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 ❤ (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!

Decisions Decisions…

Seeing groups of college tourists on campus through the last few weeks(Bruin Day!), I was reminded of the days I had to make the choice on which college I will attend. Being a haste decision-maker, I especially had a hard time making what then seemed like the most important decision of my life. I still remember going on walks by the beach to organize my thoughts on the various options I had and to try to figure things out analytically.

“What is the professor to student ratio? What kind of programs does it offer for Pre-Meds? How is the social environment? Will I be able to concentrate on my academics in this environment? Are they offering me any scholarships?”

While trying to sort things out and getting nothing out of it, something hit me. I realized that I had been missing the most important thing in making this decision, which is how I feel about a college. Many people had told me to just visit the campuses and then I will be able to pick the one that “feels right.” I had always dismissed that advice just because I thought it took more than just my feelings about a place. However, as I am finishing up my freshmen year(time flies!), I am seeing myself giving the same advice to seniors making their decisions right now. Of course I researched about each of the colleges, but what it boiled down to at the end for me was how I felt about the campus and the environment. I realized that my happiness is the most important thing in my college life and that it is impossible to figure out which college is for me solely through researching about it online.

With that said, I can confidently say that I have absolutely no regrets about the decision I made as a senior to spend the next four years here at UCLA. As I am finishing up my last quarter of my freshmen year, I cannot be more thankful for the wonderful people I have met so far and the many opportunities UCLA has given me already.

Go Bruins!

Free Football Game Tickets?

Yes! Free football game tickets. UCLA is an awesome school and it has been giving out tickets to incoming freshmen and transfer students at the beginning of every year to let them enjoy some of the school events for free. Last year’s incoming students were able to go to the game for UCLA vs. Washington, in which UCLA won.  This year, the free tickets were for the football game against Utah Utes.

All home football games are held at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. Rides can conveniently be arranged through the shuttle transportation system, or the public transportation system by taking the Metro Gold Line. Or, if you have your own car, you can park at the stadium for a fee of $20. But, because there are a ton of people going to the game, the traffic tends to be congested. So, be sure to leave early to avoid traffic and claim your parking spots! First come, first serve!!

As much as people are enthusiastic about the actual game itself, many get excited for the food. The food completes the whole experience of watching football. The stadium is filled with temporary food vendors where you can find bacon-wrapped hot dogs, garlic fries, Santa Maria tri-tip sandwich, BBQ beef or pulled pork sandwiches, burritos, sweet kettle popcorn, and even teriyaki chicken rice bowls. The concessions sell just about everything: hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, churros, popcorn, candy, and peanuts. Plus, it’s not just any ordinary hot dog. You can either choose a jumbo hot dog, a jumbo bratwurst, Louisiana hot link (includes grilled peppers and onions^^), Italian hot links(serves with marinara and grated mozzarella cheese), or the “Old Fashioned Hot Dog,” which comes with a freshly cooked sausage bun sprinkled with bacon and sharp cheddar cheese. As you might have realized already, I am passionate about food. The Rose Bowl sounds like a happy place to me.

It’s really cool to have the Rose Bowl as our home stadium, because it has hosted many famous games. It has hosted the Olympic Soccer Matches in 1984, the Men’s World Cup in 1994, the Women’s World Cup in 1999, and the BCS National College Football Championship Games in 2002 and 2006. Also, the Rose Bowl Stadium is the eighth largest stadiums in the nation.

This year’s free game was just last Saturday. UCLA won with the final score of 21-14. With our powerful defense, we were able to keep the other team’s offense from scoring any points until the very last quarter.

Although I’m not a huge football aficionado, if I can get a free ticket, and I get to eat great food, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal. Thank you UCLA.

Go Bruins!

Moving in

You know you’re in LA when you feel the surge of warm heat right when you open the car door. I finally arrived at UCLA last Saturday for move-in. It took nearly 6 hours from my hometown, Monterey, to get to Los Angeles by car. Before going to the campus my family stopped by Koreatown, where we had some incredibly refreshing shaved ice, so called potbingsoo, to fight off the heat . Going from a 60 degrees weather to an 80 degrees weather was a big jump for me, but I kind of liked the heat. Although it is pretty warm in LA, it’s never humid, always dry.

Moving in was very fast and easy. The system was set that every family had a space to park their car, so none of them had to wait under the scorching sun. Wheeled carts were provided for us to carry all the stuff to the dorm. My dorm was waiting for me with free ice cream, brownies, and other sweet treats.

The room was not as small as I had imagined. I was horrified at the thought of living with two other people in a tight humid room, but it actually isn’t that bad. Not bad at all! I am living in a triple at Hedrick Hall and there is enough space for all three people to store their stuff. And there is a huge window in every room, so the rooms never really get hot or stuffy. Also, my roommates were nice enough to let me use the bottom bunk, so I really can’t ask for a better place to live. I was nervous about meeting my roommates for the first time, especially since I hadn’t talked to them beforehand, but I found out that they were just normal people who were excited to move in to a new environment, just like me.

So here I am. At UCLA. Ready to start my first quarter in college. I will have many ups and downs, but I will never look back and endure through this challenge.

GO BRUINS!!

Back to the Beginning

 

Hello all! It’s the beginning of the quarter again and Week 1 is in full swing. I want to start by saying I hope everyone had a great break. It was much needed and greatly appreciated, but now its time to get back to work. Over the next week, I’ll be focusing on my studies first and foremost, but I am also looking forward to joining some student groups. Fall quarter was more of a transitional phase for me; I had to get used to my new schedule and being away from my family. Now that the homesickness has just about worn off, I’m ready to join some new clubs. There’s something for everyone and if you’re looking to attend UCLA, it doesn’t hurt to do your research before hand. So here is a list of clubs and organizations that I’m sure would love to have every one of you readers! (This is only a short list. For a complete list of UCLA student organizations, please visit www.studentgroups.ucla.edu)

If you’re interested in community service:

  • Bruin Initiative—aims to lesson educational disparities through tutoring and advising students from elementary to high school grade levels.
  • Project Literacy at UCLA—aims to improve literacy rates in the Los Angeles region through one-on-one tutoring
  • USAC Community Service Commission—aims to create social change, understanding needs of the Los Angeles area, and promote campus wide service programming

If you’re interested in Health & Wellness:

If you’re interested in Recreation:

Again these are just a few organizations that I found interesting. There’s a huge variety that includes hundreds of clubs ranging from culture to politics to religion. When people say there’s something for everyone at UCLA, they mean it!

Fa la la la la Fall Quarter is over!

Winter quarter is right around the corner, which means that I survived my first quarter at UCLA. Congratulate me because it was a little rocky. New place. New job. New people. I’m definitely looking forward to next quarter. This time I’ll know what’s going on most of the time. The only thing I’m looking forward to more than winter quarter is winter break when I’ll have a month to relax and recover. In the end, Fall quarter really wasn’t that bad, which is why I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned and will definitely use for the next four years. So here they are:

Academia-wise

  • Education is your first priority despite your peers. I’ve noticed that many people are extremely concerned with being social and making lots of friends. Its good to make connections, BUT school comes first!
  • Don’t compare your learning abilities to someone else’s. Everyone learns differently and some people can just pick up information quicker and more easily. Just realize that the way you learn is unique and specific to you.

Miscellaneous

  • Don’t expect to be best friends with your roommates. I can’t tell you how many times I ignored this statement and I thought, “It would be so cool to live with your best friend. I hope we become best friends”. If you do become best friends, that is awesome. If not, no worries.
  • Do put money on your bruin card so that you can easily buy things that you need without having to carry your wallet. Trips down to the student store to get cough drops are so much quicker this way.
  • Do try to get a job within your first quarter but don’t worry about working 20 hours a week. On average I worked 7 hours a week and that was somewhat difficult. Definitely keep in mind that besides attending lectures, discussion, and office hours, you must set aside time to study.
  • Do join clubs so that your schedule doesn’t get too boring. Without clubs this quarter my day was usually as follows: class, dorm, lunch, class, dorm, work, dinner, dorm, study, sleep.
  • Do invite friends over to hang out and relax. Many students are into going out and having fun, which is great and necessary, but sometimes its just good to invite friends over to lounge, talk, and read magazines. This is when you get to know your new friends the most.

I have learned so much during the past twelve weeks. It’s seriously unbelievable. I’d say the most important thing I learned was to just relax and take everything in, because I’ll never be in this place in my life ever again. Also, I hope all of you who have recently applied to UCLA are looking forward to your freshman year.

Welcome to Hogwarts

UCLA has been compared to the fictional school of wizardry numerous times. It’s a running joke among all the students, mainly because of its grand architecture (and because we’re so smart, just like Hermione). The original campus once consisted of just four buildings: Royce Hall, the Physics-Biology Building, the College Library (Powell Library), and the Chemistry Building. There are now so many buildings on campus—too many to count—that many students only go into about half of them. This is somewhat because campus is unofficially divided into two portions. Math and Science majors are considered South campus majors because most of their classes are located in buildings on the Southern section of campus. Notable buildings are Franz Hall and Young Hall. Humanities and Liberal arts majors are considered North campus, because the majority of their classes are in the Northern end of campus. The Humanities building, Dodd Hall, and Moore Hall are all North Campus buildings.

Even though this division exists (I am an undeclared humanities major), I am still up to the challenge of going inside every building at UCLA, no matter which half of campus it is dedicated to. Just today, as I walked back to bruin walk from Franz Hall, I approached another building, which I didn’t know the name of, but I walked right inside just out of curiosity. So far, I’ve visited the following buildings on campus:

Ackerman Union

Bunche Hall

Dodd Hall

Franz Hall

Haines Hall

Kerckhoff Hall

Law Building

Murphy Hall

Powell Library

Royce Hall

West Alumni Center

Wooden Recreation Center

I’ve definitely been in more buildings, but these are the ones I actually knew the names of, when I walked through the door. There are many more and thankfully I have four years to complete my challenge. Hopefully I’ll finish before 2015. All of the buildings on campus are beautiful and unique, and each creates an indescribable atmosphere for students. Everyone should spend some time once a day, walking into a new, unfamiliar building.

The Best Place to Study

So to begin, many exciting things have been happening during my first two weeks at UCLA. Of course Zero week was a blast, but now first week is here, and it’s time to get serious. Studying for college courses can be very different, depending on how well you studied in high school. Professors don’t just want you to recite information from the book; they want you to be able to analyze it as well. So you not only have to know the basic information that published materials provide, but you must build on that information, with opinion and analysis. This takes hours and hours of studying, and more importantly, studying well. I’ve been told that for every hour of lecture, there should be two to three hours of studying. So this weekend I took it upon myself to get a head start and scope out the perfect place to study.

After exploring campus a bit over the past few days, I came upon this little courtyard (Shapiro Courtyard) between the Law building and Dodd Hall. It’s like a dream. It’s really quiet without being dead silent. There is a small amount of foot traffic (so just in case you need a break from the books, you can people watch) and an abundance of tables to choose from. There are lots of trees surrounding the area, so you wouldn’t even know it was there. The environment is perfect for me- outdoors, yet remote. Furthermore, I also get inspired by all of the hardworking law students that surround me, as I study.

Everyone has his or her own preferences when it comes down to it. I personally think that studying in a library would drive me crazy. Libraries are drafty with minimal recycled air, and I would probably be the person to drop one of my books and disturb everyone. So I’d rather stick to studying in my dorm room, the floor lounge, or the courtyard I described. I’m sure I’ll find a few other great places to study throughout the quarter. One of the many things that I love about campus is although many students study here, there seems to be a place for everyone.

From an Incoming Freshman

Hey readers, my name is Kendal and I am a new blogger for the UCLA Life Blog. I’m a first-year student so I’ll be able to share all of my new experiences with you all as I adjust campus. It will be as if you’re right here with me =). Go Bruins!

As an incoming freshman, I often get asked what I am most looking forward to during my first year. I immediately say my classes, the friendly student body, and living in Los Angeles. Even more often than that, I’m asked why I decided to attend UCLA. Is this a valid question? Yes. Should I be able to answer it effortlessly? Of course. So what is my answer to this question? Complete silence. I never know what to say out loud. I think to myself “Now Kendal, you are enrolled in one of the best universities in the country and you can’t answer why you want to go here. Shame!” Even though I can’t seem to form a proper response (for some reason unbeknownst to me), I do like to reflect on the special bond I seem to have with this magical place.

I remember that April in 2004 pretty well. My parents and I had arrived at the UCLA campus for the LA Times Festival of Books. I didn’t know it then but we walked right through the newly constructed De neve Plaza (I remember telling my dad how it looked like a hotel). I conquered the hill at 9 years old, I waited in line with my family as John Wooden autographed thousands of copies of his autobiography My Personal Best, and I fell in love with UCLA. It was a quick romance but one that I held onto all through my junior high school years. Needless to say whenever someone questioned which college I had set my eyes on, my answer included the four little letters that anyone and everyone recognized. Half of my classmates would say the same thing. I never really came up with a true reason why I wanted to attend. But back then it was obvious to the 9-year-old me that UCLA is comparable to success in most people’s eyes. Yes my story sounds dramatic but it is definitely accurate, especially the fact that I didn’t realize why I wanted to study at UCLA until this past April. Sure the commitment deadline was looming over my head like a dark cloud, but I had to make sure not to make any hasty decisions. So I thought and thought and stared at walls that entire Saturday morning, trying to decide how one school was better than the other. How one would provide a sense of fulfillment while the other would leave me bored (and probably broke). Some reasons were apparent while others were more demure. In my situation, UCLA is accessible financially (Another local university had my attention as well but they proved to be less accessible in the money department). Second, it’s one of the highest ranked public schools in the nation, which definitely helps when it comes to job prospects. Those were strong motivations.

To complete my reasoning, UCLA is a summation of people, ambitious and intelligent, who all have an interconnected journey that will never cease to impact their lives. And I am now a part of that. So when I move into De Neve this September, I’ll remember the most important reasons why I personally wanted to attend UCLA: First, it nurtures and encourages its students to be ambitious even through times of difficulty, and second, I’m in love with this place!

Dorms!

By now I would guess that all y’all have gotten your dorm assignments. This post will be an introduction to:

  • some background on dorms at UCLA
  • the types of dorms we have

and my next post will cover…

  • meal plans
  • roommates
  • some of the cool things we have on the Hill
  • my dorming experience

Ok, so first off, UCLA guarantees on-campus housing for three years, and we are working on guaranteeing a fourth (at which time we will be the only UC to do so). About 10,000 students live on the Hill each year, which is more people than some towns! Holy cow. Of the students living on the Hill, most are first-years. In fact, over 95% of freshmen live on campus. All dorms at UCLA have co-ed halls and buildings, meaning that girls and boys live together on the same floor, although in Residence halls, bathrooms are not unisex. All the rooms themselves are restricted to the same gender. A new policy called Gender Inclusive Housing was just set in place to change this, but I’ll talk more about that in my next post.

Although UCLA does not organize their dorms into interest-specific communities, there is an opportunity to live in one of six themed communities that center on certain exciting topics. These are limited to one floor each and do not make up a large portion of the dorms at UCLA.

Now on to types of dorms! There are three types of on-campus housing at UCLA:

  1. Residence Halls
  2. Plazas
  3. Suites

Halls are what you would imagine as a typical college dorm experience, very social, doors open, can be sort of messy. Halls are tall, high-rise buildings with long floors. Each floor has two bathrooms, one for boys and one for girls. The bathrooms have many showers, toilets, and sinks, so you rarely have to wait for one if you live in a Hall. This type of dorm is the most social as Halls house mostly first-years (and you have the least amount of privacy). Most importantly, Halls are the least expensive.

Plazas are a beautiful thing / the best option at UCLA / amazing / my favorite type of dorming option, but don’t let my bias influence you. There are two types of plazas: ones with a shared bathroom and ones with a private bath. De Neve and Sunset Village both have private baths meaning that each room has its own bathroom. Hedrick Summit and the Reiber buildings have shared baths, which means that two neighboring rooms share one bathroom (although each room has its own designated sink). Sure, Plazas might be less social than Halls, but that’s why you go out and meet people in student clubs and in your classes and at the gym. This option is more expensive than living in a Hall, but less expensive than living in a…

Suite! Sweet! Ok, so finally we have Suites. They are basically for students who want to live in an apartment but also want to live on campus. Suites are HUGE. They have two bedrooms, a hallway, a bathroom, and a living room (not to mention like five closets). In all honesty, ten people could live in a suite. I recommend this option to people who:

  • liked UC Santa Cruz but chose UCLA (the Suites are outdoorsy)
  • like walking
  • wouldn’t mind living in a motel
  • are mildly anti-social (Suites are the least social of the three dorming options)
Suites are also the most expensive because you get to live in a mansion while all of the other Hill residents live in cardboard boxes. Just kidding–every room on the Hill is pretty cushy. Stay tuned for more tips in my next post!