Though there are naked people in trees and a population of environmentalists and vegans, Berkeley is not as liberal as people assume. Many students are socially conscious and are equally passionate about global issues as those on other campuses, but it's not as intense as people imagine. However, the local bums and "crazies" ARE intensely passionate. They'll yell at you about politics and even scream and tell you that you will burn in hell for not giving your life to Jesus, but these people are mostly just in Sproul Plaza on the south side of campus, and I have never seen anything turn violent.
Addressing the stereotypes on students, I will say that coming from SoCal, your standards may lower. If you see someone attractive, it's probably because you've got your "Berkeley goggles" on-- there are a lot of ugly people. Also, I was one of the smartest students from my high school, but I feel pretty stupid next to most of my classmates. And yes, there are a lot of asians.
pretty much. even those who don't appear to be asian really are. deep down inside.
The truth is that campus today does not in any way resemble campus of the 1960s. The same political fringe groups that exist at Berkeley now exist at nearly every other campus in the U.S. (except BYU, I'd guess). What's left of the Age of Aquarius has been zoned to a 5-block stretch of Telegraph, and it's for tourists and freshmen anyways. You're just as likely to be harassed by the Campus Republicans as the Campus Democrats. The truth is that most Golden Bears are majoring in something useful or plan to be useful after graduation in a non-revolutionary way. The library's open until 2 AM nearly every night, and 24 hours during finals, and you can never get a seat with a sufficient buffer zone between you and the next guy's flash cards on German verbs, or engineering formulas, or whatever. I think that speaks volumes.
These stereotypes CAN be true, but another stereotype that is ALWAYS true is that Berkeley is diverse, and often immune to blanket statements about student population. Certain majors certainly have a majority of ugly, studious intellectuals adorned in musty sweatpants (EECS, cough), but you're really sure to find almost every type of character on campus. Even fringe personalities can find a match if you make your fringeness visible enough.
No. A large portion of Berkeley students are certainly liberal in their beliefs but most students are not very politically active and tend not to be interested in politics or activism much at all.
Like I said, you'll meet all kinds of people. This was valuable to me in my college experience - it's a huge part of learning.
Yes and no. I am white here and a minority. Most students are helpful not competitive.
2) Sort of.
Berkeley is simply too big for those stereotypes to be accurate. Every social community has microcosms. There is a lot of freedom to be the person you want to be here, sometimes enough to push naturally shy or reclusive people over the edge. It's not as personal over here. There are hipsters, and frat bros, and athletes, and academics, and philosophers, and engineers, and businessmen and drunks. No one group rightfully holds the claim to what berkeley is.
Every stereotype has some basis in fact, and Berkeley is no exception. Students are smart. After all, they had to be to get in to Cal. The classes are big, but that is not a bad thing. Years of being under the microscope in high school made me desperate for a place like Berkeley. A place where I could make my own decisions and be responsible for my work. Nobody is going to make sure you turn in your homework or read you 700 page reader except you. Students are definitely liberal. Protests occur on campus on a regular basis. Basically, everyone gets an opportunity to voice their opinion. Living in Berkeley has influenced me to be more of what my parents would call a "hippie." I buy more organic foods, recycle every bottle, and try to live a greener existence. I consider this more to be a product of a greater knowledge of the world and human impact. I guess I can credit this to Berkeley, especially after taking Introduction to Development Studies.
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