Kate Bush’s 1985 single “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” compares the difficulty of navigating a tumultuous relationship to voyaging across long roads, hills and buildings.
And that was exactly how I felt walking through UCLA’s campus over the course of my first year here.
The campus size stands at 419 acres and essentially looks like a big bowl, with the dorms consolidated on one end of the campus called the Hill, and the classrooms and academic buildings on the other side. For the smallest UC campus serving undergraduates in terms of acreage, UCLA makes up for its lack of size with its wide array of little hills to journey across.
And what connects these opposite ends of campus is the foot-traffic highway that is Bruin Walk. Anything can happen on Bruin Walk. You might meet your new best friend or some really cool people. You might run into the “May I ask you a question?” guy for the 100th time, or become flustered by the countless people flyering in front of Ackerman Union, promoting their clubs and organizations.
But if you’re anything like I was, a defeated Hedrick Hall resident, you will be hoping nobody along Bruin Walk takes notice of the embarrassing, sweaty mess you are right as you pass through Bruin Plaza every day, not even halfway close to class.
Walking to class from the farthest residential hall never felt like an easy, breezy walk on a beautiful Los Angeles day; it felt as if I was running a 5K race – and the visual representation of that was quite clear to any witnesses in the next classroom I entered.
And, at the end of the day, the physical education class I never asked for awaited me again. There was nothing like the physical beat down of trekking straight up a hill to get back to my dorm after I’d had an overall unpleasant day. The nature of the campus grounds never failed to leave me huffing and puffing after any of my countless number of walks to and from.
Granted, the campus layout hasn’t always been flawed. Before new residence halls on the Hill were constructed in the 2000s, Hershey Hall was the original residence hall, an all-women dorm built in 1931 that was located in South Campus. The hall saw its last crop of student residents in 1998 as the building aged, and plans were put into place in 2006 to rennovate part of the building into a research facility.
But the decision to house students farther away from class than they once were will forever puzzle me. If UCLA Housing’s goal was to further inconvenience students during their endlessly stressful times on this campus, then they’ve succeeded.
So, incoming students, consider saying goodbye to those stylish outfits of the day and try spending some time at the John Wooden Center. Training and dressing like you have a marathon coming up might be the best way to prepare yourself for all the walking you’ll be doing at your new home in Westwood.
In the words of Kate Bush, it might take a deal with God for me to survive another three years of this.