Every year the question arises for me: What should I do during the long semester break? This summer I decided to go out into the big wide world and experience the American way of life.
Actually, I want to go to Berkeley. But it was simply not possible in terms of the deadline. That’s why I then decided on the – but rather renowned – UCLA. And I have to say – that was a good idea.
At first I thought, oh, this is going to be complicated with visas etc. As a chaos and bureaucratic hater, I first asked myself: How many formalities will I have to deal with now? And horror 1000 km long form images were already buzzing in my head. But it wasn’t that bad at all. A couple of emails to Annika, 2 or 3 forms – that’s it. Only that with the visa was a bit annoying.
What I really liked is that questions were answered so quickly. You probably know the feeling of insecurity when you wait a week or more for an answer to an important question – that was not present here.
Yeah yeah the cost. But what should you expect? It’s an American university! It’s UCLA!
1) The courses
I loved my two Philo courses. Actually, I had expected that some renowned Professor Doktor would give the lectures – that was not the case. Unfortunately? I dont know. In my two courses I was lucky enough to meet two highly motivated lecturers who really took care of the students. It was really important to them that you understood everything (which you are not always used to in Germany – from my experience). The teaching assistants were also very helpful. The material was demanding and the effort involved. I really learned something in LA!
2) The living
I lived in the Rieber Hall for 6 weeks in a room for 3. My roomies were 2 relatively loud Japanese women … but they were nice and funny! The room was relatively small but it was enough. If you want to live there for more than 6 weeks – well, I think it will gradually get tight. If you are a security freak, you are reassured here – the room door can only be opened with a card and code – the bathroom also with a card – oh how often have I locked myself out there! But no problem – the Rieber Hall front desk is there for all emergencies. They will even order you a taxi or, if urgent, let you phone.
Most of the people who lived in Rieber Hall at the time were 17-20 year old Asians. When you’re older like me, that can be annoying – but I found it interesting. The bathroom wasn’t the cleanest either, although it was cleaned every day … is just inevitable when 100 Asians want to shower at the same time.
3) The food
If you decide on a meal plan, then you have to be aware that you will probably not eat there on the weekends anyway – so take the 11 per week meal plan. At first I was afraid that it wouldn’t be enough, but in a few weeks I even had meals left over, so … you can’t starve there either – there is the BruinCafé where you can get sandwiches, muesli and café for money. And then of course the Ackerman Union – Taco Bell, Asian, burger, jamba juice? – everything is there. And down to Westwood isn’t far either.
4) The campus
The campus is amazing. Huge and beautiful! What’s up A recreation center for the sporty ones among you with fitness studio and sauna – 2 pools at the Residence Halls (who can say: Oh, I’ll go sit by the pool for a moment and study there for the exam?) A football stadium, soccer, tennis etc … and of course a huge library.
In addition, there are squirrels running around everywhere – charming.
You definitely have time to travel – provided you don’t take classes on Fridays. There’s actually also time to discover LA – just not enough. I would have loved to stay a week or two to see everything I wanted to see. Art lovers should definitely go to the GettyCenter – it’s not far.
Oh yes – take a thick sweater with you! It gets a little fresh in the evening! Although – forgetting the sweater at home is a good excuse to buy one of the great UCLA sweaters!
Well, basically I really thought it was a great experience. If I had enough money I would do it all over again!