Wednesday, April 8, 2020
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A Space For You At UCI: A Collection of Our Favorite Places

Roof of Requirement


By Taylor Weik

I met up with my friend one Monday afternoon a few weeks ago and when he told me in an enthusiastic tone, “Hey, I found a new chill spot on campus, let’s go,” I admit I wasn’t as excited as he seemed to be.

As a soon-to-be graduate who has spent her four years at UCI engaging in enough classes, extracurricular activities and organizations to keep herself on campus some days from 6 a.m. to midnight, I thought I had already discovered all the hidden gems this university has to offer. I’d napped under that one tree in Aldrich Park; I already studied many times in that cozy courtyard in Humanities Gateway. As far as I was concerned, I had UCI all figured out and now it was time for me to graduate and leave Irvine behind for greener pastures.

But I was proven wrong, as I often am.

My friend led me to the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, down some stairs, around a corner and into an elevator, where he pushed a button that took us to the very top. I stepped out onto the roof, or rather, the top balcony of this building, where I was welcomed with a sweeping view of the Arts, the Bren and even past the Campus Village apartments.

It was a quiet space, with a line of cacti and succulent plants lining the railing and an outdoor seating area in the corner. Because of these well-kept furnishings, it seemed to have already been someone’s secret, but since it was the end of a school day, the place was all ours.

I don’t quite remember what we talked about for the next couple hours, but I will never forget how I felt. Nestled against those white cushions with our feet propped up on the wicker table, conversing casually while watching the sky splatter in hues of orange and pink as the sun set, I felt at peace. At the same time, I knew it was cliché, to have that “everything is going to be okay” revelation while watching the sunset, but I was completely okay with that too.

I’d built up so much post-graduation fear over the past year with the number of times I’d been asked about my future, but simply being on this roof — a place I discovered when I thought there was nothing left to discover — was proof enough that I didn’t have to have everything figured out right away. As I gazed down at the ant-like students strolling by, I realized that I would have to embrace the uncertainty of the future — allowing it to inspire and not terrify me.

I tried to return to this beautiful space a week later by myself and couldn’t find it, but I was at peace with that as well. I dubbed it the Roof of Requirement, modeling it after the fictitious Room of Requirement from the Harry Potter series — it appeared when I needed it the most and disappeared when it had served its purpose. I didn’t really need it anymore.


An Ode to the Newsroom


By Cheyda Arhamsadr

My place on campus is one that an immense majority of the UCI student body will never encounter, and probably don’t even know exists; most every student, however, will engage with the product of my place, will turn its pages and read the words of their fellow students.

I’m talking, of course, about the New University Newsroom, where this paper you’re holding in your hands right now (or perhaps perusing on a screen) was thought up and put together.

From the outside, the newsroom looks exclusive and unapproachable, with its obscure location deep in the winding caverns of the Student Center and its (pretty, but isolating) frosted glass windows. Come inside, though, and you’ll meet perhaps one of the most eclectic and frankly, weird, ensemble of people on this campus.

The team that puts together this paper is hardworking, and amazing at what they do: they are dedicated to disseminating knowledge, to providing a space for the student voice and to maintaining their journalistic integrity in the face of administrative criticism and backlash. They also happen to be some of the most ridiculous people I know.

Every Sunday, we spend 10+ hours together in the newsroom for production, where we finalize articles, create layouts and copy-edit the issue for grammar and stylistic mistakes. It may sound boring, but I think I have the best job in the world. We blast music (every week has an assigned DJ), play disgusting games of would-you-rather and hide in the dark from Student Center employees after they lock the building (oops…).

At almost any time of day, you can walk into the newsroom to find one (or more) people sprawled across the carpet, napping. You’re just as likely to walk in on a heated debate; we’re loud people and we like to fight, on topics ranging from the Israel-Palestine conflict to who has the best hair in One Direction.

More than anything, though, we support each other. I have shed many tears in this room, with the comforting arms and genuine words of advice of my friends surrounding me. No matter what kind of day I’m having, I know that walking into the newsroom will make it a whole lot better.

I’m lucky to have this space, if for the simplest reasons of having somewhere to sleep during my gap between classes or microwave my Zot N Go ramen. Even better, though, is the guarantee that I have a roomful of my friends waiting for me whenever I step through those doors.


Creating Music at Gateway

By Tristan Lim

“I really enjoy you playing the guitar, especially out here. It really brings a nice musical and peaceful vibe when everyone is stressing out from midterms,” said one student after passing by me.

I had my dreadnought guitar placed on my lap and a songbook positioned in front of me. I was playing a classical piece in the Humanities Gateway courtyard during a bright Thursday afternoon.

“Thanks!” I replied with a jovial smile, and she proceeded on her way.

The hourly bell had just rung so I assumed she was either trying to get to class or had just finished one.

If only she knew I had a guitar recital in a few minutes and a midterm shortly afterwards, maybe she would have realized I was just as stressed as out as anyone else, maybe even more.

Back when I was an ambitious senior in high school, I made an extensive list of goals to achieve while in college. Learning how to play the guitar in order to captivate that “special someone” still remains number one on that list.

I did not want to regret taking up an instrument, so I talked to various friends and family who currently or previously played one. They all came to the general consensus that it was a great stress-reliever for them.

Playing songs heard on the radio seems to create this nostalgia in the musician that blocks out all the problems. However, the one thing that was meant to keep me uplifted and happy became a source of immense pressure and tension.

I needed a place to practice for my performance and the courtyard in the Humanities Gateway appeared to be the perfect spot. I never thought or cared about the scenery or the “vibe” playing the guitar would bring.

On that particular day, I was not playing to create a peaceful social environment. In fact, I couldn’t care less about anyone’s problems because I had my own issues to handle.

However, the environment around me, especially the stone benches, the peaceful silence and the cool breeze throughout the courtyard, concealed the inner disarray and havoc from my busy academic schedule.

I was in a state of mental torment, yet this spatial area in the courtyard buried it, turning misery into bliss.

That student judged my intentions like she would judge a book by its cover. I never saw it coming, but I loved it.


Late Nights In Engineering

By Alec Snavely

Engineering Hall (EH) holds a special place in my heart — not just because I’ve spent most of my nights in its tortured halls — but because I once spent just 17 hours in one room with 30 other people, and was able to watch everyone slowly descend into madness.

Everything started out fine. The class split into groups to work on a multi-part project that would use a program located on the UCI servers. The night before it was due — is that not always the case? —  everyone agreed to meet at EH so that we could have an Electrical Engineering powwow and figure out the project together.  Groups were talking to one another and splitting up the work evenly. It was 7:00 p.m. and about half of the class was there, which meant we could take up an entire computer lab. People were laughing and joking. All was fine with the world.

But then the program started freezing.

Work went unsaved. Tension began to build.

It was now 8:00 p.m.

More people started to trickle in. New faces brought a brief moment of joy to the room but everyone soon realized that more people only meant slower loading times. The server began to kick people out. Those who stayed logged in and counted their blessings. However, for every person who managed to get back in, another person lost their spot. A cycle of hate began to fester in the room and the selfish natures of mankind began to manifest in all those present.

It was now 10:00 p.m.

Around 11:00 p.m., people started to believe in a higher power. Superstitions on how to stay logged in began to circulate amongst the groups.  At 1:00 a.m., some people decided to get food. Those of us that stayed gave them our orders, not so that we could have food too, but because the longer they were away, the better chance we had of staying on the server.

At 3:00 a.m., the groups began to crumble. Constant errors and failures to compile caused people to yell at one another and at computers. Some groups decided that in order to save their friendships, everyone but one person would have to go home. 5:00 a.m. rolled around and the project still wasn’t done.

In one corner someone took a 10 minute nap. In another, a person cried alone.

At 7:00 a.m. those that were left began to grow more desperate and volatile. They growled when addressed. Their eyes were soulless, their skin colorless. 11:00 a.m. and the TA arrived to grade the projects. However, the projects didn’t work like they did three hours ago. The final hour passed slowly as our souls writhed in agony and we lost all hope, trying to get the project to work once more. In the end it does, and everyone stumbled home exhausted.

While this was one of the most painful moments of my academic career, it was by far my favorite. Nothing brings people closer together than mutual suffering and EH (which I have dubbed “Eternal Hellhole”) is at the center of all that. It’s a special building, one that I love to hate being in and one that I will miss dearly when I graduate.


Falling for Physics

By Brittany Pham

Ask any science major on campus where their place is and their answer will most likely be the Ayala Science Library.

I beg to differ. Away from the library’s coddling bosom, my place has seen me at my best and my worst — and it’s only been six weeks since I first stepped foot in it.  To me, it represents one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far at UCI: finding comfort in discomfort.

Naturally, that place is the Engineering Lecture Hall, the location of my physics course this quarter. I’ll admit it openly — I’m no science whiz. One of my recent Google searches may or may not have concerned how to peel an avocado. In my spare time, I don’t dream about derivatives or preen over projectiles. Thus I was — and to a degree still am — intimidated to take collegiate level physics because my high school class wasn’t exactly productive.

However, I’ve always been incredibly curious: to learn, to understand, to analyze. Combined with my inquisitive personality, the enthusiasm of my professors has made me realize that physics is, in fact, really cool. The complexities that make physics difficult also make it highly intriguing.

It was only recently that I had this realization.  I remember sitting in lecture and learning about the differences between types of energy and the ways in which they’re conserved.  My professor elaborated on the concept of perpetual motion, where movement seemed to be constant without extra input of energy, and the reason this is impossible.  As she finished her lecture, she commented that this was why California was in such a severe drought.  It’s impossible to take advantage of the Pacific Ocean and effectively desalinate it because we don’t have a large enough energy source to continuously fuel this process.  Thus, she said, the drought is more than a water conservation crisis — it’s an energy crisis.  Upon hearing this, I was intrigued, fascinated at how these seemingly distinct concepts connected to larger issues.

The Engineering Lecture Hall represents to me the opportunity to be creative under scientific parameters. I’ve realized that all sciences, inside and outside of STEM, are related.  It’s nearly impossible to fully understand one without borrowing concepts from another. The lecture hall is a place of curiosity and solidarity among us students; it’s the place where I can potentially experience the entire range of human emotion within fifty minutes.  While my blood caffeine level this quarter is questionable, physics has been a chance to think critically and meticulously, something that’s applicable to all paths of study.

To quote my professor, “All physics problems are easy…some just have more steps.”

The process of figuring out those steps may seem like a perpetual uphill battle but, as we now know, there’s no such thing as perpetual motion.