Despite all my ranting about UC Berkeley in my previous blog, I am (otherwise) getting the most welcome arrival otherwise possible. I have a handful of really good friends that I have known for a long time living in the east bay area, and all of them have contributed to taking care of me and helping me out in ways I could never ask for.
After I first got out here with my family, I was very unprepared. I didn’t have housing or transportation lined up (UC students get free bus passes, but not UC exchange students – go figure), but my friend Misha happens to always have 1 to 4 extra cars lying around not being used, so I scored the jackpot with a little 1986 BMW 325. She’s not that pretty, but complete with leather seats, automatic windows and a sunroof, so the fact that she has no second gear isn’t a big deal. Misha also let me stay at his beautiful Danville home, complete with a pool in the backyard, until I found housing closer to Berkeley campus.
My quasi-roommate from first year university, Maya, who lives in a quaint neighbourhood called Montclair in the Oakland Hills, was my second saving grace. Her parents had moved to Tahoe for the season and she welcomed company in her family’s big, empty house that she was now living in alone. So, we are back to being roommates, with a much more upgraded living situation than Totem Park dorm rooms from UBC. We have a beautiful patio, a big, hilly backyard, and of course a hammock to do some productive reading on.
There are countless others who have facilitated my adjustment to a new city and a new campus; also mentionable is Michael, a friend who enjoys pianos almost as much as me, so when i discovered a free piano that I unfortunately found out would never make it up Maya’s 44 stairs, he took it to his house instead and swapped me loaning privileges to his electronic keyboard so I can still play music.
I should also mention my two supervisors at UC Berkeley; one from the tourism department, and the other from the Environmental Policy & Management dept, who are going to pretty much write my thesis for me, with all their knowledge, weekly meetings and directing me through the graduate academia world I feel so hopelessly lost in. Otherwise, I feel I’m finally fitting into place in my new sunny home of California. I’ve had my first few visitors come stay with me, and acted as the ‘local’ tour guide, so hopefully I’ll get to know this place as intimately as others from around here by the time I leave.