Walking on to UCLA’s campus felt beyond strange. I felt like someone should be yelling “Trojans aren’t invited!” at me or jeering at my obvious lack of UCLA gear. Instead, I just strolled down Bruin Walk, a place I never expected to find myself, and into the UCLA Garba. Garba is a festival celebrated in various parts of India to celebrate the death of Ravana, a terrible demon. The festival traditionally involves nine days of endless dancing, socializing and staying up into the wee hours of the morning. When my friends told me that UCLA was hosting a night of Garba and invited me to attend, I almost laughed out loud. Yet, after hours of my friends convincing me that students from other schools were welcome, some of my floormates and I decided to take our chances and attend the event. Quite honestly, it was the best decision I could have made.
The Garba was both breathtaking and incredibly well-organized. There were dozens of students helping to check in the hundreds of attendees quickly and efficiently. Inside the auditorium, students dressed in gauzy Indian saris flitted around the space like a crowd of colorful butterflies.There was a sort of electric energy in the air. In addition, an amazing live band was playing traditional Indian folk music, and a number of students were performing basic dance steps to help teach those unfamiliar with the traditional dances. But perhaps the best (and most shocking) part of all was the sheer number of USC students in attendance. There were Trojans everywhere, spinning in out of the intricate dance circles, crowding eagerly around the water fountain and getting a breath of fresh air out on Bruin Walk.
As a USC freshman, the very idea of even mentioning going to UCLA seemed taboo. However, attending Garba showed me how wrong I was. Despite being their biggest rival, UCLA was more than accommodating toward us, and seemed genuinely happy to have us join in their event. In fact, prior to the Garba the UCLA Bollywood dance team hosted a workshop in conjunction with USC Zeher, a Bollywood dance group on our campus.
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions that USC freshmen have is the idea that we are limited to our own campus. Although USC has an incredible array of cultural offerings, it’s also important to take advantage of the fact that Los Angeles is home to many other schools besides our own.
Attending events held at other campuses can give you the chance to do something that might not be offered at USC, as well as aid you in widening your social horizons and meeting other students that now call this vibrant city home. With services such as the ever-expanding metro system and Uber, getting to other campuses is surprisingly cheaper and more convenient than most would expect. So next time you hear of an event being held at a nearbycampus, don’t shun the thought of attending. Instead, check to make sure outside guests are welcome and then round up a few friends and head on over together. While you’re there, don’t forget to show a little Trojan spirit!