Saturday, June 25, 2016

5 Life Lessons I Learned as an Undergrad at UC Berkeley

Congratulations to all 2016 college grads! Here are some photos from my graduation photo shoot with the talented Victor Zhang. Email him if you're interested in booking with him and check out his website here.

Don't let the smile on my face in these photos fool you. The past two years at Berkeley were definitely not a walk in the park—I faced a lot of difficulties and challenges. I had many ups and downs and I'd love to share with you some of the things I've learned:

floral crown made by yours truly, wear nature

(1) Taking care of yourself first is the key to being productive
I realized that before I could do anything productive for my professional or educational career, I needed to first be physically and mentally healthy. During my first year at Cal, I went through depression. Among other things, I was going through a rough time adjusting to the new environment and the rigor of Cal was too difficult. I'll spare you the details, but it was bad and I almost lost hope in getting better, but thank God, I eventually did. During my last semester, I decided to do things a bit differently. I made myself a priority before any schoolwork or anything related to my professional development. For starters, I prepped my meals and worked out at least three times a week (side note: I truly believe that your diet and exercise habits or lack thereof affect your mental health). I made time to apply for jobs, attend career fairs, and go to interviews several times a week...all while studying. By having "me time", I learned how to be efficient and I got myself to focus on the task at hand and not procrastinate (as much, haha)! Overall, I became productive, positive, and just overall healthy! 

(2) Taking breaks is essential
With the above being said, it's also important, in fact, it's essential, to take breaks and have fun! Often times at Berkeley, I'd feel guilty for going out on the weekends. I just felt that I couldn't afford to not study. But studying 24/7 is not only impossible, it's overwhelming and unproductive. Once I started taking breaks—exploring the City, relaxing at a coffee shop, getting drinks with friends—I realized that this was actually helpful and not hurtful in overall productivity, health, and happiness. 

(3) Failure is essential to growth
At the time, I hated it, but now that I can look back, I'm grateful for all the times I failed at Berkeley. After getting Cs on papers that I put so much hard work into, my self esteem dropped and I wanted to give up. But success doesn't happen overnight. Success is more likely to happen when you fail many times first. At least that's what I've learned. And failure simply means that you tried and that you were brave enough to take the risk, whatever it may be. If it's one thing I've learned during my time at Cal, it's that without failure, there simply is no growth. If you're a college student or a new grad, I highly recommend you watch this short video of Robert Reich's lecture. He mentions that failure is a given when you take a risk, but the important skill to have is being able to pick yourself back up and moving forward after you've failed.

(4) The importance of using your resources
Now I obviously utilized my resources before transferring to Cal, but it wasn't until I was at a huge, unfamiliar environment and school that I realized how much I actually needed certain resources. Before using your resources, you have to know what resources are available...I made sure to take advantage of my professors’ and GSIs’ (Graduate Student Instructors) office hours to get the most of my education. I visited the health center when I needed to. I made use of the gym. This semester, I went to almost all the career fairs and utilized the career center's resources and website to help ensure that I get a job upon graduating. There's so much more!

(5) The importance of being around people who are different 
This one was a bit overwhelming but incredible at the same time. I was one out of over 25,000 undergraduate students at Cal. Every single person I met was unique, had different skills to offer, and came from a completely different background. But they all had one thing in common—they were passionate about education and loved having intellectual conversations. I loved the fact that each conversation I had would bring up a new topic and a new perspective. My mind was never bored and I loved listening to peoples’ stories because to me, that’s kind of what life is about!

Lastly, I'll always be grateful to God, my family, and my friends, for their constant support and endless love during my journey getting to and graduating from Cal. I know that they'll always be there for me no matter what choice I make or what path I take in my future endeavors, whether it be personal, educational, or professional.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Catch you guys later!

yours truly,

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