A Cappella

Bruin Harmony--- Photo Credit: UCLA Image Library

UCLA has a vibrant music scene, boasting of over a dozen a cappella groups. I thought I’d give a quick breakdown of the groups here at UCLA for all ye acapeople :)

  • Single-sex A Cappella Groups:
    • All Male:
      • Bruin Harmony
    • All Female:
      • Random Voices
      • Signature A Cappella
      • Cadenza A Cappella
    • Co-Ed:
      • Awechords A Cappella
      • Resonance A Cappella
      • Awaken A Cappella
      • Scattertones A Cappella
      • Deviant Voices
      • Medleys A Cappella
      • Road to Damascus A Cappella (Christian A Cappella Group)
      • Youthphonics A Cappella (Service A Cappella Group)
      • TAU A Cappella (Mandarin Song A Cappella Group)
      • Naya Zamaana A Cappella (South Asian A Cappella Group)
      • SouLA A Cappella (Chinese A Cappella)
    • And more! There are a couple of unregistered-groups (or so I’ve heard) who are just starting out.

Each fall, (and also select groups during the winter and spring) these A Cappella groups on campus hold auditions to welcome new aca-talent into their ranks. Most of the a cappella groups have sign-ups available via acaspot.com, an inter-collegiate a cappella website. The audition process usually consists of an initial audition (where you show off your individual talent), and callbacks, where you will sing with the group to see how well you mesh with the group.

The audition process is generally quite laid back and can be a lot of fun. It vaguely resembles a rush process since most a cappella groups hold auditions all through the first week of fall quarter and it is common for auditionees to schedule auditions back-to-back. The first audition generally consists of vocal warmups (scales whatnot) to warm up your vocal chords and test your range, a verse or two from a song you choose yourself, tonal memory and/or sight reading and perhaps a couple of questions for fun.

After auditions, a group of auditionees will be invited back to callbacks. Callbacks are a mock-practice of sorts: auditionees are asked to learn music and sing with the group. Usually it is structured in a similar manner to the regular practices that each group has.

Why join A Cappella?

Regardless of the singing experience you have, I encourage anyone who is interested at singing at a collegiate level to audition! Whether you have a decade of professional singing under your belt or just a decade of belting out your favorite tunes in the shower, a cappella is a lot of fun, and you get to meet a bunch of people who share similar interests. It’s a great way to make friends and grow as a musician! I’ve had a blast singing with Awechords this year. In addition to creating lasting friendships (you see each other up to five hours or more each week), you’ll have the opportunity to perform at an assortment of gigs both on and off campus. For musicians looking for a more-portable instrument (I sure had to make a lot of sacrifices instrument-wise when I came to college), singing is definitely the way to go!


Good luck, choose a killer audition song that showcases all your aca-talent, and most importantly, have fun! I can’t wait to hear all of you during fall.

Bucket List: Freshman Year

Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

As the school year draws to a close, seniors in flowing graduation gowns can be seen all over campus, posing for graduation pictures. I can’t believe that my first year at UCLA is almost over (except for finals, bleh). As UCLA prepares to send off a fourth of its population off into the real world, it’s time to welcome the freshman class.

It’s hard to believe that a little less than a year ago, I was the bright-eyed freshman who stepped foot on this campus for the first time. The quarter system does move at a super fast pace, and it seems as though this year has just been a blur. Now it’s time to take a look back at a fraction of the bucket list I composed right after freshman orientation and see what items I’ve crossed off. I was inspired by a youtube clip I had watched shortly before I moved here :)

  1. Take part in the Color Run 2014(I ended up participating in Run or Dye with some good friends this May).
  2. Study abroad for one quarter + (I’m studying abroad in LSE this summer! I’ve never been to Europe before, and I’m counting down the days till I’m there!)
  3. Join an a cappella group  <3 (Awechords A Cappella, you have given me the experience of a lifetime. I’m so glad I get to sing with you all for the rest of my college career!)
  4. Volunteer for an educational cause (Project WILD, Unicamp, I am so incredibly lucky to be able to volunteer with you)
  5. University Chorus, UCLA Chorale, Chamber (Performing in Royce was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had during my undergraduate career. As Dr.Neuen’s last choral class, getting to perform the Beethoven Mass inside UCLA’s best venue was incredible.)
  6. Tour Guide ( I served as a tour guide for Bruin Day! Despite getting stranded outside the elevator from my tour group and having to scour the building for them, it was an exhilarating experience)
  7. Experience Spring Sing (Best show ever!!! More to come on this later)
  8. Figure out what major I want to be (This actually turned out to be not that difficult once I was able to figure out what I was really passionate about!)
  9. Thanksgiving in Beverly Hills ( I had the fortune of dining with an alumni for Thanksgiving since I couldn’t go back home, thanks to the Dashew Center!
  10. Road Trip (LOL my friends from my floor dragged me to San Diego during Winter Quarter amid midterm craziness. I am so grateful they persuaded me, that was definitely an fun-filled adventure!)
  11. Learn something completely random  (Wow. I’ve taken a couple of classes purely for the sake of learning outside my academic career and they were some of the best courses I’ve taken thus far.)

So these were a couple of the things I’ve managed to cross off my list. The rest are little goals or checkpoints I will work towards during the future, and I’ll definitely keep on expanding the list! So for anyone looking to create a bucket list: be as deep, as insightful, or as crazy as you’d like: college is what you make out of it! Set a goal to take a random class, do something you never thought you’d do (like leap off a pole on the top of a mountain), meet some incredible people, and get ready for the ride of your life!

A Bittersweet Time of Year

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell


Just last week I watched so many of my best friends graduate at commencement. This time of the year is so bittersweet because it reminds you of the great times you’ve had with those friends who are graduating and you know that they will do wonderful things in the future, but it’s so sad because you don’t want them to leave! Many people are going all over the country and all over the world upon graduation which I think is really awesome, but of course for selfish reasons I get a little bit more happy when others tell me they’ll be staying around the LA area for some time. Seeing my close friends going off into the real world causes me to reflect on the fact that I only have one more year here. I cannot believe that this time has passed SO fast and I can’t wait to make this next, last year of mine the best one yet!


Literati Cafe


Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell


During 10th week and Finals week, campus can get a little depressing with students living in the libraries, forgoing showers, and replacing their meals with caffeine. However, some places in LA make for great less-depressing and more colorful study spots, such as Literati Cafe. I went here for the first time last weekend and had a delicious Spanish latte and enjoyed sitting outside in the sunlight and seeing the artwork inside. The best part was running into so many other friends from UCLA! While it can get a little crowded at times, I thought it was  a great experience.



Photo Credit: Student Alumni Association/ UCLA Leadershape

This past spring break, I had the fortune of attending the Leadershape Institute in Malibu. This week has definitely been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had so far in my undergrad career at UCLA!

The Leadershape Institute is a national program that is dedicated to developing new leaders in an intense six-day camp setting. At UCLA, this program is generously funded by the Alumni Association, and each year sixty student leaders are bundled off to the Glinding Hilltop Camp for an experience like never before! This year, as a freshman, I was fortunate enough to be able to have this experience!

Through various team building exercises, simulations, and careful discussions in smaller family clusters, we were introduced to concepts that we had not been probed to think about before. Not only were we encouraged to find our passion and develop our vision, but we were also challenged to push our boundaries while recognizing our strengths and GAGs (going against the grain), also known as room for improvement. One of the most incredible activities I got to experience was the challenge course, a three-story-tall series of poles designed to encourage us to step out of our comfort zones. I personally am terrified of heights, yet up at camp, with all the encouragement from my peers, I was able to scale a three story high pole, perch on a ledge with no safety railing, and swing off the edge, soaring high above the ocean. This was no doubt a breakthrough for me, and I found that I somehow had the strength and the determination to climb up to that height and swing off!

This whole experience has been incredibly amazing. The positive feedback I received on my vision for bringing affordable technology and education to impoverished areas was overwhelmingly supportive. The diverse group of individuals I’ve met— many of whom I would not have been able to meet simply because UCLA is such a big campus— has changed my perspective on life. I’ve not only gained a deeper insight of my leadership style but also a family that I know will be there to support me in my pursuit of my vision. These six days were intensely packed with carefully designed activities to stretch and push me, and I am forever grateful for the love and community this experience has bestowed upon me!



World In-Sight

Registration Booth— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin


One of the things I love most about UCLA is the diversity. There are so many students with unique cultural backgrounds and different stories to tell!

This past Wednesday, I had the honor of putting on an inaugural mini world exposition for the UCLA community. As part of the “mastermind” team, I was able to see the process of bringing this concept into reality. World In-Sight was a campus fair dedicated to showcasing the diverse UCLA student body. By partnering with over twenty-five student groups, this fair featured nearly thirty different countries/cultures through interactive games, booths, and performances! After months of hard work preparing, it was such a great feeling to see the whole idea coming into being.

Thailand Booth—Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

I think part of the reason why I wanted to join the WIS team was because of my background. Since I come from Taiwan, a small island off the coast of Taiwan, I’ve encountered many people who (albeit well-meaning) still have various misconceptions about my culture. This fair was a small step in the direction of introducing people to different cultures and creating a platform that would hopefully introduce cross-cultural dialogue! When I took a break from the registration booth to “tour the world” and snap a couple of photos, I was amazed by all the hard work that the student groups had put into their booths. At the Malaysian booth, my friend was performing ridiculous pouring feats while making Teh Tarik (pulled tea) and another friend was drawing intricate henna tattoos; at the English booth they had a live DJ and amazing artwork; at the French booth the delicious smell of crepes wafted out, Thailand and Cambodia had students in beautiful traditional clothing…

Malaysian Booth Teh Tarik (Pulled Tea)—-Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Yukai Daiko (Japanese Drums) Performance—Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin


After coming to UCLA, I’ve truly come to appreciate the world a lot more. I’ve come to learn that everybody has a story to tell, and that there is so much out there for me to learn. World In-Sight definitely gave me some insight into different cultures, and I was truly honored to have been able to serve as the marketing director for this event. I can’t wait until we reprise the event next year, hopefully with an even more diverse representation!



Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

One of my favorite fundraising strategies that UCLA student organizations use to raise money is club events. This is where the organization usually rents out a venue for the night and sells tickets for entrance to students and friends. Basically, you get to go to a club and have a great time while also helping raise money for a good cause Whether it be to fight Pediatric AIDS with Pediatric AIDS Coalition or to help send underprivileged kids to camp with UniCamp, or supporting another organization that gives back- what could be better than that? Each time I go to an event I see so many people I know- from the organization, from class, from a friend of a friend, or whatever random way- and I also get the chance to meet knew people. Not to mention, LA has some of the coolest club locations, from students ‘ local favorite, “Fu’s Palace” near Century City, to the place we went last week, “Busby’s East” near Hollywood, partying with UCLA students for a good cause is always a good time.

Hello World!

Photo Credit: Project WILD UCLA


Hi everyone, I’m Cheechee, the newest contributor to the UCLA Life Blog! I am thrilled to be writing for you all and I really hope that my posts will help shed some light on the day-to-day life at UCLA. Coming here was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that this institution has bestowed upon me.

A little bit about me: I’m a first year hoping to study Communication Studies with a specialization in Computing! I truly feel that human interaction is a wondrous thing and I value the power of being able to communicate well with others. I am particularly interested in the Internet and its impact on society as well as education, and my vision is to someday bring technology to all parts of the world. In my spare time, I sing in Awechords A Cappella as well as the University Chorale and volunteer with UCLA Unicamp and Project WILD (a volunteer project that tutors kids from immigrant families). I also serve as the marketing director for World In-Sight, a mini world exposition devoted to showcasing all the diverse cultures of the student body here at UCLA (more posts to come on this soon!). Career wise, I work as the research assistant for the Center for the Digital Future, which is currently focusing on a study researching the effects of the Internet, and the UCLA English Department, where I am assisting a professor in his study on Anthony Hecht. I love music and kids, and I am thrilled that UCLA has so many student organizations that align with my interests.

I was born in San Jose, CA and moved to Taipei, Taiwan when I was ten, attending local schools there. This unique life experience has blessed me with a strong proficiency in Mandarin, and though overcoming the language barrier was initially challenging, it was also life changing and gave me a much deeper understanding of my heritage. This identity has also proven to be confusing at times, as I never have the answer to “Where are you from?” or “Are you international?”. Yet I wouldn’t give up my background for the world! I am forever grateful to the unforeseen circumstances in my life that allowed me to be acquainted with my culture!

UCLA truly has been an amazing experience so far. Though I’m super involved and busy all the time, I still find the time to balance between my various extracurriculars, schoolwork, and friends. The quarter system does move at a super fast pace, but I’ve discovered that it’s helped me become more efficient at various tasks. I can’t wait to see what the next three years will bring me, and I am so excited to share with you all the stories of my journey through college and beyond.

Well that’s about it for now :) and I really look forward to writing for you all! Comment below, I love getting messages :D

More than just sites to see

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

One of my absolute favorite things I often take for granted about being in Los Angeles is the fact that if you have a favorite artist or band that is still alive and making music, they will likely come play live somewhere within an hour’s driving distance to this city.

From smaller places like The Troubador and The House of Blues for a personal setting, to large, sold out venues like The Hollywood Bowl or The Shrine Auditorium, these places are scattered all over Los Angeles and I’ve been to an uncountable amount of shows at them since high school.

This past weekend I saw one of my favorite artists, Childish Gambino, at The Shrine. I had previously missed him when he came to UCLA Bruin Bash my freshman year AND when he came to Los Angeles a couple of summers ago, so this performance was long overdue for me to see. As expected, he was SO amazing. And I didn’t even have to drive very far to admire him from the crowd, just a short 30 minutes (with a little bit of traffic) to downtown.

I also saw one of my other favorite bands, Blink 182, here a few months ago and I really want to go to Weenie Roast in Irvine this month. There really always is a performance to see here and I absolutely love it.



The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made (So Far)




Since admission decisions have been sent out to high school students, I have seen a multitude of confused families wandering around campus, unsure on where to park, what to eat, and where to go to learn more about UCLA. Tour groups have been packed with much more students and families than usual and I’ve been stopped a great amount more by people asking for directions around campus.

This reminds me of when I first made the personal decision to attend UCLA about three years ago. Since I came from a very small high school– I basically grew up with my graduating class– and I had no clue what attending a huge university like UCLA would be like. I was so unsure of what the campus would be like (or what college would be like in general) and I was frightened to enter this gray area of life that I knew so little about with people I knew nothing about.

But now, looking back, I am so extremely glad I chose to attend UCLA. I have grown immensely as a person and learned so much about myself I never knew before. I have learned so much more about different cultures and the world in general here by interacting with such a diverse range of students. I have met some of my best friends here that I am sure I will be friends with forever. I’ve also discovered my passion for education here, my love for Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and long hikes with great views, and my working style and strengths and weaknesses. Learning to navigate Los Angeles and myself has been a long journey, but I enjoyed it every step of the way and it was well worth it.

With only one more year left at UCLA, I am actually so sad to leave. This place has literally become my home– the place I feel the most comfortable at surrounded by the people I know will always be there for me no matter what. However, I also think I am so much more ready to enter the “real world” with the help from the relationships I made here and the skills and knowledge (inside and outside of the classroom) I’ve been able to develop.

Here’s a picture of my best friend helping me move into Hedrick Summit way back in Fall 2011. Welcome, new Bruins!




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