The first time I heard about the carillon four years ago, I was standing at the base of UC Berkeley’s beloved Campanile. Peering up, up, up at the 61 bells that loomed impressively from the top of our 307-ft tall bell and clock tower, the first word that came to mind was “Wow!” Ever since I’ve heard about this majestic instrument, I’ve wanted to learn how to play it. This semester, I am one of twelve lucky students in the Carillon DeCal, a class facilitated by two experienced carillon students. We will be having weekly private lessons, and at the end of the semester, I will be playing the bells for the entire campus to hear!
UC Berkeley gets thousands and thousands of visitors a year from all over the world. As students, we easily get caught up in a routine of class, work, and studying without realizing all the interesting people there are to meet on campus. One of the best places to meet and talk to people is actually at UC Berkeley’s best known symbol: The Campanile, officially known as Sather Tower.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Campanile, meaning that it’s definitely a special year to visit. My Monday morning Campanile shifts from 9:30 am – 12:45pm always start my week with something memorable. The occasional student pops in between classes to view the gorgeous scenery of the bay, more so this week because of the beautiful weather. Many students use the Campanile ride to de-stress – it’s actually a great way to take a breather and appreciate the beautiful campus we are lucky to call home. I have the occasional conversation with students panicking about midterms. Most of the time, curious visitors from somewhere in the United States, or commonly visitors from Europe or Asia inquire about taking the stairs. I wouldn’t recommend it – its 307 feet tall, a LOT of stairs. Sometimes, there’s a language barrier and I take a leap of faith when the conversation isn’t making sense and I speak in Mandarin. Many of us tour guides speak multiple languages and we give tours in different languages too. This sometimes comes to use at the front desk.
If any of you, like me, have most of your friends on the East Coast then you will be familiar with the constant barrage of grumbly Facebook statuses, Instagram posts, and Snapchats about the historically freezing weather there. It’s almost surreal seeing them enjoy snow days and layer up in all sorts of bulky sweaters. Sitting here in temperate Berkeley, I just cannot seem to relate to the winter experience I keep hearing about from my friends on the other side of the country.
Yet, I don’t lose sleep over it. At all. It isn’t even the end of February and I have already forgone my usual jacket and pants for the all-too-comfortable t-shirt and shorts. Berkeley residents often describe the weather here as erratic, and while it does fluctuate, the limits (forgive me for using that term, after Math 53 I never want to see it again) are very pleasant. It rarely gets too cold and rarely gets too hot. It’s always relatively pleasant. Granted we have our fare share of foggy days here as we are in the San Francisco Bay Area, after all. However, the fog only lasts for a few hours on average, enough to get your Lana Del Rey fix in before your 8:00 AM lecture. It seems that winter here is almost nonexistent. For example, this week the toasty sunshine on Memorial Glade beckoned the sunbathers and frisbee enthusiasts back to campus.