Dive into Clubs @ Cal

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One of my goals upon transferring to Berkeley was to really take advantage of what the campus had to offer. Being someone quite shy, I knew it would be all too possible for me to finish my time here and be pretty isolated for the entirety of it. I set about actively trying to get involved with clubs at Berkeley. This turned out to be easier than I had thought: while I still had to put myself out there, I found out that there will always be groups that welcome new people.

Calapalooza was a great start, and I started digging around the internet, knowing most clubs have an online presence.

Start where you are

I began with familiar ground, my own college department. After dropping by the Berkeley English Department’s website, I was surprised to find two undergraduate student organizations dedicated solely to the major. Knowing there was not one, but two student orgs that would welcome me (and maybe help me navigate English at Berkeley), was comforting.

Even better, all their social media contacts were on display, so I could keep up with each organization’s events and meeting times. These clubs also connected me to related opportunities, helping to keep me in the loop of what was going on at Berkeley in general.

Source: Students of Color Emerging in English (SOCEE)

Reach out

I also found it useful to just reach out to people, even if I was intimidated. I was really drawn to BARE Magazine, which covers fashion, arts, and lifestyle. On their website, I came face-to-face with a glossy homepage and tons of articles from really fresh and interesting perspectives.

I hit a bit of a roadblock when I couldn’t find any information about how to join. I knew the magazine was student-run, but it just seemed so professional that it was a little daunting to contact them. After emailing the editor-in-chief, I was relieved to receive a warm reply encouraging me to go to an info session. Looking back, I feel a bit silly for being surprised at this: obviously clubs would want to recruit new people!

Source: SASC SI 2019 YouTube

Keep your options open

Sometimes you won’t even have to search, and you’ll stumble upon something new or interesting completely by accident — so keep your eyes peeled!

One organization I discovered accidentally rather than by actively seeking it out was the Southeast Asian Student Coalition Summer Institute (SASC). Someone on one of the UC Berkeley Facebook groups had shared an application for coordinator positions for SASC’s Summer Institute. Despite my lack of experience, I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply and try to get involved, especially in something that centers community so much. The Summer Institute specifically works with Southeast Asian high school students, giving me a way to both build community on campus and make connections outside of it.

There’s so much going on here at Berkeley that you’ll always find your place amongst the hundreds of clubs and organizations waiting for you. You can delve deeper into something you already love or experiment with something new. What are the different student spaces and communities you’ve settled into, and how did you come across them?

Nancy Duong is a Vietnamese-American first-generation transfer student majoring in English.

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