Discover Studying Abroad

Tips to survive your first year at UCLA

Things only a seasoned Bruin can tell you.
BY Anandamayee Singh |   13-03-2019

BrainGain Magazine

So, you’ve narrowed down your options and decided to attend the number one public university in the U.S. Good choice. We have 120 majors and 80 minors. We housed the first internet transmission, and were a haven for Ray Bradbury while he was writing Fareinheit 415. Our alums include Kumail Nanjiani and James Franco, and Kanye West repeatedly shuts down our gym to use the basketball courts. No big deal, right?

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All in all, UCLA offers you a dizzying variety of options that can be a bit overwhelming. How do you choose between hundreds of interesting and niche classes and extracurriculars? How do you navigate UCLA’s obsession with the eight clap, people’s cult-like fixation on Diddy Reise and the administration’s desperate desire to get you to read the common book? Fear not, new Bruin, this seasoned alum has some honest recommendations for you.

Embrace Bruinwalk. No, really. Unlike what the brochures would like you to be believe, Janss steps are not a testament to the diversity of UCLA. Bruinwalk, with its aggressive Christian preachers, samosa peddlers, horchata sales, flyer pushers, annoyed and righteous bicyclists and passionate protestors is a nice, concentrated dose of UCLA’s campus culture

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Unless, of course, its election week for the Undergraduate Students Association Council, because then you run the risk of being sold faker promises than the welcome letter, and/or being hit in the head with a large poster of someone’s face or campaign. But other than that, try to walk through Bruinwalk as much as you can your first year, because, at the very least,  you might get ‘hella’ free stuff.

Take advantage of all the free food, events and services college offers. If you have UCship, you can get your teeth whitened for free, get an IUD and free condoms anytime you want. Check out all the services included in UCship. The Central Ticket Office also offers discounts on tickets to several theme parks including Six Flags and Universal Studios. As a Bruin, you get a discount rate for the L.A. Metro card every quarter, and great deals for performances at Royce. Make use of these to explore L.A. I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t given myself the chance to make as many memories as possible in this iconic city.

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Once you move out of the dorms, events on campus with free food will also be lifesaver. I got a whole chicken at an event once, and didn’t have to buy any protein for three weeks. I could buy a last minute ticket to a Florence concert with the money I saved. Imagine the possibilities for you!

Take advantage of Westwood! You are right next to the Hammer museum and the Geffen Playhouse.  The Hammer museum has free entry, free wifi, some really great exhibits and events, and these weird chairs that are like a ride at an amusement park. If you’re taking a humanities class, try to tie in an exhibit into your coursework. Professors love that.

The Geffen playhouse also puts up some really great plays. Everytime I went, I saw a celebrity. The tickets only cost $10 for students, instead of the usual $200. That is the kind of discount you will never ever experience in your life again, so please make use of it!

Push yourself to take classes outside of your major. UCLA has amazing faculty in every department. They are well read, well published and have great real-life experience in their fields. In my time at UCLA, I have taken life science classes that completely changed the way I thought about science and the world, acting classes that pushed me so out of my comfort zone that it became very difficult to embarrass me in any way afterwards, and a playwriting class that briefly made me consider taking a theater minor. If you stick to your major, your experience at college will be colored by that single discipline. So do yourself a favour and shop around for courses during week one.

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There will be moments at UCLA where you will just break down crying. There will also be moments where you’ll feel immensely proud of yourself, for trying something new, acing your classes, helping out a friend organizing an event for your fellow Bruins. I have loved and hated UCLA with a deep passion, but I would never, ever be able to step into the adult world and face its challenges, if I hadn’t found my place at UCLA. That is my final piece of advice to you, young Bruin. Find your place at UCLA, and watch yourself thrive.



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