We all know how school weeks can be. The craze of lectures and discussions to head to amidst club meetings and other errands to do while counting down to Fridays. Our lives are based upon a constant struggle to balance our academic and social aspects accordingly, yet sometimes we get so caught up with the momentum of ourselves that we fail to see the beauty of (as cheesy as this sounds)… life.
Take Maria Noguez, for instance. She is not only a current Social Science transfer student at UCI, but also my roommate. There was no optimism involved, as she was being thrown into the middle of her college career within the culture shock of being in the unfamiliar city of Irvine, surrounded by unfamiliar people. Especially with no car in her hands, it’s undoubtedly more challenging to
discover what the city has to offer. “All I wanted to do was to focus on grades, and get along with my roommates,” recalls Maria as she entered UCI fall quarter. College life for her was pretty much tunnel vision from now on. As fall quarter whizzed by, all Maria could focus on was trying to get used to her new environment.
As winter quarter arrived, for once, things came into calm waters. One Friday afternoon, Maria bought a toasted strawberry white chocolate muffin from the Phoenix Grill on campus, and sat outside, staring out into Aldrich Park. It was that time of the day when it wasn’t ten minutes to the hour, and students weren’t swarming out of every school building. Hearing birds chirp, thriving in the environment, was almost bizarre, but something this day dawned on Maria. There was nothing over-the-top about her view from the tables outside the Phoenix Grill. UCI wasn’t a big, scary, unfamiliar place anymore. It was just simply, beautiful. The sun was out, she was enjoying a muffin, and nature opened up to her at its best. As spring quarter arrived, having classes in different areas on campus catapulted her explorations. “It’s been really nice getting to know the campus better,” says Maria. Her excursions exhaust her as she rushes to class within ten minutes for three classes, yet Aldrich Park seems to ease the pain. The park is not only a great shortcut to class, but also a green oasis amidst the stressful school environment.
Frankly, it’s very refreshing to hear someone who lives with you experience this dawning of realization. The realization that there’s more to school than just classes and bustling around to get through the day or week. After Maria’s revelation, I feel the same way. Aldrich Park is truly a gem at UC Irvine, and how it is placed at the heart of campus is also an interesting thought to ponder on. Sometimes, if we open our eyes just a little wider and take a deep breath, we’ll be able to see what is behind the habitual and the mundane. So take a moment aside from the craziness of our lives, and take advantage of what is around us, and embrace it.