Local Atmosphere

Berkeley, CA
Tuition (in-state)
$35,752 ($12,874)
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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3 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: People in Berkeley are very pretentious. They think they are the epitome of greatness and intelligence. This city claims to be tolerant to diversity, when in fact they are not. Unless you protest and rally over practically nothing, and you are a minority student, or you don't join a "social movements" then you will not fit in.

5 Recent Alumnus

Local Atmosphere: Berkeley is a very dynamic city! It's a community that has its own character, and people are really friendly - they'll have conversations with you at a coffee shop and you'll end up talking about the local theater scene. There are ton of good restaurants (Chez Panisse is one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in the Bay Area), activities that you can walk to, and if you're ever bored of Berkeley itself, you can BART to San Francisco and spend the day in the big city.

Cal games get a lot of alumni and school spirit, especially since we reopened our stadium. There *is* a large homeless population here and that might be something visitors notice first, but it is rarely ever a safety issue and there are a lot of organizations to volunteer at if you want to help out.

4 College Student

Local Atmosphere: I like the small town feel, but its not a small town. There is so many nearby places you can take the bart to. There is always something to do.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Berkeley is a cute little city. I like it's location in the Bay Area. Plus public transport is good.

4 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Berkeley is a very college city. All necessities are in walking distance, and if they are a little out of the way, all Berkeley students are equipped with bus passes that can get you basically anywhere you need to go! Locals and students do not intermingle much, but I have never experienced any problems with them. As for a lot of the city, I cannot say much. As a student I tend to stay around the campus and residential living areas.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Meegan Brooks
Granite Bay, CA
Political science
View all previous student authors

It may seem surprising to hear people refer to Berkeley as a “college town.” At a school so large, you might not expect people to feel like they’re regulars every place they go, yet with its relatively limited number of quality places to hang out, study, and eat, this reputation makes sense. For some people, it’s a good thing because with a school as large as Berkeley, the feeling of closeness in the community is a nice counterbalance. But for others, the closeness is more of a nuisance than a true benefit. While you may see the same people on your way to school every day, they’re often people you don’t know by name, or people you want to avoid.


The city of San Francisco is a nice escape from the college town doldrums—it’s a necessary reminder of what the world outside of the “Berkeley Bubble” is like. If you manage your time well, going to the city—or anywhere outside of Berkeley—doesn’t have to be an all-day affair, and you can fit this breather in easily between class, studying, and extracurricular activities. Also, many clubs and student groups organize events outside of Berkeley for people to attend during the week and on weekends. Getting outside of Berkeley’s altered reality is not only good for your social well-being, but it is helpful for maintaining your grasp on the more moderate outside world.


Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. It was one of the settings for famous writer Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums.
  2. Many radioactive elements were discovered in Berkeley; one has been named Berkelium.
  3. Berkeley's computer science departments led the UNIX revolution in the 1980s.
  4. Historians cite Berkeley as the spot where the free speech movement began in 1964.
  5. The city and campus have been featured in movies like The Hulk, The Graduate, and Boys and Girls.
Notable Natives
  • Patty Hearst - heiress who was kidnapped from Berkeley by the Symbionese Liberation Army in '74
  • Maxine Hong Kingston - Chinese American writer
  • Mario Savio - leader of the free speech movement at Berkeley in '64
Local Slang
  • Beezy: A female with attitude
  • Ghetto: Falling apart, in bad condition
  • Hater: Someone who is always saying negative things
  • Hella: A lot, really
  • Hyphy: A Bay Area-based rap movement
  • Legit: Not fake, cool, to be taken seriously
  • Smoke somebody out: When a person invites someone else to smoke her marijuana with her
Points of Interest
  • 4th Street
  • Bay Street, Emeryville
  • Berkeley Rose Garden
  • College Avenue
  • Telegraph Avenue
  • Tilden Regional Park
Shopping Centers
  • Bay Street, Emeryville
  • Broadway Shopping Plaza, Walnut Creek
  • Union Square, Downtown San Francisco
  • Westfield San Francisco, San Francisco
Movie Theaters
AMC Bay Street 16
5614 Shellmound St.
(510) 457-4262
Movie Theaters
California Theatre
2113 Kittredge St.
(510) 464-5980
Movie Theaters
Shattuck Cinemas
2230 Shattuck Ave.
(510) 843-3456
Movie Theaters
United Artists Cinemas 7
2274 Shattuck Ave.
(510) 843-3892
Movie Theaters
United Artists Emery Bay 10
6330 Christie St.
(510) 420-0107
Major Sports Teams
  • Golden State Warriors: basketball
  • Oakland Athletics: baseball
  • Oakland Raiders: football
  • San Francisco Giants: baseball
  • San Jose Sharks: hockey
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Lake Tahoe: CA: 4 hours
  • San Francisco: CA: 20 minutes by car 40 minutes by BART (mass transit system)
  • San Jose: CA: 1 hour
  • Santa Cruz: CA: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 170 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 170 responses

  • 1% Painfully remote.
  • 14% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 1% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 34% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 52% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 170 responses

  • 18% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 51% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 31% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 170 responses

  • 22% No way.
  • 56% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 22% Totally.



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