Throwback to my Dorm Days

I know I’ve said this before, but one of the best parts of UCLA is the food!  Most of my first two years at UCLA were spend at Bruin Cafe.  That may sound like an exaggeration  but considering the number of meals I ate there and the hours I’ve study there (not to mention working there my freshman year), it may not be as much of an exaggeration as you might think.  Bruin Cafe serves pastries, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf drinks, sandwiches, soups, and smoothies.  It is also open from 7am to 2am!

Bruin Cafe is definitely one of the things I have missed the most about living on the Hill.  It is a great place to study or socialize!  Every time I went to Bruin Cafe, I knew I would see at least one other person I know.  Like last night!

I decided to go to Bruin Cafe to do some studying as well as see if I could get a swipe from one of my friends who still lives in the dorms. Even as I was walking in, I found five people I knew and saw several more when I sat down.  Finding a table was a success (I found one right by an electric outlet…score) and was soon joined by some other friends. My friend even offered to swipe me a chai latte and a chocolate croissant (thanks, Chelsea!)  BruinCafe did not disappoint!

BruinCafe is just an inevitable part of the on campus experience.  Because it is open early and closes late, it is the ideal place to go for a study break, a study snack, or a quick smoothie on your way to class!

If you have the means, I highly recommend their chai latte or the Bruin Fresh smoothie (pro tip: ask for smoothie #8- it will make you seem like you are an old pro)!  BruinCafe is one of the best parts of on campus dining.

P.S. Even though it is called Bruin Cafe, most students simplify it to BCaf.  If you say Bruin Cafe you will be pegged for a freshman!!

Coffee and the College Student

Coffee is something that (almost) every college student is familiar with.  When I first came to college, I was not a coffee drinker but I quickly became one.

One of the great things about coffee is that you can get it just about anywhere on campus.  BCaf is open until 2am, the dining halls have it for every meal, there are a plethora of cafes, there are coffee vending machines, and then there is off campus.  If you need caffeine, you will find it!

On campus, you can get just about anything by way of coffee and tea.  You can get a plain up of joe or a dirty chai latte.  All of the coffee shops on campus also have seasonal favorites (such as pumpkin spice)!  If you bring your own mug, they even give you a discount.

Going off campus, your options get a little crazier.  There are places right in westwood that will give you a fancy latte with some foam art or several Starbucks (which is open 24 hours!) and Coffee Beans to study at.  Personally, I like to study at Espresso Profetta or Starbucks right across from the Bruin Theater!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to try a really exciting kind of coffee: Turkish Coffee.  It is for experienced coffee drinkers only!  It’s so strong, that when I ordered it, they had to make sure that I had eaten lunch first.  Turkish coffee is a method of preparation, not type of coffee and is so thick it has the consistency of hot chocolate (but is really all just coffee).  They even serve it with a glass of warm water to wash the bitter taste away.  It was really good though!

Overall, coffee is part of the college experience.  There are so many great places on campus and in the area to go and explore.  Part of the UCLA experience is finding those hidden gems to study at or where they make your favorite coffee!  I still have a few places on my UCLA bucket list to try! Any suggestions?

Dorm food (the best food)

You guys. UCLA’s dorm food is the best. Like really, it’s really delicious. And I will never be living in a dorm again, UCLA or otherwise, but since I have quit Hill-life, I’ve learned (like really learned) that dorm food is something to be cherished. Dining halls get a lot of props – they are all-you-can-eat buffets, after all. But the Hill’s quick-service cafes are equally (if not more) important to an on-campus resident at UCLA. Here is a quick rundown of all our fabulous to-go eateries you can munch at with your meal plan:

  1. Bruin Cafe. Or B-Caf, as it’s most commonly called. B-Caf is the original quick-service restaurant. It has all of the old cafe standbys – sandwiches, salads, coffee, pastries, smoothies, etc. B-Caf is open until 2am and therefore is the late-night Hill hangout spot on weekends and nights that you don’t have homework. Pure chocolate ice blendeds taste best during the days last (or is it very first?) meal period (from midnight to 2am). B-Caf (like all of the dining establishments on the Hill) is on a track of continuous improvement. This year better bread was introduced! Now if they could only give vegetarians and vegans an option that tasted good (much offense, vegan BBQ sandwich). Overall, great lunch spot, tables just outside.
  2. Cafe 1919. Quite possibly the most delicious place in Los Angeles (kind of stretch, kind of not). 1919 features ~contemporary Italian~ which means pizzas, panini, and salads, among other cool things (lasagna for dinner and GeLaTo!!!). Nothing is as rewarding as eating a Pepato Piatto in the triangle-shaped table terrace next to 1919 after a long day of classes. Like I said, this place serves lasagna for dinner, which includes a side caesar and a parmesan roll (drooool, so good). They also have gelato and gelato-themed desserts (think warm Ghiradelli brownie, whipped cream, hazelnuts). The coffee drinks at 1919 are also killer, so if you are hankering for an evening after-dinner espresso think of going here before braving B-Cafs coffee lines.
  3. Rendezvous. This place is a fusion restaurant in that it fuses a Mexican restaurant and an Asian restaurant (and gives the combo a French name). Both sides of the restaurant are equally tasty, though I think I’m sort of in love with the Mexican side just a little bit more. Each offers pretty basic dishes from their respective food cultures (burritos, quesadillas, fried rice, orange chicken), but the basics aren’t why I go – it’s the specials! The delectable specials! Ev-er-y day both sides feature a different special. On Mondays last year, I would run to the Mexican side for Al Pastor pork tacos (and the yummy avocado salsa). On Thursdays, I would always bring back a huge (compostable!) bowl of pho to my room. Rendez is pretty legit and has the widest variety of interesting food.
  4. De Neve Late Night. The last (and probably least frequented) quick-service cafe. Late Night, which I’m sure you could have guessed, is only offered late at night (not too late, 9-midnight). This place is essentially a diner without the diner feel (De Neve dining hall isn’t too 1950s). It has burgers (and veggie burgers (and veggie chili)), mozzarella sticks, onion rings, buffalo wings. All manner of greasy deliciousness that is washed down with a customizable milkshake (you pick the toppings and flavor of ice cream!). Late night also has an option for pizza. All I can say is that it’s pizza. Yum.

And there you have it. The wonderful world of quick-service on the Hill!

Mentor Mixer with ASC (and the rest of my Thursday night)

 

Thursday night was a busy night for me (as Thursday nights tend to be). I got out of class at four and then had to head back to my room for an hour to gather my things, have a Reese’s, and surf the interwebs. I walked down to Broxton for the second Westwood Live of the year (remember the last one?). This time, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition was partnering with Gen Rep 1 to sell passports. For each passport sold, PAC got some money, which goes towards the cause of fighting pediatric AIDS (yay!). Because PAC was in on the whole Westwood Live thing and because I am in PAC, I had to work an hour-long shift at Thursday’s event.

So at five I arrived down in Westwood and was directed to work at the “Turkey Apple Booth.” Basically, we got to make turkey-ish looking things out of apples using candy and toothpicks for feathers and gobbles. Working the booth was super fun because I was there with another member from my committee and we got eat a bunch of chocolate chips and candy corn.

After my shift was over, I power-walked back up to my dorm to throw on a jacket and grab my phone charger. As soon as I had picked up my stuff, I was running out the door on my way to my Mentor Mixer for the Alumni Scholars Club. The event was for all the scholars who have alumni mentors, and it basically is just a meet-and-greet if you haven’t met-and-gret your mentor already. I always love going to the events with alumni because they have the bomb-N-est food ever (I got seconds).

It was fancy, which is why I had to put on a jacket, and my phone had died, which is why I brought my charger (the alumni center is full outlets so it was no problem).

Anyway, I had a great time meeting alumni and other students and eating eating eating. At one point, a woman named Stephanie gave a speech about taking advantage of your mentor-mentee relationship. Apparently she went to graduate school at Stanford and studied mentorship programs (whoaaaa!), so she knew her stuff.

After the mixer, I walked back into Westwood for the end of Westwood Live. I took more pictures with my friend from last time (but I am not going to post them because one strip of us is enough). We wore mustaches and danced and went into Rocket Fizz. (Seeing Westwood lit up with all the lights on the trees made me really excited for going home for the holidays!)

I finished up my night with a meeting for ASC committee and then a B Caf run. Thursdays are always super busy but super fun. And this one involved free food (woo hoo!!!).

Moving into Westwood Village North

This past weekend, I moved into Westwood Village North, where a cluster of apartments have been in the area for some time now, to serve UCLA students who typically move out of the dorms after their second or third undergraduate year.  At UCLA, we don’t have to worry about moving off campus right away (some friends at another university had to frantically look for an apartment after their freshman year) because we lead the UCs in guaranteeing housing for three years, and are currently working on guaranteeing four.  That’s something we’re very proud of because it gives students ample time to accustom themselves to the neighborhood around school and  gain “street” knowledge of the real estate market in Westwood.

I myself moved out of the dorms a year earlier than necessary because I wanted a taste of apartment life and having my own living room.  However, I already miss many things about the dorms. Where else can you walk to see all your friends within 5 minutes?  Where else do you have easy access to half a dozen residential restaurants, half of which have takeout options, one of which has gelato, and another a coffee shop?  And if I wanted a living room, choosing a suite in Hitch or Saxon would have given me exactly that.  Although it is nice to have your own furniture and kitchen, I’m so glad to have gone through the dorming experience, where I didn’t have to worry about cooking and had the opportunity to meet 10,000 other residents living on the Hill.

10 Things on Your Hill Bucket List

  1. Study in Covel Commons computer lab or study rooms.
  2. Try gelato at Cafe 1919.
  3. Eat in all of the residential restaurants at least once.
  4. Study in your house/floor study lounge.  Great place to meet people in your house/floor!
  5. Study in another house/floor’s study lounge.  Great way to meet others in your residential community!
  6. Play basketball or volleyball on the courts near the Suites.
  7. Work out or hang out at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
  8. Order De Neve Late Night pizza to share with roommates and floormates.
  9. Line up at Bruin Cafe for coffee during the rush right before it closes at 2 a.m.
  10. Watch TV or play pool/ping pong in the huge lounge in Hedrick Summit.

Dorms continued!

OK! Meal plans. You can choose from five meal plans. You can either have 19, 14, or 11 meals a week, and the 19 and 14 plans have a premiere option. Basically, with premiere you get a bunch of benefits:

  • your meal swipes roll over from week to week
  • you can swipe people in
  • you can swipe in more than once each meal period
  • you can donate unused swipes

Premiere plans are referred to as “19P” or “14P.” These are more expensive than the regular ones and the more meals you have, the more expensive your plan is. Your meal plan works by swiping your Bruin Card. Most of the time, you will be swiping into the dining halls (we have three that all have different food). Dining halls are all-you-can-eat buffet style (oh, yeah). You can also use your swipes at Bruin Cafe, Cafe 1919, Rendezvous, or Late Night. These are all take-away options, as you swipe for a pre-portioned meal (sandwich, side, and a drink) and then can take it into campus to eat. I mentioned meal periods; these are times (breakfast from 7-11am, lunch from 11-5, etc.) that you can swipe in for a meal.

On to roommates now! You can either have a single, double, or triple. It’s pretty simple–a single is one person, a double is two, and a triple is three. I had a triple my first year and it was honestly not that bad. Sure, we all kind of lived on top of each other and by the end of the year the floor was not visible underneath a layer of clothes, but it’s not that bad. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, and you don’t even have to live with them. If you really want, you can request a room change. Get excited. It is really weird to have sleepovers every night of the week.

Now time to talk about some cool things about the Hill (oh yeah, if you haven’t figured it out or didn’t know, the Hill is what we call the area with all the dorms). Besides all the delicious food and the classrooms on the Hill, you can find a few other fun things. For one there is the Sunset Recreation Center. It is UCLA’s own country club complete with swimming pools, big fields, volleyball, a ropes course, barbequing, a cabana, athletes, and local Bel Air folk in fancy clothes. The Hill also is home to a farmers’ market, lots of construction, dances and other events in Covel’s Grand Horizon room, and a breathtaking view of the university.

Let me finish up by telling you a little bit about my own dorming experience thus far. Last year, I lived in De Neve Evergreen on the fourth floor. I had a lovely view of the construction on the new De Neve building next door as well as a lovely view of my two roommates’ bunk bed (not too lovely, actually / I slept on the loft bed). I was by far the messiest, the most decorated, and the least math & science-y.

Next year, I am rooming with my friend Safia on the sixth floor of De Neve Birch. But how? Remember the Gender Inclusive housing I mentioned earlier? Well, we are like the first ones to try it out (I am pretty sure we are the first)! Basically, if a girl and boy feel more comfortable rooming with a gender that is not their own, they can send in a request and if they are approved, they may live together on campus. Très chouette! So, that’s what’s going on next year for me. I’m really looking forward to it. Send me a comment if you have any questions or my descriptions were confusing (I always end up writing these things in the nighttime). Good luck!