We recently got a chance to catch up with our student from two years ago, who now attends UCLA. She was thrilled to give us the dirt on campus life, what her classes are like, the food and the safety on campus. Read on for more!
1) What are three words you would use to describe UCLA?
Passionate, Diverse, Competitive.
2) On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the most safe) how safe would you say UCLA’s campus is? And why?
I would say UCLA is at least an 8.
Many people are worried about the safety issue when it comes to studying in the States. Safety was definitely one of my priorities in choosing a university. I am glad that I have made the right decision, because UCLA is definitely one of the safest campuses in the U.S. If you live in the dormitory area, it is completely safe to walk on the street, even at 3AM! There are guards patrolling at night, and emergency buttons are set up throughout the campus and the dorms.
There was a murder-suicide incident that frightened many students last year. However, students received a BruinAlert, a system that alerts students for any potential dangers via emails and messages, seconds after a student witnessed a stranger with gun. Students were instructed via BruinAlert to stay inside and lock the doors. Only after a few minutes, police and helicopters patrolled the school. Dangers can happen anywhere, but UCLA has a very responsive system that prioritizes students’ safety.
3) How would you compare UCLA to Berkeley and USC? (A sentence or two about each school and then how they compare)
My answer is definitely going to be biased. So from a UCLA student’s point of view, we definitely think UCLA is the best.
Compared to USC, UCLA has a much safer and larger campus.
Compared to Berkeley, I would say UCLA is less academic and less competitive. A friend from Berkeley told me that she felt Berkeley is like a miniature society, where students are very proactive in communicating with each other similar to the way colleagues would exchange insights on their businesses. Whereas UCLA has a more traditional lecture style and is more focused on maintaining a diverse campus life.
4) Your three favorite things about attending UCLA? And why?
Firstly, it would have to be the beautiful campus. UCLA has a big and organized campus, where the dormitory area (called ‘the Hill’), and classrooms are separated. Besides the beautiful, old buildings on campus that have been featured in many famous movies, the Hill provides comprehensive facilities; such as fitness centers, study lounges, printing centers, etc.
This leads to my second favorite thing, which is dorm food. UCLA is famous for its awesome dorm food. There are 4 different dinning halls; each provides different kinds of food, such as healthy food, Asian food, and traditional American food. Besides dinning halls, we also have Cafés and a to-go Mexican and Asian restaurant. Anyways, freshman 15 (gaining 15 pounds during freshman year) is a legitimate threat here with all the delicious food.
My third favorite thing would be UCLA’s location. Since we are in LA, there are so many opportunities to explore the metropolis. There are also many possibilities to realize your dreams here. Basically, this is a city where you will encounter countless surprises.
5) Tell us a little about your major?
I came into UCLA as a linguistics and computer science major. Compared to the computer science major in the school of Engineering, this major is relatively less demanding. All the fundamental computer science classes are required for this major. For the linguistic studies, there are classes such as Semantics, Syntax and Phonetics. Students graduating with this major can find CS-related jobs like other computer science students, or find jobs as a linguist. The advantage of this major is the linguistic background. Since the competition is intense for software engineering jobs, the linguistic background will attract recruiters looking for extra skills besides basic computer science knowledge. Currently, I plan to look for jobs in voice recognition and artificial intelligence areas.
6) How do you find the professors/classes at UCLA? (Are they famous? Do they make time for everyone? How large are the classes?)
There are indeed many famous professors at UCLA. For example, the dean of the linguistic department, Bruce Hayes, is a prestigious linguist in linguistic academia.
To be honest, some famous professors can be really bad at teaching so self-learning is a vital skill in college. However, every professor will have office hours once a week. So students have opportunities to talk to their professors one-on-one if they don’t understand class content. Class sizes vary depending on majors. For my linguistic classes, the usual class size is around 40 people. For computer science classes, however, the class size is roughly 200 people.
7) How is the food on campus?
We have so many different types of food: Asian, Mexican, Italian, American, and healthy food including grilled meat, fish and chicken breasts, and salads.
We also have late night, which is from 9pm to 2 am, including pizzas, chicken wings, boba, waffles and many more delicious foods.
8) How would you compare your experience at UCLA to your brief experience at Uni Melb?
University of Melbourne doesn’t have such a strong sense of community and campus life as UCLA. In Uni Melb, I feel like college life only takes up a part of a student’s daily life. At UCLA, especially when you live on campus, you are completely immersed in college life. I really like this sense of college community, where you can conveniently meet up with friends in a dinning hall after class, or study together in study lounges.
9) What are the dorms like (new/old? Safe? Big? Community?)
I feel like I have pretty much said everything I wanted to say about dorms. One thing I’d like to add is that I strongly recommend living in dorms to experience dorm life. This is definitely one of the most unforgettable experiences for me at UCLA.
10) What are the biggest surprises you’ve met, studying in the U.S.? (Politics? Distance? People?)
Well, there have been many surprises during the past two years here in the U.S. For one thing, I never realized how different it would be to study at UCLA compared to in Melbourne. Coming from a high school with only 60 people in the cohort, finding my identity and friendship group has been one of the hardest things I faced. The large number of students on campus astonished me, initially. I remember the first few days after I arrived, wandering around campus thinking, ‘how weird it is to see so many students from the same school but to never get to know them?’. Indeed, for many of the students I have met in class, it is very unlikely that we will ever have a class together again. Therefore, it is very important to join clubs and reach out to people proactively.
11) Anything else you would like to add?
Since UCLA is on a quarter system, there are three mandatory quarters each year. Each quarter has only 10 weeks, and a finals week. This means that time surely flies by. It is very hard for every student to cope with the quarter system when they first experience it. But once you find the right pace, it ceases to be a problem. I actually really like the quarter system now, because, for one thing, each quarter is very short meaning you can always countdown to the holiday. In addition, I feel like you learn a lot more things in the quarter system because all the course contents are tightly packed within the duration of ten weeks.
Coming to UCLA is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Undeniably I went through a lot of struggles to settle down and set everything on the right track. However, I have greatly benefitted from this experience. I have made many inspiring and diverse friends that I have a lot in common with. In addition, UCLA also provides a great platform to find internships and jobs at well-known, major corporations.