Hi prospective and incoming Bruins! Congrats and welcome to UCLA – we’re so excited to have you join our transfer community. My name is Maxine Zhao and I’m currently in my last quarter at UCLA, about to graduate. I’m double majoring in Political Science and Communications and am originally from northern California, where I transferred from Sacramento City College. Transitioning as a new student to UCLA was definitely a little challenging for me – I moved six hours away from home to a place where I knew no one, but there were definitely things that helped make it easier so I eventually felt like this campus was home. Here are some things that I loved that you can try checking out too!
Transfer Center’s Mentorship program
The Transfer Student Center runs a mentorship program that pairs first-year transfers with second-year transfers (or older!) from the same major. I had such a good experience as a mentee in this program so I can’t recommend it enough! My mentor gave me so many good class recommendations, helped me with editing papers, and shared campus resources I would’ve found out about so much later if it weren’t for her (like the Test Bank in SAC). As well as all the academic and professional stuff, I met some of my best friends here in our mentee cohort, so we were able to support each other through all the ups and downs.
As a supplement to orientation, the Transfer Student Representative (the seat on our undergraduate student government that represents transfers) and the Transfer Center hosts Transfer Transitions, is about a 5-day program during the summer that covers academic, professional, social, and wellness at UCLA. Orientation is so short for us transfers, so this can really help get you acquainted with more resources and feel more prepared. One of the things that can feel most overwhelming for us is the short time we’re at UCLA and how to fit everything we want to do (Study abroad! Research! Clubs! Sleeping! Grad school! Friends! Exploring LA!) into 2 years; finding out about things early on so you can plan ahead means that you can feel a little less stressed out about it, and just focus on living it. I served as Chief of Staff to the Transfer Rep this past year when we hosted Transfer Transitions and it was super rewarding to get to connect with incoming students and help them during a really confusing transition to virtual learning.
The Transfer Living Learning Community, called Holly, is a really popular choice for incoming transfers. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in community and meet a whole building full of transfers. Your RA will put on events and take the floor out for activities, and you can just poke your head out the door or over the bunk bed to find someone to hang out with.
Clubs and organizations – the Enormous Activities Fair
That said, I didn’t actually live in Holly myself! Another way you can find community is to get involved in one of the 1300+ student clubs and orgs we have here. There’s so many, so there’s a good chance you’ll see something that piques your interest. The Enormous Activities Fair is a huge, creatively named, club fair that takes place the week before fall quarter starts. I remember strolling around Royce after moving into my new apartment and picking up free stickers and notebooks at whatever stalls piqued my interest, and I was just amazed at the strength and diversity of students here; there was a club for literally everything I could think of, and plenty of things I couldn’t too. Whether you want to stay in touch with your culture (many orgs host Culture Nights at Royce to share traditional art), pick up a new skill (I learned how to embroider at a club here!), or learn about post-grad paths (I’ve never seen a single boring alumni panel), it’s all out there waiting for you.
The biggest lesson I learned from transitioning to UCLA was to not be too hard on myself. It makes total sense that you might feel homesick or lonely or overwhelmed – it’s a big adjustment! I remember talking to people who seemed like they had already found all their best friends in the first week of fall quarter, and feeling like I was way behind. But by comparing myself to others or where I thought I should be, I just got in my own way. All my feelings were valid, and it wasn’t helpful to be disappointed in myself for feeling emotions. Once I started letting go of that, I was able to live in the present and genuinely enjoy the people I was meeting and the place I was in, and that was what eventually helped me make a home. I hope you have the best time, however that looks like for you. Take it easy, enjoy yourself, and welcome to our transfer Bruin family!