Welcoming New Bruins

It is hard to believe that I am entering my last year as a UCLA undergraduate. While a year sounds like ample time I know it will fly by! Zero week is always one of the most exciting times for UCLA students. There are a huge amount of activities to choose from the widely anticipated Bruin Bash to the enormous activities fair. UCLA makes a huge effort to not only welcome new freshmen and transfer but also remind returning bruins how incredible their university truly is.
Bruin Bash this year was performed by E-40 and Tyga. Pauley Pavilion was packed with excited students and the artists definitely did not disappoint. The next morning was the giant activities fair where UCLA’s 1000 clubs and organizations gather to table and explain their purpose. It is a great opportunity for new and returning students to learn about all of the different options to get involved during the school year (the free food/candy doesn’t hurt either!).
Monday evening the new students attend a “True Bruin Welcome” where they are officially welcomed by Chancellor Block and the USAC student body president. Following these speeches students attend a barbeque to meet and greet with other bruins. UCLA makes a huge effort to help new students in their transition. I remember zero week of my first year as when I finally felt like a full college student. Being surrounded by so many incredible people and realizing we are all embarking on a brand new adventure was unforgettable.
The next step in the agenda of new students is participating in UCLA’s Volunteer Day. Volunteer Day is a tribute to UCLA’s Los Angeles community, where students go out across LA to volunteer in all different capacities. This day is very reflective of UCLA’s emphasis on community service and giving back to our community. It is also a chance for students to figure out what volunteer opportunities they might be most interest in over their four years.
Entering college is an unbelievably exciting time. I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed, but I still remember that first zero weeks fondly. I remember college being such an intimidating idea, but now UCLA really does feel like home. To all new bruins, welcome to UCLA and cherish these four incredible years ahead of you.

Zero Week!

 

Balloons everywhere, flyers left, right, and sideways, herd of new students, Greek shirts…it must be ZERO WEEK.

I cannot believe the start of the school year is already here.  It seems like just yesterday campus cleared out for summer vacation.  I still vividly remember my first Zero Week as a Freshman at UCLA.

I am so excited to welcome new students (both Freshmen and Transfers).  I have already spent several hours of my week passing out flyers and bouncy balls  as well as sporting some USAC stickers.  However, I am just one of many.  UCLA has nearly 1,000 clubs and organizations and this is the week for them to start recruiting new members.

It is easy to feel lost in the midst of all the madness, but so long as you’ve got a friend or a roommate it can be a lot of fun!  One of the best parts of zero week is that (as a new student) you are not alone.  Every new student is looking for a community, while every club is looking for new students.  They give out free shirts, bags, frisbees, and food just to make you feel welcome!  I know I definitely snagged a new draw string backpack and a few pens today.  I’d count that as a success any day!

Zero week is definitely crazy, but it is a great way to jump into the school year! I cannot believe this is my last one!

Zero Week: no longer a Fall phenomenon!

Some of you may love the Fall quarter especially for its Week 0 (“zero week”) on top of the football season and great weather (it was 80ºF/26ºC this past weekend!), but luckily for us, this year we will have Week 0’s for all of our quarters. I love Week 0 because that’s when everyone is back in town but classes haven’t begun yet, so there’s not yet any pressure to be studying instead of enjoying the weather, campus events, or your friends’ company.  I have always looked forward to Fall quarter more than any other not because the summer has been long and needs to end already, not because it marks the beginning of a new school year and a new identity for me (junior already?), but because I love Week 0 when there are tons of things going on on campus and around Westwood, and there’s absolutely no excuse to be missing any of it. Hopefully, quarterly Week 0’s are here to stay, because I could certainly use a week of relaxation and readjustment before beginning the next quarter.  Those who want to save more on flight tickets can also stay home a couple more days and fly back later (instead of rush in the few days of expensive tickets right after New Year’s Day). In case you’d like suggestions, or prospective students who want to envision yourselves at UCLA, here are somethings to do during Week 0:

  1. Try a new restaurant in Westwood.
  2. Visit the Wooden gym (if you avoid it based on the excuse that you have to “study”, like me).
  3. Go to a movie showing in Westwood.
  4. Go shopping in the UCLA Store.  A Bruin can never have enough BearWear!
  5. Go shopping in Westwood.
  6. Take the bus somewhere (Santa Monica? Culver City?).
  7. Visit the Getty Museum on a clear day.  Bring a camera!
  8. Try new dining halls (especially the one you’re usually reluctant to visit because it’s too far).
  9. Hang out with your residential community (floor mates, house mates, neighbors) before everyone gets busy with schoolwork and extracurriculars.  Attend community events put on by your RA!
  10. Visit a coffee shop in Westwood just to enjoy a hot drink in the cold weather, or catch up with a friend.

Bruins at the LA County Fair

This past Saturday was UCLA day at the L.A. County Fair.  Current UCLA students, staff and their families were able to attend the L.A. County Fair with free admission, and alumni were able to attend for $5 admission rather than the usual $13.  If staying around UCLA during zero week weekend isn’t exciting enough for Bruins, we get to go to the County Fair at Pomona Fairplex for free!

Of course, upon getting past the entrance for free or $5 discounted admission (which I unfortunately missed out on), the attractions and games are far from complimentary, but one can still have tons of fun without spending more than $20.  Since admission would have cost $13, spending $20 on 40 “tickets” to play carnival games, ride the ferris wheel, or attend other fun attractions, is well worth the money. In addition to carnival games and lots of food, the fair also had themed exhibitions (ie. one dedicated to the tropical jungle), as well as indoor booths for vendors looking to spread the word.  Anything from cookies to Shamwows could be found here.  The fair and its attractions accommodate people of all ages and tastes, and something across the huge Fairplex will surely capture your attention, no matter what you’re interested in.

Although I am going into my third year, this was my first time at the L.A. County Fair.  Personally, I had never been to a fair of these proportions or a fairground of this size.  I had only seen these extravagant fairs in movies and television series, and had never seen a “Texas-sized turkey leg” in real life.

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.

Enormous Activities Fair 2011

Monday was the annual Enormous Activities Fair, where hundreds of student-run organizations take advantage of zero week to reach out and recruit interested students for their clubs.  The fair took place in Royce Quad and Wilson Plaza, in which thousands of students congregated to find out more about organizations they can get involved with.  It is safe to say that hundreds of clubs came out to represent, tended by even more students, intent on spreading the word about their organizations and recruiting others who are interested in the same cause.

I had a wonderful time at the YOUTHphonics A Cappella table, walking around browsing other clubs, and picking up flyers and freebies that were being handed out, anything from lanyards to bandaid dispensers.  It was great to see the expansive quad between Royce Hall, Powell Library, Haines Hall and Humanities Building, bustling with students wondering what to get involved in and keeping an open mind for everything that crossed their paths.  As far as the eye could see (from my tiny table), it seemed like a sea of people funneling through the narrow aisles, as club members filled up half the space to (playfully) battle one another for interested students, both freshmen and returning.

At any given moment, it is safe to say that involvement at UCLA is incredible and that students genuinely value their extracurricular activities.  The positive spirit that unified everyone was eminent; people were interested in everything they heard about and were open to new ideas, as well as stepping out of their comfort zones to find their new sphere of influence, in the next chapter of their life titled College.  This enormous activities fair alone showed hundreds (maybe thousands) of Bruins what it means to be an active part of the UCLA campus and a contributing body, that makes up the 955 registered clubs we have today.

Our (fabulous!) quarter system

You might be wondering what all those references to “10th week” were about. UCLA, along with almost all of the other UCs, sports a quarter system. We have four quarters (duh), one of which is summer that students don’t need to attend. All quarters are ten weeks long with a finals week tacked on to the end. Finals week is great because it doesn’t have to last until Friday. When you pick your classes, you can see what time the final is scheduled. Some classes don’t even have finals (they’re called Exam Code 30). This way, students’ last days can be as early as Monday. Fall quarter also has an extra week in the beginning to acclimate all the students. It’s called “Zero Week” for two reasons. One, it is before week 1, and two, you don’t have to do anything. Our student government puts on concerts and presentations, movies and games, and really, Zero Week is just a lot of fun.

Because the quarters are only ten weeks long, life at UCLA moves pretty fast. Midterms arrive almost immediately and skipping a lecture can really put you behind. It isn’t anything to worry about though–you take fewer classes at the same time in the quarter system when compared to a semester system. With semesters, students usually take about five or six classes. That is a lot of information on several different subjects for sudents to keep in their minds and is only possible because of the slower pace of a semester. Because things move more slowly, classes can drag, and if you are unhappy with a class or professor, you have to endure for longer than just ten weeks. The quarter system is great because you only have to take three or four classes a quarter, which is manageable and fun because of the fast pace. And if you don’t like a class, it’s over soon!

UCLA has a unique quarter system in that we label each week. We call the weeks “Week 1, Week 2,” and so on, which is a pretty obvious labeling system, but it is special to UCLA. Students here stop thinking of days and months and instead think, “what will I be doing 7th week?” and “I have a midterm week 4.”

I am very happy with and proud of our quarter system. I encourage you to not be scared or intimidated by its reputation for moving fast; instead, remember how much fun it can be!

10th Week = Finals Week

We have just finished 10th week at UCLA, which is a momentous occasion, especially given that it’s Spring Quarter.  This means our next break is… SUMMER!!  This is generally what pulls most Bruins through the last stretch of finals week.  However, I was extremely lucky this quarter (unlike Winter Quarter) and all of my finals or final papers were due during 10th week, which means I am completely free during Finals Week!!  This leaves my opportunity to distract my fellow Bruins.  The obvious option for most people would be to start packing, get home, and get summer vacation started.  I’m a little different in this respect…

I decided to stay until Thursday of Finals week to enjoy all the benefits of UCLA in an academic-free environment.  This next week, I have the opportunity to enjoy all the activities and recreation of UCLA and Westwood without the constraint of homework and essays.  My year has come full circle, given this is how Zero Week functions at the very beginning of the year; now I have my very own Zero Week at the END of the year!  I’m excited to take advantage of Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, the John Wooden Center, Westwood dining, and everything else we love to do as Bruins.  Anyway, I’m very lucky to have this opportunity this year and it will be an excellent beginning to summer vacation.  Happy Summer and Go Bruins!!