The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Adapting to Berkeley Standard Time

Sameer Nayak tells us about studying Industrial Psychology, scouring Durant Avenue for the best spots to eat and finding stray pianos around campus.

Major at Ashoka: Double major in Economics and Psychology

Course(s) at UC Berkeley: Social Psychology, Industrial Psychology


That’s an official thing here at Berkeley, where every class begins at least ten minutes late. Even the professors have come to accept this and advise us to not reach class before time! ‘Berkeley Time’ kind of signifies the atmosphere at UC Berkeley, where it’s common to spot people sunbathing or having a coffee, lost in their music. The UC Berkeley campus gives out very relaxing vibes, but don’t be misled by the laid-back atmosphere because underneath it, you will find plenty of motivated students hustling quietly in some corner.

The first thing that will hit you is the sheer number of pedestrians and cyclists. You will spot very few cars, as many students either take a long walk to class, or hire a bicycle to cover longer distances. The climate is great, so walking around campus is a pleasure.

Incidentally, during my stay here, the World Cup was underway and being an ardent football fan, I was pleased to discover a place where I could enjoy it — ‘Pappy’s Grill’. A nice little sports bar with good grills, it gets quite crowded during any major sporting event. Be careful to not get tossed around when a match goes on!

Berkeley has fantastic food unless you are on a meal plan, in which case you will have to juggle between your bad decision and spending extra bucks on good food. That said, the Berkeley mess is much better than the one back home. Berkeley as a town has much more to offer. ‘Durant Avenue’ is the go-to street for food enthusiasts. It has everything: from Korean and Thai, to Italian and Indian cuisine. A few must try restaurants in Berkeley are: Top Dog, Thai Basil, Gypsy’s Trattoria and La Burrita.

Sameer exploring Durant Avenue

The University Campus is really pretty. The path towards Sather Gate (the official University Gate) is usually filled with volunteers, so expect to get startled by sudden requests for a signature supporting various issues.

Berkeley is a college town driven by music and art. You can find plenty of niched yet aesthetic gifts shops, like Twisted Thistle and Tail of The Yak. There is also a great art-supplies shop called ‘Blicks Art Material’, (credits to Kriti Garg from the undergraduate batch of 2017 for telling me about this). I highly recommend visiting Rasputin Music and Amoeba Music for antique music pieces and records. One particular aspect I really found interesting in Berkeley was the concept of public pianos and keyboards. You just need to look around carefully to spot one.

As for my classes, I did not notice much difference between Berkeley and Ashoka.

It actually felt like taking just another regular Ashokan course, but with a beautiful landscape around and great weather.

I took two psychology courses, and both were really good (Definitely take the Industrial Psychology course, as it is not available at Ashoka, and my professor at the time was incredible). This course will shape you into a semi-professional HR executive!

One major/important benefit from Ashoka was that my knowledge about subjects other than my own really helped me in making conversation with students of other disciplines. I could see myself keeping up with professors and students on topics of art, literature and even philosophy.

Now, I am personally known to be a slacker among my friends but somewhere, between living separately from my home group and the beautiful view from my study table, I found myself studying harder, but what really made the difference at the end I think, was the passing mark. For most courses, the passing percentage is seventy! So as I mentioned earlier, underneath all these chilled vibes and smiling faces, the students do work well into the night to simply cross the line.

On an ending note I have a few bits of advice:

  1. Student trips are a great way to explore surrounding areas like San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and the Bay Area in general (and it’s a great way to get to know other summer students).
  2. Always carry your student ID around. You could be visiting a local attraction and might get a chance to avail a student discount on several facilities.
  3. I struggled for the first few days with the public transport (known as Transbay Area Services) but here’s a tip for that: The route F is for San Francisco and route 51B is for areas within Berkeley jurisdiction.
  4. San Francisco is to Berkeley as Delhi is to Sonipat, so you will find yourself going there a lot on weekends.
  5. Age restriction for alcohol, cigarettes and various herbs is 21. So be expected to be shooed away if you do not have a proper ID. The same goes for pubs in San Francisco so be prepared in advance.
  6. Last but not the least just enjoy and don’t forget the Berkeley Time!

Disclaimer: The Edict would like to thank Ms. Anuja Kelkar from the Office of International Programs for her support in making this series possible. Ms. Kelkar is the one-woman army at the office who helps Ashokans with the arduous process of applying for and attending summer school. If you wish to attend summer school during your time at Ashoka, it might be best to approach Ms. Kelkar as the first step.

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