Saturday, July 4, 2009

You can't get there from here!

Dwinelle Hall is arguably the most famous building on the UC Berkeley campus, and undeniably the most confusing. I did my undergrad in Linguistics at Cal, and I fondly remember orientation day, where world expert Folklore Professor Alan Dundes told us of the legend – two feuding brothers, in a torrid love triangle with a woman, then resigned to designing separate wings of the same building, resulting in a convoluted mess of twisty passages leading almost nowhere, not unlike this sentence. This story is not true, except for the twisty passages leading almost nowhere part.

I was captivated by the tale, and mostly by its telling. I vowed to depart from my linguistics curriculum for at least one course, to take a class from Dundes, Mr. Folklore Extraordinaire. Sadly, he unexpectedly died before I got the chance. Even from the brief encounter I had with Prof. Dundes on orientation day, I recognized that someone truly great was gone.

What he said rang true, as any Linguistics student at Cal knows...the building is indeed a mess. Seven floors of offices mashed up with seven(?) floors of classrooms. Built on a slope. You can actually enter Dwinelle hall on the first, second, or third floor, depending.

Truly, all you need to know about Dwinelle is two things:
1. The linguistics department is located on Level A (see map here).
2. Never attempt to walk 'through' the building. There is no such thing. Instead, enter at the corner or face closest to the office or classroom of your destination.

Ok, wait, three things:
3. If you're lost, and you see a door leading outside, take it and start over.

Tomorrow the LSA Institute Check-In begins. Since it is Sunday, and a holiday weekend, many of the offices in Dwinelle will be closed. According to the website, check-in is in room 1303 Dwinelle, from 3:00-7:00. So, according to the map, you should be able to enter the building from the main entrance (east side), and take a right. Theoretically, and if memory serves.

UPDATE: Oh boy, was I wrong. The best way to get to 1303 (LSA Institute Registration) is to enter the building at the NW corner. The office is right next to the door. Getting there from the main entrance is a pain; I don't recommend it.

Not only am I extremely excited about the LSA Institute + additional events, but I am also pretty stoked about the opportunity to go back and experience Cal with all new seriousness and mad linguistic passion. It is with a bit of regret that I didn't take full advantage of the programs, events, and instruction during my time there previously. Then, it was the most interesting means to a degree – I didn't know that linguistics would become my sole inspiration to stay in academia for as long as possible, with future aspirations of a lifelong career with language. It's all part of the journey I suppose, and another reason to enjoy the opportunity for do-over like revisiting.

I imagine that there will be plenty of things to write about over the next several weeks, albeit very little time to do so. In the meantime, I'd like to share a few tips about Cal...this stuff is random and only slightly informative, may no longer be true, but could potentially make somebody's experience there a little bit brighter. Also, if you have anything to add, please leave a comment or email to let us know, and we'll add it to the list going here:
  • Squirrels are rampant on campus. They are fearless and look as though they would like to be petted. They don't. It's a trick and they bite. Cute, glorified rats they are.
  • There is a perimeter bus that will take you from one side of campus to the other. I do not know if its running during summer, but if so, it can be a lifesaver if say, you need to get from Stanley Hall to Valley Life Sciences Building in a pinch. Also, the perimeter bus is free, and only goes in one direction (clockwise).
  • The Valley Life Sciences Building has a giant T-rex hanging out in the center of it all. No kidding. Opt to walk through instead of around if you get the chance.
  • The Greek Theater is an amazing concert venue. Go there! Drive if you must, but park as far away as possible. There is something very fun about leaving at the end of the show in a crowd of thousands stumbling down the hill together. Traffic is a nightmare and walking can be much more rewarding.
  • The Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) is amazing. Summer passes should be available to purchase for us. I'm going to look into it for myself on Monday. I highly recommend the Hearst Pool for open lap swim. 80º, outdoors, and a view of the city and treetops.
  • Here is a link to the campus map page.
I'll update this list as ideas come in or come to mind. Until then, Happy 4th of July!

No comments: