To give prospective students a glimpse into what life at Cal is like, the UC Berkeley Admissions office has launched a new student-written blog.

Want to know how much homework there is? There are a couple of posts on the Golden Bears blog that will tell you. Curious about dorm life or good places near campus to get coffee? Those revelations are also on the blog.

The posts are written by some of the university’s Ambassadors, students who travel to high school classrooms to talk about Cal, give tours of the campus, and serve as hosts at various university functions.

“UC Berkeley has, as we see it, all of the prestige without the pretension,” reads an introduction on the site. “This blog aims to put a face to the University. This blog is kind of like The Real World: Berkeley — where we stopped being prospective students and started being Bears.”

It’s an interesting, if somewhat sanitized glimpse into life at Cal. There are posts on homework and studying, but none on the party or dating scene:

“It seems like I practically live in the library now a days,” one blogger commented on April 5. “Not that I mind it’s so quiet at Main Stacks that I can actually hear myself think…”

Another wrote: “These last two weeks for me have been about balance: figuring out when to do homework, when to go out with my friends, when to attend meetings and network. The great thing about Berkeley is that you have the opportunity to do all of these things. The down-side is that with so many options and opportunities, figuring out when to take advantage of them can be challenging.”

On where to get that cup of coffee:

“Berkeley University is definitely a place of interesting people, places, and sites, yet one of its most common places to go to is one of my favorites, cafes. Cafes are plentiful here at Cal, and to me are all unique in their own ways. Four of my favorites are Yali’s Café located in Stanley Hall, Free Speech Café located at Moffitt Library, Caffé Strada located on Bancroft and College, and Sacks located on College and Derby.”

Advice for those who have been accepted:

“Like everyone else, I didn’t know what to expect from college. Really, I didn’t. Sure, I read extensively about college life at Berkeley — what the dorms were like, how the social scene is, where to eat, WHAT to eat, etc. etc. etc. I stalked the College Confidential forums everyday. In fact if this blog existed when I got accepted into Cal I would’ve read these posts two or three times (you gotta love internet accessibility). From all of this I still didn’t know what to expect–how different it would be living away from home. (Tip #1: Everyone misses their family the first year. It’s okay. OH — and if you stay in the dorms during Spring Break, it gets a little lonely)”

“Anyway, that feeling never really changed… when I got to Berkeley I was still pretty lost. I remember going with my dorm mates to Calapalooza (a great big club fair on lower Sproul) and feeling like I was drowning in a sea of flyers and tables and people telling me to join this, join that, it’sfunandinterestingandagoodcauseandI’llgiveyouafreepen!! (Tip #2: Don’t give your e-mail address so freely — you’ll regret it in your senior year when you still get weekly updates from Rotaract, a club whose meetings you haven’t attended since Welcome Week)”

Read more here.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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