Saturday, October 22, 2011

UCLA Nostalgia

View of UCLA looking out towards downtown Los Angeles
After watching the most recent week of one of my favorite shows, "Modern Family", I couldn't help but notice that Haley's college visit was filmed at my alma mater on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, California. That reminded me that I've got some updating to do. In my time home in San Diego over the last few weeks, I was busier than I was able to post about aside from a few postings here and there. So, if you'll please bear with me for the next few posts, I'll be getting you guys up to date before pouncing back into all things Israel.


As you might have figured by now, I had the chance to visit UCLA when I was home. However brief the visit might have been, it was still nice to set foot on the campus and walk back through the past for just a few moments. This school was not actually my first choice, but it was the affordable option and a good one, so I ventured here for my first degree with my parents' encouragement instead of seeking out more enticing options at schools such as Northwestern, UVA or Penn. [I can still remember my very first class, Anthro 101, where I went up to the professor of this 300-student class after our first lecture and introduced myself.... just because that's exactly the kind of relationship I used to have with my teachers in high school. I will never forget the confused look the professor shot me when I said to her, "That's it, I just wanted to introduce myself!" That would be the first and last time I'd introduce myself to a professor at UCLA, that was for sure. Clearly, not the ideal campus for me.]

Memories of the 8-clap, Midnight Yell and Diddy Reese began to abound. Let's not forget Dance Marathon, The Daily Bruin and the nightmare of Murphy Hall. A first stop (and a pleasant one at that) for any visitor to the UCLA campus is always at the famous UCLA bookstore and Ackerman Union where you can find any kind of prideful paraphernalia that your heart desires. Research has proven that the UCLA logo is actually one of the most internationally recognizable ones across the globe. Go Bruins!


After making a small purchase, it was time to head outside where the first thing you'll run into is the Arther Ashe Center for Student Health and the John Wooden Center where I spent many an hour working out during my first year of college (before joining the more popular LA Fitness down the street). My friends and I even had the chance to rock out to Tae Bo with the only and only Billy Blanks at this gym.

John Wooden Center
Arther Ashe Center for Wellness
Any Bruin will recognize the next shot, which is of Bruin Walk. It was a Sunday when I was on campus, so it was a little dead. I'm not sure school had even started up yet, being on the quarter system. But usually this walkway is absolutely filled with people and clubs, handing out fliers and announcing upcoming events. You have to shoo fliers out of the way to make it up this path.


To the left of Bruin Walk are the athletic fields (and then way out in the distance you can see small buildings, which yes are the first-year dorms). It was a long walk to class, but didn't seem to bother us at the time.

Turn around and you are approaching that most-famous set of stairs that is so typical of the Bruin world. See them in the image below? Once you make it to the top, you'll be in for a real treat.

While treading up those stairs, you will see to your right beautiful green expanses which compose a portion of our main quad area. Really, there were many areas you could sit on the grass, but this seemed to be the most popular. Even on a Sunday, a few students are outside enjoying the sunshine.

After making it up the stairs, it was time for a pit-stop. Here we are looking back out toward the athletic fields and then the dorms way out in the distance.

And then, at the top of the stairs, you have your most famous square at UCLA, where many television shows and movies continually decide to film their quintessential college scenes. And quintessential it is. Not a day went by that I did not enjoy walking across this beautiful plaza. Welcome to Royce Hall and Powell Library area. [On a side note, I want to share a funny story about Powell Library. I was here doing research during my first quarter at UCLA when the girl next to me kept typing so loudly on the computer and chattering to herself. After a few audible sighs from my part, she turned to me and apologized with a sweet smile. The joke was on me.... this nuisance was the one and only Blossom, remember that TV show from our childhood? Well, I do.  I quickly made up for my tsk-tsking and smiled back at my childhood TV hero. Celeb spottings were a normal occurrence in and around campus, especially with a handful of movie premiere theaters in Westwood Village, our college town.]


Here we are on the back side of the library, circling around and beginning to make our way back toward the bookstore from which we came. If time had been on our side, we could have strolled further on to the beautiful sculpture garden and the film school where I took some amazing film seminars.


After finishing up our on-campus visit, we took a quick drive by car around the 4.5 mile perimeter of the campus, which was a popular run for students. Heading out of the bookstore area, we drove up Gayley, past my old apartment and Fraternity Row, down Veteran all the way across to Sunset, which drives you by beautiful views of UCLA on your right and Beverly Hills and Bel-Air on your left and then finally a right onto Hilgard, all the way down the mansions of Sorority Row.  No, I never did join the Greek system while in school, and looking back, it may have changed my experience a bit. But, in the end, my choices for college are what they are and what is done is done. I had a great education there, great professors, fond memories and a handful of lifelong friends, which is really all your can ask for of your college experience. It was nice to return to the home of the Bruins for just one day. I've got to get connected with UCLA in Israel, which is indeed an actual alumni group here. If there are any other Bruins out there in Israel, feel free to let me know!

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