Today is the first day of a brand new year, a blank slate, a new opportunity to reinvent yourself. Kidding. It’s a day dedicated to recovering from your hangover or pretending you don’t hate your family as you stuff your face with turkey curry and you overhear Mark Darcy tell his mother that you have verbal diarrhea and that you dress like your mother. What do you mean, life is not an endless replay of Bridget Jones’ Diary? Well, maybe not yours. Anyway. Where was I?
Oh yeah, first day of the year. Sunny, bright, relatively quiet day. I take my trusty steed BART all the way to downtown Berkeley to visit, you guessed it, the University of California Berkeley.
Why? Because I’m a giant nerd and I want to see the campus of one of the best universities in the world and see the libraries and maybe even catch a glimpse of the books (the BOOKS!!) through a window or something. Yes, stuff like this is really exciting to me. I am a nerd. I said that. Like seriously, I started this post with an obscure reference to a book/movie absolutely everyone except Mindy Kaling and I has forgotten about by now. How did you not catch the me being a nerd thing? I literally made a blog about a 2-week trip to just the one city in America. I am a giant nerd.
Anyway. Berkeley!!! Exciting!!!
Berkeley is one of the best universities in the world. It is in fact 28th in the current ranking (fellow nerds: MIT is 1st, ofc. My alma mater, ULB, is 205th. Ahem.) of over 1000 schools, before the University of California Los Angeles, take that LA snobs.
The university was founded in 1868 and currently offers about 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a broad variety of disciplines. Their motto is “Fiat lux”, “let there be light”, which completely delights me. Their symbol is the bear, as is the symbol of California. Absolutely everything is bear-themed. The shuttle bus. Their football team. The many, many statues of bears on campus. The optometry department can be found following a drawing of a bear wearing glasses. It’s absolutely adorable. What a bunch of nerds.
In the 60’s, the students organized around the Free Speech Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War movement and got nation-wide recognition for it. Then governor of California Ronald Reagan called the Berkeley campus “…a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters, and sex deviants”. My peeps.
34 alumni have won a Nobel Prize. There are actually on campus parking spots reserved for Nobel laureates. Three of them. LIKE THAT’S A THING THAT’S TOTALLY NORMAL AND JUST HAPPENS.
In the soft glow on a new year’s sun, I walk around camera in hand and keep getting interrupted by fatass squirrels that are not afraid of humans enough for their own good. They hop about with their fluffy tails and climb trees when dogs get too close. Nobody’s around to see me crying over the 32 libraries on campus. Thirty-fucking-two. That’s a lotta books. I might be crying a little bit right now in fact.
I wish I could see it full and bustling with people. I wish I could study here. But the world doesn’t really need another PhD student in Performing Arts, so I leave campus after taking one last picture of a foolhardy squirrel and go on the hunt for actual books I can touch and page through and buy, spend a crazy fucking amount of time in a secondhand bookstore.
In a genuine as-seen-on-TV diner, I get a cheeseburger and as-seen-in-Teen-Wolf’s-Stiles-Stilinski’s-mouth curly fries. And since it’s a day of firsts, I even step into a TTTTTTTaaaaaaaargeeeeeet (as seen on Vine) for a hot second before I head back to the City.
San Francisco is curing its hangover with hair o’the dog. The streets are crowded with hungry strangers. The moon is full, beaming in the black sky. The night is great and full of promise. It’s the start of a new year.