Be a Tourist

Last week, I was walking through North Campus to the pass the time during a two-hour gap when it finally hit me – in five weeks I won’t have the opportunity to do this anymore. In five weeks, I’ll be holding a makeshift diploma, donned in cap and gown, smiling uncomfortably for photos my mom will probably try to frame on the living room wall. And then I’ll leave UCLA, enter the workforce (?), and begin trying to figure out how to survive the “real world” – whatever that means.

Well, I suppose I technically will have the opportunity to walk through North Campus again after graduation – but it won’t be the same. And I doubt I’ll even need to return to campus anyway. I mean, why would I? To cling to the remnants of my college experience? To try to salvage the remains of my undergrad self? After I graduate, I really won’t have an excuse to go back to campus, which is something I’m only recently coming to terms with.

I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen about 50% of UCLA – I mean really seen. Sure I’ve walked through Royce Hall and taken a class in Schoenberg, but there’s a lot more that. And I’d say that’s the norm for a majority of the student body… A few of my friends still aren’t sure where Humanities is.  Granted, we are students after all; our main priority is to get to class, not to sight see. So if we have a class in Boelter, what’s the point of stopping by Broad? We’re not tourists and UCLA isn’t Disneyland.

That’s what my Dad called it the last time he visited – Disneyland. I remember when he said that, it threw me off a little. I’d become dulled to the campus. Kerckhoff is just another coffee shop, Jann’s hill is just another place to sit. I’d grown tired of it all, bored and disinterested. But to someone who doesn’t attend class here everyday, UCLA really is like Disneyland; I mean, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the entire state, maybe even the country!

I, well – all of us UCLA students, attend a school with a historical landmark, with some of the most impressive architectural structures in the world, with trees shipped from islands thousands of miles away. But it’s become commonplace to us and we’ve forgotten how beautiful and how grand it is, and how much there is to see. I think it’s important for us to become tourists again, at least once in awhile.

Take the Sculpture Garden – I think I’ve visited the Sculpture garden a grand total of seven times in the past three years (which isn’t many, considering that most of my classes were in Public Affairs). But it’s such a lovely place!

And there’s a lot of the campus that I haven’t had the chance to visit, or simply haven’t put in the effort. Or SEAS cafe, where they sell a cup of coffee for a dollar. There’s the rooftop of Broad Hall, which has one of the best views of the school and of the city. There’s the sitting area behind Dodd where the law students eat lunch, complete with obligatory wooden benches and well-paved paths. There’s a little garden behind the Anderson School of Management, and it’s one of the greenest, most surreal gardens I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s a bench too, so you can sit down and relax and marvel at how lovely the plants look in the sunlight.

Whether or not you’re planning on graduating in the spring, take the next few weeks to explore and to really, fully, experience campus. Why go to Disneyland when you can go to school?

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