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PhD in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Anneliese Sytsma

My first time in Wurster Hall (now affectionately referred to as “The Wurst” among friends), I got lost. I walked up the stairway, found myself on the 3rd floor, and only to find the entrance to all of the studio classrooms was locked, leaving me stranded and panicking in the hallway, worried I would be late to my first “Restoration of River And Streams” class with Matt Kondolf. Little did I know at the time that this building - as well as the locking 3rd floor studio doors, the smell of the bathrooms, the amazing view from the tower, the 4th floor PhD offices, and the rotating graffiti/ art/ posters in the stairwells - would become such a mainstay in my life for the next few years.

The following year, I started my PhD in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and continued my relationship with The Wurst and its occupants. I became accustomed to zooming (a verb which now has a much different connotation) into the bike parking on the west side, locking my bike up, running up the stairs to class or to the PhD offices, saying hi to classmates and smiling at the dogs of Wurster on my way. I loved the PhD offices on the fourth floor -- I could focus there, surrounded by fellow thinkers and the occasional scholastically inclined bird that would fly in through the window, uniting us in our attempt to re-route our frantic feathered friend back outside.

I did not realize how much this building meant to me until it and the community it afforded me (including the people, dogs, and birds) were lost -- or at least, moved to Zoom -- for the foreseeable future. Even now, over a year later, I miss the casual conversations, the bird-saving missions, the (overpriced but delicious) cookies from Rice and Bones downstairs, and the front courtyard in the sun, but mostly, I miss the camaraderie and inspiration of my fellow PhD cohort. A PhD can be a lonely process, but the 4th floor PhD room gave us a space to chat, sympathize, seek and offer advice, laugh and cry together. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend there, and while I am excited to graduate, to finish the last chapter of my dissertation and to move on to the next chapter of life, but I will miss The Wurst - it’s people, dogs, and birds - immensely.