Berkeley Arrival Checklist

From CBE GSAC Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Purpose and Disclaimer[edit]

At the time this document was migrated to the wiki from Google Docs in 2014-06, User:Brandon was responsible for 95% of the content in this page:

I created this document with the help of other people in my class. It represents a fusion of the department's recommendations and our own thoughts, having been through the process this past year. Disclaimer: it's not totally comprehensive, and there may be slight errors or omissions.

That's where you come in! If you'd like to add or amend something, create an account and edit away!

I greatly appreciate any feedback you can provide, and I'll try to answer any questions.

Now that this document lives in the wiki, collaborative editing is even easier:

  1. Click on the 'log in/create an account' button in the top right-hand corner of the page
  2. Create an account and verify your email address
  3. While viewing any page, hit the 'Edit' button to make changes
  4. Want to create a new page? Search for the title, then hit 'create this page on the wiki' to get started

Before You Arrive[edit]

Consider Applying for the Chemical Biology Graduate Program[edit]

This program provides a free year of funding and enables lab rotations for students interested in working at the interface of chemistry and biology. Details here:

Send The Department Your Photo[edit]

Each year, the Graduate Student Affairs Officer (a staff member in the department) requests the pictures of all incoming students. These photos are placed on a large bulletin board in the entrance to Gilman Hall. Send your headshot photo to:

Set Up Your CalNet ID and Email[edit]

Details on this process:

Add Your Contact Information[edit]

The ChemE graduate student directory is available here; add yourself!

You can import these contacts into your Google account by following these steps:

Join the Email Lists[edit]

Details on this process:

Register for Classes[edit]

Details on this process:

Find Housing[edit]

Details on this process:

Accept (or Opt-Out) SHIP[edit]

UC Berkeley offers a Student Health Insurance Plan that provides some coverage for pharmacy, doctor, and dentist visits. Whether you receive your stipend from the department or from an outside funding source like the NSF, SHIP is paid for by the department. You can opt-out if you already have health insurance that provides equal or better coverage. Student health insurance is not a deductible higher education expense, so you will pay income taxes on the cost of SHIP (currently 15% federal + 4% state on $1150 = $220).

Additional details on SHIP coverage:

Register for a DMV Appointment[edit]

This should *technically* be done within 10 days of moving. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, present official documents, pay a fee, have your photograph and thumbprint taken, and pass a short written test to receive your California license. This is an important step toward becoming a CA resident (which is required by the department for tuition reasons!).

DMVs nearest Berkeley: Oakland - 5300 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA El Cerrito - 6400 Manila Avenue, El Cerrito, CA

You can register for a DMV appointment online: Register early! August and September are extremely busy at the DMV.

The El Cerrito DMV is somewhat nicer than the Oakland DMV, though it’s a bit farther from Berkeley. Both can be reached by car, bus, bicycle, or BART; use Google Maps to help plot your route ahead of time and make sure you choose an appointment time that you can actually attend.

"State law requires every applicant for an original California identification (ID) card and driver license to show verification of birth date and proof of legal presence within the United States to help safeguard the accuracy and integrity of departmental documents."

List of things you can bring as ID: Most commonly: US Passport or Birth Certificate

You'll need to pay a license fee of $31. If you’re registering a car, additional fees apply: They accept cash, check, or debit card, but NOT credit cards:

You’ll also have to take a short written test on California driving laws. Most answers are very intuitive, and you can miss six questions on the 36-question test and still pass. The California DMV Handbook is available here: It includes two short sets of practice questions that are extremely similar to what you’ll encounter at the DMV. However, you shouldn’t waste time studying from the Handbook. Instead, search on Youtube for “California written driving test.” If you spend 15 minutes to view 3 or 4 recent tests, you’ll have seen practically all the questions that could be on yours. Also, if you know someone who’s taken the exam, ask to see their written test - it will probably be identical to yours!

While you’re at the DMV, you’ll also receive forms to register to vote in California. Fill them out while you wait, or do it online here:

Get Your $$$ In Order[edit]

The department will cover your tuition. You will also receive a monthly stipend ($30,000/year as of 2011, 2012) from either the department or an external funding source such as the National Science Foundation. Unless you want to go downtown and wait in line to pick up your stipend check at the UC Berkeley financial office every single month, make sure you set up direct deposit of the stipend into a bank account! Set up direct deposit here:

You will receive payroll forms over the summer from the Graduate Student Affairs Officer. Make sure you fill them out and return them quickly so that your first stipend deposit is not delayed.

Once you have an address in Berkeley, consider opening an account with a bank that has local branches, such as a credit union. More information on banking in Berkeley can be found here:

Order Your Books[edit]

Once you’ve registered for courses, you’ll receive information on ‘required’ and ‘optional’ textbooks. Many of the textbooks that the department has been using in recent years have been absolutely horrible. Do yourself a favor and ask the class above you if you can borrow a book for free before you waste hundreds of dollars.

If you do order some books, Amazon is usually much cheaper than buying local. Let me know ahead of time and you can order your books early and have them shipped to my address.

Guys: Change Your Selective Service Address[edit]

The Selective Service System would be used if the United States instituted a military draft. If you’re a male US citizen, you registered for this when you turned 18:

This should *technically* be done within 10 days of moving. At the final confirmation screen, you can check a box to receive a Selective Service registration card that will be useful to have when you apply for residency.

How to change your address with the Selective Service System:

Go here: click on 'Check a Registration' Enter your personal information (name, social security #, birth date) Record your 'Selective Service Number' for use in the next step. Go here: Enter your personal information, including your 'Selective Service Number' (no punctuation or spaces) and your new address. Receive your new registration card in the mail - store it with your proof-of-residency stuff!

After You Get Here[edit]

Get The Internet and a Bicycle[edit]

The Internet: it’s a beautiful thing. You’ll need to buy some hardware and a service subscription. Buying your own modem can save you $85/year after the first year, plus $25-100 in ‘installation fees’ if you install it yourself.

If you’re not already a cyclist, this is your golden opportunity to become one. Berkeley is extremely bicycle-friendly, and a bicycle quickly pays for itself in the time saved walking between your apartment and campus. Don’t wait until the semester is extremely busy to decide that you really wish you had one!

Citizens/Permanent Residents: Gather Proof of Residency[edit]

As mentioned previously, the department covers your tuition. Tuition for California non-residents is thousands of dollars more per semester than tuition for residents. For this reason, the department wants you to become a California resident as quickly as possible, at the end of your first year. If you fail to do this, you must pay the tuition difference yourself.

Keep your moving expense receipts, including: airline tickets; U-Haul rentals; gasoline purchases; Berkeley receipts. Store them somewhere safe - you will present this material to a residency clerk when you petition for residency at the end of your first year. When combined with a CA driver’s license, a CA voter registration, and a CA Selective Service registration card, this should be more than sufficient.

UC Berkeley’s detailed information on California residency:

Attend Orientation Activities[edit]

This is a good idea for three reasons: To understand the departmental rules and processes you will be dealing with over the next 5+ years To provide evidence that you intend to become a CA resident (you will receive a departmental letter) To meet your fellow classmates and get to know them better Departmental policies shift from year-to-year, so make sure you attend to learn the latest ruleset.

Pick Up Your ID Card and Transit Pass[edit]

UC Berkeley calls their official identification card the ‘Cal1 Card’. A sticker attached to this card is your transit pass, and gives you free rides on the AC Transit bus system in Berkeley and the surrounding area.

Bring your government-issued ID card (driver’s license, passport) and your student identification number (the same one you used to activate your email) to the Cal1 Card Office, 110 Cesar Chavez Center in Lower Sproul Plaza, weekdays 9-4:30. It’s convenient to do this over lunch during the departmental orientation. The transit pass becomes available on Thursday, August 16th.

More information on the Cal1 Card: More information on the AC Transit ‘Class Pass’:

Get Your Clipper Card and FasTrak Pass[edit]

The Clipper Card can be loaded with money and used to ride on BART, CalTrain, the buses, and other Bay Area mass transit systems. Instead of purchasing tickets, you swipe your card and the fare is debited automatically. You can configure your Clipper Card to automatically add more value when it drops below a threshold; some of these autopay options also offer a few percent discount over buying tickets. The card itself costs nothing and is extremely convenient. Sign up here:

FasTrak is the Bay Area’s automobile electronic toll collection system. If you have a car, it will save you the hassle of stopping and paying tolls in cash every time you cross a bridge:

Get Your Berkeley Public Library Card[edit]

You’ll need your California driver’s license and proof of residence (for instance, a utility bill) to make this happen: You can apply online, but you’ll still need to stop by one of the library branches in person with your photo ID and proof of residence to pick up the card.

Once you have your library card, you can also use it to check out free e-books online.

Optional: Get Your Gym Membership[edit]

A student membership at Berkeley’s Recreation Sports Facility (RSF) is $10 per semester. It gives you access to the gym facilities and allows participation in intramural sports. Day lockers are free; lockers can also be rented for a semester ($30 small, $60 large).

Stop by the RSF to pick up your membership forms starting on Thursday, August 16th.

Optional: Look Into Additional Training and Services[edit]

The College of Chemistry has a student machine shop, and NMR facility, and a variety of other resources. This document includes some information on access and training:

UC Berkeley also offers a selection of software, including the Adobe Creative Suite, for free download:

Explore The Bay Area![edit]

‘General Words of Wisdom’ (Adrian Brush, former student)

‘East Bay Tourism’ (Adrian Brush and others)

‘San Francisco’ (Adrian Brush, Alan Berger)

The university and the community offer all sorts of resources and organizations you can get involved in:

Be sure to check out the other articles in this ‘wiki’:

Other Orientation Resources[edit]

GSAC 2008 Orientation Outline

GSAC 2010 First-Year Arrival Checklist

UC Berkeley’s 2012 “Where To Begin” Document