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West Coast Transplant Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to UCLA

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to go far away from New York for college. I wanted a whole new experience, better weather, new people and a ton of activities to do. What I should have done was a bit more research because I did not anticipate all of the pain-in-the-butt things that come with flying across the country for school. International students, I commend you because just figuring out logistics for traveling back and forth feels like another four-unit class. The following are more things I wish I knew before coming to UCLA as a far away out-of-state student:

A Whole Ass Suitcase for Linens
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Because I can’t justify buying new sheets and pillows every year, they must be able to fit into a single suitcase that I lug through LAX while muttering under my breath that I am living through the seventh circle of hell. 

The Car
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While you can mooch off of your friends with cars, I initially thought that public transportation would be a bit more of a reliable option. I still feel like I haven’t seen as much of L.A. as I want to and a lot of that is hindered by my lack of an automobile (and also maybe because I’m afraid to drive here) and the city’s lack of efficient and sufficient investment in buses and trains. You have to make a much more concerted effort to plan day trips and activities because it’s very easy to just get sucked into the West L.A. bubble and not leave. It’s definitely worth it, though, and the more I explore, the more of L.A. I like. 

“The Bay” Could Mean Anything
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Anyone from north of Fresno just says they’re from “The Bay”. It’s not worth it to try and decipher where they are and how close they are to insert San Francisco suburb here. Just smile and nod. You won’t have to humor them forever. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Jaywalk
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If you come to an intersection and find yourself waiting for what feels like an eternity with about thirty other people on the corner next to you, just cross the street. Jaywalking is legal in California as of January 1, 2023. Take advantage of it. Show the cars who’s boss. They will not stop for you, though, so be vigilant. Regardless, there’s no use in waiting forever when there are no cars in sight. Kinda embarrassing tbh. 

65 Degrees in Los Angeles Does Not Feel Like 65 Degrees Anywhere Else
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At home, the second it hits 60 degrees, I’m out the door in a t-shirt and shorts, no jacket to be seen. In L.A. temperatures differ by twenty degrees between the peak of the day and the middle of the evening. Layers. Layers. Layers. You need layers. I pretty much need a full sweatsuit to walk to work at 6 a.m., when it’s 44 degrees outside. Come to find out when I leave my shift at noon that the sun has come out and it’s a bright, sunny 68 degrees. When in doubt, just keep shorts and a tee in your bag. You won’t regret it.

While living in L.A. has brought a bit of a shock in some ways, in others I feel right at home. I love being able to skip class to go to the beach on a bad day (cliche, I know, I don’t care) and I think it’s pretty fun that there are movie premieres on a random Tuesday night. The food in L.A. is great if you know where to look and I’ve just had a ton of fun spending time outside. Even so, it’s a schlep to come to school from far away and not have the same support system around you. It’s quite worth it, though, and I encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone when they can, especially college students. 

Leila is from New York City and is a second-year Statistics major at UCLA. When she's not looking for article ideas for HC UCLA, she can be found at the beach with a book or finding fun places around LA!