Bloggin’ From the Airport!

Taken with the built in camera on my laptop at the LAX gate waiting area for Alaska Air. Pretty cool, eh?

I know it’s not really substantive, or substantial, to post about, but I think it’s really awfully cool that I can blog from airports that have free wifi access. There’s about a 3 hour layover, so I have nothing better to do with my sleep-deprived brain cells.

KOA (Kona) airport went smoothly. I sat next to a little boy who was trying to sleep on the flight to LAX (which meant I wouldn’t be able to sleep, since kids squirm, kick, and tip over onto surrounding people during sleep). And the only movie available to watch was Arbitrage (barf-up-a-chunk-worthy Richard Gere film about skeezy lawyers/finance types). But I had my tuna and pickle sandwiches to keep me happy. So far, this gate has had flights leaving for places ranging from Chicago to Seattle, Las Vegas, Portland, etc. Even though I’m coming back from quite a bit of traveling, it still makes me feel lazy to hear all those places go by and know that I’m just going back to school. Maybe I can make more of an effort to be as a tourist in Santa Cruz this time around. We’ll see.


Getting to Know the UCLA Campus


This is going to be a rather long post, but it’s mostly photographs so I think you’ll enjoy it. When I went to get my student ID card at Kerckhoff Hall, I asked for directions and was told it was “the one that looks like a big castle.” Indeed, as you can see, it does resemble a castle quite a bit.

Kerckhoff Hall

As I was leaving Kerckhoff, a campus tour was just about to begin so I tagged along. The tour itself was somewhat informative, but it was also pretty funny because the guide kept talking about various #1 rankings for UCLA that UCSC also has (e.g. most vegetarian/vegan school cafeterias in the country) – although probably from different entities/magazines.The tour basically gave me a cursory overview of the central campus (what several of the buildings were named and where their were).

I always like to nose around wherever I happen to be, also I’m thinking of applying here for grad school, so I revisited some places in more detail (by going inside, for example) and looked around a few other places that weren’t on the tour.

I passed by Royce Hall a week or so ago and found it all decked out for a certificate program’s graduation ceremony. It’s a pretty building, isn’t it? I wonder if they hold all the graduation ceremonies there.

Royce Hall Graduation

I also visited three libraries. This was partially because I had to get a book from each one, but also partially out of “professional” interest as a student library assistant at UCSC. The arts library isn’t as grand as the other two, but the Powell Library looks like the inside of a church and YRL, as they call it here, kind of looks like a cross between a modern art museum and a faux-futuristic set from a 1960s television show.

Powell circulation desk

YRL circulation desk

You already got to see the screening room in Melnitz Hall where I have my class in a previous post, but the vicinity around it is quite interesting too.

Melnitz Lobby



The lobby for that building is covered with various movie posters, and makes quite a striking impression on visitors.

Control room

Also inside the building are a number of TV studios and their associated control rooms. This is quite a bit beyond what I’m used to seeing at UCSC’s Press Center.

The production office, basically the main office for the building, had a few neat ideas that I rather wish would be implemented at UCSC. For example, as you can see in the picture below, they give filmmakers and actors ready access to each other by putting the resumes/photos of the available performers right on the front counter in the office.

Behind Melnitz Hall is a kind of back lot area with some storage rooms for props, some staging areas where fairly large groups of students with cameras were shooting videos, and a small eating place called the Stage Canteen that serves sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. I always bring my own lunch, as a cost-saving measure, but if I didn’t this place would be quite convenient.

Stage Canteen

One place that I ended up going to much more often than Melnitz is the John Wooden fitness center, UCLA’s gym. It’s been interesting comparing this place to our own OPERS.

Running track (located directly below dorms)

The area immediately around the facility has a soccer field, a football field, a running track with a field in the center, and a very large tennis stadium. Each of the lanes on the track is dedicated to different activities: (5-6) running, (7-8) jogging, (9) walking, except lanes 1-5, which are closed to visitors.

Tennis Stadium

I still can’t get used to the idea of blue tennis courts. Walking up to this place, I thought it was the location of the swimming pool until I reached the top of the stairs. Still, it is a pretty stadium.

The inside of the John Wooden Center is rather large. It houses a full sized rock wall, a circuit room, several racquetball courts, a few dance studios, a basketball/gymnastics court, and what seems to be a volleyball/badminton court.

Gymnastics/basketball court

Volleyball/badminton court

My roommate has also been taking fitness classes in this giant, powder-blue room, so I guess it’s kind of a multipurpose court.

The exercise machines (ellipticals, treadmills, stationary bicycles, etc.) are located throughout the building. There is a very large room called “the strength zone” where most of the weight training machines are located, separated into sections by the categories of upper body, lower body, and free weights. There are also some in the “circuit room.” Most of the people that use the circuit room don’t seem to have any conception of what circuit training means, as they tend to camp out on each of the machines by doing a set, sitting on the machine for a couple of minutes, doing another set, and repeating this until they’re done instead of moving from one machine to another after each set like they are supposed to. This is true of any gym though. Many of the cardio fitness machines are located in a room adjacent to the “strength zone,” but they also line the halls on just about every floor.

UCLA’s version of our own recreation/ELP programs are also located in this building. Here are a couple of message boards giving some idea of the programs they have available here.

Recreation trips to Big Sur, Yosemite, etc.

Rec classes

A few days ago, when the sight of some rather interesting flora drew me to wander into the music building, I happened upon the school’s marching band just as they were wrapping up a rehearsal and held the door so that the tuba players wouldn’t have to struggle to get out. One of them commented, “You seriously just saved my life!” An exaggeration, to be sure, but it’s nice to get thanks for being polite. A few minutes later, on my way home I heard the band playing from somewhere up in Kerckhoff Hall, so I followed the sound and found myself right in the middle of a summer orientation session for new incoming students.

UCLA marching band


I got the impression that it was really more of an all day event, but the portion that I stumbled upon looked to have been just after they had eaten and were wandering around amongst various tables manned by several of the on-campus orgs.The last place I went, and unfortunately forgot to take pictures, was the student commons located in Ackerman Hall below the area with most of the little restaurants. The Commons has a campus credit union, almost a dozen ATMs (including a free credit union co-op ATM, which was the reason I came there in the first place), several more boutique like eating places such as Jamba Juice and Wetzel’s Pretzels, a tiny natural foods store, several study areas, an information desk, a textbook store separate from the regular UCLA Store, and some kind of a place meant to collect blood donations. There was probably even more down there that I missed, but it was nonetheless an impressive experience.

One thing that definitely takes some getting used to about this campus is the fact that many of the buildings are interconnected. If you enter the UCLA store and take the elevator, you can get out into sections of three or so different buildings altogether. However, if I were to sum up the biggest differences between the layouts for the campuses of UCLA and UCSC, I would probably just say that UCLA is like a giant public park (mown grass, trees, squirrels, statues and buildings on a mostly level campus with several large staircases that one must scale to get to class) and UCSC is like a state park (forests, open meadows, deer and raccoons with the squirrels, and buildings placed all up and down great hills and mountains that one must hike to get to class). I can’t honestly say that I completely prefer one over the other. Both are lovely campuses in their own ways and I’m glad that I’ve taken the opportunity to study at both.


Orientation Day at UCSC

May 19th, 2012

EAP wall fliersIn early Fall quarter, I attended a IEO workshop and got fliers about studying abroad to post on my wall as reminders. . .

study abroad handoutsThen, I went to a study abroad fair and grabbed every piece of reading material that looked interesting and/or useful.

On May 19th from 9am to about noon, the IEO put on an orientation in the College 9/10 Multipurpose Room for students preparing to study abroad.

After checking in and meeting the volunteers, I picked up an info packet, a free t-shirt, and a name tag. There was a short PowerPoint presentation by two of the IEO advisers, then we were split off into discussion groups by which country we were going to. There were a little less than a dozen going to France in the next year. Each group’s discussion was led by someone who had gone to that country the previous year.

We got to learn all sorts of little things that we wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. For example, our group leader told us about traveling in groups and other ways not to encounter crime. Also, social tips like not to talking about religion or money with French people. I was kind of expecting there to be at least one or two other film or art majors there (since a couple of my friends in those majors were in the program I’m in last year), but it was definitely a very useful experience.