A Thank You Letter To UCLA For Making My Freshman Year Unforgettable

Dear UCLA,

Thank you.

You gifted me with a present that completely changed my life: acceptance to my dream university. This present was different from any other, as I was used to items or experiences that for the most part would spark only temporary joy. The purse I had been wanting for years and finally got for my 16th birthday couldn’t make me feel better when I felt alone and empty. The pair of boots I bought for myself around the holidays couldn’t make me smile on days I just wanted to drown in my amplified thoughts. The A on a paper I worked hours on end for would mean nothing the next time I did poorly on an exam. Every moment of happiness I experienced was just waiting to be taken away, to only last for a mere second. I convinced myself that nothing exciting was even worth my energy. Depressing is an understatement.

But then came April 16th, 2018. I was anxiously waiting days on end to hear back, yet I was convinced I would be going to community college. I was so convinced that I was already planning out my schedule of classes to make sure I could get out of community college in a year. Nonetheless, that day, I forced my dad to stop by Ralph's on our way back home school so I could have some Oreos and Lays Chips to binge on and to buffer my nerves as I awaited the decision. In my room, isolated, I finally opened my MyUCLA portal. I was stunned by a, "Congratulations!". It was the most empowering congratulations I have ever been told. This acceptance did not spark temporary joy. It felt permanent. It was mine. It was something that could not be taken away, something that would last. Something so incredible that it could get me through the bad. It was a constant reminder of perspective- that good things do come to those who wait, that my problems don't have the power I have given them for the past year. It was a constant reminder that I did have control. 

UCLA, you gifted me four years at an amazing institution filled with opportunities like no other. You gifted me an education, a place to grow, a place to cry and a place to merely be. You gifted me a place close to home but far enough to live independently. Thank you so much.

Thank you for the stressful enrollment moments in which I sat in fear watching my classes fill up and being stuck with professors I knew nothing about. Thank you for the extremely acidic coffee and lack of variety of lunch options at your coffeehouse. Thank you for the stream of hills that make walking to class a total calorie burner. But really, thank you. I have always ended up getting the classes I needed, being able to switch pretty easily, actually. I have grown to love Kerckhoff's coffee, now knowing that their dark roast blend is honestly pretty tasty. I now bring food from the beloved hill, so I never have to settle for Kerckhoff's Bento lunch boxes. I am able to get in a small workout by simply walking to class, a total steal.

But really, thank you. Thank you for teaching me the value of health, sleep, family and friends. Thank you for giving me opportunities like no other- allowing me to write more than ever before, to join groups of brilliant students pursuing education at great lengths, to be a part of clubs where students chase their passions and work to make their dreams a reality. Thank you for your beauty, your resources and your might. Thank you for allowing me to learn from some of the most accomplished in the field, to study and collaborate in the most beautiful libraries, to play piano when I simply feel like it. Thank you for housing the most wonderful student communities, for embracing all cultures, values and individuals. Thank you for taking care of your students. Thank you for the constant renovations and your willingness to listen. Thank you for the people you admit, for they are the most amazing people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. Thank you for making me feel lost, and then pushing me to be found. Thank you for the nights spent studying to the point of tears, for it taught me the power of time management and seeking help early on. You are pretty big, and we might just be another number to you, but to say you don't do your best to make us all feel important is the easy way out. Thank you for everything.

And most importantly, thank you for teaching me more about myself than I have ever known. 

But more importantly, your food is spectacular