Welcome to Berkeley

“Welcome to camp, I guess you all know why you’re here…” And what better way to get noticed than to sing two songs karaoke in front of a tenth of your unit?

OK, from the top. This is the highlights of what happened to me at Berkeley (a.k.a. “Cal”) during Move-In Day and Welcome Week. Let’s begin with us driving up in the morning. We were listening to Car Talk.

OK, so we get here and sign in, head on up to my room in Unit 3. (No specifics, really, since this is an online “publication”.) My roommate, Cha, is not there yet, so I sort of dump my stuff and we head back downstairs. Since it’s getting to about lunch time, we head into Cafe 3 (“Cafe Trey”, probably also a pun on “tray”), for lunch. (My memory is fuzzy already about what happened on the first day.) After lunch, my parents and brother went into the the meeting for parents (and family) and I wandered through the two bookstores (campus and Ned’s, the used bookstore directly across the street from the campus one).

We met up again afterwards and checked the room again. Still no Cha. Eventually I gave in and unpacked all my stuff. (Well, most of it.) We headed back downstairs and had dinner. (There had to have been more activities in there, to kill time, but besides going to Walgreens and then back to the “Bear Market” to get pushpins, I can’t think of them. Huh. Getting old?) And after dinner, my family and I said goodbye, and they went back to the car, and I went back up to my room.

It was about then that I realized that that was it, I was on my own, and there really was no problem. I’ve been “on my own” (mostly) for two, three days now, and it’s fine. Weird. But good. (It’s sort of the same feeling I got when I first started driving and realized that even though an idiot can pass the driving test, driving really has been made very intuitive and easy to pick up.) It still hasn’t sunk in though that this is as much of my life (or more) than high school, partially because it’s divided into semesters instead of terms. (Yes, I know it shouldn’t matter.)

Anyway, I come back up to my room, and I see a college-age guy and his dad. After an awkward greeting (“Uh, are you Jordan?”), Cha and I started (somewhat shyly) getting acquainted. I put up my Macworld poster (the woman from the 1984 commercial, with an iPod, for twenty years of Mac), then my Bio AP timeline that I’ve wanted to put up for years. (A to-scale timeline, 1 billion years to the meter. Illustrations by me and my brother.)

Cha and I have the same problem I have with people like Eric Y.: we’re both naturally low-key, so getting moving, or starting an interesting conversation, is a bit harder than with, say, Mimi W. But we’ll get to that later.

After a hall meeting (general introductions and policies, boring) and a floor meeting (more specific introductions and meeting our R.A. specifically) we all headed up to our rooms. Our floor is interesting because we all leave our doors open but most of the time no one visits anyone else anyway. Cha and I are particularly bad at this. It’s only been a week or so, though.

OK, so the week starts and days begin to blur together. Cha and I get up in time to go get our bus passes, heading over to the Unit 1 and 2 dining commons (Crossroads) for breakfast because Cafe Trey doesn’t open until 10:30. (My one Unit 3 complaint.) We find out we both like strawberries, head back, and discover that the bus passes weren’t ready yet. Both of us would have preferred to sleep in a bit more.

I had an L&S orientation in the morning, which was really no new information. We were rather bored this day because we had no Internet (doubles didn’t get it until Tuesday). So we went down to the lounge and played foosball; someone had left a ball out. At 5:00 we headed to the academic services center to go online. I checked my mail and a few sites and got off; Cha stayed to finish the AlcoholEDU thing that we all have to do. My AlcoholEDU experience went something like this (conversation takes place last Friday):

Mimi: So, have you finished the alcohol thing?

Me: What alcohol thing?

Mimi: I mean, I got part of the way through, but it’s pretty long and I was kind of worried. But if you haven’t started yet, then…

Me: What alcohol thing?

Turns out it was on the college checklist, which I hadn’t checked for at least a month. I blitzed through it on Saturday.

Anyway, while Cha was still doing that, I headed back to the lounge and found that the foosball game had turned to pool. Now, I’m not awful at pool, but that night I really was. Still, it was in this way that I met Zach (also on my floor), Ed (looks more like me than anyone else I’ve seen), Thomas (didn’t stick around to play pool), Ayush (reminds me of Sinan despite being Indian), and Chi-Heng (I had to ask him how to spell it and I’m not sure about preferred hyphenation/capitalization). The five of us (excluding Thomas) played the stupidest game of Cutthroat pool ever, mostly made stupid by the fact that when you scratch, everyone gets a ball back. With five people, that means four balls come back out onto the table. It took about an hour and a half, maybe more, before we finished.

At which point I headed straight for the dining commons (DC) and wolfed down two slices of pizza and an apple. Fifteen minutes later and it would have been closed. I went downstairs to find poor Cha just finishing the AlcoholEDU thing with no breaks! (It’s about three hours of audio/video information.) He ended up just getting microwave noodles from the Bear Market, a little store next to the DC.

Day Two, and things promise to be a bit let busy. At least, so we thought. This was probably the busiest day of the week.

We tried to sleep in but couldn’t quite manage it. Still, we were able to stay in almost late enough for Cafe 3 to open; then, to kill time, we walked down to the “downtown” area of Berkeley, around Shattuck and Center. (Cha doesn’t consider it a real “downtown”, and compared to SF or NY or even SJ, I suppose it isn’t.) On the way back we ran into this Asian man with two young daughters, trying to reach the law school. Of course we freshman noobs don’t know where the law school is, but there was a map nearby. We led them to a bus stop and hopefully they made it there OK.

We got back and ate, then headed over to the Tang Center. Or tried to; we went three blocks down Bancroft, figured we must have missed it, went back for information, and found out we had been a block away. When we got there we took a tour and I ran into Catherine S., who promptly disappeared because the tour wasn’t that interesting. I also (sort of) learned how to fold a crane, finally. (I took the instructions paper.)

Afterwards, Cha and I didn’t really have anything to do, so we decided to walk up to Foothill and visit Mimi W. Mistake? Foothill’s all the way at the top of the hill, and once you get there you have to walk up more steps to get to the actual rooms. Still. It’s kinda nice. But far from everything else.

I got to meet Mimi’s roommate Danica C. (from MVHS, heh, same district as the two of us) and we hung out in their room for a while. Danica, BTW, reminds me a lot of Si Mei, who coincidentally also goes to Berkeley. Anyway, we eventually headed downhill to the bookstore, where only Danica actually got anything. We split for a while after that; Cha and I got our bus passes and headed back to Unit 3.

When we got to our floor, we found an impromptu music convention had, um, convened, in the middle of our hall. Turns out we have a musical floor; Cha and I brought out his keyboard and stayed a little until it was time to go get our Internet connection activated. (BTW, floormates, looking forward to a repeat, although maybe by taking over the seventh floor lounge so we have more space.) The ResComp people (Residential Computing) showed us a few super-cheesy movies about safe downloading, anti-virus software, and tech support; I already want to sign up for next year’s movie team. Seriously, though, I do want to work for ResComp since I like fixing and managing computers anyway. Their password checker is a bit too paranoid, though; it wouldn’t let me use one prospective password because it had the word “mogu” in it. Uh huh.

We came out to find that Mimi had bought a game called Munchkin Fu, which we played in the dining hall, getting up to get food when we eventually got hungry. It’s basically a stupid-random RPG with cards like “Wire Fu” (power of flight, +5) and “Director’s Cut” (gain a level). While we were playing, a grad student named Jeff dropped in to see what the weird card game was all about, and ended up joining us. It was kind of odd, but…OK. *shrug* After dinner, Cha and I exacted revenge for walking up to Foothill by making us all take the stairs all the way back up to our room. It wasn’t too long after that before Mimi and Danica had to go (by elevator); they took the bus back to Foothill rather than climb the hill. *grin*

Cha and I killed some time in our room before heading downstairs for karaoke (that’s “kah-rlah-oh-keh”). I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect; the only karaoke I’ve done is the relatively high-quality and isolated Gamba Karaoke at home. What we got was a machine that skipped, several scratched CDs, and a mic that picked up feedback way too often. It was also the most fun I’ve had all week. The song selection wasn’t great, but it was worse for Cha than me (he didn’t really know any of them, at least not to sing). I got to sing “California Dreamin’”, with one line changed (“I’d be safe and warm, if I was in Cafe Trey”) and minimal skipping. There was a huge range of talent, from some people who were, well, awful, to a few whose songs skipped so much they couldn’t go on, to one guy who I think would make the Octet if he tried. I was fortunate enough to also get the last song of the night: “Summer Nights” from Grease, Patrick-S-style. Three girls (whose names I totally, totally don’t remember) sang the girls’ part, not counting of course everyone else who was singing along with us. It was great.

After the late night on Tuesday, neither of us wanted to get up early. Unfortunately, we both had orientations at 10:00, or at least we thought we did. First, though, we went to Cafe 3 for breakfast (not open yet), then Crossroads (closed…apparently there was a fire??), then finally the Golden Bear cafe on campus. We rushed over to our orientations, and I found out (after Cha had left) that mine was not necessary. Darn!

I had to kill time until 2:00, which was an orientation for those interested in a Linguistics major. I’m probably not, but perhaps a minor…I actually find it very interesting. Next up, at three, was my audition for the UC Men’s Chorale. *deep breath* Actually, I’m really out practice with real singing, it turns out. Not too much of a surprise. Still, I think I did fine; I’m pretty sure I’m in. My tryout song was 月光 (Gekkou, or “Moonlight”) by the Gospellers. Gakkou, by the way, means school (学校).

After the audition I sat in on the last half of a “Transition Strategies” lecture/seminar thing, then met up with Cha again. I don’t remember much else happening on Wednesday, not anything too important anyway.

Thursday rolls around, and it’s been more than half a week here at Cal. Cha and I both sleep in, still trying to catch up on sleep from Tuesday. (At least I was.) Cafe 3 is closed (grrr) so we head over to Golden Bear again for breakfast and come back to raid Cha’s cache of water in our room. With that securely in our stomachs, we go back to campus to check out Calapalooza, a huge activityfest of crazy crowdedness that includes a variety of clubs, ethnic and religious groups, and fraternities/sororities on campus. And trust me, there are a lot. Still, the best part was the performances. Cha and I sat on the grass and listened to the Golden Overtones (the soloist was too close to the mic) and the Cal Marching Band. When all the craziness was over, at least for us, Cha registered his bike and we went back to Unit 3.

That night we went to the Chancellor’s Reception, at which we ran into Zach again and met a few (nice) staff members. The chancellor gave a speech but the best part was, again, the performances by the Overtones and the Octet. (Sadly, although the Overtones were better than before, the Octet still totally blew them away. And we were right in front too. They’re amazing.) Zach and I left right after the performances to go to a scholarship BBQ from the fraternity Sigma Pi Epsilon. Not too much there, but we did meet some people. Later that night, Cha and I headed down to the main lounge, where there was supposed to be an event but where really people were just playing pool and foosball. While the two of us had gotten a lot better (seriously), we were still a bit out of our league compared to some. Still. Pool and foosball are turning out to be some of my main ways of meeting people. *grin*

That night, Cha went out with some of his HS friends (this is during my pool time, I think). Also that night, after I went to bed, apparently a visitor passed out in the hall. Or just fell asleep. I wasn’t there, I don’t know anything about it. It would explain all the noise at 1AM though, because the floor, uh, had some fun.

Today was pretty much the end of Welcome Week (with a few things not really dying until tomorrow), and the only major event (sadly) was Caltopia. All of the businesses in the area pitch in to give us free stuff *grin*. Really, a lot of raffles and free stuff, not that much of which was actually good. Still, we might win a Wii tomorrow.

For tonight’s dinner, I got to meet some (different) people from Cha’s high school, Hahn and Ryan (and Hahn’s roommate Daniel). We played cards and I showed them card tricks; the card games were Thirteen (slash-Big-Two-slash-Killer), Egyptian War (slash-Rat-Screw), Go Fish (really), and Old Maid (really).

And that brings us up to the present. For the most part, I can really live here in Berkeley, it seems (even with fifty people trying to hand me something, sell me something, or recruit me for something). I could use a computer of my own. (I’m borrowing Cha’s; my mom is bringing mine up on Tuesday. She does come here anyway, since she’s a grad student in the School of Public Health. Weird, huh?) I like it here. (That’s also specific to Unit 3 over Unit 1 and Foothill; haven’t seen anywhere else.)

Two new speech patterns I’m adding to my, uh, linguicon (like “lexicon”): Mimi’s third-person, missing-a-pronoun, simplified action sentence (like in online speech, i.e. “talks to self”, although usually online it’s preceded by /me or enclosed in asterisks), and Berkeley’s emphatic show of support, “Yéah whàt-ever”. Yes, those are tone markers, since that is the way it is said. I first noticed this at CalSO (orientation, “Yéah CàlSO”), and most of the spirited people seem to use it. I think I’m going to end up using it too.

Already I’ve run into or passed a lot of Tino people here: Kevin N., Si Mei Y., Vicky C., Alice C., Catherine S., Janet P., Alamelu N., Davin C., and even 06ers Yoon K. and Emily F. Plus Mimi from LHS. So people here are not as totally unknown, although other people are still in closer HS-based groups. I’m trying not to fall into that, though, and I’m meeting (for me) a lot of new people. It’s going well, it’s good here.

「光を守って立っている。」 We’ll see how things go when classes start on Monday.