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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Column: Hidden gems

Fun fact about me: I’m a UC Davis tour guide. How does this pertain or even remotely relate to arts and entertainment? I know this campus backwards and forwards (but mostly backwards) and am exposed to the beauty that is our campus on a daily basis.

Because the past two weeks have been the busiest of my college career, as Undergraduate Admissions hosted over 9,000 visitors this past Friday for Decision Day, I have decided to dedicate this column to the artistic masterpiece that is our campus. There is so much to this campus that the average eye isn’t trained to recognize or acknowledge — I’m here to inform you and encourage you to see it for yourself.

Those Eggheads you Instagram on your way to class? Yeah, did you know that those are actually part of an art series created for our campus by Robert Arneson, an artist whose work is actually displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.? Did you know that each Egghead represents something unique in each area it inhabits?

The Arboretum — something most of us take for granted. It actually runs two-and-a-half miles through campus and has over 20,000 species of plant life. If you haven’t taken a stroll or bike ride through that outdoor laboratory for the plant science and evolution and ecology programs, then I guess I just decided what you’re going to do this weekend. Not only will you be able to snap a picture and send it to your parents to convince them that you actually do emerge from your room, but you will hopefully start to appreciate the nature surrounding and dominating our campus.

If you have a car, make sure to check out Lake Berryessa. The secret? Go in the middle of the night. No one will be outside; you can go for a little hike to the shore and have a picnic, taking in the quietness that is pure nature. With nothing obstructing your view, the stars are especially magnificent when it’s so quiet that you can hear a single ripple in the water.

Aside from San Diego, I would say that Davis’ sunsets are the best I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I don’t know what makes them that way — perhaps it’s the haze rising from the cow fields combined with the precipitation from the sweat and tears of the struggling students. All I know is that they’re spectacular enough to force you to get off of your bike and take them in.

Speaking of aesthetically beautiful parts of our campus, can we realize that our ARC and Pavilion are probably the cleanest and most beautiful facilities we’ve ever encountered? I mean, seriously, what other schools have a ballroom, weight room, indoor suspended track, rock-climbing wall, martial arts room, yoga/dance room, cycling room, every workout machine possible and the largest facility in the Big West Conference all in one building?

There really is no theme in terms of architecture or design on our campus, which I’ve concluded actually is a beautiful idea. You never know what to expect when walking into a classroom or new building. Random fact: The outside of Hutchison Hall is made of chalkboards. Not only are our buildings historic and beautiful, but they are also pretty damn cool if you think about it.

Another thing we make sure to mention on our tours is the fact that every first-year has one free ticket to any show they choose. Often forgotten about, this opportunity is seriously a steal. If you’re smart, you can gain access to a prestigious show at the Mondavi Center completely free. And if you haven’t been inside Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center, you haven’t seen art. Otherwise, another glorious part of our entertainment options on our campus is that we get half off all general admission prices for most shows. We’re telling you, arts and entertainment are hidden gems on this campus.

I could go on for days about why this campus is a piece of art in the gallery of the UC system — all you have to do is ask. Otherwise, feel free to hop into any of the tours walking around campus to hear about why other tour guides feel such love for this campus. I’m sure any of the prospective UC Davis families would love to know why you love it too.

Submit your sarcastic comments and witty Mean Girls references to be incorporated in future tours to ELIZABETH ORPINA at arts@theaggie.org.



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