how I learned to embrace Berkeley

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For me, the city of Berkeley wasn’t the easiest to get to love. Its nooks and charms were much peculiar and did not reveal themselves as easily as I’d hoped. I’ve been to a lot of different cities over time, and while Berkeley might not have its own sobriquet, I’ve persisted to embrace the city in my own way: wining, dining & photography. 

It didn’t take long for me to realize Berkeley and the bay was a golden hub for good food and drinks. There’s an endless range of cuisine with restaurants presenting delicious menus and dreamy ambiances. For someone who wakes up for breakfast and requires multiple pick-me-ups throughout the day, this was enough for me to dive headfirst into the city. 

Throughout the semester, I took it upon myself to utilize my free time in visiting various restaurants, cafes and food stands. Have a seven-page essay due tomorrow? I’ll do it at the Chic n’ Time cafe on Valencia St. Free evening? I’ll put on a pretty top and read a book while losing myself in some spicy rigatoni downtown. 

Paired with my never-ending impromptu visits to San Francisco, I’ve accumulated a pretty extensive restaurant list that’s well logged in my Notion. I treat it like treasure. 

For someone who doesn’t have a car, the process of eating my way through the bay demanded me to travel through a million different roads and streets. I’ve marched through the hills of San Francisco, gotten lost in suspicious places and hopped on & off every bus in the bay. Naturally, I got to learn the area and understand its hidden quirks and rules. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I go to lengths for some good sushi. 

Along with learning about my foodie ways, I’ve realized how much I love taking in the world around me. When I strolled through the streets of Berkeley or was wandering around museums in the bay, I got to notice so many special moments. And by special I mean the ordinary where kindergarteners play catch and couples share a kiss at the park. 

Because when you’re alone, you do become increasingly perceptive, and impressions leave a greater mark on you. 

So, I decided to document my encounters through photography. I now always have my camera around my neck and when I catch myself in love with a scene, I take a snapshot. I’ve even grown to ask strangers if I can take a picture of them (it’s a gamble but happy to report that most people are delighted!). I now have a whole collection of the bay’s fashionistas, lovers, girls, boys and everyone in between. It’s amazing to look back at the photos and think that I was here, witnessing the split seconds of magic. 

Independence has always been my forte, and I’d like to think she’s served me well throughout. 

Recently, I’ve been walking around campus and taking photos of the school as well. It’s really fun to see all the moments that make up the university’s days and nights! If you catch someone walking annoyingly slow or going back and forth with a camera, it’s me. I’m sorry. 

The difficulty of breaking into a new city is a well-shared sentiment, regardless of where you are in your life. But, fortune tends to favor the brave, and I’d like to encourage everyone to venture out to unfamiliarity (really good pasta is waiting for you). Cheers to another!