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The Bears Are Back In Town (and Back On Reddit)

August 29, 2018
by Krissy Eliot
People walking through Sather Gate with speech bubbles

Being a student at UC Berkeley, one of the top public universities in the United States, can put a butterfly in even the most confident of stomachs. How will I become a doctor if I can’t pass OChem?! Is majoring in Scandinavian a mistake?! How can I get the best deals on all of these textbooks that I will probably never read?! Thanks to the Internet, these existential agonies, having long been forced to reside deep in the subconscious, have a place to manifest publicly, for better or worse.

The r/berkeley reddit is proof that Berkeley boasts an eclectic collection of students with comments, questions, and qualms you may never have imagined–and may never fully understand. Today, on the first day of school, we traverse Cal student trials and tribulations and answer the big question: What’s really on the minds of our future intellectual elites?

1. Packing

Freshman Packing reddit

What items are necessary to start a new life? The Marie Kondo phenomenon has left many of us in crisis, looking pensively at our new pairs of Air Jordans and Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD collections and wondering: Do they bring me joy? If the answer is no, we should toss them, right?

Of course, it’s not always that simple, especially for incoming Berkeley freshman lebrun3-1, who, when faced with what to bring to Berkeley, found themselves in what they called a “FRESHMAN PACKING NIGHTMARE.”

“I have a couple of questions about what should i pack,” lebrun3-1 wrote. “Detergent? Ironing supplies + board? TY for yall help.”

Unable to resist a fellow bear in need, nine heroes commented in the hopes of teaching the proverbial freshman cub how to walk. One poster explained that clothes, a laptop and flip flops for the shower are crucial. Another recommended an ironing board, a suggestion fraught with conflict: one member pointed out that a steamer is more portable and would likely be better for transport. “I would bring two ironing boards,” ayyy__1mao seemingly joked. “That way if one of them gets stolen, you’ll still have a second.”

2. Condoms

reddit question

Safe sex is an issue that surely plagues many a Golden Bear, and one poster asking about where to score condoms was awarded with a wide array of seemingly helpful responses. One member suggested the original poster hit up Johnston’s Market on Durant, while another suggested Bear Market in Unit 3. A debate ensued about whether or not it was safe to carry condoms in your wallet all of the time. “The friction could wear holes in them,” one member warned, while another said that if the condom is in the wallet “for a short time, it’s probably alright.” Of course, there were other members who couldn’t resist the gag: “There might be a few used recyclable ones in People’s Park,” one user suggested, while another said: “cheap party balloons oiled work too.”

3. Hope for the future (or lack thereof)

reddit question

Of course, Berkeley students do have far more serious concerns that don’t involve dessert, packing or prophylactics. Some posters get somewhat Godotian, wondering whether or not going to Berkeley is really setting them up for a life of success.

“Does going to Berkeley really mean you have the ‘whole world in your hands?’” tralala9200 asks. ‘Don’t get me wrong—Berkeley is a really great school for many things … but I don’t think being a student alone at Berkeley necessarily guarantees you academic and/or professional success tbh.”

The responses to this were mostly on the optimistic side, with one civil engineer claiming that “If you can succeed at Berkeley, you can do anything.” Others were a little more pragmatic, saying that there are no guarantees in life, but having a degree from Berkeley definitely can help get your foot in the door.

“I believe Berkeley gives us more opportunities to work for internships for big companies than other universities,” matthewvigil says. “It’s common to hear around campus about internships for google, Goldman Sachs, Twitter, etc., but other schools don’t have that going for them.”

Other posters agree that Cal presents opportunities one might not be afforded at other universities.

“The main thing you come [to Berkeley] for are the connections you can make,” DangerousCyclone says. “Especially today when the education itself isn’t very unique or exclusive.”

4. Naps

Napping reddit question

All this discussion and pondering can tire a mind, so much so that students can barely make it back to their dorms. According to one r/berkeley thread, the best places to catch naps near campus are “the comfy chairs in Morrison (AKA ‘the Harry Potter room’ in Doe Library),” the Institute of Governmental Studies Library (“It’s pretty small and quiet!”) and even Memorial Glade—as long as you remember to “bring a blanket or something so you don’t leave with a wet bottom.”

Looking for more places to snooze? Stay tuned for an upcoming video from California Online about campuswide REST Zones and the high-tech, ever-elusive “Nap Pod.”

5. Cake

reddit screenshot

And for those who make it through the four (or five, or six) years, pay heed to this lucky dude whose biggest concern was the manga-inspired celebratory cake he wanted for graduation.

A Cal student who earned his PhD in computer science commemorated the achievement with this custom-made cake. By his request, it featured Naruto Uzumaki, a teen ninja from the anime/manga series Naruto, created by Masashi Kishimoto. The student’s sister found this funny, and so did the r/berkeley member ayyCAL, who shared the photo with the words, “We have our priorities straight.” Berkeley represent.


Whether they’re discussing what classes are seemingly impossible to get into, what activities every student should do before graduating, or what students and alums can do to communicate the Cal “brand,” all redditors seem to share a desire to find ways to face their fears and find community at Cal. Or, at the very least, stand tall, grin and “bear it.”

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