Ah, freshman year — one complete year to bask ourselves in the glory of youth and ignorance. This fall, we’ll have the privilege of waltzing through Sather Gate absolutely oblivious to the basics. (What are “GBC” and “GSI” — New Deal programs?) Thus, every freshman needs a bucket list laced with clichés, so here’s my UC Berkeley freshman year bucket list.
1. Treat yo’ self with some famous Berkeley boba.
When one wonders what student life is like at Cal, there is no other accurate, more succinct description than the one offered by the Daily Californian — “There are only two things certain at Berkeley: squirrels and boba.” The average UC Berkeley student consumes nearly twice as much boba as the average college student in the United States. While this completely made-up statistic may be startling at first, it isn’t all that surprising: legend has it that trekking to campus without crossing a café that sells boba is even more difficult than not laughing at the hipster jokes written in the bathroom stalls (Q: “How much does a hipster weigh?” A: “One Insta-gram.” WHAT A CLASSIC, AMIRITE?).
Fortunately for us, the diversity of boba cafés in the area ensure that even the pickiest and penniless alike can satisfy our sweet tooth. Tea Press offers two boba drinks for a mere $3.50 (who knew you could have a happy stomach and a happy wallet?), while U-Cha has been dubbed the most authentic boba shop in town for the tastebud snobs among us. And, for all our philanthropic spirits, Sharetea hosts regular fundraisers, so you can support great causes while sipping that sweet, sweet nectar of the gods.
Not to mention the Berkeley Boba Initiative, an effort led by student environmental activist group Telegraph Green, encourages boba lovers and local businesses to reduce plastic waste. Wait a second — I can drink boba to save the planet? Pour me another glass.
2. Grab a slice of communist pizza at the Cheese Board Collective.
Tired of being made a slave to the heavy chains of capitalist plunder? Me too. Everyone knows that accepting an offer of admission to Cal dramatically increases your chance of buying a pocket-sized copy of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto. Luckily for us, the Cheese Board Collective provides a delicious route towards revolution.
The Cheese Board was originally just a small cheese store established in 1967. Four years later, the two original owners decided to sell the Board to their employees and try a new business model — a business that was 100% worker owned. The Cheese Board operates on the belief that everyone’s voice is central, even integral, to a successful business. Part-owners/employees share high work ethic, an undeniable passion for food, and strong emotional connections with each other that foster a collective process that “organically create[s] a truly democratic society.”
Still don’t approve of “those dirty Commies?” That’s okay. If there’s any uniting force in this world, it’s a piece of pizza, and there is no sensation quite like one’s first bite of freshly fired Cheese Board pizza. #NotAllCommunists
3. Endure blistering winds and scorching deserts to the Big C.
With all that boba tea and communist pizza, that freshman fifteen (twenty, twenty-five, thirty?) may hit you sooner than you expected. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in body positivity (#EveryBodyIsBeautiful), but ya girl’s most recent rigorous cardio routine was typing up this article, and perhaps I can be making better life choices.
The UC Berkeley recreational sports center is available to all students and offers a vast range of exercise options — yoga, Zumba, weight-lifting, personal training, martial arts, sports and more. Sure, it’s all very impressive, but if you would rather not spend more than 20 minutes trying to work a weight-lifting contraption while others twice your size silently judge you, hiking the Big C is a fantastic substitute that will earn you both a substantial work-out and a stunning view of the city. Besides, the Big C is an essential part of the UC Berkeley student experience. It looks like an incredible make-out spot. Or a spot to drown your lonesome self in boba and drink away your sorrows. #BerkeleyPOV
4. Climb to the highest room of the tallest tower.
Speaking of spectacular views, Cal is also home to Sather Tower, or Campanile — the third-tallest bell and clock-tower in the world — that presents even the snobbiest mountaineers an admittedly impressive view of the sprawling Bay Area. Making it to the top is an absolute must — a pivotal moment in every UC Berkeley student experience. Fret not, there’s no strenuous physical exertion involved, although there is a mildly uncomfortable, claustrophobic elevator ride… at the end of the day, you have to pick your poison. And more often than not, it’s worth the 3-4 (5, if you’re feeling really ballsy) glorious seconds on your Snapchat Story.
5. Snap for some noontime poetry.
Ah, Berkeley — the home of starving artists, free spirits and social justice warriors. As expected of Cal’s progressive culture and sophisticated taste for the finer things in life, Cal offers a lovely noontime poetry reading series on the first Thursday of each month from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m., free of charge. The event features many acclaimed poets and, in May, one of our very own fellow students. Remember to bring your monocle, your fanciest mustache, and your peppiest snapping!
Thursdays at noon just aren’t working out for your schedule? You’re in luck: CalSLAM, a student organization dedicated to spoken word poetry, hosts themed slams (and open mic nights for all you Shakespeares and Hemmingways) throughout the semester. And if you’re REALLY pressed for time, CalSLAM also has plenty of student performance recorded on its Facebook page for your specific viewing needs.
6. Express your inner flower child at the UC Botanical Garden.
Perhaps the best way to describe the UC Botanical Garden is an escape from the bustling life of Berkeley without actually leaving. With 34 acres of greenery, the botanical gardens are the perfect place to de-stress. You’ll find that the gardens provide many uses: you can book a wedding here, you can prance around pretending you’re a fairy princess, you can re-enact scenes from Phantom of the Opera (♫ “That’s all I ask of youuuuuu. . .” ♫), you can quite literally run away from your troubles. Whatever leisure activity you choose, it’ll undoubtedly make for a prime Instagram post.
7. Maintain grade point averages that maintain cordial relations between you and your parents.
What? C’mon, don’t kid yourself. We’re going to UC Berkeley. This article would be hopelessly incomplete without mentioning academics — we didn’t get a Frank Ocean lyric for nothing.