So, as you’ve seen in my last ranty, somewhat pessimistic post, I was in San Diego for 3 weeks at a summer camp thing. This post will (hopefully) be about the good parts of it, instead of the pain of returning, as my last post was.
The official purpose of the camp was to take a class for 3 weeks. Mine was the Principles of Macroeconomics. My first choice was psychology, which is really interesting, but it was full, so my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to learn some basics of econ, as it is useful in the real world. The actual class wasn’t the main focus, though. We learned some things in the class, nothing too advanced, though it wasn’t stupidly easy either, since you have to be of decent intelligence to get into the camp. The teacher was okay, though not totally into it because she was getting married in a week.
We also had a few field trips for the class that really had nothing to do with econ, it was just an excuse to go out. One was to the (nude) beach which was a 20 minute walk from campus, one was to Balboa Park, where we pretty much sat on a lawn for a day, and one was to the Federal Reserve in downtown LA, which meant 4 hours of driving for a 30 minute tour. We got a bag of shredded money as a souvenir, at least.
But yeah, the main point, at least to me, was meeting all the people there. I don’t want to rant about the lack of diversity in Arcadia, since I’ve done plenty of that, so I’ll just mainly talk about the awesomeness of the people at UCSD. The camp consisted of about 400 people, and we took up the whole Tioga Hall dorm building, which is 10 floors. On each floor, there were 2 suites, one on each side, with about 20 people. There was one residential adviser for each suite, who was responsible for uniting us, and our RA did a good job of that.
There was a lot of diversity (gasp) in our suite, with about equal amounts of Asians, Caucasians, and Hispanics. And the great thing was that all of these people were all incredibly cool. Both in personality, and in interestingness. No offense to Arcadians, but this type of interestingness is extremely rare in Arcadia, where academic pressure controls society. I was truly glad to have met all of the people in my suite, both for the view of the outside world, and just having fun.
I give up on trying to write this post as a coherent essay thing, so I’ll just go by categories of random events and stuff I remember.
First Serious Suite Meeting
So, we had a few meetings just to get to know each other and stuff, and then we had our first serious meeting, which was supposed to be about “hopes and fears.” Our RA started off by setting the tone with his life story, about how his abusive childhood led him to not be able to really trust people, how he fears he will stay this way, and how he hopes he will be able to change. This was followed by a few people, including me, with more tame topics, such as being afraid of not know what to do in life, etc.
Then, a few of the guys from bad neighborhoods shared their experiences. We always complain about affirmative action and how people from bad cities get advantages in college apps, but after listening to them, I think many of them absolutely deserve the advantage, and the opportunity to go to college. Those guys in my suite went through a lot, and have a lot more moral fiber and actual desire in life than pretty much anyone in Arcadia.
This story will have nothing close to the impact that it had then, with the person actually telling it, but the most memorable story was told by one of these guys, from a bad neighborhood, a bad household. He told us about how he knows that he is capable of doing well in school (and he is, all of us knew he was smart), but just wasn’t able to due to the circumstances. Everyday when he came home from school, he had no time to do his homework, as he had to prevent his dad from beating him and his mom. The peak of this was a fight where his dad swung at him with a baseball bat, forcing him to stab his dad with a kitchen knife until he stopped.
He also apologized for lying to one of our other suite members. Apparently, he had said he didn’t want to swim because he was afraid of water, dating back to when he had almost drowned in a river as a child. The truth was that he had not drowned in a river, but had been thrown into a bathtub by his dad, nearly dying. Since then, even taking a shower triggers his fear of water.
Despite all this though, he still persisted in his attempt to go to college, the first in his family to do so. He wanted to go not just for himself but to make his mom proud and be able to help her out (a thought echoed by more than one person). Circumstances had gotten a little bit better recently, leading to much better grades, and election as student council president. He hopes to continue this success in college and beyond, which I have no doubt he will do.
Again, my telling of this does no justice to hearing it live that night, where it really hit everyone deeply, and in my opinion, brought our suite really close together right from the beginning.
So yeah, cafeteria food supposedly really sucks, but the food at UCSD wasn’t that bad. We had meal cards which worked 3 times a day, though I usually skipped breakfast. Everyday, there was pizza, pasta, salad, sandwiches, and some special dish of the day. I pretty much had pizza and pasta for two meals a day, everyday, and occasionally the dish of the day, if it was good. The highlight was one day where they served prime rib, which was surprisingly good. The lemonade constantly altered in color, from yellow to clear to milky white, but for lack of a better option, I had that pretty much everyday.
So yeah, we had 3 dances at the camp, one every Friday. And yeah, these dances are nothing like the traditional ones, I had a very hard time explaining to my parents how people dance nowadays. I actually expected something more traditional too, where there’s a dance floor, you ask a girl to dance, you take her hand then kind of move around, like everyone around you. My parents were expecting line dancing or disco.
Turns out dancing is nothing like that. The music is loud, blaring, techno-y music, (Sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIOOwhmkoLo) and people don’t move with any organization at all, pretty much just jumping around to the beat, or if they are good, jumping around to the beat while doing cool, fancy, dance steps. Our first two dances were inside the dorms, so people were just packed into the lounge, sweaty, and jumping on top of each other. Also, for the people who stopped jumping around to ask a girl to dance, the male/female dances are nothing like any of the dances you’ll see in movies. “Dancing with a girl” was interpreted as grinding. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. My dad did.
I pretty much spent the duration of the first dance observing, while attempting to not get sqaushed. Not very eventful, but we’ll have more on dancing later.
There were lots of activities scheduled, so naturally, I went to many of the sports. I played a lot of basketball, and some football, and with the intensity of the games, it was a lot more exercise than I had gotten in a long time. It was fun, and I was happy to see that I was at least decent in these sports games. Arcadia P.E. doesn’t really provide an accurate gauge of one’s athletic skill.
Harry Potter Movie
This was an optional field trip, but pretty much the entire camp signed up. We took a 20 minute walk, and took up a whole theater. The crowd was quite into the movie, which was interesting at first, but annoying after a while.
(Dragon kills goblins)
(Spell hits someone)
(Character says somewhat witty line)
(Ron and Hermione kiss)
I find baseball to a relatively boring sport, but usually I still enjoy the occasional Dodger game my family goes to, because the weather at night is nice, and there’s an occasional interesting moment. This was not the case at the game we went to however, as it was in the afternoon, giving me a serious sunburn, and the teams both sucked at hitting, meaning nothing of interest happened.
I think I’ve said before that I was happy that people outside of Arcadia seemed much more willing/able to discuss political/moral issues. Because of how comfortable our suite was with each other, we were able to have some really interesting conversations. 2 atheists, 2 Christians, and a Muslim being able to have a logical, reasonable conversation with each other about controversial issues is not something that happens very often, in Arcadia, or anywhere for that matter (Turn on any 24 hour news network for radicals from both sides yelling at each other). We were able to understand each others’ views on issues and reach some common ground even on issues like the purpose of religion and abortion (We knew abortion is possibly one of the most touchy subjects possible, so we didn’t stay on it for long, but even then, it was a good discussion).
I’ve heard this kind of thing happens a lot in college, I really hope so.
As I’ve said many times, the people in my suite were awesome. The people in the other suite on our floor were cool too, and we would play cards or whatever with them a lot. In our suite, we had a lot of avid chess players, so that was fun. I hadn’t played since chess club in 6th grade at FA, but I did okay.
Drunk College Girls
This was an interesting incident…At 11:30 one night (Lights out are supposed to be at 11, but as long as you’re in your room, you can do whatever) we were screwing around, showing each other youtube videos, etc. when we heard a loud knocking on our suite door. Me and my roomates happened to be the first ones out there, and we say that there were multiple girls yelling and knocking on our door. One of my roomates decided that it would be a good idea to open it.
At first, I thought maybe these girls had arranged a date with some of the guys in our suite. I was proven wrong quite quickly though, as it was clear these girls were not our age, and were on some type of drug. They ran around, screaming and laughing, yelling about how they used to be in this dorm, gladly shrieking about who had sex in which room, and how the wall had been “ejaculated all over.” They then ran up to one of the guys in my suite, bit his nipple, and ran out back to the elevator, still severely under the influence of the aforementioned unknown drug.
Our RA was mysteriously missing until 30 minutes later (Our conspiracy theories ranged from him partying with the other RA’s, to him being the one who sent those girls up, because he was mad at us), and needless to say, all of us had trouble going back to sleep after this.
Or lack of, rather. I guess I just enjoyed it so much that I didn’t really feel at any time that I really wanted to be at home. An interesting thing was that, when my family called in the middle of the 3 weeks, my attempt to speak Cantonese to my grandma was filled with fail. My Cantonese skills are not that great, and I guess after a short time of disuse, my tongue became really unfamiliar with speaking it.
UCSD campus was pretty nice, though we weren’t really staying in the good part. A lot of our area was filled with concrete, though the nice surroundings were still somewhat visible. We went to the Price Center a few times, which is a plaza thing with the bookstore, and a bunch of restaurants. On our walk to the beach, we saw some of the nicer parts of the campus.
As I said before, the first two dances were in our dorms, which wasn’t a great idea, as everyone was crammed together. I left the second dance quite early due to the high body temperature humidity and not wanting to be crushed. Our final dance however, on the last full day of school, was in the campus pub. The bar was closed off to us, but there was a dance floor, complete with flashing lights and a DJ. Since after the next day, there was a good chance we wouldn’t see each other again, many people, me included, wanted to take this opportunity and make something happen at the dance. On of my suite mates, who previously had gotten super hyper and crazy from one Mountain Dew, drank two of them as well as a 5 Hour Energy right before the dance, to get himself in the mood.
At the beginning, a lot of us weren’t that involved, trying fruitlessly to tell each other to go into the dance floor. As the dance progressed a bit though, more people came, and more people began to get involved. The dance was originally supposed to be from 7:30 to 9:30, but the ending was moved back to 11, drawing cheers from the crowd.
I began to get involved with the dancing, and it was actually quite fun. A lot of it was just being in a circle with guys that you knew, along with some girls who decided to join, and just jumping around and having fun. It helped that my roomate was a good dancer, so we could imitate him if totally confused. I spent much of the night having fun like this, dancing to the different songs and stuff. However, as the night neared its end, I still had not asked a girl to dance, something which I had set my mind out to do that night.
It would be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable to post the details of what happened next publicly, but eventually, near the end of the dance, with some help, I did dance with a girl. Yeah.
That night, after the dance, we went back to our suite. Lights out weren’t enforced that night, so we stayed up until 2:30 in our suite, just talking about whatever. After saying difficult goodbyes, I crammed everything into my luggage and bags in preparation for going back to reality.