It was a good-weather day, good enough that I did not even want to stay in bed soon after the cellphone rang Nayuki’s Alarm Clock; it rained on Monday, and had been cloudy for the rest days, so I had worried for today’s weather.
Actually, from Old Town to VA Medical Center, it took less than 20 minutes with the pretty-express 150 bus, making the geographically shorter distance from SDSU to Old Town a relative long part of the journey. Still, over an hour’s mass transportation, I was finally at the place.
UC San Diego felt a lot different from any university I had ever been, whether in Taiwan, in Canada or in the U.S. Tall trees could be seen everywhere. Buildings were modern. People, regardless of faculty-looking or student-looking, expressed self-confidence and professionalness. Shuttle buses were frequent. Housing for students looked decent (at least judging from the exteriors). Also, unlike what Rex told me, there were quite a few green places (at least more than what we had in NTU).
I arrived at the intersection of Gilman Drive and Villa La Jolla Drive, and began to wander about the School of Medicine, Theatre District, Revelle College, and Muir College. After having lunch, I set out for Geisel Library which I had heard a lot of. This contemporary architecture really stood out – especially as there were practically no as-tall buildings around. Fortunately, getting in didn’t require any form of I.D., and I sneaked in, wandering about its interior. Traveling through the floors, passing by the ACS Computer Lab, I also sat down at one desk pretending I was busy studying – and when I raised my head, I was fascinated at how the basement rooms looked up, with some green botanics in view. I had wondered about the view at the eighth floor, but I didn’t get a chance to go up due to time constraint.
Then I began walking to the Irwin & Joan Jacobs School of Engineering, with my goal being – well, you know – the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and (somewhat more importantly) Tim Hawkinson’s Bear. I had wanted, terribly desperately, to take a picture with the Bear, and I was very lucky that there was a passer-by who knew some photography (he even mentioned high dynamic range syntheses, talking about the contrast between the sunshine-lit bear head and the shaded grassland). Then I went into the CSE building, and walked around every floor. This building was quite a quiet and neat place; the lobby was welcoming, and although corridors were narrow, the whole space didn’t feel constricting. Like what we had back in Taiwan, they had photography works on exhibition on the walls too – but somehow they felt more eye-catching, and integrated with the surroundings more. Needless to say, they had table tennis tables too. The places were designed and decorated with colors that went along harmonically, giving a feel of warmth, and study rooms and chairs (or, to be precise, sofas) manifested definite comfort. In all, the atmosphere conveyed that “computer science is fun.”
After a thorough visit to the place I had envied, I traveled my way northwest, through Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, to the cliff that Rex had recommended. People were playing paragliding here, and I believed that viewing the cliff back above the sea must have been an astonishment. Well, just viewing down the beach from the cliff was pretty exiting too, now that I had crossed the fence and could fall to my death if there was an earthquake. Just like all beaches here, the place faced west, and while I couldn’t, I really wanted to stay to see sunset in person.
What shocked me was that I blended in the campus setting extraordinarily well. Maybe it’s because there were too many east-asian people. Maybe it’s because there were also people taking pictures inside Geisel. Maybe it’s because I entered Stewart Commons, picked up my meal, and went through the cashier so flawlessly. Maybe it’s because everyone out there looked like nerds. I just could wander on the paths without feeling like an outlier at all.
But then again, I reminded myself of the very reason that it was San Diego that I chose to go, and then I precipitated.
That reason I still surrender myself to its overwhelming coercion to believe in, without ever questioning its validity and trueness.
p.s. If you asked if there was anything I felt sorry that I couldn’t accomplish during this UCSD wandering day, I would say it was not being able to meet – well – every art piece of the Stuart Collection. Maybe besides prior surveying, it also required a certain level of luck.