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How I'm romanticizing my fall semester

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SEPTEMBER 10, 2023

Well, what’s next? “Home,” I said restfully as I batted my eyes. Turning my head away from eye contact, I let out a sympathetic sigh as I turned my keys in the ignition forward, set my Google Maps to Berkeley and shifted my gear into drive. 

Looking straight ahead, I marked the words, “That’s where I’m going … home.” 

Salt air and the rust on my Haste Street door — it’s good to be back. Returning to another semester in college is daunting, and perhaps more frightening when realizing I’m entering my last year of undergrad. For some, it’s thrilling. For others, maybe it’s a mundane feeling and they’re simply continuing life as it is. 

I honestly have mixed feelings about it all and maybe it’s my perfectionist, optimist and overthinker personalities clashing, but I’m hoping to make life as pleasant as possible this semester — especially if it means I get to play the insufferable main character of my indie film. 

Music elevates the experience (or deludes it!)

It occurred to me that I haven’t been using my Spotify Premium enough lately, and it’s been an unfortunate, costly realization. Pop has been my main genre of music, and maybe it’s the incoming sweater weather, but I’ve recently felt more inclined to listen to pop and indie music that has seemingly deluded me into a worldview of romanticizing every mundane occurrence and casting me into the “main character” trope. 

“Take me to your best friend’s house” echoing into the back of my mind has never felt more relevant as I sit in a lecture hall of my peers psychoanalyzing Antigone’s behavior and her values. (And yeah, I would totally want to be her friend — if she were real today.) Wallow’s “Are You Bored Yet?” (feat. Clairo) leads me to question how much longer I can stay at a coffee shop before I feel overstimulated. (“It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me” — maybe I shouldn’t have a latte lattes.) Listening to the live version of Willow’s “Meet Me at Our Spot” makes me sigh dramatically as I’m walking past the Glade, daydreaming about the unrequited love stories I’ve pictured. (Embarrassingly painful, I know.) 

Whatever happens, music enhances the experience and I’m eager to immerse myself into the resounding synth pop sounds of how dramatically pleasant a mundane experience has been elevated.  

Yes, I got spirit. Yes, I do. Yes, I’ve got spirit, how about you?

I won’t lie. A big regret I have about my experience at Berkeley thus far was not making the effort to join the student section at football games, especially at the Big Game. I haven’t attended a sporting event yet, and I’ll be sure to use my student combo pass generously this semester — in absolutely full school spirit fashion. 

It’ll be fun to dress up in Berkeley’s colors and pick out clothing items that scream our Golden Bear pride. Music blaring and maybe I’ll light a candle for ambiance — of course it will all be a montage. My life is a movie, duh. 

Getting out of my comfort zone

As I reflect about what more I could’ve done in my first year at Berkeley, it can be a regretful, yet motivating reflection. This fall, I’m hoping to network and actively check out other organizations I hadn’t considered before. Although I’m not sure what to say to club members tabling, I’ve treated it as a coming-of-age experience that has eased the anxiety in being acquainted with those clubs. I’ve even texted friends, asking them what I should do as I paced nervously back and forth a few steps away from where the club is tabling. 

Oh my god, they’re right there. I think they’re so cool, what should I say? What do I ask?

I clench my fists, close my eyes and take a deep breath. I’ll take my nervously shaky hand and drag myself to their table headfirst, fearless. (And this song is definitely playing in the background as I’m walking — whether you hear it or not.) 

Romanticizing the uncomfortable experience of getting out of my comfort zone is challenging, to say the least. It’s been a learning experience to not take myself too seriously, and perhaps it’s time to not consider worldly experiences too seriously either. 

The future is unclear, but it’s mine.

Contact Deric Lai at 


SEPTEMBER 10, 2023