Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved aquariums. Having one that is a part of my university always reminds me just how good a fit UCSD is for me. The Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography a tiny two-winged building tucked up on the coastal cliffs overlooking La Jolla shores. But within the seemingly small space is located beautiful gems of exhibits, my favorite being the 12 ft tall, 20 feet wide kelp forest tank in the Hall of Fishes.
After a bad spat of both school and social stress in the Winter Quarter of my freshman year, I decided to purchase a membership to the aquarium so that I could visit it more often. Ever since then I’ve spent hours at a time in this room in front of this kelp forest tank, reading books, writing in my journal, writing papers for school.
There’s something so peaceful about the swaying of the kelp stalks, about how the tank itself and the sunlight above is the main source of light in the room, casting everything into tones of dimly lit blue and green. It’s how I imagine what it might be like if I could spend hours underwater.
Going here always feels like hitting a reset button. Being able to stop and think on what I need to get done and giving myself a moment away to get it done or a hard-earned break by setting aside a time to read a book. The environment has proven to be one of the greatest times for me to reflect and write in words and letters how I feel and how to move forward or rise above. It allows me to move past stress or sadness, to rewind until I feel more relaxed, more attuned, more focused on what lies before me.
One of my favorite things about this room is the dichotomy it offers. When the traffic of aquarium visitors passes through at different peak times it creates a background noise of perfect, measured chaos for me to get my work done, on occasion punctuated by the heartening curiosity of a stranger’s interest in my school work/university experience in general. However, my favorite parts are the moments in between – that perfect coincidence when if you wait long enough, you become the only person in the room in a strange, beautiful, and still silence like no other that make the busiest moments of chaos so worthwhile.