When It Rains, It Pours: Tips for Getting Through Rainy Days at UC Berkeley

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I first heard about “rainy days in Berkeley” from my high school calculus teacher. A Cal alumni and an enthusiastic supporter his students’ numerical success, Mr. Friedman used the phrase to teach us a formula that I think involved derivatives but I have long since forgotten. Something about how ducking under an umbrella in Berkeley… but I have long since forgotten.

I did, however, have to worry about the actual rainy days in Berkeley. One day, that beautiful California sun. Next day, rain that seemed to never stop. SoCal friends cringed at the disappearance of the sun, East Coast friends laughed at what the Bay Area considered a “storm,” and my fellow NorCal natives and I just pulled our jackets closer and held our umbrellas tighter. Nothing new. Except rain in college feels, in some ways, different from rain in high school. In high school, you mainly stay in the same one building and can almost forget the weather. In college, you find yourself running to class, feeling the water seeping into the sneakers you wish you hadn’t worn and calculating how the wet roads will affect your ETA.

Rain has been coming down particularly hard the last few months, switching on and off like a bad faucet. Plus side is the decrease of the drought. (In case you missed it, California is and has been in a drought for awhile.) Downside is, if you’re like my solar-powered roommate, you’re getting wet and potentially sick and sad by the lack of sun. To help my roommate, and those like her, who are missing their daily dose of vitamin D, I have some tips to survive those rainy days in Berkeley:

Layers. Layers. Layers.

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Layers. Always layer. Yes it might seem sunny one minute, but there’s a chance that the weather will change in the next thirty minutes and you will regret not throwing that sweatshirt in your bag.

Take Rihanna’s advice: get an umbrella.

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Buy an umbrella. Preferably a brightly-colored or unusually designed umbrella that won’t get lost among the ever-popular, but plain, black umbrellas that everyone else is carrying around. Getting a unique-looking umbrella will also help you avoid mistakenly taking another person’s umbrella. Head to any dining hall during a rainy day and the umbrella bucket with be full of plain black umbrellas. Your lime green kitten umbrella will be easy to spot and most likely one-of-a-kind. Also, the stronger the umbrella the better. After an especially windy rain storm, there’s always a parade of people with broken or inside-out umbrellas.

Berkeley Time won’t save you. You’re going to need to leave early.

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Add another ten minutes to your commute during the rainy season. If you thought getting through Sproul Plaza with every student organization under the sun tabling (and flyering) took time, then wait until you experience walking through umbrella traffic. People take up twice as much space with their umbrellas and sidewalks becomes like a one-lane roads. “I’ll pull over to the side to let you pass first.” Spare yourself the anxiety and leave early on rainy days to avoid any delays caused by umbrella traffic.

Find shelter.

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Designate a rainy day hideaway. The ASUC Student Union fills quickly during those wet lunch periods with students taking advantage of the warm food and close proximity to classes. My personal go to spot is the Morrison reading room in Doe Library. Something about the warm lighting and plush chairs makes the rain seem like the precursor to a British detective story.

And lastly, embrace rainy days in Berkeley because without them…

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…you wouldn’t get those Instagram-worthy rainbow photos.

By Amanda Gee