By Victoria Lee

Being a freshman new to UC Berkeley and its surroundings, I’ve been eager to try out all the new things I see, from new food to new student groups and activities. More than that, I’ve been looking for new subjects in the academic side of things too.

Since the summer before coming here in preparation for all the college activities, I have constantly been hearing adults in my life tell me to explore classes and subjects. Even in Cal’s pre-orientation training modules for freshmen, I was told over and over to take a variety of classes because college is a breeding ground for some of the most interesting and new ideas (which is true). Another one of the main reasons people advised me to explore classes was so I might find out what I want to study from taking an unexpected class.

Since I’ve arrived here at Berkeley, I’ve had fun times and not-so-fun times. I’ve met so many new people, and although they’re not my best friends yet, it’s exciting. But I also feel lost academically, more so than I’ve been before. When I came here, I decided to major in Political Economy with a little uncertainty about that choice. Government and Economics are what I’ve been interested in since high school, but I wasn’t completely certain if that was the path I really wanted to go on because how could I know I didn’t like things I’d never learned about before? I know now that I have to do some more exploring by taking classes outside my comfort zone and reflecting on who I am and what I want to do.

Do I want to major in the sciences because I’m fascinated by life and the environment around us? But what about economics? How do I know what I’m really interested in? I realized I don’t know enough about the different majors that are offered here. Well, I’ve been exploring, especially since I’m only taking one class related to my intended major this semester.

As an intended Political Economy major with an interest in international affairs, I decided that learning French would be a practical way to gain skills useful towards being involved in diplomacy. I’ve never taken a French class before in my life. I’m starting from scratch, but that’s OK. That’s part of what I need to do in order to find an interest.

But, even French is related to political economy. For me, the most adventurous class I’m taking would be introduction to Astronomy. This was one of those subjects I always wondered if I would love, because I’d never learned about it in depth. Now, although I find outer space to be a fascinating topic worthy of more discussion and research, I discovered that it’s not really my thing. I don’t get extremely energized just thinking about new observations and their implications for physics like my professor does. Well, guess I won’t be majoring in Astronomy or physics after all.

After an experience like this, a helpful way to learn from it would be to figure out what is appealing and what isn’t about the subject. I think it’s one of the best ways to find out where you want to go with your education. I won’t be exploring space, but I will be exploring subjects to study. For me, choosing a major is a stressful decision, and it surely is for many students who go through the uncertainty of figuring out what it is we are truly passionate about. So if you’re a student trying to find your academic path, we’re in this together. We just need to keep looking. On we go, on this college journey.

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