Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What I Hate About Berkeley

1. It's highly impersonal.
With over 25,000 other undergraduates and 100+ seat lecture halls, you feel alone and disconnected. The underpaid school staff and advisers are short tampered if you take a little to long to ask a question or have follow-up questions. Professors are extremely busy. You don't get the sense that they have any time to invest to spend talking to you.

2. It's hard to make friends.
Being white, it's hard fitting into an Asian-majority environment. Even though I am not Anglo Saxon, nor Protestant, nor from a privileged family, the students discriminate against you by excluding you from their social circles. In addition, I am shy so unless someone reaches out to me, it's really hard for me to make friends, even though I try. Other students are always busy studying or attending various clubs.

3. It's stressful.
The highly competitive academic environment, combined with a lack of support from friends and faculty, creates a perfect storm for an emotional breakdown. Everyone puts a facade of being "perfect". They pretend like they are fine while you think that you're the only one loosing one's mind over the finals and a lack of social life. You feel like you don't measure up to others. Always in doubt if you belong here or you got here by accident. Always feeling behind everybody else in achievement, whenever you see somebody get an internship, a good grade in a class, an award, a leadership position, a job.

4. It's ghetto.
It's full of that which is weird. Nobody is either friendly or nice, on the contrary, many are rude. There are also the righteous, angry, smug old people telling your friend to put out her cigarette, and that she is too young to smoke because she is Asian, even thought she is 23. There are many weird bums and hitchhikers begging on almost every corner of the street and along Telegraph. It's annoying and distressing to see so many people homeless yet not being able to help them. It makes you feel hopeless - that in case you become homeless nobody would be there to help you. There are a lot of hippies and hipsters, who are mostly dirty, ultra-liberal, pot-smoking, lazy lowlifes. You can smell weed on every corner of the street, even when there isn't anybody within a 50-feet radius. Most students - especially with regards to dating - are socially retarded. There is graffiti on the walls, no large chain book stores within 20 miles of campus. I saw a bum reliving himself on a newsstand in bright daylight on the busy street Shattack. It's terribly uncomfortable to drive in. The myriad of one and two-way roads are deformed and as uncomfortable and complicated to navigate through as in SF. It's terribly uncomfortable to drive in. The housing is vastly overpriced and the housing conditions are deplorable. Most houses are over 100 years old, uncomfortable, with inadequate heating, dirty, and squeaky.

5. It's too politically correct.
You have to have an "open mind" about things like people's race, gender, sexual orientation, food preferences, and whatnot. It's frowned upon to say "that's gay", or Asian (vs Asian-American), or "acting black", or calling somebody a "pussy", or asking a vegan/vegetarian why they are vegan/vegetarian. You have to recycle and frown upon Hummers. Environmentalism is almost a religion.

6. There's no nightlife.
The city shuts down at 10pm. There is literally one club in the whole Berkeley, the Shattack Downlow. And mostly attended by older non-student population. Most restaurants close by 9 or 10, except for a few last-resort diners and a doughnut shop. Even the 24-Hour Fitness there closes at midnight. The only redemption is the 24-hour Safeway down College ave. Basically if you want to hang out with your friends or a date after 9pm, you'll have a really hard time finding anything to do outside.

7. Its parking.
If you have a car (which is essential if you want to avoid the dreadful AC Transit), you'll have to allocate about $500 per semester for traffic tickets, towing, and parking meters. The city has a horrible "street sweeping" policy, where each side of each street has street sweeping on a different day of every month. The parking enforcement is merciless on the poor students who struggle to pay for tuition and have tens of thousands in loans. It is a miracle to find parking anytime before 10pm within two blocks of campus. And the parking meters have a 1 or 2 hour limits. I'd expect more from a city that collect this much money from its meters and parking tickets. If you wish to park near a Starbucks to get a coffee you'll be circling around for 30 minutes before finding a spot.

8. Its streets.
The myriad of the dirty one and two-way roads are deformed and as uncomfortable and complicated to navigate through as in SF. The student are completely inconsiderate of the cars and treat the road as sidewalks, assuming they always have the right-of-way. If you are from a suburban area, you'd think every student wants to die. The students are completely inconsiderate of the cars and treat the road as sidewalks, assuming they always have the right-of-way.

9. Its weather.
It's cold and it's cloudy.

10. Its anti-Semitic sentiment.
From satirical articles in the Heuristic Squelch, to Upper Sproul Plaza "free Palestine" protesters, to bumper stickers sold on Telegraph stands saying "end the occupation", to a professor drawing the star of David to demonstrate the six enablers of capitalism - one on each of the star's corners.

11. Its "activism".
In Berkeley, there is always something to protest. Pick an issue. From cupcake bake sales to cutting down a tree. Through protests, students distract each others' learning through occupying classrooms buildings and entire buildings. In addition you have to hear the annoying helicopters circling above campus. The righteous bumper stickers covering the cars are a great example. Maybe it had an impact back in the 60's, but now it's just a cliche.

12. The students' school pride.
Although highly stupid, a low degree of school pride and competition with Stanford is healthy. However, you know it's gone too far when students make another cry at a football game for wearing a red shirt, yelling "take off that red shirt". Every freshman wears a Cal sweater, emphasizing their inadequate sense of fashion and sexual inaptitude. And nobody talks badly of Cal, even though it has major flaws.

This list may give an impression that Berkeley is a terrible city. That's correct! However, there are certain things I love about it: the intellectual environment, ambitious people, countless ethnic foods, bars, beers, best gelato I've had, close to SF, Lake Tahoe, and Napa Valley.

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