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Eight things I learned at Berkeley.

1. You need to depend only on yourself. Nobody is going to tell you what to do from the get-go. You cannot and should not expect others to hold your hand. You have to put in your own effort to acquire things that you want.

Example: Professors only talk to us at their office. If we don’t sign up beforehand or visit them during office hours, we will never have face-to-face interaction.

2. …But there are always people who are willing to help you along the way. Just like being lost on the streets and asking for directions, people don’t mind helping if you reach out to them and ask. The important thing is to ask rather than expect unconditional help.

Example: Major advisers, mentors, friends, roommates.

3. College is about learning, but not just in the traditional sense. Students’ jobs in school is to learn, but there are many ways to learn other than in the classroom.

Example: The various communities throughout campus who I wanted to be a part of and where I cultivated my curiosity. Living away from home has been a great learning experience altogether.

4. There is a place for everyone. I didn’t feel “at home” with some groups I was a part of. Others I clicked with from day one. There are a plethora of groups and cliques to join everywhere – with some effort, you will find your niche.

Example: Cal Lightweight Crew, Fall 2012 International Terrorism, Ehrman Floor 7.

5. Shortcuts provide only temporary benefits. Putting little effort into your work does not pay off. The person who puts in the most work in a group collaboration translates into confidence in his or her capabilities, anecdotes for job interviews, and respect amongst peers.

Example: A friend completed a convoluted, time-consuming budgeting project using Microsoft Excel. He then shared his works with a bunch of his classmates who modeled their projects after him. Even though everyone else received higher grades, only the former became a pro at Excel, which he entirely self-taught.

6. You are responsible for your own actions; own up to them. Whether it is doing poor in a class, ruining a friendship, or missing deadlines, you should be honest and see where you failed and avoid it next time.

Example: I tried to maintain a relationship even after it was evidently unsalvageable. Many bad incidents occurred afterward, and I had nobody to blame but myself being naive.

7. Keep in touch with those who matter to you. A simple text message, letter, or e-mail shows them you still exist.

Example: former professors, those who hosted you, friends from back home.

8. People come and go, and that’s okay.

Example: My values have changed since last year; so has many others. We inevitably pursue these values, which unfortunately fall on different path.


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