Day in the Life: Manooshree Patel

A First Year Bioengineering Student


(Yes. Yes I do have the duck alarm.)

7:02 a.m. Before you go to college you think “8 a.m.’s? I can do those.” I’m sorry to be cliché and yet another college student to dispel that fantasy, but 8 a.m. classes are impossible. As my alarm softly (so I won’t wake my roommates up) blares, I groggily get up and start digging through my sheets for my phone to turn it off. It takes all my willpower and four times of me saying “just one more minute” before I have the energy to pull myself out of bed and conquer the day.

7:11 a.m. I’m slowly slapping random objects on my desk looking for glasses and begin feverishly planning the day in my mind. Class from 8–3p.m., a Computer Science project to work on, three professors I needed to email for research, and two club meetings. Today is going to be tough. But then again, every day is tough. Once I realize I only have about half an hour to brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed, and eat, my body kicks into “get ready asap or you will be late to class” mode.

7:37 a.m. I sprint into my room from the bathroom; as expected, I’m behind schedule. Multitasking takes on an entirely different meaning in the mornings. In the two minutes it takes my dry oats to transfer to oatmeal in the microwave, I manage to moisturize, put in my contacts, and pack my hair. I unsuccessfully try to blow dry my hair with one hand and eat breakfast with another.

8:03 a.m. I manage to leave my dorm in Foothill and am sprinting to class. Since class starts at 8:10 a.m. (thank you Berkeley time), 7 minutes doesn’t seem like an unrealistic time to get to class in. Unfortunately, my class is in Dwinelle Hall aka basically the other tip of campus. So I run down praying I didn’t forget anything.

8:11 a.m. A minute late. I slide in just in time to chime ”Dobro Utro Zvezda!” with the other 400 studnets in my class. Our Bulgarian Math 1B Professor, Professor Zvezdalina Stankova, insists we say good morning in Bulgarian at the start of every class. We’ve been learning Taylor Series in calculus currently, a topic that makes every Berkeley engineer cringe. While the topic is difficult, I am blessed with an excellent professor who makes the convoluted concepts a little more manageable to understand and apply.

9:30 a.m. As the rest of the class slowly shuffles out, I hop two stairs at a time to climb out of the hall and sprint up the dreaded Berkeley hills to my CS61A lab. CS61A is one of the most notorious computer science classes at Berkeley. And for good reason. As someone with no coding experience prior to taking this “introductory” computer science class, CS61A has become my life. I live it. I eat it. I breathe it. And though the class is insanely difficult and frustrates me beyond belief, I love it. That’s one of the weird things I discovered at Cal — you don’t have to necessarily be good at something to love it.

9:41 a.m. I pull up this week’s lab as I sit next to one of the many friends I’ve made simply through being in CS61A. Beautiful things can bloom out of struggle. I’m extremely intrigued when I discover we’re learning a whole new programming language. Since the beginning of the semester, we’ve been focusing on Python — a language I quite enjoy due to the huge lack of syntaxical jargon compared to other languages. However, this new language, Scheme, is much older and has a lot of jargon. It’s amazing how much easier it is for me to pick up Scheme then Python though. It didn’t hit me until this moment that this class had taught me not just how to code in one language. But how to think like a computer programmer.

11:10 a.m. I feverishly run up home to quickly get lunch and change before noon. I run into our dining hall and get a boxed meal. Once I eat, I pull on ballet appropriate clothing — to go to my ballet class! One of the P.E. classes Berkeley offers includes beginner’s ballet. As someone who has always dreamed of becoming a ballerina, being able to learn 4th and 5th positions and ron de jambe’s is an invaluable opportunity.

12:15 p.m. I place my hand on the barre as we start our warmups. Our teacher barks the routines so fast. I’ve been picking up on the terminology quite fast but it’s still a lot. So I usually spend a lot of class just looking around to see what other more experienced dancers have done.

2:04 p.m. I stroll out of ballet and experience weather that has picked up. Had I not known it was Berkeley, I may have thought I walked out into sunny SoCal. I took my usual seat in the 6th row for the one and a half hour chemistry lecture that would follow. Organic Chemistry, lovingly nicknamed “orgo” or “o-chem” is arguably one of the most notorious classes to take in college across the country. But honestly, I don’t think it has quite lived up to that reputation. It’s difficult for sure, but Professor Vollhardt makes a lot of real world connections that make what we’re learning very applicable.

3:03 p.m. Professor Vollhardt gives us a stretch break at the hour mark, which I’m very thankful for. I use it to take a quick drink of water and refresh.

3:30 p.m. I’m slowly going up the steps and following the herd of students pouring out of Pimentel. Luckily, my day in terms of classes is now over but by no means is my day actually over. I walk into Qualcomm Café to order my memorized order- a small iced mocha with almond milk. My mochas began as a once in a while “treat yo self” and transformed into a daily pick me up. Plus the location of Qualcomm in the engineering side of campus doesn’t really help me not going there.

3:47 p.m. I walk into the CAEE- Center for Access to Engineering Excellence. A hidden resource buried within Bechtel, the CAEE has transformed into a sort of haven for me. With top notch tutors and students who are extremely friendly and always willing to form impromptu study groups, the Center is an amazing resource. I spend an average of twenty hours a week here, not only because I need severe help in chemistry or my friends work on their Computer Science homework here, but because it feels like home.

7:07 p.m. Even though it happens every day, I’m always a little shocked to see that the sun is already setting and the end of the day is near. I start the downhill climb to Southside to go to Café 3 with my roommates. My favorite part about this walk is standing on top of the stairs leading to the Campanile and looking out towards the bay. This view is easily my second favorite part of Berkeley- after the people.

8:49 p.m. We hurry back up to Northside dorms to prepare for a Hall Association event at 9:00 p.m. Hall Association is similar to the ASB for high schools, except it’s for every dorm. Our job entails holding events to assist students like Resume building workshops or to throw extravagant parties as was today’s intention. Tonight’s event “Spring Fling” consisted of catered Mediterranean food, potting succulents, and polaroids.

10:15 p.m. After an insanely successful event, cleanup was necessary. But not without taking advantage of our photobooth decorations.

Manooshree and friend, Simar Kaur

11:27 p.m. After getting ready for bed, making a feeble attempt to tidy the growing garbage pile that is my side of the room, and going through as many memes on the UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens Facebook group, I resign myself to our first floor lounge with a heavy backpack full of unfinished work.

2:21 a.m. When I get to the point where I’m just making random changes in my CS code and hoping things will work instead of actually thinking about what I’m doing, I know it’s time to sleep. I gather all my things and slowly trudge my way back into my room. I tip toe around using my phone’s flashlight to not wake my sleeping roommates. Finally my head hits my pillow and I’m out. And when I wake up, I’ll be ready to do it all again.