no seriously, its a weird feeling. I’ve always had the feeling that I would go to Berkeley, that it was home. It was obviously close to home. But the what was interesting was that I did not like the feeling. I did not want to go to Berkeley for some reason, believing I would go somewhere “greater”, or at least, far away. But I was a crazy, rebellious, adventure seeking child, emphasis on rebellious. I guess I wanted something different. It is important to note that I did not like my own home too. I felt like this from 8th grade to almost now.
In terms of my own home, I thought my house was boring, and I was always looking to just walk outside, take the bart or bus somewhere random, hang out with friends in the library or the empty community center. But as I grew older, I learned to appreciate home more, my physical, San Ramon, suburban, two-story home. Maybe I was just tired. I started wrestling Freshman year and it has sucked a considerable amount of energy from me. But soon, I would actually agree with my mom when she asked “Why not bring your friends here?”. Maybe it was the snacks that my mom started bringing home in droves (she did not buy much in elementary or middle school as I was chubby and most of the food she found was “unhealthy”). Maybe it was the internet, or the fact I wanted to just relax and watch anime at home. Maybe I was just proud of my house…yes, I was proud of it. I started liking home, a place to belong.
Back to Berkeley. From Sophmore year to until recently, I was aiming for MIT, or at least anywhere but home. I even thought Stanford was dull cause it was so close and so easily achievable. Then, my first visit. It was an overnight program with the Taiwanese American Student Association. They hosted a free overnight tour. By the end of this tour, I still wanted to go out of state, but I also decided Berkeley wouldn’t be too bad. I had a fun experience as I made friends with the many college students, semi-spoke chinese, made jokes about…something (I forgot), hugged and acted touchy around my guy friends, put googly eyes on my berkeley sweater, and witnessed an almost world star hip hop moment in the line of CREAM, the ice cream cookie sandwich shop that always seems to be crowded at night. One woman cut the line, another woman got pissed, and suddenly, some kids shouted “WORLD STAR!”.
But maybe what got me was the variety. Just like at home, as I can access a world of anime and tv shows about community college, I can access a world of a mix of academics, social activity, derpiness, and even danger (I slept in an apartment next to a frat house that night). I did not realize the true variety of Berkeley, and the true feeling of belonging until next visit however. Maybe it was the two extra ours the Berkeley Admissions officer gave my mom and I to talk to her, or maybe it was Oleg, the physics student who opened Berkeley’s Materials engineering labs and 3D printing capabilities to me. But by that time, I decided Berkeley was around five on my list.
Yes, five. Despite my grand opinions about Berkeley, I still wanted more: MIT, Olin’s college, Harvey Mudd, Stanford (maybe other colleges were higher up too). It took rejections, yes rejections, from all of these colleges (except for Stanford, that’s tomorrow), for me to realize Berkeley is the place for me. Like home, Berkeley accepted me. It offers communion in the form of cheap but good asian restaurants and milk tea. It offers opportunity through its labs, 3D printers, and computer science education (education that builds the same internet I used to watch my anime). It even offers me a family, because at TASA, members are split into family groups.
But what I really want to say is that Berkeley was not the perfect college for me: despite the obvious benefits, I wanted more. Ok, to be fair, I was afraid of the difficulty of work and the competitiveness and the heartlessness in learning and obsessions with grades and advancement. But most importantly, I thought Berkeley was trite, just because it seemed like it was easy to get in (a huge number from my school got in). I was just that kind of person. But Berkeley has always been there for me. It does not suppress my out-going spirit. It’s just I avoided it. I am the prodigal son, and I am happy to be back home.