By Ishita Rastogi

One of my main worries of choosing UC Berkeley was the distance between Berkeley and Dallas, my hometown. 1,743 miles away from where I grew up sounded like I was a universe away—that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but a plane ride for transportation makes the distance sound terrifying. I soon began to realize that I wouldn’t be able to see my parents and sister until Thanksgiving break and I would only be able to contact them through the phone. Now that I’m living this experience, I’m glad I chose UC Berkeley as my destination for the next four years. Yes, I experience the above emotions from time to time when I’m missing my family back home, but I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made and the experiences that I will continue to make throughout my time here at Berkeley.

I remember going through that nerve-wracking journey of finding random roommates on Facebook only a few months ago. How was I expected to choose my roommates and hopefully potential best friends through one paragraph and a few pictures? The whole process just seemed a bit daunting, but I thought knowing at least a few things about my future roommates is better than going into the whole roommate situation completely random so I opted to match up with two people I found on Facebook. I’m thankful to have met these beautiful humans because they’ve made my high school to college transition so smooth. I can call them my roommates and best friends at Cal. As cliche as it sounds, we have each others backs. I’m glad I get to traverse my freshman journey with my roommates because I can always rely on them to pick me up during my tough times and laugh with me during the good times.

I’m content with how I fit in with my roommates, but that’s such a small part of UC Berkeley. There are classes, events, and organizations with such great variety. Walking down Calapalooza was an interesting experience. There were people handing out flyers left and right and it was like I was expected to know which specific organization was right for me—as if an organization was calling out to me. To be honest, I was grabbing each and every flyer that I could because I had no idea where I would fit in. I still don’t know where I fit in, but I think it’s a part of the learning process. I attended a plethora of info sessions that either encompassed my academic or vocational interests to see where I’d find my ideal community. Personally, many of the info sessions provided very similar information so it became difficult to decide which clubs I should participate and apply into. I soon realized that I wouldn’t know if an organization is right for me unless I apply and experience it.

Yes, the application process can be tedious and gruesome especially if there’s so many organizations, but applying to them became a wholesome experience. I’ve learned so much about myself—I developed patience and gained a better understanding of what I look for in organizations for the future. Now instead of applying to anything and everything in hopes of finding my place, I can look for my specific interests, ask familiar faces for their advice, and go from there. I know I will encounter more obstacles in the future, whether it’s in the realm of organizations or maybe something else, but at least I know I’m trying my best to take my current interests and molding them into something new with the opportunities that these organizations offer.

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