Maxwell Shukuya, '15, (far right) and his friends dressed up for Halloween as "sad boys," inspired by the Swedish rapper Yung Lean. After a Halloween dance, they stopped and took a picture at Kresge College, one of the 10 residential colleges at UC Santa Cruz.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Surrounded by musical, creative people, Maxwell Shukuya says UC Santa Cruz feels small

Find out what the members of the class of 2015 are up to in their first year of college. A college freshman is featured in the Freshman Focus every Friday.

Maxwell Shukuya, ‘15, attends UC Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif. He is majoring in literature.

In high school, he played violin in the orchestra and was the opinion editor and social media editor for The Octagon.

Q: Why did you choose UC Santa Cruz?

A: I was originally set on going to a small liberal arts school. But I chose Santa Cruz because it was a lot cheaper.

The campus is also very beautiful. You can see five deer on your way to class, and there are tons of trees. You are literally in a forest.

I have a ocean view from my dorm, and I can see the sunset over the ocean.

The people are pretty friendly here too. Across the board everybody is nice and accepting, which I enjoy.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: Crime Fiction, French 1 and Writing through the Arts.

Writing through the Arts is basically a writing and arts class combined.

Q: What are your favorite and least favorite classes?

A: I would say that I like all of my classes. I don’t hate any of them.

The Crime Fiction class would probably be my favorite.

Writing through the Arts is also a very interesting class. I like it because it doesn’t really have to do with literature. Instead there is just a lot of writing and reading, which is enjoyable.

The whole class is very theoretical, which is not something you see a lot in high school.

Q: Who is your favorite professor?

A: My Crime Fiction professor. His lectures are in depth and interesting because he has taught at a bunch of different universities. He also speaks 13 languages, which is pretty crazy!

Shukuya lives in a double in Porter B building on the arts- and film-themed floor.
(Photo used by permission of Shukuya)
Shukuya lives in a double in Porter B building on the arts- and film-themed floor.

Q: How is your housing on campus?

A: Pretty good. I am on the arts floor within the arts college. It is pretty creative all around the dorm.

Almost everybody on the floor plays an instrument. They are always out in the halls, jamming out on their instruments, which is super cool to be around. I love all the creativity and music every day. Many people on my floor are music majors.

The dorm in itself is okay. It gets a little hot sometimes, which is surprising. The ventilation is not that great, and the heating is sometimes overused.

Q: Do you like the weather in Santa Cruz?

A: One small factor of why I chose Santa Cruz was the weather. The weather is a lot cooler than in Sacramento.

Wait a minute, I take that back. It is cooler here throughout the year than Sacramento.

(Santa Cruz) is probably colder (than) Sacramento right now, but it stays a pretty constant cool temperature throughout the year, which I like.

We also get some nice coastal fog.

Q: Are you participating in any extracurricular activities?

A: Unfortunately I am only doing one activity right now. That is something that I regret. I am definitely going to try to do more next quarter.

Right now I am writing for an online news syndicate called the Odyssey. I am also the social media editor.

I am interviewing for the school newspaper on Wednesday, so hopefully I will get in.

Q: How do you like the Odyssey?

A:  I am not loving the Odyssey right now, so I may pass on it next quarter. We’ll see what what I decide.

Q: How’s Santa Cruz living?

A: Santa Cruz is pretty small. There is a main strip with a movie theatre and a bunch of little shops. Santa Cruz also has very easy access to the ocean.

But it can sometimes get a little shady, although it’s not too bad. But about two weeks ago there was a kidnapping incident.

Q: What happened?

A: Some student from the college was hanging out in downtown Santa Cruz.

Four men in a van picked him up or kidnapped him. He was then held at knife point, and the kidnappers stole his money and other personal belongings.

The attackers then told him to drive to his dorm, which was pretty weird because the dorm is pretty far from downtown Santa Cruz.

They then beat up his friends and stole their money too.

Q: How has this affected your school and school life?

A: It was a pretty scary incident, but it didn’t really affect my life at all. It was just a little distressing.

Q: Do you go to downtown Santa Cruz a lot?

A: I probably go with my friends a couple times a week, or at least once.

We usually go really late at night because the food options on campus are pretty limited once you get past 10 p.m. At the very least we will go to 7/11 or some other restaurant.

I am usually short on money, so we don’t buy that much.

Q: How’s the food on campus?

A: People like to complain, but it’s not that bad. There are five dining halls, which means there are a lot of eating options.

The food is all you can eat, but you can’t take food out of the dining hall.

Q: How do you get around?

A: Transportation is something that Santa Cruz does very well. They have a loop bus which circulates throughout the campus, which is pretty big.

There is also a Metro bus which circulates throughout the campus and goes downtown. The Metro goes until 12 a.m.

On the weekends there is another form of transportation called the Night Owl. It picks up students until 3 a.m.

You definitely don’t need a car in Santa Cruz.

Q: How are you adjusting to the campus?

A: In the beginning I was pretty overwhelmed with everything that was new along with the size. I was thrown into an entirely new social situation.

Otherwise, as time went on, it got a lot easier. I now have a core group of friends and feel pretty good in terms of social life.

Shukuya sees the Porter Squiggle sculpture when he enters Porter College. One of the ten residential colleges at UC Santa Cruz, Porter focuses on art.
(Photo used by permission of Shukuya)
Shukuya sees the Porter Squiggle sculpture when he enters Porter College. One of the 10 residential colleges at UC Santa Cruz, Porter focuses on art.

Q: How was the change from a small school like Country Day to a big school like UC Santa Cruz with a student body of almost 18,000?

A: I expected it to be super strange. I went to Country Day my entire life, and I was used to a small atmosphere.

At first I was pretty afraid of going to a big research university. But it doesn’t actually feel that strange. It still feels intimate and small like Country Day.

Q: Really? Why?

A: UC Santa Cruz has a 10 residential-college system. Within the university there are 10 different residential colleges, which make it feel like a small liberal arts college.

I am in Porter, and I live and eat with everybody in this section. I also take all of my core classes with the same people.

It makes it seem a lot smaller than it actually is, which is nice.

Q: Have you made an embarrassing freshman mistake?

A: The very first two days I was here my roommate and I both forgot our keys in our room before class. We did this twice, consecutively. One day we locked our keys inside, and we had to go to the office. Then we did the same thing the next day.

It was definitely pretty embarrassing but was also a learning experience. I now never forget my keys, and they are always on me.

Q: What advice do you have for the class of 2016?

A: Pay attention in Dr. Bell’s English class. It’s actually really interesting. And it applies to a lot of literature and English in college.

Also write for the Octagon because that was instrumental to improving my writing skills.

—By Jack Christian

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