grand scheme of things. Try to balance the time you spend on the internet with getting other stuff done and you'll be a pro time manager in no time. 5. TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS -- if at all possible, do something right when it is assigned. This way you won't put a lot of your assignments or responsibilities off until the last minute and you'll avoid situations like having to study for three midterms at the same time because you procrastinated all semester ;) 6. HAVE FUN -- your schedule should be a healthy mix of social and academic activities. Join a club, head to the gym, or plan a weekend trip so that you aren't overwhelmed by academic pressures. It can relieve a lot of stress and help you be more focused when it comes to school.

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Posted by at 6:31 | Permalink

02 October 2006

My life outside of PAL...

It may be hard to believe that being a flawlessly radical peer advisor isn't my only extracurricular activity, but while PAL has become a very rewarding part of this semester for me, my time outside of class is consumed with many more activities that have really enriched my time here and helped me educate myself beyond the classroom setting. My absolute favorite extracurricular, and the one that takes up most of my time, is being the co-director of the ASUC Sustainability Team. The purpose of STeam (as we affectionately call it) is to implement projects that make the Berkeley campus and community a greener and more environmentally friendly place. Our current projects this semester range from starting an organic farmer's market on campus to converting the campus fleet to biodiesel, and from hosting a climate change fair and raising awareness about global warming to creating ASUC legislation to prevent excess flyering and paper waste on campus. We are an environmentally-minded and extremely motivated team and we get a lot of projects done on campus! For more information, you can check out our website at http://sustainability.asuc.org. Another club I'm involved with here at Cal is the Cal Hiking and Outdoor Society (CHAOS). I love getting out to camp, backpack, hike, swim, paddle, or basically anything that involves the outdoors, and CHAOS is a really great organization to help me do just that. Some of the advantages are access to a fully-stocked gear library, club hiking and snowboarding trips, and meeting 50 new people who all love getting outside as much as I do! I also love to write, and work with the Cal Literary Arts Magazine (CLAM) and the Berkeley Poetry Review to publish my poems and help them edit their yearly publications. As I mentioned in my last blog, I was also a CalSO (Cal Student Orientation) Counselor this summer, and I still work for them to help recruit new counselors to the CalSO Team. CalSO was a really great opportunity for me to get involved outside of classes, meet a lot of really great people, and make connections with college and campus officials. It still remains one of the most intense and rewarding jobs I think I've ever had, and the most fun 8 weeks I've had in a while. I also work at the Newspapers and Microforms Library in 40 Doe of the Main Stacks. Gotta make some money to pay my rent somehow, right? I work about 11 hours a week on top of my other school activities, but it's a great chance for me to listen to my iPod while shelving microfiche and processing periodicals... When I'm not busy with the rest of this stuff (which doesn't leave too much leftover time..) I like backpacking, hiking, spending time with friends, reading, listening to music, going to yoga classes, painting, and SLEEPING! I'm pretty sure I love that last one most of all... it's the one I do the least ;)

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Posted by at 6:04 | Permalink

02 October 2006

Why Become a PAL?

I first learned about the PAL program while working this summer as a CalSO counselor. Through my experience with advising new students in CalSO, I really acquired some great knowledge and skills about schedule, college, and basic major advising in CNR, and loved helping incoming students by sharing my experiences with them. I decided to become a PAL after CalSO to continue being a help to students in the best college on campus, and to be able to share my experiences with them past summer orientation programs. I have had such a positive experience in the College of Natural Resources and my major of CRS that I'd like to be here to make sure everyone else has an awesome experience too!

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Posted by at 5:58 | Permalink

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