Back to School: Berkeley Edition

Oh what I wouldn't give to be a freshman again. Everyone in the dorm wants to be your friend, you've got 4 years to decide on a major, and, due to the beautiful weather on Cal Day, you think everyday at Berkeley is going to be filled with sunshine and daisies. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I can guarantee that at least one (I won't say which one) of these assumptions will be totally quashed, and you'll be asking yourself, "What the *bleep* just happened?" Fear not, young grasshopper, for the BARE team is here to help. Here are just a few tips that all veteran Cal Bears wished they knew back in the day:


This is a serious issue here, people. Where's the best place to pee (or, ahem, do other business that need not be mentioned here) on campus? There's Dwinelle, which is...decent, if you go there early enough in the day, but by evening the stalls tend to be littered with flyers and toilet paper. The bathroom graffiti is, however, undeniably good, so those who like to mix business with pleasure may want to check these stalls out simply for their entertainment factor.

Dwinelle, the bane of every freshman's existence, and Pimentel, the sweaty armpit of public restrooms everywhere. Images courtesy of Google.

Your experience at Berkeley is not complete unless you've had a class in either Wheeler or Pimentel auditorium. I've heard rumors that the 3rd floor Wheeler bathrooms are just like the ones in Harry Potter, which means if I ever go in there I'll probably burst into tears and start babbling to the nearest bystander about how Harry Potter represents my childhood, the end of an era, etc, etc. As for Pimentel, my only piece of advice is, don't.

Really, I mean it. Don't.

Instead, run you and your tiny bladder over to Tan Hall (the grey concrete building right by Pimentel) for clean bathrooms with little to no waiting time. Trust me, it's for the best.

Cal Vision

It doesn't exist, it doesn't exist, it doesn't exist...and nothing your friends at UCLA/USC/every other school say should persuade you to believe otherwise.

Layers, Layers, Layers

NorCal weather is the closest we're ever going to get to having seasons here in California, which means that learning how to layer your clothing is an absolute necessity. Those who hail from anywhere outside CA are probably already pro's at this, but SoCal natives are going to suffer a bit (and by a bit, I mean a lot). I suggest stocking up on cardigans, light jackets, heavy duty coats, and something North Face for those days when you really don't give a crap. Then again, I'm a Los Angeles girl, so what do I know? Take a few pointers from these stylish Berkeleyans, courtesy of the blog Work It, Berk (and one from Stockholm Streetstyle...I couldn't resist) :

What can I say, Berkeley likes its denim, faux fur, hipster prep, and flannel -- don't hate. All images except for bottom left courtesy of Work It, Berk.

Please, No More Gypsy's...

Good ol' Gypsy's. Large portions and reasonable prices make this a favorite among Berkeley students, but let's be honest: we can do better. Pasta Bene on Telegraph Avenue is an excellent alternative if you're still in the mood for Italian, and there's no better place than Cheeseboard for some amazing pizza. Other favorites in the Gourmet Ghetto area are Gregoire's (students swear by their potato puffs) and Masse's Pastries (try their French macarons) -- if you want to go really upscale, there's always the world renowned Chez Panisse for special occasions.

(Left) Grilled chicken skewers from Ippuku and (Right) a pulled pork sandwich from Ironwood BBQ. Images courtesy of Julie Dinh and Simone Anne Lang.

How about some Japanese? BARE Reporter Julie Dinh recommends Ippuku, an izakaya that serves tasty morsels like grilled chicken skewers and black sesame ice cream with tempura crumbs, red bean paste, and mochi. Or maybe you'd like some BBQ? Ironwood BBQ, as reviewed by BARE photographer Simone Anne Lang, could probably satisfy all of your pulled pork cravings. Remember kids, there's a whole world outside the Asian ghetto that's just waiting to take your meager college student allowance!

Parting Words

Have fun. Don't sweat the small stuff. Berkeley can be a strange place sometimes, but you'll never regret a moment of it -- take it from someone who knows what she's talking about.

Aimee Shimizu
BARE Editor

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  1. great piece, Aimee! thanks for the mention!

  2. This school could definitely use some style schooling. Great post.