Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Banana Slug Banter

Note: Whilst in California, I/we will be visiting several of the state’s university campuses, prospecting for the ideal college when matriculation rolls around in 2 years time. So far, we have looked at UCLA and UC Santa Cruz, with Stanford and Berkeley coming in the next few days and the Claremont Colleges in suburban Los Angeles some time while we’re here.

After a bright and early 11am start, we reached Santa Cruz shortly after noon and picnicked outside one of the school’s ten colleges, Crown. My initial feeling was that the campus was basically a farm, hardly the sophisticated, academic environment I was anticipating. My fears were soon allayed, for nestled among the pine forests are a beautiful collection of buildings that make for a very peaceful learning environment. Obviously this is no Harvard or Berkeley, but there is a good, activist vibe about the place and for what I would regard as a safety school, it would be a fun place to go to school. However, the town itself seems slightly deadbeat, but with Monterey half an hour to the south and San Jose barely an hour away, it’s not as though urban junkies will find themselves at a complete loss at UCSC.

Indeed, along with the pine scent, there is a refreshing ambiance around the university known for its tree-hugging, hippy students. Even the school’s mascot, the Banana Slug represents the laidback attitude with which they treat themselves, and that relaxed attitude is just what some kids need to establish their potential. Me? I’m looking for the buzz and energy of a big city, smitten with the electric air of Nanjing University, so I’m probably best-served by a larger, more urban campus. Despite the idyllic atmosphere of the place, I just feel the $44,000 p.a price tag is just a little much for a safety school.

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