Life, Love & Lust

“Life, Love and Lust” helps you manage campus dating life without depending on a car or an apartment.

No car?

No dining room?

No problem.

Life at UC Irvine is rough without a car — especially if you’re just starting out as a freshman living in a dorm. Compound that with trying to get a handle on the real-life dating world and you’ve got a picture-perfect dilemma on your hands.

Well, I’m here to say I’ve got a few solutions for you. While they may not be perfect, trust me, they’ll be better than cooking dinner at Middle Earth or catching a ride to Denny’s with mom.

If you’re not interested in deviating too far from the beaten path we love to call Ring Road, Donald Bren Hall might be right up your alley. Don’t freak. I know what I’m talking about.

If you’re a student in the School of Humanities, you may never have even seen the building, but making the trek to the other side of the ring will be well worth it. On the sixth floor, there’s a cute little balcony overlooking the campus and surrounding areas. It’s set up with wooden tables and chairs so it’s perfect for a coffee date or a pre-packed lunch. You’ll score a few more points for being prepared if you trot across the bridge to Trader Joe’s and pick up some salads, snacks, and sodas.

Just make sure to be there before 6 p.m. on a weekday and not to hit the “PH” button on the elevator instead of the six.

And yes, that PH stands for penthouse. Thinking of velvet couches and ocean views? Well, think again. Unfortunately the given moniker isn’t exactly appropriate for this seventh floor destination. Turns out it’s a storage room complete with giant moth carcasses — making it just about as romantic a the home-to-the-homeless bathrooms at the back of Gateway.

Definitely avoid this place, lest you should desire to arouse certain suspicions and cause your date to casually reference her (or his) black belt and key-chain pepper spray.

Another locale that will keep you campus-bound is venue to a different sort of date. Study dates are totally underrated these days and if you’re looking to cut stress while getting a quiet look above campus, then the Science Library might be the place for you.

Just make sure to head up to the top floor and grab a few of the cushioned chairs at the west-facing windows. You’ll get a view of campus and, some seem to think you can catch a glimmer of the ocean, but I have yet to see that.

If you’ve got a bike and have an interest in plants and flowers, then taking the mile-long trip out to the north campus arboretum might be more your style.

While the arboretum hosts a number of research projects for the School of Biological Sciences, it’s free and open to anyone interested in visiting during normal business hours. At nearly 13 acres, this destination has a lot to offer. Whether you’re a flower aficionado or just testing the botanical waters, you’ll be able to appreciate the countless flower types — especially since the arboretum is home to many rare, threatened and endangered species. Check out a map on the UCI Arboretum Web site to pinpoint the best route from your location.

Finally, if you’re over the campus scene and it’s a day-outing you’re looking for, shell out a dollar for a ride on the ASUCI Newport shuttle. Even if you’re not into getting sandy or think it’s too cold to get wet, Newport Beach, Balboa Peninsula, and Balboa Island pack a pretty big punch of date-worthy fun.

Before heading out, make sure to check out a map of shuttle stops and pick out where you want to go first.

If it’s cute restaurants, fun shops, and a homey neighborhood feel you’re after, make sure you make it to Balboa Island. You can head down to the peninsula from the beach and take the ferry across, or you can just take the stop closest to the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Jamboree. Jamboree turns into Marine and heading straight down and across the bridge will put you on the island.

For those light at heart, there’s the Balboa Fun Zone — a small amusement park where you can ride a Ferris wheel, take a harbor tour, play some arcade games and win a prize for your date.

If you’re not ready to end your date there, head up the peninsula for a beach sunset or just hop straight off the shuttle at any numbered street stop along Balboa Boulevard. From there, just walk the one or two blocks to the water, and settle into the sand or a lifeguard tower with your date. Get there as early as 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., but make sure you’re back for the last shuttle out at around 9 p.m. so you’re not stranded. Keep in mind Friday’s shuttle schedule differs slightly from the rest of the week.

While it may seem like all the good spots are only found on the science and engineering sides of campus, you can still access these places as a UCI student under any major. Keep in mind there are plenty more easily accessible on and off campus destinations that I haven’t mentioned here.

If all else fails, picnics, coffee, or people-watching in Aldrich Park are always safe ideas. Just remember — try to be creative and, truthfully, it’s the effort you put into it that your date will thank you for, not the amount you spend.

Remember to submit any of your questions on the features blog at Life, Love and Lust online and for pictures, see our Web site!