daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian!

What Berkeley means to me

article image


We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

If you look at my sparse resume, you will find “attends UC Berkeley” listed between “excels at nailing milk to cereal ratio” and “only occasionally bites others.” While it is certainly a close call as to which of those I am most proud of, being able to list a college education takes the cake.

As a first-generation college student, having an alma mater will mean far more than just another bullet point to add to my clearly overwhelming resume. It is an opportunity worth generations of sacrifice and an accomplishment that I am able to give to my parents after all they have given to me. Most importantly, my experience as a UC Berkeley student is something that I will have forever.

I often forget how much I share this experience and school with my parents. Just as it is easy to take this opportunity for granted, so too is forgetting how much my mom and dad tirelessly prioritized my needs over theirs to get me here. My dad worked two jobs to ensure I had diapers, and my mom taught me tough lessons through a fountain of frustrated tears. All the while, they urged me to remember that college was an attainable goal. A college education was not an option available to them, so it means that much more that they are able to give it to me.

Like any normal person with parents, I cringe in embarrassment at almost all of their school pride antics. I think my mom’s “Cal Parent” bumper sticker is horribly excessive and her custom made “Go Bears!” license plate frame transcends previously believed limits of enthusiasm. Although it does nicely distract from the massive dent in the bumper from that time I reversed into a parked car, I still think the public display is wildly unnecessary. Unfortunately, my groans of mortification will never quell my mom’s undying desire to scream “Go Bears!” from the highest mountain top.        

The phrase “rain or shine” has never applied to anything more than to my dad’s idea about sporting his Cal visor. He will wear it indoors, outdoors, backwards and even occasionally when he falls asleep on the couch. My complaint that it serves little purpose when there are no UV rays overhead falls on deaf ears. The weather does not matter in the slightest to him — he has a school to represent and nothing can rain on his parade.

My parents’ untamable displays of enthusiasm for my school can get old quickly, but their genuine pride is something I will never tire of.

While I have gained a multitude of friends and a plethora of knowledge during my time here at UC Berkeley, I cherish the permanence of one day having an alma mater the most. So much of our experiences in college are fleeting Snapchats. They happen right in front of you for a short window of time before they vanish.

Realistically, a majority of the friendships I have formed here will not last long after graduation. I doubt that 30 years from now I will be able to recall the astronomical reason for seasons. Sorry, Professor Filippenko. I can say with the utmost certainty that I will not be able to recall the capital of Malaysia when I am old and gray. After all, I was not able to do that on my map quiz just last week.

I’m unsure of just how much I will take with me at the end of my four years here. I would like to say that I will cherish and remember everything about my time at Berkeley for the rest of my life, but that would be unrealistic. One thing, however, is certain: after graduating, I will always have UC Berkeley as my alma mater, and nothing will take that away from me.

Contact Amanda Chung at [email protected]

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016