Lottie Harold – Geography – University of California, Los Angeles – United States
Having spent all of the previous day hysterically clinging onto my boyfriend and telling myself I didn’t want to go, when the plane touched down on Saturday I knew I was going to have a fantastic year. Saturday was a mad rush, after leaving the airport at 3pm, Josh, another UoM student, and I waited for a SuperShuttle to UCLA. With 7 different stop offs before ours we ended up getting a tour of LA by taxi and talking to the guy sat next to us about the Roast of Rob Lowe – turns out he wrote the sketch! When we finally arrived at UCLA I checked into my bedroom – a triple room, so shared with two strangers!! I was expecting this to be awful, and after living in OP Tower I feel I’m an expert on horrendous living conditions, but the place is like a 5-star hotel, and the catered food is like dining in a restaurant! After a quick trip to Target to get bedding (they use comforters instead of duvets, and a single in the UK is a twin here, which made shopping very confusing) I finally met my roommates and floor, they’re all so nice!
Being extremely jetlagged I woke up at 3am and spent a few hours skyping home (fortunately it was midday there). Sunday involved a whole day of meetings: firstly, our dorm meeting, complete with clapping and chatting and everything shy English people hate. Secondly was the Welcome to Bruin Life show, where all 7000 new students gathered in the basketball court for a talk from the Chancellor of UCLA, famous alumni and current students, again with more cheering. Monday brought about the annual UCLA tradition: volunteer day! All 7000 new freshmen, transfers and exchange students are put on school buses to various locations in LA and do a full day of volunteering for the community! My floor and I were sent to a local park to pick up ‘trash’ and do some weeding; very sweaty, but very rewarding. That night was the annual BruinBash, a concert put on in the basketball court, this year headlined by Ty Dolla $ign, it was a very strange experience to be in a room of people dancing all out but with everyone being sober (the drinking age is 21), but quite refreshing to see that people can still have a great time and go crazy without drinking.
Practical things had to be done on Tuesday, including attending international student orientation, attending a visa check-in, and opening an American bank account. There was also the Enormous Activities Fair, just like freshers fair but in 30C heat. In the evening our halls hosted a silent disco, which again was bizarrely sober but a really great laugh.
Now all the welcome events are over I’m excited for classes and clubs to start, to meet new people and try some new activities. I’m also excited for opportunities to explore the LA region, and hope to join the International Society to meet other like-minded international students who want to see the sights!