Despite the daunting, twenty-minute uphill walk from the UC Berkeley campus, there’s something really special about the Clark Kerr dorms. Famous for its coveted larger-than-your-average-shoebox dorm rooms and Great Hall-esque dining facility, Clark Kerr is hands down Cal’s best residence hall (though I admit I may be a teeny bit biased). The beautiful, Spanish mission-style architecture, sprawling lawns, and various amenities— I’m talking on-site pool, gym, softball field, archery range, fire trail access, and volleyball/basketball/tennis courts—provide a welcoming breath of fresh air after a long day of classes. Following a tiring day, it’s easy to kick back in the grass and check out the killer sunsets and views of the bay, all in the comfort of your home-away-from-home. On weekends, it’s not uncommon to see students interacting with laughing families, pets included, while lounging in the grassy patches scattered about the buildings. With its large rooms, great views, and laid-back vibe, it’s quite easy to see why the residents love CK so much.
Though I appreciate all of it, my most favorite aspect of Clark Kerr is simpler, more downplayed: more than anything, the Golden Bear Track has captured my heart.
Sure, it might sound silly at first— a track? Why on Earth would anyone favor a simple oval of dirt over all the amazing things Clark Kerr has to offer? Well, let me tell you, that track has been with me through it all. Through the highs and lows of my first semester in Berkeley, that same old, familiar track has been my refuge. After six years of my young life as an avid runner, I was afraid that going to college would mean retiring my running shoes and closeting my athlete status—surely there wouldn’t be a place for me amongst the ranks of NCAA champions out there. I was afraid of the judgment I mistakenly thought would be thrown my way. That’s when the track came to my rescue.
The track was a place that I could be myself again. I could traverse those 140 steps up to my beloved hideaway and finally let loose. The track was more than my perfect getaway; it was beautiful on its own. Perched high above the city, it gave way to the more gorgeous views of the bay at any time of the day. From a gentle, hazy morning glow, enveloping the Golden Gate Bridge, to vivid sunsets and twinkling city lights, no view was more breathtaking than the view from the track.
As the semester progressed and I started to feel more and more comfortable heading back into the streets, I never lost my love for the Golden Bear Track. After many runs, hikes up with friends, and sunset viewings later, I can confidently say the track is my favorite aspect of Clark Kerr. Just as my love for Cal grows, so does my appreciation for that oval ring of soil. It’s grown with me, as an integral part of my residence hall experience. Like Berkeley, it’s worth so much more than meets the eye.