Transfer 1st Month @ Cal

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Congrats, you’re at UC Berkeley!

The first month in a new place will always require an adjustment period. Especially coming in as a transfer, it feels like there are many things to do to hit the ground running relatively smoothly. To simplify this learning curve, I’ve mapped out a few key points for your first month at Berkeley.

Transfer Student Center Check-In

The Transfer Student Center will have specific support and resources for you, especially during this initial adjustment period. Here are a few of their offerings: 

Transfer Center. Photo by the University of California at Berkeley.

Popping into the center is also a great way to find community and learn more about these and other services.

Navigate & Explore Berkeley

If the city of Berkeley is brand new to you, I highly recommend exploring some of the areas and learning how to use public transportation.

  • Learn how to travel around Berkeley using buses, trains, scooters, and rented cars. 
  • Head down to Elmwood, a popular study and shopping area south of campus.
  • Go up to Northside where there are restaurants and cafes. 
  • There are also tons of outdoor and cultural activities around Berkeley.

You will go the wrong direction on the bus (not speaking from personal experience, obviously—wink, wink), and that is okay. A little trial and error and then navigating will become infinitely easier. Go to new places at your leisure and get excited about your new home for the next few semesters!

AC Transit Bus 7. Photo by Preslee Vanlandingham.

Meet People & Get Involved

During the first month, there are events planned that showcase ways to get involved at Berkeley. Look into your interests and potentially meet new friends!

  • Calapalooza is a mass tabling event on upper and lower Sproul Plaza advertising the hundreds of student organizations on campus. This is a wonderful way of seeing what catches your eye and learning more about how to join.

Calapalooza. Photo by Student Affairs Communications.

  • Caltopia is a two-day fall semester event hosted at the Recreational Sports Facility introducing different partnered brands with UC Berkeley and various ways to get physically active.
  • Golden Bear Orientation, or GBO, is an extensive and exciting week full of fun events, exploring, and guidance. I met a few of my closest friends, now four semesters later, through orientation. It’s also a celebration being here, which feels welcoming and magical at times. 
  • Greek Life recruitment also occurs at the start of the fall semester! Being a transfer shouldn’t deter you from considering joining if you’re interested in this, as I was surprised how many transfers were in the process with me.  

Caltopia. Photo by University of California at Berkeley.

Even if you entered Berkeley with an idea of what you want to become involved in, be open to new endeavors and look to discover Berkeley opportunities for you.

Financial & Academic Adjustments

Besides the exciting chance to try new activities and meet new people, this is also a time of recalibrating financial needs and getting into the groove of a new academic pace. Here are a few suggestions to make sure you have the support you need:

Meeting with GSIs. Photo by Student Affairs Communications.

Adjusting to a new curriculum and easing into your classes is the way to go. Ensuring that your needs are being met is a top priority when transferring in.  

You Have Plenty of Time 

Although this seems like an overwhelming list, there is plenty of time to integrate these checklist activities over the course of adjusting to Berkeley. it’s going to seem very fast paced during this first month but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the semester is going to be at this speed. The most important priority is to not become overly stressed by believing that you need to figure out everything all at once. Be patient with this process. This first month is only a preface for all of the exciting things to come your way at Berkeley! Go Bears!


Preslee Vanlandingham is a fourth-year at UC Berkeley majoring in English and Creative Writing.

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