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Seeing Berkeley in everything

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MARCH 03, 2023

As graduation looms in approximately two months, I must force myself to come to terms with the fact that Berkeley will no longer be the place I call home. 

Over the past four years, I’ve experienced disruptions due to fires, COVID-19 and the academic worker strike. Regardless of these, I’ve come to appreciate Berkeley and its unique culture — its proximity to San Francisco, thrift stores on every street, an endless selection of boba shops, windsurfing at the marina, waiting in line at Cheeseboard on a Friday night, climbing Indian Rock to see the view of the Bay and miles of hiking trails to explore in Tilden Park. 

Growing up on the peninsula, I hadn’t explored the East Bay much, so the last two semesters have been spent visiting Oakland, Emeryville and the hidden restaurants and shops in Berkeley. 

I’ve particularly grown fond of the walkability of Berkeley. I remember as a senior in high school when I committed to Berkeley, I was adamant that I bring my car. My parents convinced me not to and now, I can’t imagine going back to having to drive everywhere. 

I’ll have to say goodbye to getting ready at 7 a.m., painting my face blue and gold and adorning myself in Cal gear from shoes to headband for Saturday game days, sifting through my friend’s closets for themed clothing for whatever animal- or astrology-themed house party we’re attending and my apartment with its big Save People’s Park poster hanging by the entrance. What I’ll miss most of all is being able to meet up with my friends anytime in only a few minutes; there’s something so special about that that I’m scared to leave behind when I have to enter the “real world.”

Moving on from Berkeley is not just moving on from being a college student; it’s also moving on from being able to experience a place like Berkeley in the age that I am now. While I can come back and visit Berkeley, I can never again experience it through the eyes of a student. Yet, the fact that I only had a few years in this city makes it even more significant; I’ve known since the beginning that my time in Berkeley was limited. While it’s daunting to conceive of the fact that there are a single-digit number of Fridays left until I graduate, this makes every weekend even more full of life.

Being from the Bay Area has been a core part of my identity for so long, and the prospect of potentially not being able to call it home is frightening. 

While the physical locality of Berkeley will no longer be my home, I’ve come to see Berkeley everywhere and in everything. Whenever I see the combination of blue and gold in anything, I get excited. In my travels to other countries and states, I’ve met Berkeley alumni in the most random places. I even interned at a company that had a Berkeley alumni club because the company had so many employees who were alumni. 

These are all things I’ve come to appreciate, and they make me feel less fearful about leaving Berkeley behind.

Contact Amrita Bhasin at [email protected].

MAY 18, 2023