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Catching my breath after my academic rollercoaster

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Deputy Opinion Editor

SEPTEMBER 14, 2023

College life is like waiting three hours for a rollercoaster that breaks down after three minutes. There is always that one kid who pukes while on the ride, and the entire amusement park grinds to a halt because he overate clam chowder. Even after standing in the relentless heat and devoting hours to one thing, the ride seems underwhelming.

That underwhelming feeling is all too relatable with our Berkeley lives in and outside student organizations. The UC Berkeley students bogged down in the trenches of work-study jobs or climbing the rustic ladders of student organizations have arguably given up any semblance of normalcy. I sometimes just want two weeks to be the same, but then something kicks down the door and yanks me from my bed.

Every semester, the first two weeks are dreadful for me because of the swift transition to courses, scrambling for recruitment interviews and ensuring I have a reliable washing machine. However, with our colorful Google calendars, the evening following our time commitments does not have to be equally hectic.

This past summer, I worked a 9-5 as a communications intern for a congresswoman. Everyday, when I got home, the first thing I did was just change my clothes from a suit to something more breathable. In many ways, I feel like changing your clothes and loosening your tie is always the first step in unwinding after a tumultuous day — a literal transition to a less uptight, more relaxed fabric.

The next step is doing something less stressful to change pace and get away from the screens. For me, igniting the stovetop and playing the “Ratatouille” soundtrack is my happy place. There is always something new to learn in cooking, and leaving the mind-numbing screens of the office for simple cutting boards have made many of my weeks bearable. Burn a few eggs, overcook that salmon, see why people dump wine in their dishes and find comfort in your defaced culinary invention. At the end of the day, I am probably still the only one who would enjoy my cooking, but the process itself is peaceful.

For other ideas, my past roommates found peace in exploring origami, ranting about college football, embarking on afternoon hikes or face planting on their bed while listening to Billy Joel.

The next is just a change in activity. If you are cooped in the corner of Moffitt Library or the bowels of an underground laboratory, you should get your body moving. After cooking everyday, I would find myself at the local gym at 8:00 p.m., torturing myself on the treadmill. Lifting free weights or just walking around the weight room is a nice change of pace from the Gmail inbox. Other ideas include hiking the nearby mountain or strolling in the city at midnight while listening to Ray Charles. Again, mindless activity after a day filled with emotional heartache is almost therapeutic.

As we kick off this semester, we can predict turbulence, success and an excess of rejection that makes you feel like you overate clam chowder. In getting on that roller coaster, let’s all take a second to sit on the bench next to the exit and catch our breath before we get the wind knocked out of us again.

Contact Ethan Kim at 


SEPTEMBER 14, 2023