Ice Blocking Social

 

 

Today after a meeting for an organization I’m in was over, we had an ice blocking social!  What is ice blocking, you ask? Ice blocking is literally exactly what it sounds like- taking a big block of ice, sitting on it, and sliding down hills! One tradition here at UCLA that a lot of student groups like to do is to go ice blocking down the hill by Janss Steps. Janss Steps are the historic stairs named after the Janss brothers Edwin and Harold who sold the land that UCLA campus was built on to its founders at a bargain price. During the day especially in Spring quarter, students love to nap or tan on the hill by Janss Steps and at night we also found a way to put it to use by going ice blocking. It is super fun and one thing on my UCLA bucket list that I can now check off!

New Hobbies

One of my favorite things about UCLA is all of the random activities that go on- particularly on the grass by Janss steps.   On sunny days this is quite a popular spot to go in between classes.  You will see people “hammock”ing, other days it will be people playing the ukulele, but you can almost always find people slacklining.

What is slacklining?  You take a 1 or 2 inch flat rope and you put it between two trees and you tighten it so that you can walk on it.  Apparently it is very popular in the rock climbing community.  The more talented slackliners can do tricks such as jumping, walking backwards, and leaping.  It sounds difficult and at first it definitely is!

Every time I have ventured out to Janss steps, I have found different groups with slacklines just waiting for others to join them.  The first couple times people waved me over to try, I just waved and said “No thanks, I’m not that coordinated” and went back to my book.  But the other day I decided to give it a try.  While I only took one step the first time, I felt so accomplished!  By the time I had to go to class, I had taken five steps!  My new friends had been so encouraging and helped me every step of the way.  I was so sad when I had to go back to class, but I was assured that they would be out slacklining at the same time the next day.

It was awesome!  Not only because I got to try something new, but because I made so many new people.  UCLA is constantly surprising me.  I had never heard of this unusual sport before and never thought that I would try something like it (you should have seen my mother’s face when I showed her the pictures)!  Now, I always have a place to go for some outdoor fun in between classes and know that taking a risk is usually worth it!  I still don’t pretend to be an expert at slacklinnig, but I can definitely call it a hobby of mine!

Rainy days are coming soon

And I am so extremely excited about it. As great as wearing shorts and drinking iced tea is, I am a much bigger fan of waking up to overcast skies and sipping chai lattes while listening to the tap tap tapping of rainfall. Last year, the rains started earlier here in L.A. (sometime in October). We have only had tiny bouts of precipitation so far, but I can sense that a nice chunk of consistent gloomy weather is headed our way soon.

Here is a quick list of things that you can do when it rains at UCLA:

  • Take pictures in your dorm room. There is something freakishly therapeutic about setting the 10-second timer and posing in your desk chair. After taking bunches and bunches of Myspace-esq photos, edit the heck out of them. Some people like Photoshop or Picassa. My favorite is Picnik.
  • Listen to Michael Buble. Go to Pandora and create a Michale Buble station. Or, if you are not ashamed of actually just listening to holiday music (Michael Buble sounds a lot like holiday music, which is why I listen to it), go right ahead and create a holiday station (my fave is Mariah Carey’s).
  • If you are really feeling like making your wintery rainy experience authentic (well, authentic as you can without violating dorm codes) you can listen to the sounds of a crackling fireplace.
  • Experiment with your microwave and its capabilities for making hot and delicious drinks. Grab some peppermints from the dining hall and drop a few in your next cup of cocoa. Swirl a spoonful of Nutella in with your instant coffee. Have fun making it and drinking it.
  • If you are not having luck with your microwave, head on over to Kerckhoff Coffeehouse or to Jimmy’s and get that real fall rain experience of sipping on a macchiato.
  • Take a walk in the rain. The top of Janss Steps already has a spectacular view, but everything being lit in that beautiful soft light that comes from overcast skies makes the campus looks like a movie set.
  • Set a cup outside before class and pick it up when you get back. Use the water to do some watercolor paintings (or you could just drink the water).
  • Go fountain hopping. What other time are you already going to be wet enough in your clothes to justify jumping into Shapiro fountain?
  • Last (actually not last, there is an unlimited number of fun rain-related activities to do), just stare at the rain. Whenever possible. Sitting in your dorm, just look out the window and appreciate the rain. Getting out of class, just stop for a moment before putting up your umbrella and smile at the rain. Love the rain. Feel the rain. Be one with the rain.

I will say though that yes you do need an umbrella. Getting to lecture dripping wet is not that fun (but getting the point where you are dripping wet definitely is). Have fun with the rainy season! Do not shun it as so many So Cal-ers do!

A Rainy Day at UCLA

During my hour break between classes on Tuesday, I decided to study outside on the lawn by Janss Steps. I enjoyed the sunshine while going over my neuroanatomical flashcards (and maybe napped a little too). As always, I appreciated how much I love going to school under the wonderful Southern California sunshine!

However, on Wednesday, an extremely rare event happened at UCLA. Rainfall! Now, I am from NorCal, and used to drive to 6 am diving practice while my car thermostat read 33 degrees. I am not usually one to complain about rain, but it wasn’t just sprinkling! It was a downpour of rain from when I left my apartment at 7 am, until I walked to lab at 2 pm! I was extremely grateful for all my athletic training (thanks coaches!) during my magnificent leaps across puddles, in an attempt to try to keep my shoes a little more dry. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

By the time I left lab at 5, the rain was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the sunshine had returned and I took off my sweatshirt and put on my sunglasses for the walk home.

Go Bruins!!

UCLA Spotted: “University of Farmers” commercial

One sunny day half a year ago, I passed by a blank sign of the same motif as the four beautiful buildings in Royce quad, and didn’t think much of it.  The sign was blank and positioned slightly crooked, but I thought no more of it and continued on my way to class.  If I had known then what that sign was for and that I would see it again half a year later, I might have given it more thought or attention, or at least waited to find out why there sat a blank sign in the middle of Wilson Plaza.

Today, I saw the sign again, this time on television.  It was just a lazy Sunday afternoon surfing channels when the boyfriend suddenly called out, “Look, that’s UCLA!”, pointing at the TV.  Sure enough, it was the famous Janss Steps proudly representing UCLA in the midst of a “University of Farmers” insurance commercial.

Although at the top of the steps artificially stood (thanks to editing software) Kaufman Hall, the rolling hills next to Janss Steps and the sprawling plaza at its base confirmed that it was indeed our campus.  They must have needed an iconic university campus for a tongue-in-cheek advertisement about the “University” of Farmers, and chose to film at ours for the convenience of being right at the heart of film production and also for being such a pleasant place to film both in terms of aesthetics and the weather.

It had always been fun for me to go back and watch movies that I am told were filmed at UCLA, but today was my first time encountering a shot of UCLA without actively looking for it.  And to tell the truth, I was very proud.

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*Farmers Insurance Group is not affiliated with, or endorsed by, the University of California Los Angeles.

The stairs at UCLA and why the ones they call the “Awkward Steps” are the only ones that feel right

Let me start by saying that I am 6’2″ (6’3″ if you ask my mom), and more than half of that is my legs. I am what you would call extremely lanky, spider-like, even. If I didn’t love eating ice cream so much, I would make one hell of a long distance runner. With that said, stairs were not designed for someone with my stature. Usually, people walk up stairs one by one, but if I do this my stride is stunted. Taking stairs one by one feels like having to run the mile with your shoe laces tied together. You can never make a full step and your hips start saying things like, “hey, man, extend your legs all the way, we are freaking out down here.” So, I change my stair-climbing technique. I take two stairs at a time so that my legs don’t feel all squished. The downside is that taking two steps at a time means that I sprint up the stairs. Two bad things about sprinting up stairs:

  1. taking corners too fast and either slamming into the wall or into another person
  2. arriving at the top of the stairs completely out of breath and uncomfortably moist

Nevertheless, I continue to take the two-step approach because my talking hips freak me out.

Now usually, this whole thing applies to standard steps. These are the ones you will encounter in your dorm building, beside the Fowler museum, inside Royce, etc etc. But, UCLA does not believe in having exclusively standard stairs and the architects decided to make some pretty wacky stairways on the campus. The two that come to mind immediately would be the famous Janss steps of the original campus and the Covel stairs, colloquially referred to as the “awkward steps” or sometimes by my shorter friends as “ahhhgrrhhrh”. Janss steps, while totally beautiful and equipped with a stunning vantage point, are exceedingly difficult for me to ascend. They are too deep for me to take two at a time without jumping but are still too close together and short for me to easily climb one by one. I usually alternate between stepping one then jumping two, which I’m sure makes me look like I’m playing some sort of diagonal hopscotch.

The Covel steps are another story. They are glorious. I heard that the people who designed them wanted to create a staircase that girls could easily run up. I guess a running girl’s stride is my walking stride because taking Covel steps is absolutely fantastic. I mean, I feel like a gazelle. The same cannot be said for all of my other friends who are quite a bit shorter than I am. My 5’2″ friend takes two steps on each step of the Covel steps (steps step step steps). Basically, I belong to a very small minority of people that find the infamous “awkward steps” should actually be called the “perfect steps”.

There are other fun staircases at UCLA. There are long Harry Potter-esque stairs that jut out high above your head in the CNSI building. There is a cute winding staircase that leads to the botanical gardens. There is a set of steps near the neuroscience building that look like they are leading to an ancient Egyptian hang out spot. Bottom line: UCLA rules the world of stairs, both funky and traditional.