It’s been over a month now since I left UCLA, and I can say without a doubt that the thing I miss most is the beautiful campus. I’ve been trying hard to be awed by the places I’ve been this summer, but even the streets of San Francisco do not affect me in the same way a walk through south campus does.
During the school year, I try to take as many walks as possible through campus. I’ll take them after class, wind my way around the botanical gardens, go peek behind the Chancellor’s house, maybe try to make my way into the basement of Royce. The list goes on. Often I can find new places on campus that I’ve never been to before (like the emergency exit patio on the roof of the Law School or the secret steps leading away from Bradley Courtyard), but sometimes it feels like I’ve walked all over campus.
Now, this may be true, but it doesn’t mean that aren’t any opportunities for new exploration. I’m talkin’ about night walks. And not just any night walks, I’ve done those before. I mean eye-closed, friend-leading-you-with-her-voice night walks. My friend Gina and I started doing these in spring quarter. If we had free time in the evening, we would head down to a deserted campus and do a “trust walk” (as we started calling them). Basically, you just start your walk somewhere familiar, close your eyes, and your friend takes you on a long convoluted walk to another part of campus. When you arrive, you get to guess where you are (a guess that is really never right).
When you do these trust walks, your concept of distance and terrain gets pretty wonky. Once, Gina had led me down a walkway I take almost everyday on my way home from class, but with my eye’s closed I was convinced we had gone up some huge hill. I remember asking Gina if she had taken me deep into south campus and if we were near the parking garage on Hilgard. We were next to the Wooden Center.
Most of what I find beautiful about UCLA are the sights. The buildings and trees and paths are all so visually-stimulating! But experiencing campus without all of that was so different and new. I felt like I was visiting places that didn’t exist even though I had gone on the same walk in the previous week.
Even though I know the campus pretty well, there is totally still room for me to get to know it better. And it seems there is an endless supply of interesting and surprising walks to take at UCLA.