Okay so update 1
Today marks the completion of my first week at Soviet Berkeley. The weather’s been pretty nice (kinda foggy/overcast in the mornings, sunny in the afternoons), and the people (for the most part) have been pretty chill. My dorm room is pretty cozy, fitting three people into a room meant for a double, and I haven’t started decorating it yet, so it’s kinda bland.
Also, my roomies and I have a TV and gamecube in our room, so we get a lot of floormates and strangers coming in to play a few games and socialize. I’m obviously honing down my Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart skills, but I’ve got a guy on my floor who actually plays competitively on a national level, so I’ve got some serious work to do! No biggie though, but we’re sorta the popular kids of the building right now because of the videogames. And my roomies and floormies are all pretty nice. Nothing super special about them, though one of my roomies fences, so that’s exciting!
I bought a fairly sizeable whiteboard and stuck it on the wall outside my dorm room (see featured photo). It’s pretty cool since floormates and passers-by can draw on it, which brings a lot of people by my dorm, so I don’t have to be all extroverted and seek them out. My room’s also right next to the laundry room, so that brings some additional foot-traffic.
My walk to classes is about 10 minutes, so pretty short in my opinion. Along the way, I pass a bunch of small, independent shops, and I probably can’t turn a street corner without being handed a flyer advocating the “Marxist Revolution to End Capitalism.” The real interesting part is my walk along Telegraph in front of Sproul Hall, the main thoroughfare into campus. Here, booths and pop-up tents line the sides of this wide walkway, advertising clubs, groups, campaigns, and everything in-between. Dozens of people thrust their flyers or postcards or sign-up sheets upon students, all while protesters drenched in ketchup decry animal cruelty in the meat markets and the “Hermanos Unidos” booth plays their indigenous Hispanic music. It’s quite the circus for two to three hundred yards. Perhaps my favorite spotting on Sproul walk so far was an individual sitting by himself with a big, square piece of wood. The giant wooden board was painted white and had bold black letters stenciled on that read “Free Intelligent Conversation.” I’m still not sure if such a thing is possible in such a locale.
As for my classes, they so far seem like they’ll be pretty interesting. Worthy of mention, my astronomy teacher apparently is a leading astronomist (if that’s a word) and also a multi-award winning teacher. Basically, he shows up in a different shirt every lecture that’s related to the material (day 1 he wore a shirt with the northern and southern constellations on it; we had talked about constellations for one slide of his entire lecture. Day 2 he wore a shirt with the speed of light written on a speed limit sign; the entire lecture was about lightyears). Additionally, he starts every class by reading really bad puns that students send him over email. (Why did the astronaut volunteer to host a party? — He wanted to plan-et!) He also has all the lectures put up online, which makes review way easier.
Lastly, I have gone to the Newman Center a decent amount of times and it seems like it could be a really solid refuge. The architectural design is odd (it’s almost entirely concrete), but has its own quirky benefits. I really didn’t like it at first, but for some reason in the last week I’ve really flipped on that; I guess it helps me focus on God and Christ when there aren’t a million distracting ornaments adorning the walls. And it’s not like it’s ugly, it’s just a very different design from a traditional, normal church (it IS Berkeley, though, so I shouldn’t have expected normal anyways). Father Ivan runs the parish, and the center also serves the greater Berkeley community (not just college students), so it actually has a pretty solid community. Like last night after a candlelit Mass everyone went out to Yogurtland, and maybe a quarter of the group didn’t even attend Berkeley.
Oh shoot I nearly forgot! A local art museum opened its doors to Berkeley students for free one evening, so I naturally took the 40 minute walk with a couple floormates for free admission. And I was standing behind a small crowd inside the group and this guy’s starting to turn around and I’m like, “Aaron…?” Because he looks sorta like Aaron Baker. And he turns to me and goes “Jared?” (long story short I used to be called Jared some years back at a summer camp where we were friends), and anyways we bonded and talked for a while and I found out he lives in the same unit as me (different building but like right next to my building), so I’m likely to see him again. Just thought I’d share that tidbit. Still haven’t seen the Ally girl or Nicole – and I still haven’t met a Bitsy.
Lot of new friends though, lots of new things to explore, some cool hikes in the area, a vast array of activities to get involved in, and a bunch of random stuff I’m sure I’ve left out. I think that’s it from Soviet Berkeley for now, though. Til next time!