By Peter Rowan (UC Berkeley)
Have you ever lived so fast that its felt like the weeks pass like seconds?
You never have any time, and yet when you look back, your history is bursting with a million different phenomenal experiences?
And did you like it?
If so you should come here: to UC Berkeley, where time flies, and you go with it.
It’s been over two months since I arrived here at Berkeley, and yet it feels like its passed like a flash. I’ve travelled to gorgeous reserves, experienced a diversity of culture, been intellectually stimulated and explored myself spiritually.
The SF Bay area is one of those places where things just happen. Culture abounds in all its forms, exhilarating and alive.
My British readers might appreciate the instance when, four hours before the show, my friend passes me on the street and casually invites me to Rudimental’s final US concert in San Francisco. I run back, change, jump in a cab, and find myself in a ball-room style hall, watching one of the UK’s biggest bands in a crowd of just 200 people! The following night I’m standing in the centre of a Greek-Style Amphitheatre, listening to the relaxing tones of Beirut. And Sandwiched in-between is a day in San Francisco watching an air show with thousands of San Francisians, where jets fly at each other at 400mph, turning at the last minute to narrowly miss each other and soar across the Bay.
But then that’s just how it is here, there’s never a dull moment. Last week I was Salsa dancing, this week I am taking part in the Berkeley Project, Berkeley’s biggest Public Service event with thousands of others. Who knows what next week will bring?
I have a certain philosophy on travelling here: I can always travel in the US, but I can never repeat College Life. Thus I have done less travelling than others might perhaps choose to do. Nevertheless I have travelled, mostly with my fraternities, and mostly to some of the most beautiful places in California.
Lake Tahoe was quite an experience. I would love to talk about the crystal blue lake, or the rolling mountains, but I really can’t. You may have heard of the Northern California fires; well the smoke from those rolled hundreds of miles over the landscape, and so for the hours we drove through the mountains where everything was shrouded in a smoky mist. It was magical and ethereal, I have never seen anything like it.
Redwoods was wonderful. This is a national park famed for its gigantic redwood trees. I spent a Saturday blasting through the park with great music on full volume. We swam in glacial melt water, clambered up stunning valleys, and meditated against the ancient trees.
Then there was Hike 4 a Cure in Yosemite. A few Fraternity Brothers and I embarked on a 23 mile hike to Cloud’s Rest, at an altitude of 10, 000 feet, overlooking the famous half dome. We raised $290 for a very worthy charitable cause, which you can read about here: http://www.active.com/donate/h4ac2015/sigep15
Yosemite really is one of the most striking landscapes I have seen, and we all agreed that it was spiritually uplifting. And how did we come down the mountain? We ran!
Berkeley is intellectually stimulating. And it’s not just the courses, where I cover everything from a history of Western Political thought, to South American and Californian history, to Post-Colonial analysis of the Modern World. There’s also events going on all the time. Just this week I attended an event with Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the ex-Mayor of Mexico City and son of arguably Mexico’s most influential president. He is lobbying for a new Mexican constitution which limits the influence of neo-liberalism, and had much to say on the infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership.
As part of my professional fraternity, Delta Phi Epsilon, I am intellectually challenged every week. With this network of people, I can debate and discuss some of the most important and pressing international issues, with incredibly intelligent and diverse opinions and arguments. I am also blogging for them, on the construction of the European Migration Crisis, which you can read here:
When, by chance, you walk into a Free Palestine protest, where thirty people are lying on the ground to represent the Palestinian dead and pro-Israel protestors walk between them bearing Israeli flags, you can’t help but reflect on your place in the world. They say ‘start with the end in mind’; but for that to work you need to know what end you want. And so I have been reflecting a lot on myself and my future. Its definitely one of the most terrifying and most exciting things to do. Hopefully by the end I will have some answers.
I have however been able to make meaningful contributions here. Last week, I and others packed up books to send to prisoners across the US, tomorrow I will be doing service work across Berkeley.
Who knows what next week will bring?