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AUGUST 21, 2014

Everything that has ever happened to you — your decision to go to Pappy’s on Friday night instead of studying for your midterm, your choice to sit next to a stranger at Free Speech Movement Cafe out of sheer desperation or even your involuntary nap in Moffit — all of these events, including the minute ones, have led you to where you are today.

The domino effect is a crazy concept. Sometimes, even now, when I’m casually hanging out with my friends, I think back to the day I first met them. Had I not been working my way toward the Freshman 15 with the help of Crossroads on that particular Friday afternoon, I would have never met any of the friends I have now.

Maybe I would have still felt alone and scared like most freshmen when they come in. Maybe I would’ve joined a sorority hoping to get in even though I’m not blonde or white. Maybe I would’ve tried harder to build a relationship with my floormates and actually bothered to learn all of their names — heck, I barely knew my RA’s.

Regardless of what could have happened, I’m grateful for what did. Somehow, in a sea of 30,000 kids, I managed to meet the greatest friends I have ever had all thanks to one meal of beef fajitas and rice. I’ve been with these suckers from their first drunk mistake and can’t wait to make more, hopefully nonlethal, mistakes. I never thought I’d owe anything but hatred to the dining halls that ruined my flat stomach, but they really did make a positive impact in my life.

The beginning is always the hardest part because people are usually scared of change. It’s natural to want to cling onto what’s known, but the best thing I have ever done was say, “Why not?” At first, you’re going to be thrown into a sea of strangers and expected to come out alive. But don’t worry — this part isn’t so bad because everyone else is also drowning, and, unlike Rose in the Titanic, people will try to give you room on their rafts. Everyone’s nice in the beginning because everyone is desperate for options.

College, especially UC Berkeley, is a mass clump of diversity. You will find students who advocate nudist ideals and students who think wearing a chastity belt is the only way to live life. The spectrum is wide, and everyone fits on it somewhere. Just because you were a hot shot in high school does not mean you’ll have any sort of reputation here. It’s a blank slate; there is nothing and no one to carry you forward but yourself, which means the pressure is on. If you’re ever at a loss of what to say to your super cool friend crush wearing a floral snapback, follow the trend of stating your name, your major and what unit you live in. Apparently these are the pressing questions all freshmen want to know.

It’s really important that you put yourself out there because it just takes one person — one individual — to introduce you to his or her friend who introduces you to another friend and just like that, all the dominoes fall. Soon enough, you’ll have more friends than a girl in an EECS class.

All I had to do was have one lunch with a short Asian girl, who then introduced me to her floormates, which led to a world of options — future best friends, future enemies, future friends with benefits, the list goes on. It was one lunch followed by a party that night, and then just like that, the rest of my freshmen year unfolded. All my successes were a result of their friendship, as were a majority of my poor decisions. But regardless of how poor those decisions were, I live a no-regrets life because all those moments led me to where I am today. I now live with the original, short Asian girl and two of her floormates. I knew their floor better than my own — to the point where some of my floormates actually thought I moved from the third floor of Deutsch Hall to the fourth floor of Beverly Cleary.

It was one meal at Crossroads that gave me the rest of my freshman year, and those relationships will probably unfold further throughout the rest of my college career. One “hi” can lead to the best four years of your life; all it takes is one domino to knock the others down.

Contact Ilaf Esuf at [email protected].

AUGUST 20, 2014

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