Before getting hired as a Tour Guide my sophomore year, I never really gave it much thought as to why I decided to come UC Davis. You always hear the cliché that when you visit the right college it will just “feel right”, and to me, UC Davis gave me that feeling. Of course, simply saying that isn’t exactly a satisfactory answer when addressing a group of prospective students and families, so over the years I’ve worked on searching a bit deeper to pinpoint what exactly set UC Davis apart from everywhere else.
First and foremost, I have to address the community of the university and the town of Davis itself. Geographically speaking, we are located in a fairly central location where students can realistically go to the Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Napa and/or the California State capitol, while still reaping the benefits of living in a college town. However, what I believe really sets Davis apart are the students and residents that make up the community. To put it simply: the people here in Davis are unlike anyone else I have ever, and probably will ever encounter, and in the best way possible. Strangers smile and hold open doors for you like old friends; cashiers at Trader Joe’s and Safeway always ask how you’re doing and if you’re having a good day during check outs; classmates actually want to help each other do well and actively support one another during all hours of the day in class or on Facebook pages (which by the way, is AMAZING when you are studying the night before a midterm or final!); students can easily befriend so many random people simply based on the fact that they consistently study/hang out in the same spot (I kid you not, I just had someone in a study group next to me offer me some of their food); and not to mention that my fellow Aggies are great about keeping an eye out for each other and even returning found items (For me over the last four years it’s been keys, an embarrassingly high number of ID cards, and today – again, I am not making this stuff up – I was reunited with my favorite water bottle I thought I had lost during Week 9 of last quarter!). My sisters have also noted this friendly Davis culture and love coming to In-n-Out or Dutch Bros among other places because they get treated so well. I think there is also something to be said about the fact that in high school (and still to this day), my friends and I would drive up to Davis as early as 8/9am or as late as 9/10pm in order to hang out at Central Park or Downtown Davis, get some Yolo Berry, go to Picnic Day (which is the largest student run event in the country and is taking place April 11th of this year!) or peruse the Farmer’s Market (Saturdays 8-1, and Wednesdays 4:30-8:30 pm, Mar 16 through Oct 26, 2016, year-round, rain or shine!). And if this isn’t convincing enough about how special the people here are, Newsweek has recognized us the 10th happiest campus in the country!
Davis has about 267 sunny days and about 58 days of rain per year which is perfect for someone like me who loves warm weather and spending time outdoors. With races that are put on almost monthly by organizations on campus or local companies like “Change of Pace”, it’s been easy for me to continue running throughout college and has even allowed me to start some new traditions of races I now do annually.
With over 40,000 bikes here on campus and the US Bicycle Hall of Fame located less than a 10 minute walk from campus, UC Davis is almost always affiliated with our bike culture. Since Davis is so flat, one can get pretty much anywhere in the city without a car. The number of “secret” tunnels and paths connecting the city together is mind blowing, and those like me who enjoy running will be ecstatic to try the Davis Bike Loop, Arboretum, Fitness Trail, the multiple green belts, and the countless routes that can be made when you explore the forks in these paths. What is even more fun, is when you find the fountains, ponds, parks, maps, statues of dominos and dogs, and other pieces of art that are only visible when on these bike paths.
As far as the academics go, UCD has over 100 different majors available, so if you are unsure as to what you want to study, there’s flexibility to allow some exploring during the beginning of your academic career. On the other hand, if you know what you want to study and what you want to do after graduation, you can take advantage of the many resources available to students to get involved in those fields, whether it is through a club, research experience, an internship, or an on campus job. With that being said, I want to emphasize how easy it is to get involved on campus and “work your way up” to officer positions with more responsibilities. It may seem intimidating to go to a school so much larger than your high school, but with over 550 clubs and counting on campus, I always like to say that a larger campus simply means that there’s a greater chance that you’ll find a group of people who share the same interest as you, which instantly makes our 34,000 student population (27,000 undergrads and 7,000 grad students) into a smaller, more intimate experience.
The final, and in my opinion, the most important component is balance. One thing I cannot emphasize enough is to recognize and find a place that will allow you to succeed and be the best version of yourself. Picking a college is picking your home for the next 4 years, which is a long time to be in a place that doesn’t make you truly happy, so not only is it important to be in a location that makes you feel comfortable (personally and academically), but be in a place where you are surrounded by stimulating people you will enjoy spending time with. To use a super cheesy, but UC Davis appropriate analogy, if you think of this experience like riding a bicycle, in order to keep moving forward you have to stay balanced, and what each individual balances is something completely unique and special. For me, most colleges seemed to have the reputation of being on the extremely academic end of the spectrum or on the extremely fun and laid back end, and for my personality and aspirations, UC Davis seemed like the perfect middle ground. Although I am technically writing to share my love of this school in the hopes of you deciding to become a future Aggie, at the end of the day, only you will know what gives you that gut feeling and will be best for you.
Exercise Biology, Class of 2016