How my Last Fall Semester Went at UC Berkeley

Last semester was such a rollercoaster for me… but isn’t every semester in some way a rollercoaster? I’d like to believe I’ve gotten better at handling difficulty throughout the academic year because I can now recover from whatever is thrown at me. At this point, I’m really focused on my studies, students, research, and mental health. I’m astonished by the work I’ve done with such a full plate and I may feel like quitting every other second, but I won’t because I still haven’t accomplished everything I planned to do. 

I started the beginning of my fall semester off strong by moving into my solo first apartment! Woohoo! I would’ve never thought I could afford to live on my own. Although this victory was short-lived due to the stress of midterms and academic expectations, I did my best to stay afloat. 

That, however, felt impossible once I had to let go of my old car. My Volvo s40 was the first car I ever owned, the first pink slip I ever held to be entirely mine (currently it’s sitting in my memory box). Letting that car go was more than just letting a material object go. For me, that car was everything. At one point in my life, that car was the only thing to my name. Experiencing this type of loss during the midterm season had me considering an academic leave. After spending multiple days in tears and hysteria, I was fortunate enough to be approved for a new car, a sports car, specifically a Honda civic hatchback sport touring, 10 years newer than my last car. 

Initially, I had gone to the dealership to see if there were any options for me. I wasn’t expecting to get approved for a car right away, especially with no cosigner, but I have my great credit score to thank for that. I will emphasize that none of this would’ve felt possible without the help of my dear friend Emilia. No words can truly capture how grateful I am for everyone in my life right now supporting me. The support has helped me manage three jobs, be a full-time student, study for the GRE, and apply to graduate school.

I ended the semester having submitted an IRB protocol to be inspected by the Institutional Review Board and assisting with a Request For Proposal. In doing so, I’m doing things I would’ve never pictured I’d be capable of doing years ago. To be honest, I didn’t even know what an IRB protocol or a Request For Proposal was before last semester. 

Now that I’ve finished the semester, I’m committed to doing the best for myself from here on out… and so should you. No matter how difficult and stressful educational barriers and life obstacles seem, do your best at envisioning a better outcome.

This may sound like toxic positivity, but I mean it in the sense that we should all hold onto hope. I lost my mind various times last semester because I lost a sense of hope. I stopped seeing my optimism as optimism. Instead, I saw it as wishful thinking and viewed myself as inept. I was never inept though, I was just overwhelmed. Once I deconstructed my large assignments into small tasks, they became manageable. All of this to say, I understand if you need rest days, reassurance, and kindness instead of being encouraged to be resilient. Both rest and effort are important to refrain from becoming stagnant. 

Some days may seem like too much to handle as educators, students, parents, etc. and that’s okay. On my difficult days, I like to think of this quote by Nicole Sobon, “Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go, but rather learning to start over.” It helps me relax to the concept of starting over.

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Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo

Yendy Rebollo is an independent, low-income, first-generation, undocumented or rather DACA-mented, woman of color navigating higher education at the University of California Berkeley. She has been an independent student since her senior year of high school, when she ran away from her abusive parents. It is in that same year, Yendy became a published writer with Yendy is currently double majoring in Ethnic Studies and Comparative Literature with a Minor in Education. She strives to attend law school as soon as she is finished with her Bachelor’s degree.

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