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A transfer's year in review

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MAY 24, 2023

This year was a wild roller coaster of mixed emotions and new experiences. As a transfer student, I felt like I was thrown into an entirely new life and I seriously underestimated how much work it would take to fully settle in. While I’m still getting used to calling Berkeley my home, these are my experiences this semester. I want to offer some insight on the transition to other prospective transfers and also reflect on the growth and strength it takes to choose to take on a whole new journey. 

Putting yourself out there:

I have never had to try to make friends. I’ve always just heavily relied on people who were just forced to be around me. I went to city college with my high school friends and my college friendships were formed through assigned roommates and friends of friends who would come over. It just naturally formed that way. Imagine the utter fear and dread I endured moving to Berkeley and realizing I had to start over — I was petrified.

So, I’ve moved and everyone is telling me to just join a club. Are we all collectively ignoring how strangely serious and intimidating it is? While there are consulting clubs, magazines and ones based around a common hobby, I was so thrown off by how professional the process was for some of these clubs. I felt so underqualified. However, do not be afraid! Remember that these intense groups were formed by your fellow peers, and they were all in the same spot you’re in. Whether you get in or not, it’s enough that you tried, so don’t be discouraged. Putting yourself out there is a brave thing!

As club recruitment season quickly passed by with no success my first semester, my social life was placed in my own little terrified hands. I had to get really comfortable with being more forward and outgoing. I’m a naturally quiet and reserved person so it was really difficult for me to actually put in the work of introducing myself to someone. I think finding a lecture buddy is the best way to make a new friend. I would try to very casually seat myself next to someone whose outfits I liked or whose comments in class I enjoyed. As you make it through the semester, you’ll get used to sitting in class with opportunities to make small talk before and after class. You can gradually learn more about each other and eventually you can exchange numbers or social media handles. Then you can ask to study together until you’re comfortable enough to do something more social. The process is slow but you are bound to make a new friend; if anything, a study buddy is really helpful too. I’ll just message people who seem cool on Instagram. I realized it’s not as weird as I  worried it would be, since people are more open to being friends than you think. There are Instagram pages each year for incoming transfers to meet each other so don’t be afraid to reach out to others that way too. 

Tackling imposter syndrome:

It is, in fact, very real and very difficult to confront and conquer. The feeling that you don’t deserve to be at this school is so common because of the intense culture here; it seems like everyone is ahead in some way. You are clearly smart enough to be at UC Berkeley, but all of a sudden you’re meeting people doing 10 times more than you are, from internships, to clubs, to jobs waiting for them post-grad.It is very easy to feel like you are behind. I found that what helps me deal with the stress of trying to keep up is being proud of what I have accomplished on my own, rather than compared to others. It’s easier said than done, but when you are doing your best with what you have, that in itself is something to be proud of. 

I think people define their success when it’s in contrast with someone else’s, but it is valid to also be proud of the small things you create. For example, I feel joy and pride in things that I write for my classes. Although everyone in my class had the same prompt, and some got a better grade than me, only I could have produced what I wrote. It is unique to my own thinking and  a showcase of how much I’ve learned and grown as a writer. I don’t have an internship or a secured career just yet but I have this huge paper on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” that makes me proud, and that is enough.

Making the right choice:

Alongside the idea of imposter syndrome, I often doubted my choice of going to UC Berkeley over other schools. I wondered what my life would be like if I stayed in Santa Barbara where my friends are or chosen a different school with a different culture than the one we have here. However, I remind myself of the overwhelming joy when I found out that I got accepted in the first place and how I never ever thought I’d be able to attend this school. When I feel lonely or discouraged about where my life is I remember the pride I have to go here. I remember that it’s an incredible thing I’ve accomplished and this is where I chose to be. There are good things that have happened to me here, friends made and confidence built that I shouldn’t regret for a possible alternative that isn’t worth dwelling over. I remind myself of the goodness that has occurred over the brief moments of solemn reflection and nostalgia.

Contact Mary Huynh at 


MAY 24, 2023