Orientation Leaders to New Students: Welcome to UC Berkeley!

As a new school year approaches, Golden Bear Orientation leaders offer advice to incoming UC Berkeley students on what to expect, how to adapt to campus life and their favorite Berkeley traditions.

What insight can you offer to new Golden Bears leaving home for the first time?

“Many students are experiencing the same feelings, and in these shared emotions can form strong relationships. There are many opportunities here at Cal, and if you put in the work, you’ll find something special at UC Berkeley. If you haven’t found anything, keep trying.” — Jerome

“Keep an open mind! Be communicative with yourself and with others. Berkeley is a treasure — and is here to offer you so much, if only you let it. You may not acclimate 100% in the first couple of weeks, so give yourself time.” — Joyce

“Leaving home will be difficult for some folks at first but it also is a liberating experience. I feel like the most growth I experience is that time away from home. And I like knowing that when I do return home I am returning a better person. It may be tough but you will thrive!” — Tanisha


What is the coolest tradition on campus?

“I love that Berkeley students know not to step on the university seal near Memorial Glade [to maintain a 4.0 GPA] so when you see a group of students walking and they all walk around the seal, tour groups look at them confused.” — Michaela

“I think one of the most cool traditions is the Big Game Week. It is one of our university’s busiest times for our spirit-related organizations as it signifies the time when our Cal Football team goes against our long-lasting rival, Stanford. While students who are in any of those organizations do most of the preparation, it’s also a reminder throughout the campus of the pride, spirit, and history that is present with UC Berkeley. I initially had no idea what this tradition was and didn’t understand why there were so many decorations on campus my first year, but I’ve grown to develop a deep appreciation for what our spirit-related organizations do to continue instilling a sense of pride within Cal Bears.” — Keita


What words of welcome and encouragement do you want to share with new students?

“To be honest, this transition is weird and awkward and that is OKAY. Things may not go as you expect, you might fall flat on your face, but know you will also do more that you ever thought and you’ll grow into a beautiful human. Besides academics (which will go fine, trust me!) this experience is a lot about growth. You’ll be proud of the person you meet on the other side. Go Bears!” — Tanisha

“You are about to embark in the best years of your life. You may not be able to see it yet, but UC Berkeley is like no other place in the world. Be ready to immerse yourself in the most interesting courses, talk to the smartest people, and share the ultimate passion to change the world with those around you. Cherish every single moment and be grateful, because time passes by quickly.” — Sofia

“Put yourself out there! When everyone is desperately trying to meet people, no one will think it’s weird if you walk up to other incoming students and introduce yourself. You could end up being best friends!” — Michaela

“Berkeley has a lot to offer and opportunities for students of all backgrounds; take advantage of what interests you around this university even if it means going out of your comfort zone. That can mean classes, majors, minors, extracurriculars, meeting new people, and finding new hobbies.” — Keita


How did you meet new people when you started at Berkeley?

“Residence halls — keep your door open! Stay up the extra hour to chat with floormates. Join clubs! Sign up for mailing lists! Participate in discussion sessions.” — Joyce

“I sat next to people in lectures and dining halls, but I joined many clubs, including a fraternity, and those served as my main communities” — Jerome


What was the top resource that helped you as a new student?

“A key resource for me especially during my first year here was knowing the resources that our university health services building, Tang Center, had to offer. Whether it was for my own health or my peers, I found myself making several trips a semester over to their clinic and maintaining proper physical and mental health. Knowing that I can rely on their services with the insurance plan I had made me feel at ease even when I wasn’t feeling so well.” — Keita

“The Student Learning Center at the Cesar Chavez building was incredibly helpful. I attended a weekly study group for my statistics course and we reviewed quizzes and class material — it was a great way to practice outside of class.” — Sofia.


What is the most Cal activity for you?

“Hiking up the Big C and overlooking our beautiful campus and the Bay. Being up there gives you perspective of how lucky we are to be a part of such an amazing community of thinkers and explorers.” -Sofia

“Going to a football game and being in the student section. Going up the Campanile!” — Joyce


From all of our Golden Bear Orientation Leaders: Welcome to UC Berkeley, new students!

Learn more about Golden Bear Orientation.