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Thousands find new home at Berkeley on move-in day

Students and parents gathered outside Unit 2 on Tuesday for UC Berkeley’s move-in day. (UC Berkeley photos by Keegan Houser)


 Will Kane | 

One day this spring, Earnest Wang, 18, called his mom and screamed so loud she thought he was in trouble. Turns out he was fine; he’d just been admitted to UC Berkeley.

Today, Wang and his mother, Grace, and father, Jonathan, were on campus, moving Wang into his new room at Blackwell Hall, UC Berkeley’s newest residence hall and his home away from home for most of the next eight months.

Earnest Wang, 18, stands with his mom outside his new room in Blackwell Hall.


“I’m really excited,” Wang, an aspiring public health major from Irvine, said as he pushed a basket full of sheets, pillows, snacks, blankets and new clothes down a second-floor hallway. “I’m looking forward to unpacking, and just chilling for a little bit.”

Wang was one of 6,400 new and returning students arriving on campus Tuesday, lugging shower totes, notebooks and heaps of anticipation and anxiety into UC Berkeley’s eight residence halls for the first chapter of their adult lives.

“It is a lot of nervousness,” Alex Samano, 17, of Modesto, said as he stood with his parents outside of Unit 2 waiting to check out his room for the first time. “But that sense of adventure is back. I haven’t had it since the start of high school.”

Samano is part of a diverse new class of 6,100 first-year students, 71 percent of whom come from California. Almost 58 percent of the new first-year class is female and 81 percent attended a public high school.

In addition, 2,700 new transfer students are arriving on campus this week. More than 21 percent of them are the first in their families to attend college, and 27 percent come from under-represented minority groups. The youngest transfer student is 15, while the oldest is 63.

But on Tuesday, the focus of the first-year students was details of their rooms. Samano wanted to be the first to claim a bottom bunk, while across campus Sofia Schmidt, of Los Angeles, and her new roommate Yasmine Kasra, of Calabasas, both 18, spent the first few hours of move-in reconfiguring their room on the second-floor of Blackwell Hall to have more of an apartment feel.

Yasmine Kasra, right, and her new roommate, Sofia Schmidt, rearranged their new room in Blackwell Hall.

“We think if we can move the beds over, there’ll be more privacy for sleeping and studying,” Kasra said as she and her mom, Tamara, lifted a bed frame over their heads.

Classes begin on August 22. Until then, the new students will participate in the Golden Bear Orientation, a week-long series of tours, parties and other events designed to help them acclimate to UC Berkeley.

“I’m excited to be here,” said Mana Javadi, 17, of Anaheim, as she waited with her father outside Blackwell Hall. “The culture on campus is so welcoming.”

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