A much-needed weekend escape to Santa Cruz

Emily Denny/Staff

As college students, it can seem impossible to escape the responsibilities that keep us glued to Berkeley. But amid all of these responsibilities, it is important to escape even for just a weekend to places we haven’t explored before. So instead of exploring a new library on campus or trying out a new coffee shop, I decided to go to Santa Cruz in the hopes of relieving some stress and visiting a place I hadn’t been to in years.

Located just a few blocks from the Embarcadero Bart station, the Greyhound station sits in between the tall skyscrapers of San Francisco. As I waited for the bus, I wondered how small this city made Berkeley feel. Compared to these lit-up skyscrapers and endless city streets, Berkeley felt more and more like a town rather than the city I sat in. When my bus left San Francisco, the city lights grew dimmer as the bus drove over the Bay Bridge, passing the place we call home on the left, heading south into the night. The quiet bus and dark skies seemed to blur the hours together, but the frequent stops in Oakland, San Jose and finally Santa Cruz kept me awake. When I got off the bus, I stood in Downtown Santa Cruz at midnight, both a little tired and a little lost, but hopeful for a fun day ahead.

After a slow morning, I headed straight for the beach. Even though the weather was a little overcast and a bit drizzly, the smell of the sea and the crashing waves were all remedies to the semester’s built-up stress. While sitting on the beach, I watched the seagulls bicker with one another, dogs run back and forth after tennis balls and the Ferris wheel rotate over and over again. I temporarily forgot about the looming midterms and assignments that were waiting just north of where I sat.

On Sunday I decided to explore the UC Santa Cruz campus. Not knowing what to expect and ignorantly assuming it would resemble the other UC campuses, my expectations were low. But instead of busy streets, the campus was lined with long grassy fields. And instead of a long open plaza and a green gate, I was greeted by a dense redwood forest. And rather than a huge tower and tall white pillars, campus buildings peeked out from behind redwood branches.

As I walked up and down the hills of UC Santa Cruz, I was amazed at how this campus blended so well with the natural world surrounding it. Dark greens and browns dominated the campus, but every once in a while a colorful mural would pop out from under the forest curtain. As I reached the corner of campus, a large blue body of water sat just below me, and I looked out onto Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

When the Greyhound took me back to the station that sits among the San Francisco skyscrapers, I was both relieved I got two days away from Berkeley and a little envious of the UCSC campus. But most importantly, I was reminded what life was like outside of school and outside of Berkeley. As I returned back to the life of responsibilities and midterms, I promised myself I would escape like this more often.

Contact Emily Denny at [email protected].