University: University of California Los Angeles
City: Los Angeles
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: geography
Study type: Summer Sessions
On the last Saturday in July, the time had finally come – my plane to Los Angeles left Düsseldorf early in the morning. I had thought about how I could organize a stay abroad for a long time in advance. From language trips to Erasmus and summer sessions, everything was there. A good seven months before departure, I then decided to do a summer session at UCLA. There was a lot to plan and organize in advance, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The paper war was limited! And with the active support of MicroEdu, registering at UCLA went smoothly.
I chose UCLA because, firstly, I wanted to go to California, secondly, I needed a university that offered geography courses exactly during my semester breaks, and thirdly, I wanted to avoid the TOEFL test. UCLA has a beautiful, leafy but hilly campus and is located in the Westwood neighborhood. About half an hour from Santa Monica by bus. There are a few students on campus who use bicycles to get around, but otherwise everyone walks. So you can be prepared for a long walk to the university buildings, but when the sun is shining every morning and the typical American cheerleaders and many sports teams complete their daily training on the sports field, you can also go to the university in the morning. Visit anycountyprivateschools.com to get information about University of California Irvine study abroad program.
After you have found the right university for you, you contact MicroEdu to provide your contact details and to receive the first important information. It is best to start preparing six months in advance so that you have enough time for everything and the flight does not become too expensive. The first thing to check is whether your passport is still valid and for how long. Or, as in my case, you have to apply for one in the first place. After that, it is best to try to get a credit card if you don’t have one yet, because without a credit card nothing works when paying the visa fees. Then you should think about what to submit as proof of English, e.g. the high school diploma or a language course from the university, etc. Before you fill out the registration documents, you can find out which courses you want to take and which housing option you prefer. When you register, you also submit proof to the bank that you have sufficient financial resources. After you have been accepted at the university, you can take care of a flight and visa. You should allow at least one day to pay the visa fees and arrange an appointment.
I lived off campus in the Westwood Palm Apartments, which are very close to the on campus living options. But you can also be unlucky and live very far from campus. The advantage of the off campus apartments is that you have more freedom, your own kitchen, a large living room and more space to study if you have chosen very work-intensive courses. The downside is that the apartments are furnished but there are no kitchen utensils. Likewise, there is neither a telephone nor bed linen, apart from the pillow. So you have to bring a pillowcase, bed sheet and blanket from home or you can buy them locally. The apartments have air conditioning, which is very pleasant in hot summers. The nearest supermarket is about 20 minutes away from Westwood Palm, but the way back is uphill! Incidentally, groceries are generally more expensive in the USA than in Germany and the tax is almost never included in the price. To save a little money you can get the Ralphs Card in the supermarket.
The card is free and many groceries are sold cheaper after showing the card.
You can buy kitchen utensils, for example, in the plastic version in the supermarket or, like me, drive to Ikea, but that was a bus ride of four hours in total, but it’s doable.
With on-campus accommodation, there are these typical, cramped little rooms in Rieber Hall, in which two to three people sleep and the showers and toilets are in the hallway, or the option of living in somewhat more spacious apartments for four to six people. These Saxon Suites are on campus and have two bedrooms for two or three people, a living room, two sinks, a toilet and a shower. Linen is provided and housekeeping is done once a week. On campus you are closer to the action and meet more students, both German and international students. You also get to know more students in the canteen. The canteens are very nicely furnished and at first glance everything looks very varied, but after a while you realize that basically there is always the same thing. There is a salad bar, different types of rice, pizza, fries, burgers, vegetarian dishes and changing main courses. If you don’t have a meal plan because you live in the off campus apartments, you can load up your student card and get an all-you-can-eat meal for about $7. If you plan to take trips to California on the weekends, don’t order too many meals, as any unused food will be gone by the end of the week. 11 meals a week was enough for most students. you can top up your student card and get an all-you-can-eat meal for about $7. If you plan to take trips to California on the weekends, don’t order too many meals, as any unused food will be gone by the end of the week. 11 meals a week was enough for most students. you can top up your student card and get an all-you-can-eat meal for about $7. If you plan to take trips to California on the weekends, don’t order too many meals, as any unused food will be gone by the end of the week. 11 meals a week was enough for most students.
Sightseeing, shopping and sports
There is so much to explore in and around Los Angeles and the good news is that many of the activities don’t require a car. Universal Studios, Walk of Fame, Getty Center, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Melrose Ave. etc. – all of this can be reached by bus! However, the bus ride is not discounted for students despite the student card. A bus ride costs between $1-2. A car is worthwhile for further weekend trips eg to San Diego, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Francisco and the beaches. The car rental companies are all close to the airport and under 25 years old you have to pay an extra fee.
There is a large fitness center on campus that also offers physical education classes and a pool area. In Venice Beach you can take a surf course at the weekend.
In LA and the surrounding area there are many shopping opportunities and outlets where branded clothing is offered at much lower prices. If you are quickly tempted to do so, you should either arrive with less clothing and stock up there or check in a second piece of luggage on the return flight.
In my geography courses, both of which I really liked, there were only Americans. But in other courses like public speaking, communication, business administration, psychology etc. there are a lot of international students. One should not choose more than two courses if excursions and fun are not to be neglected. My courses were very work-intensive because I had to hand in papers every week and also had to prepare a longer elaboration for both courses. When choosing courses, it is best to choose courses in the morning or afternoon, but not too late in the evening and definitely not on Friday if you want to do longer trips at the weekend.
Overall, this summer session was a very positive experience for me and anyone who has the chance to do something like this should use it. I was able to refresh and improve my English, but with so many German students I spoke a lot of German.
The many excursions, the helpful Americans, the beautiful campus, the good weather and much more will remain in my memory for a long time. If you still have time after the summer session, you should take the chance and explore a little more California. You should plan a few days, especially for San Francisco and the surrounding area, mainly because the weather in the San Francisco Bay doesn’t always play along. A bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge is unforgettable!