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I graduated in both Engineering Physics and EECS in 2016. The Engineering Physics student has many choices in their coursework. These classes were my favorites:
Nuclear Engineering 155 with Prof Slaybaugh. A review of linear algebra and introduction to programming in a simulation / research context. This class doesn’t require lots of programming experience but it helps if you have it.
Astronomy 160 with Prof Quataert. You learn how stars form, why they undergo fusion, how they explode (or not). Designed for people who have a physics background. Nearly every lecture blew my mind.
Physics 141A with Prof Analytis. How do crystals work? What’s special about metals? It’s still abstract, but this class helped put “physics” back into objects we can see and interact with. And there are novel materials and states of matter discovered all the time (did you know they put liquid crystals in wristwatches?)
If you are looking at Mechanical Engineering courses, you may like this course dependency guide I made in 2014-15. I also run a wiki of student materials for UC Berkeley classes, called “studyfruit”.
I enjoyed “Decal” courses. These have typically 1-2 units, promise a light workload, and (generally) focus on “experiences over papers”. The lists change often since courses are student-taught.
There is also a listing of “Discovery” courses for the College of Letters and Science, focused on breadth. This list usually changes between fall and spring semesters. It’s my understanding that anyone (including Engineering students) can enroll in these classes. Some of these classes (“Wealth and Poverty”, “Physics and Music”, “Drugs and the Brain”) are among the most popular on campus.
The Cal Running Club has public runs most days, and people are quite friendly. (I went only a handful of times.)
I would recommend the Chamber Music Decal or the “Physics and Music” Discovery course. (I did not take these, but some friends of mine liked them).
I think the Berkeley Art Studio offers drawing (and other) classes for additional cost. A good friend was in the Civil Engineering program: she took one course each year and enjoyed each one.
I don’t know if it is “common” (many people work alone), but I would recommend having a study partner or study group. Usually people are open to studying together and reviewing lecture material outside of class. In the Physics department many people work in the Reading Room (I think there is a new space on the 1st floor of LeConte Hall too.)
I would also recommend the “departmental clubs” that try to facilitate peer collaboration and study groups. You can attend their events even if you are not in the department (and it can be easier to find study partners this way!)
There are many things to try out in college, but this is one skill I am very grateful for.
I was first introduced to programming from CS10, the “Beauty and Joy of Computing”. This inspired me to take more computer science classes.
Later in college, I became more interested in how to use programming as a tool. I ran a Python working group at D-Lab and tutored social science researchers on the basics of programming. I wrote a short blog post for BIDS in 2016.
BIDS (especially Anthony Suen) started a Data Science initiative at Berkeley, creating the course “Data 8”. It inspired me to publish a list of data science resources at UC Berkeley.
There used to be Facebook groups with posts about rooms available, but the ones I joined are no longer active. I’ve also used Craigslist successfully.
There is so much to explore in the city of Berkeley. I wrote about each neighborhood in Berkeley after six years of living here.
College, for me, was never lonely. Even if I chose my own path, I shared large segments with others. Now, the world seems more sparse – most of my life is my own random walk.