Roadtrip to Berkeley for the Cal game

 

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This past weekend Bruins mobbed out to Berkeley for our football game against Cal. My group of friends left on Friday afternoon to start our adventure. On the way up, we passed winnebagos upon winnebagos of UCLA students, already pumped up for the game and cheering outside of the windows on the 5 freeway. We stayed at a friend’s place right next to Berkeley campus for the night and ran into Bruins when we went out for dinner, where we proceeded to 8-clap in the middle of all Berkeley students. It was awesome. On Saturday we tailgate hopped before the game and WATCHED THE BRUINS WIN. That night we relocated to a friend’s place about 30 minutes away, in San Francisco. He just graduated in the Spring and was a great host for our little reunion! Finally, on Sunday we had brunch and headed back to the best campus around- UCLA. After a long weekend and a great win, it’s good to be home!

Marina Del Rey

One other fun place close to Westwood is Marina Del Rey. It’s only a 20 minute drive a little south of Santa Monica and there’s a ton of fun things to do. UCLA Recreation even has its very own aquatic center there, where students can go kayaking, rowing, stand up paddle boarding, sailing, surfing and windsurfing. To celebrate some of the last days of summer, me and a couple of my friends decided to go stand up paddle boarding. We didn’t go with UCLA recreation, but we did find a sweet Groupon for a 2 hour rental under 30 dollars! We had a lovely day beating the heat on the water.

Apartment Life

While dorm life is super fun and the food is unbelievably delicious, many UCLA students move into the nearby Westwood apartments by their junior or senior year. The apartments that students move into are also very close to campus, just behind the dorms. They’re usually a bit cheaper than dorming, and almost everyone living next to you are also UCLA students. To find apartment roommates, students either gather a group of their friends, or ask around on internet sites to see who needs another roommate (I’d suggest using UCLA Facebook groups made specifically for housing, for safety!).

My living situation was a little bit nontraditional compared to many other students. Instead of staying in the dorms for two years or moving into Greek housing my sophomore year, I moved into an apartment with my friends during my second year. I got super close to my roommates and our apartment actually became best friends with another unit just a couple doors down from ours. Our group of about 10 people had potlucks together, studied together, played Nintendo 64 together, and a few times we even put all of our mattresses into the living room for the night and had movie-sleepovers together. During long study sessions, we would sometimes play hide and seek in the dark as a break! Essentially we were just a big group of kids living together that studied sometimes. It was really fun!

After my sophomore year living in the apartments, I moved into my sorority house for my junior year where I actually appreciated HOW NICE it is to have someone cook for you and clean for you . My house had 53 girls living in it total, and my room had a total of 4 girls in it. I also got really close with my roommates and other girls in the house and it was a lot of fun!

Finally for my senior year I just moved back apartment-side into a nice place at the beginning of summer. My roommates are friends I made from living in the sorority house last year and other mutual friends. They’ve quickly become my best friends– we do everything together! We’ve also met and became friends with some other units in our complex, or realized that people we already previously knew have become our neighbors. When friends don’t live in the same complex as me, they’re an easy 2 – 10 minute walk away. Also, Westwood village is just 5 minutes away (AKA In-n-out is just 5 minutes away) so food is always accessible if we don’t feel like cooking. I’m super excited for a whole school year at this place, especially once everyone moves back to Westwood!

Here’s a picture of me and a couple of my friends who stayed over when they were apartment-less. They moved out of their old place and had a week before the lease at their new place began, so they couch surfed on different friend’s couches each night and took pictures with them each day. Friends in the apartments are always willing to help others out and let them stay on their couches for a night!

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A Weekend At the Bay

After a long week together at UniCamp, the volunteers in our session just can’t get enough of each other. So this past weekend we all got together and road tripped up north to hang out near San Francisco for a change in scenery. We had a wonderful time couch surfing at friend’s places from the area (and meeting their parents yay!) and adventuring around.

We began the trip with the Golden Gate Bridge, of course. Then we ate dim sum!

The next day we explored Haight and Ashbury, Dolores park and UC Berkeley.

On the last day, we ate TWO breakfasts (one made by our friend’s grandma and another by our friend’s friend from home.. so of course we couldn’t refuse) and stayed a bit north of the city where we went wine tasting in Santa Rosa and at our friend’s winery. We also visited Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds” was filmed. It was a “grape” day!

 

An Alternative Summer

While most students spend their summers studying abroad or going home or taking extra classes, I spent the last 5 weeks of sunshine inside a classroom, tutoring high school students on SAT prep. At first I thought I was making a sacrifice, but I quickly discovered these students were actually making much more of a sacrifice– their summer breaks were much shorter than mine (I still have over a month left of break and they’re going back to school next week!), and they still dedicated their precious time off to the SAT. My students were all low-income and they got to take this course for free. Statistically, low-income students usually score lower on the SAT, which could partly be because they do not have the money to afford SAT prep classes much like this one. Although the material on the SAT was not very fun or very interesting, I absolutely loved getting to know each of the students. They were all college-bound and each one had their own specific goal or dream they were already working toward. Many of them even hoped to apply to UCLA and loved hearing about my experiences as a current student. I loved giving them a look into how it was to be a college student, and I hope to help many of them apply to UCLA in the Fall. While these past 5 weeks would have been fun if I were abroad or watching Netflix, meeting these kids was just as enriching and fun than those things,  and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

Here’s a picture of my students and I!

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

 

Bruin in London

Piccadily Circus at Night— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Four weeks into my study abroad experience via UC EAP at the London School of Economics, I have barely had time to write— London is constantly buzzing with things to do! I can’t even believe that I have midterms next week and finals the week after… this has definitely been one of the most exhilarating experiences thus far in college.

So first off, I’d like to chronicle my experiences in the fantastic city by location, rather than time. More to come later!

 

The London School of Economics

This school is one of the leading institutes in the world for economics and the social sciences. I’ve chosen to take two electives here: MG101 (Marketing) and MG133 (Management). These two courses have offered me a chance to get a glimpse of the theories behind strategic marketing and management tactics in the business world. Each course is structured with daily three hour lectures and one hour seminars (much like discussions at UCLA). I’ve had plenty of opportunities to interact with my classmates from all over the world and grow in the process. The fact that approximately a third of my classmates have real world experience working in major companies has further created opportunities to hear about what the adult life is like! These courses have definitely been intensive but definitely manageable, as I have had plenty of time to explore London in my time off! The school itself has a very different vibe from UCLA as it is not so much a college with a town but rather a big city that has a school planted right in the heart of the city. This has allowed me to fully integrate myself into the life here and experience “the true London”.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace—-Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Buckingham Palace is magnificent. It’s located near Victoria Station, only a short bus ride from the school. On our day off, a fellow Bruin and I traveled over to watch the changing of the guards, unfortunately, we picked the wrong spot to stake out and thus only saw the entry and exit of the guards. Yet it was still quite a sight to see as guards dressed in royal red and black outfits marched by and policemen galloped by on magnificent stallions. We also paid a couple of pounds to get an in depth tour of the state rooms, which were displaying the Royal Childhood Exhibition at the time. The splendor of the palace cannot be described… unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside the palace so I have attached a photo of the statue outside just to give you all a taste of the grandeur!

Musicals: Wicked and Mamma Mia

London has a vibrant arts culture. Every corner of each major street probably has a ticket stand selling tickets to various musicals in London, which run six to seven days a week. I was fortunate enough to see Wicked and Mamma Mia here! I was quite impressed with Wicked. The vocals were incredibly powerful and the storyline contained all the components of humor, romance, and friendship. It was definitely worth it! The stage itself was also a magnificent work of art: a dragon leered over the top of the stage and large stage props were automated so that they rolled in by themselves during transitions. I liked the twist the story put on the original story of the Wizard of Oz. For those who haven’t seen the musical yet, I definitely encourage you all to try it!

Covent Garden, Piccadily Circus & Oxford Street

Bruins in London!— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

These three places are probably London’s premier shopping destinations. Granted, London does have fashionable shops everywhere, but these three attract large crowds on a daily basis! Piccadily Circus even had a “Street Musician Month” where they completely closed off the length of the road from Piccadily to Oxford Circus and invited artists to perform and sing. It was quite a sight!

London Eye, Big Ben

Thames River at night— Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

Of course my visit to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the most popular attractions here! I didn’t get to actually go on the London Eye, but even from afar the ferris wheel was majestic. Big Ben was quite on time. You can hear the chimes at the top of each hour from afar (even from my building!). One night, two other fellow bruins and I decided to climb the bridge looking over the Thames River in the dead of the night and the sight was so beautiful.

Oxford University

A friend and I took a 1.5 hr bus to take a tour of this top institution on a random weekend! Though we didn’t actually get to set foot in many of the colleges, the architecture from outside was still amazing. (Think Royce Hall meets Powell times infinity).

 

Well that’s a quick summary of a couple of the places I’ve been thus far in London! I’m so incredibly grateful to my parents and UCEAP for providing an opportunity for me to study in one of the greatest city in the world. I’m enjoying my time here and am quite sad that I only have two weeks left. London, you have truly taken my breath away with your fantabulous architecture and fast-paced lifestyle and men in suits. Now for midterms and finals…

Shoutouts to any Bruins abroad/ from abroad right now! Let me know where you’re from in the comments below. 🙂

 

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.

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.

 

 

More beach days in “winter!”

Since the start of winter quarter, there has only been a few “cold” ish days. So as usual, many UCLA students are still taking advantage of this beautiful weather.

One weekend me and my friend decided to take a trip to Malibu and visit Zuma Beach and Point Dume. It’s about a 30- 40 minute drive from campus, but I think it is so worth it! The beach is fairly quiet, there is more wildlife there (like dolphins and seals!), and you can climb up a short distance to the top of “point dume” where you get an amazing view of the beautiful beach.

Here’s a picture of the view from up top!

While I do hope for the weather to get cold sometime soon, these beach trips might be worth the absence of winter in Los Angeles.

Blu Jam Cafe

During the long weekend due to MLK holiday, I got to get out of the campus and enjoy a nice, relaxing Sunday brunch. To find a place to eat, I pulled out my excessively long bucket list that I had made over the winter break, and at the very top of my list was LA’s very own Blu Jam Cafe.

Blu Jam Cafe currently has two different locations: Melrose and Sherman Oaks. They originally started off with a little place in Melrose, but after seeing their success, they opened another location in Sherman Oaks between Kester and Sepulveda. Both locations are rather small, and they both have a very simple appearance. But man, their food is like no other.

Their most renowned dish is the crunchy french toast. They use thick slices of egg brioche, batter them, rolled them in corn flakes, and grill them to give a final product of crunchy outer coating and an inside that just melts in your mouth. The french toast is sprinkled with colorful berries and served with a homemade vanilla sauce on the side. The physical appearance alone is very impressive and mouth-watering. But the instant you just take a bite of that french toast, I guarantee that you’ll never want to let go of your fork and knife. I personally think that the corn flakes is the trick that makes this dish so unique and fun. It seems so simple and easy, but when it comes to great food, it doesn’t have to get all that complicated.

The place gets pretty crowded and you most likely will have to wait for about half-an-hour before being seated, but Blu Jam Cafe is definitely worth a visit. They have been voted several times as having one of the best brunch menus in LA, and they have been reviewed and complimented by numerous magazines. So take a trip to Blu Jam Cafe, and you won’t be disappointed!