Berkeley, or the nearby cities, are no longer my home; I now live in Bend, Oregon, but I did live there for 50 years, which needless to say was most of my life. Berkeley has so very much to offer, but you must step forward and take advantage of what it has to offer. Just sitting in a coffee shop and talking to whomever comes by has serious limitations. Going to campus and attending lots of lectures is easily done and wonderfully mind developing. Many world famous people come and lecture to audiences about what they are currently pursuing. That means you can easily be up to date on what the finest minds, with the best possible experience, consider worth pursuing. But you must make the effort to go meet them. They do occasionally come to the coffee shops, and I have seen and occasionally talked with famous people in that venue, but they are far more easily accessed by going to lectures and seminars. In that setting you can usually ask a question from the audience and having done that it becomes even easier after the lecture to approach them and chat briefly. There are only a few people who actually do this at present, so it is still easily done, but anyone who asks a good question is appreciated, even by the most illustrious person. So, during a presentation try and think about what they would find to be an interesting question, and try and guess their answer so you can incorporate that answer into your question. That permits moving much deeper quickly, because they don’t have to waste their time rehashing the basic premises upon which they are going to form their answer.
A few techniques will help you get the most out of living anywhere, but especially in Berkeley, where there are so many brilliant and easily accessible people, but you must approach them first.