My NSLC Experience At UC Berkeley


Students after presenting on their final day at NSLC

Polina Mogilevsky

When I step off the plane at Oakland Airport on July 26th, I am immediately swallowed up by the crowd and corralled to the baggage claim, where I am greeted by a young man barely older than me in a garish red shirt who escorts me to a group of other kids. I patiently wait with these strangers to board the bus that will take us to our respective programs at UC Berkeley. Though we come from all over the world and have absolutely no connection to one another, we bond over our mutual terror and excitement as we make the long trek to the bus with all our bags and various belongings.

When we reached our destination, we were once again corralled, this time into a small lecture hall on the ground floor of a dorm building. We were given our dorm assignments and were separated into groups based on the field we chose to study. My field was Journalism and Media Production. The dorms were small and looked like they hadn’t been renovated in a decade, but the atmosphere was friendly. We were all in this together.

Our days were filled with all sorts of bonding activities such as dyadic encounters, physical obstacle courses, socratic seminars and many, many personality determining tests, which helped dispel any remaining social awkwardness within the first day or two. We gradually formed into a very caring and supportive community that was almost reminiscent of Sage in some ways. We were constantly being pushed to take risks, be it when we were made to do the leap of faith off a 40 foot pole in 50 degree weather or being tasked with writing, creating, and editing a short film based around a single line in the span of one hour. In the face of these adversities, we knew we had a net of our peers to fall back upon.

The journalism class was quite fascinating. Our professor let us explore different stories around the Berkeley community and took us on an excursion to the local farmers’ market, where we got to hear the stories of the vendors and see exactly what goes into the product, a rare opportunity in this day and age. We were constantly encouraged to dive deep into the Berkeley community and everything it has to offer. My final story ended up being on a grungy vintage shop on the corner of Telegraph Avenue called Mars Mercantile, a local favorite. The staff consisted of students that stayed on campus for the summer and were relatively receptive to my questions.

Overall, the trip was a great success and helped push me outside of my comfort zones both socially and in my writing.