I graduated! I decided to leave some updates/comments in text like this.

I’ve been at UC Berkeley for ~3 semesters now, and it’s been a blast! Here’s a fun list of tips I’ve compiled for this semester (Fall ‘16).

I took classes for a total of 6 semesters. Currently, I am working as a research assistant and applying to graduate school. Here are tips as of Fall ‘18!


Don’t kill yourself with techs.

$$\text{your happiness} \propto \frac{1}{\text{classes you're taking}}$$

Unless you’re crazy good at classes. I took 4 CS classes this semester (61C/70/168/188), and while I learned a lot, I didn’t do the best I could in each class. Additionally, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time on other interesting things (teaching, research). It’s really a matter of your own happiness and what you’re optimizing for.

There is some serious FOMO when it comes to taking classes, especially at the upper-div level. Take the classes that are interesting.

Figure out your passion.

Maybe I’m a contrarian, but… AI/ML is a really sexy field right now, and everyone wants to get into it. Does that mean you should automatically apply for every AI lab on this campus? No, you shouldn’t. Instead, ask yourself, are you genuinely interested in AI/like math or are you interested because it’s hot shit right now and all the cool kids are talking about it? Realize that there are so many other fields in CS that are neat and worthy of your time. Don’t come in with a narrowed list without exploring all the options first.

I had no clue what I was interested in my first year. I just said “AI” to anyone that asked since it seemed like everyone was talking about it. I’m ended up becoming interested in another sub-field.

Reward yourself and go outside!

There’s a lot of cool things to do in Berkeley that don’t include school or studying. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Big C hike
  • Go up the Campanile (free for students!)
  • Rose gardens
  • Tilden Park
  • Movie theaters
    • I ended up watching more movies in college than high school
  • Yoga @ RSF (free for students!)
    • They provide mats, which is good for your first couple times, though I think it’s worth it to invest in your own mat.
  • Eating poutine after finals lol

Let me add some more:

  • Explore beyond the bubble that is UC Berkeley’s campus (and anything within a 0.5mi radius…).
    • San Pablo Ave is filled with great food: Middle Eastern Market has the best kebabs, ever. Baklava too. Super Super Restaurant has excellent pho.
    • Walk a few blocks west, cross the bridge, and you’ll reach the marina. It’s BEAUTIFUL.
    • Go north on Shattuck and you’ll hit:
      • Cheeseboard, Gregoire, Saul’s
      • (like 2 miles north) Indian Rock. Great view.
    • BART over to SF and just walk around. Bask in the consumerism.
    • BART to Oakland.
      • Walk around Lake Merritt. Look at the birds!
      • Go to Chinatown and eat your heart out.
      • Every Friday night, many food trucks gather around OMCA. The museum is also open for extended hours. Students get a discount on museum admission!
    • The Bay Street Mall in Emeryville has a Dippin Dots vending machine. Just sayin’.
  • Join a club. It’ll help you meet people outside of your major!

EECS / CS Specific:

Getting that sweet summer internship shouldn’t be your life goal.

Hear me out here - especially if you’re a freshman. I find that people come in rushing to find an internship, before even checking out other things you can do over the summer - research, teach, take classes, chill, etc.

I still agree with this. Chilling is important.

Classes I like:

  • CS 168 - If you have the opportunity to take this (it’s usually offered in the Fall), I highly urge you to do so! Scott Shenker is one of the most caring and inspiring professors I’ve met. Also, don’t you want to learn more about one of the biggest CS innovations (the Internet)?

More classes!

  • CS 162 - How do operating systems work? How does it all add up? Really makes what you learn in 61C make sense. Also, learn how to write lots of C.
  • CS 262a - Take this if you like 162. The class is structured differently – you’re reading a bunch of papers every week instead of completing programming homeworks/projects. But, wow, these papers are really valuable. Your term project is usually a research project related to OS/Systems.
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