Cal, home of the Golden Bears … whatever it goes by, the University of California Berkeley is the oldest university in the state, the mother of all UC’s. The campus is located right next to downtown Berkeley, a quaint but busy urban city littered with shops and restaurants and sidewalk cafes. People from all walks of life cross the narrow, crowded streets left and right. The university sits on a square plot of land lined by two main streets, about half a mile by half a mile.
Upon my arrival in the city, I immediately noticed that parking was hard to find—and that was later confirmed by our tour guide, Zach, who stated that most students did not own a car because of parking problems and instead walked or biked to school. When I stepped onto the campus, I was greeted by bizarrely dressed students holding signs, rallying in the middle of Sproul Plaza, the heart of Cal famous for its mass of students constantly sharing their passion with others.
Zach, who majors in Political Science, brought us around the campus to different lecture halls, science buildings, towers, and even pointed out parking (its rarity makes it stand out). At one point, he stopped our tour group and told us we were standing above an underground library that stretched for four floors below us. The architectural designs of the building certainly had a dated feel, with beautiful structures such as columns and rings. Streets were crowded with students biking and walking to classes during passing period, but once our tour moved away from the edge of campus, I could truly appreciate the greenery—creeks, trees, fields, etc.
At Berkeley, there are five colleges and nine schools. It’s a big school, with 35,000 students, and the biggest lecture hall consists of 760 people. Zach described Berkeley students with a single word—passionate. The campus is just the right mix of city life and quiet time. Like Zach said, you can make a big school feel small, but not a small school feel big. Although it’s easy to get lost in Berkeley, students can find small committees where they fit in—if they take the initiative. Opportunities abound, but it’s up to the student to find out about them.