For many students on-campus, this semester has been quite the unusual experience. With classes virtually all virtual (pun intended), it has grown very apparent that visiting friends, meeting new people, and truly immersing oneself in what was supposed to be the college experience is no longer the same. For me, arriving back on to campus and moving into a single in a nearly empty apartment has made me realize just how easy it is to become isolated during these unprecedented times. Thus, to motivate myself, I have set several goals this semester to make the most of this atypical Fall:

1. Weekly Hikes 

One of my goals this semester has been to explore more of Berkeley beyond the virtual setting, whether it be through food, places, or new people. For quite a while, I had never understood what was so great about trekking long distances and battling the bugs of nature, but I decided to give it a shot this semester to see what was so special about hiking. When I arrived on campus in mid-August, I made it a personal goal to explore more of Berkeley through its numerous hiking trails nearby. During the first two weekends after I arrived, I hiked up Berkeley’s Fire Trails with friends, making sure to follow social distancing protocol. It was a rough start at first, as not only did I wear the wrong shoes (imagine Vans), but our group got occasionally lost on the paths too; on one of the trips, my friend and I discovered that we had walked all the way to Oakland after taking a wrong turn! Nonetheless, as a result of these past hiking experiences, I have discovered that there is a sense of soothing satisfaction in walking through the serene wilderness of nature, and that I feel much more calm and focused after completing a hike. Despite the increasing school work, I plan to free up more time these upcoming weekends to continue again with my hiking ambitions.

2. Personal Relationships 

Another goal I have set this semester is to connect with old and new friends alike as a means to stay updated in everyone’s lives during these difficult times. For example, I was in dire need of a haircut recently, and I had heard that one of my GMP ‘23 friends had recently learned how to cut hair from Youtube and wanted to try them out on any interested friends. Seeing it as an opportunity to catch up (and also get a free haircut), I messaged him and he came over (with proper social-distancing protocol of course) the following day. Not only was I able to hear about his recent life updates, but I also received a complimentary fresh cut as well.

3. Non-Academic Opportunities

The third goal I have set up this semester is to engage in as many Berkeley opportunities outside of class as possible. For instance, last week, 4 friends and I partook in the annual Zendesk Case Competition hosted by the Haas Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership and Berkeley Women In Business. Although it was an unusual experience collaborating on the case virtually, our efforts ultimately paid off and we placed 1st out of 37 Berkeley teams at the end. 

Friends and teammates – Zendesk Case Competition 2020

Remote Reflection

Ultimately, this semester will definitely be one for the books, but I hope that by setting smart goals and working steadily towards them, I will be able to make the most of this atypical Fall.


By Michael Xia

Feel free to connect with me! You can reach me at: 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/michaeldxia

Email: michaelxia(at)berkeley(dot)edu

Previous Humans of Haas: Manav Rathod Next Humans of Haas: Madeleine Wong