Steph's Friend

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 1 At Berkeley

Cool!

The place and weather here is pretty cool man!

I arrived at San Francisco International Airport and looked around for the Information Counter. After asking some questions, I took the BART Train to Berkeley. It works similarly to the MRT in Singapore. You insert notes, choose the station then the ticket will come out. While I walked, the air around was pretty cold. So I wore a windbreaker.

I bought a ticket and boarded the BART. Wah...first time leh...very interesting. Then the BART started to move...whoa...it can move...

The train reached the next station and the door opened. The air outside was so cold....even the air inside the train wasn't that cold. In Singapore, the air outside is not as cold than the air inside the train...here it's the opposite. I took some photos of the scenery from the station.



Then the train reached one station and in came a man with a cowboy hat and a long ponytail (it reached his waist). He came in and asked a question to nobody in particular.

Man: Does anyone here knows how to get to Berkeley?

He carried with him a guitar, a sports bag and a backpack. I guess he must be like me...a student. Then one of the passenger answered the man's question with clear directions. That made me think. In Singapore we don't have such a thing. We don't have a passenger who walks in and asks across the train hoping someone would answer. Now that was something new. However, it didn't end there.

While the train was moving, the man (with the cowboy hat...let's call him Cowboy). Went and grabbed hold of the railings and started to do pull-ups! He did quite a few. Easily above 5. Then he looked out of the window and was attracted by the scenery, so he quickly grabbed his MacBook and started to webcam the scenery with the screen facing the window. So you can imagine one guy holding a laptop and moving about in the train. In Singapore, you won't find anyone doing that...at least I've never seen anyone do that before. But I guess here, people do stuff without really caring what other people think of them. It's interesting. After webcaming the scenery, he continued with the pull-ups...I have nothing to say.

I made a transfer at Oakland City Center to the Richmond-bound train. Cowboy did the same. I was thinking whether I should talk to him? I wasn't sure as I've never encountered someone like him before. So I played safe and kept quiet.

I took the transfer train and reached Downtown Berkeley station. I alighted and I saw a lot of students...some of them were wearing the Berkeley shirt. I guess the students here must be proud of their school...after all, they have no reason not to be proud of their school.

I stepped out of the station and felt cold...and I was wearing my windbreaker already. I guess the cold wind managed to break through my windbreaker. Anyway, my advice is that if you can't stand cold, then wear more clothings...logic. For me, it was cold, but still bearable.

I walked towards YMCA Hotel and Residence and checked-in to my room. It's nice and cosy. I unpacked my stuff and got ready to explore...

As I walked the streets of Berkeley, I could somehow feel "smartness" from the people around me. It's Berkeley town after all. Also, I saw a diverse group of people...people from different races and ethnicity. Cool! Then there was this group of girls walking. They looked Asian...like me. As they walked they talked in their ang-moh accent. Whoa...interesting. Never hear before. Imagine what would happen if we started talking...
Girl A: Hi where are you from?
Me: Me arh? I from Singapore.
Girl B: You talk in a funny way.
Girl A: Yeah...it's so like...I don't know...
Me: Haiya...nevermind lah.
First I walked around University Avenue. I went to Citibank to test if I could draw money from the ATM there...it worked...good. Then I went to McDonald to eat. The menu there was different. I ordered the cheapest meal and went to find a place to sit. The meal tasted different. How different? Well, the fries are very salty compared to Singapore, the iced tea was sweet...way too sweet for my liking and the size of the iced tea cup was bigger than what I anticipated. Hm...anyway, I ate all that and continued to explore. This was how my meal looked like.


After the meal, I walked around and I saw this AT&T shop and went inside. The one who attended to me was a Mongolian girl. Interesting huh? After talking for awhile, I realized she's a student in Berkeley too! Maybe it's summer that's why she's working. Anyway, she heard of NTU before...not bad...someone knows NTU. I asked her about the various plans she had for foreign students like. After talking, I told her I would come again with my phone so that she could install the SIM card into my phone. She's a friendly person.

I went to Walgreens next. It was like NTUC in Singapore. Pretty neat. There I bought 2 gallons of water, 4 oranges and a loaf of bread. Then I went back to my room to unload the stuff I bought.

I went back to the AT&T shop and paid for the SIM card. I tried testing my phone by calling the shop's phone number and it worked! Cool! I now have a number.

Next I walked towards Berkeley and walked through certain parts of the school. The school is nice. The weather is cool and there are empty fields for students to sit and discuss about stuff. I passed by International House and overhead (it wasn't on purpose okay) this female student talking on the phone.

Lady: Yeah...I got an A for Abstract Algebra.
...
Lady: It's an A.
...

From the tone of her voice, it seems that the other party wasn't happy. She didn't say it like "Yay I got an A!" but it was more like "It's an A, aren't you happy that I got an A?" Then I remembered there was this student who said something like "It's hard to get above 3.00". Hm...stress stress, I guess being in Berkeley has it's stress, the academic kind.

Then I reached this place where the students stayed. The area had terraces around for students to stay. Each terrace had its own name. The names were kinda Greek-ish in that they used the Greek alphabets like Phi-Sigma-Tau or something like that. Imagine telling your family and friends back in Singapore that you stayed in Kappa-Delta-Pi. While walking halfway I saw this.


It's a pair of shoes tied to the electricity lines. Hm...I guess it must be some experiment.

Then I continued walking and walking. After a while I got hungry and ate at "Hawaiian BBQ". I ordered the fish set. I asked for "regular" size as there were only "mini" or "regular". "Mini" sounded small so I ordered "regular". When it was delivered to me, this was how it looked like.


I was surprised as I could only eat one-third of it! Whoa...cannot lah...must try to finish all, if not wasted. So I forced myself to eat some more...in the end, I ate until like 2/3 of it. Cannot take it liao...too full. So I daboa-ed the remaining portion and walked back.

When I reached back home, I slept...it was a tiring day. Furthermore, I had to adjust from the jet lag. Imagine sitting for more than 5 hours in the plane is no joke. Especially when you travel alone and have no one to talk to.

Time: 9.32am, 17th June 08 (Tuesday)

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