By Ishita Rastogi
Am I the only person that dances in front of the mirror in their bathroom? It’s so easy to do that at home when you’re in the comforts of your own bathroom behind closed doors, but in college it’s different. I usually have music blasting in my ears while I’m brushing, and I’m ready to jam out to whatever song I have lined up on Spotify until I realize that I am in my dorm’s bathroom. A bathroom that twenty other people on my floor use. Don’t get me wrong. My passion for dancing only goes so far as dancing in front of the bathroom mirror, and it’s hard to pursue this silly passion when I’m constantly on guard about who’s going to walk in to see me jamming out at 2 in the morning. But I do it anyways while I brush my teeth and complete my nightly routine—it’s relaxing after a long day of studying and exhaustion.
I make it sound like dancing is the love of my life, but it’s really not. I just like practicing my disco moves in the background, while I cheer on my friends and families as they show off on stage. I’ve also just grown up watching dance competitions on TV and Youtube videos featuring professional dances and it’s an evident part of Indian culture to where I feel like I am a part of the dancing even if I’m not. My younger sister and I have this tradition where we surf through professional dance videos on Youtube whenever we’re together.
Coming to Berkeley has been a wild ride, but I’m glad I can continue to pursue a side passion: admiring dance performances. Whether it’s walking through a parking garage and catching a glimpse of AFX practicing or going to Bollywood Berkeley to witness a dance competition, dance brings communities together. This past weekend, I went to Bollywood Berkeley, which is the largest collegiate South Asian dance competition on the West Coast. It was an amazing experience watching dance teams from all over the country, including three from the state that I am from, Texas, and many more.
I dragged some friends along to come with me to enjoy the show, and was explaining what I knew about the teams as they came and performed. It was great to see that I wasn’t the only one that was excited to see these performances. The entire audience was cheering and clapping after each and every performance. Seeing people from different backgrounds and cultures come together to watch South Asian performances was heart-warming. I became even more excited as I saw that the people around me shared the same passion as me.
Unfortunately, now I don’t get to do this with my sister, but we’ll text each other videos every now and then to bond over a new move or music video. I still dance in front of the bathroom mirror when I can and yes I’ve been caught once, but that doesn’t stop me. I’m glad I can continue to pursue my small passion with the stress that Berkeley brings.
By Ishita Rastogi
One of my main worries of choosing UC Berkeley was the distance between Berkeley and Dallas, my hometown. 1,743 miles away from where I grew up sounded like I was a universe away—that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but a plane ride for transportation makes the distance sound terrifying. I soon began to realize that I wouldn’t be able to see my parents and sister until Thanksgiving break and I would only be able to contact them through the phone. Now that I’m living this experience, I’m glad I chose UC Berkeley as my destination for the next four years. Yes, I experience the above emotions from time to time when I’m missing my family back home, but I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made and the experiences that I will continue to make throughout my time here at Berkeley.
I remember going through that nerve-wracking journey of finding random roommates on Facebook only a few months ago. How was I expected to choose my roommates and hopefully potential best friends through one paragraph and a few pictures? The whole process just seemed a bit daunting, but I thought knowing at least a few things about my future roommates is better than going into the whole roommate situation completely random so I opted to match up with two people I found on Facebook. I’m thankful to have met these beautiful humans because they’ve made my high school to college transition so smooth. I can call them my roommates and best friends at Cal. As cliche as it sounds, we have each others backs. I’m glad I get to traverse my freshman journey with my roommates because I can always rely on them to pick me up during my tough times and laugh with me during the good times.
I’m content with how I fit in with my roommates, but that’s such a small part of UC Berkeley. There are classes, events, and organizations with such great variety. Walking down Calapalooza was an interesting experience. There were people handing out flyers left and right and it was like I was expected to know which specific organization was right for me—as if an organization was calling out to me. To be honest, I was grabbing each and every flyer that I could because I had no idea where I would fit in. I still don’t know where I fit in, but I think it’s a part of the learning process. I attended a plethora of info sessions that either encompassed my academic or vocational interests to see where I’d find my ideal community. Personally, many of the info sessions provided very similar information so it became difficult to decide which clubs I should participate and apply into. I soon realized that I wouldn’t know if an organization is right for me unless I apply and experience it.
Yes, the application process can be tedious and gruesome especially if there’s so many organizations, but applying to them became a wholesome experience. I’ve learned so much about myself—I developed patience and gained a better understanding of what I look for in organizations for the future. Now instead of applying to anything and everything in hopes of finding my place, I can look for my specific interests, ask familiar faces for their advice, and go from there. I know I will encounter more obstacles in the future, whether it’s in the realm of organizations or maybe something else, but at least I know I’m trying my best to take my current interests and molding them into something new with the opportunities that these organizations offer.