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My first semester at Berkeley was particularly bumpy; the first five months were busy in a way I hadn’t experienced before: balancing the responsibilities of classes and a healthy social life, finding time for myself and easing myself out of the comforts of home.

I was unsure if Berkeley was the right school for me. I was socializing but I wasn’t making the meaningful connections I expected to. There was an expectedness and normalcy to these emotions, but I hadn’t actualized the reality of them until I got to Berkeley. These feelings of emptiness and questioning my purpose in college continued into winter break and felt hard to fight off.

As a response, I searched for solutions to help make myself feel emotionally supported in the midst of a colossal shift in my life. On Christmas Eve, I have had enough of feeling alone, so I decided to adopt a kitten from my hometown of Los Angeles and bring him along as my companion to Berkeley. This is when Pickle came along; I like to refer to him as my Christmas miracle. As the months went on and my doubts about Cal started to fade, I grew to love Berkeley with Pickle by my side. 

Pickle is a burly, smokey gray cat with mischievous, flashing green eyes. Upon adopting him, I was told he is a Russian Blue breed and hypoallergenic, but I have my suspicions based on how much he makes me sneeze. I adopted him in December 2022 and moved him into my Berkeley Hills house in June 2023. 

When I first brought Pickle to Berkeley, he was a tiny gray cat with a loud yowl and over the past year he’s grown into a brawny figure that matches his noisy yowls. Pickle instantly brightened up my house the moment he moved in. 

In our house and neighborhood, he is infamously known for being a rascal. Pickle has an insatiable pallet for food (which is unfortunately my fault). I would consider him a connoisseur in all things relating to cheese and butter. The smell of butter cooking in the kitchen drives him crazy; he’s a true Parisian. His love for food is usually what gets him into so much trouble around the house and with my roommates. 

Bringing a pet to college, especially a troublemaker like Pickle, requires careful consideration of space and time. In the case of Pickle, his larger-than-life personality and playful nature would have made dorm life challenging. My decision to live in a house near campus allowed him to have space to thrive and make other cat friends in the neighborhood. I’ve learned a lot about time management and having to think selflessly in some ways by having Pickle. I carve out time before I go to class to make sure he’s inside the house, wake up early in the morning to feed him and play with him during the day to make sure he gets all his energy out. He’s also prone to making messes and stealing food off the counter, and I make sure I accommodate for that by replacing whatever food he steals from my roommate and cleaning up after him as soon as possible. 

Even though having Pickle takes time, effort and is occasionally stressful, he’s what I look forward to when I come home. Having a pet in a college house brings a lot of lightness, cuteness and comedic relief to the house. 

He makes biscuits on me every night before we cuddle and fall asleep. I watch him roll around under a spot of sunlight on the floor while I eat my salmon bowls during lunch (which I almost always give him a piece of). In our house, there’s a cut out hole in our fence called the cat highway, which Pickle brings his neighborhood cat friends through to our backyard to play. In the mornings, I spy on his interactions with his cat buddies in our backyard: A yard full of cats; a cat lover’s dream. 

My favorite moments with Pickle are when I come home to him meowing at me, laying on the couch, and petting him makes me melt and temporarily forget all my stress. Having Pickle around provides this emotional comfort that I can’t get elsewhere because we rely on each other. It’s also helpful to balance yourself by putting yourself aside to take care of another living being. Pickle humbles me when I need it. 

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