Sarah Wilks (left) has a "jam sesh" with friends using improvised materials at her college.

Freshman Focus: Sarah Wilks discovers hippies at UC Santa Cruz

Sarah Wilks, ’14, is a freshman at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is majoring in environmental studies and considering a double major in community studies. Wilks lives in Kresge College.

Q: How was orientation?
A: It was really fun. They had a lot of activities planned for us, but it was all fun. We went on a night hike through the forest. They took us to these huge drums in the middle of the forest. We played the drums and they told us the history of Santa Cruz.

Q: What was your first impression?

A: It’s a wonderland. It’s the most amazing place that I’ve ever been to. Everyone here is really friendly and nice.

Today I was in a music class, and these two people walked up to me and sat next to me. They were like, “We should be friends.” They introduced themselves to me and we are playing together this weekend. In the college that I’m at they have a music co-op that you can buy into for $25 a year.

Q: How are your classes?

A: Pretty interesting. I’m only taking three classes because I want to start off with the minimum number of units you need to be a full-time student. I want to get acclimated to everything.

My favorite class is Women in Music. You learn about all the different genres of music. Today we went over country and bluegrass. We talk about specific women artists that have been influential. It’s basically art history, but music instead of paintings.

Q: Was there anything that surprised you?

A: How hard it is to navigate because it’s a really large campus. There are main roads but not very many street signs. There are hundreds of pathways that go through the forest. You can tell who the freshmen are because they are all sticking to the main roads. The other students are all coming out of these paths.

Q: Is there anything about UCSC that you learned when you got there?

A: It’s known as a hippie school, but I didn’t think it would be as hippie as it is. Just walking around campus there are tons of women who don’t shave their legs.

You don’t have to wear clothes. I haven’t seen any naked people, but I think that’s awesome. There are people walking around without shoes.

I went to a potluck at a trailer park where all the hippies live. Everyone was happy and hugging each other. No one was wearing shoes. It was kind of funny.

Q: Are there any odd traditions?

A: During the first rain of the year, anyone who wants to runs around the campus naked. It sounds fun. It’s actually been really hot here.

It has to be raining all day. It’s not just like the first few drops and you throw your clothes off. Sometimes freshmen think it’s the naked run, but it actually isn’t. There are false starts.

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2015?

A: Go with your gut when choosing your college. That’s what I did. Trust the people that you know the best. People I knew said that Santa Cruz was a good fit. I trusted them and it worked out.

Also, bring your own school supplies. The first week of school is really busy. If you don’t know your way around campus and the city, when you get there you don’t have time to get them.

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