It’s seemed forever away for so long, and now I’m flying off to LA in just a week! It still seems so ridiculously early to start packing – knowing me, I’ll leave it to the last minute anyway.
A few updates since my first post:
The visa is (finally) sorted. It only took 5 hours of queuing at the American Embassy in London and a disgusting amount of paperwork, but hey! I am technically allowed to arrive in the US 30 days before term starts (i.e. could be there now if I wanted) and I know that some people are using that time to do a bit of travelling, but I want to enjoy the rest of my summer (and money) in the UK and perhaps make use of the 30 days I have after the school year ends instead.
Some of the questions I was asked on one stage of the J-1 application process were absolutely mad –
Like, how many terrorists would decide to come clean about their intentions and honestly answer ‘yes’ to that?!
I have been assigned my accommodation! The good news is I’m on campus, which just makes life so much easier. All on-campus residences are catered, so I won’t have to cook for myself for the first time in 2 years! The potentially bad news is that I’m sharing a triple dorm with 2 other girls. I haven’t done that since school and I’ve gotten used to having my own space! Have spoken to them both on Facebook though and they both seem really nice, so should be absolutely fine! The rooms are apparently really quite small (bunk beds and everything) and with no air conditioning. The no A/C thing didn’t really bother me when I first read it, then I spent a week in Greece on a boat with no A/C and soon began to appreciate the utter agony of constant stifling heat.
To be honest, however, the on-campus accommodation at UCLA seems to be of such a high quality that I reckon almost anything will be an upgrade from what I’m used to. The building I’m in, Saxon Suites, was knocked down and rebuilt last year and looks absolutely incredible from the outside:
That front wall apparently is regularly turned into an outside cinema screen, which is just so cool!
I’ve been speaking to my future roommates on Facebook and they both seem really nice. Both are from California, which could be a blessing or a curse – we shall have to see.
I’ve signed up for a 14 Premiere meal plan, meaning I get 2 meals a day which roll over from week to week. Apparently we can swap meal swipes for pizza deliveries etc. which sounds like a very dangerous game!
The other excitement has been that I have enrolled in my classes for the first term. This was the biggest source of stress for me as I have to balance the requirements of my 2 subjects back at Trinity College with the rules, regulations and prerequisites of the departments at UCLA. After many rushed emails, however, I have managed to wriggle my way into 2 Film classes (Overview of the Contemporary Film Industry, Entertainment Economics) and 2 English classes (American Fiction from the 1990s, Comedy). It’s recommended that we only take 3 classes in the first quarter, so I reckon I’ll drop the one I like least after 2 weeks. None of these were my first choice, so I’m hoping I’ll be a bit quicker off the mark for next term. I didn’t realise what a stress enrolling in classes was – at Trinity it’s such a (frustratingly) slow and leisurely process!
A great thing about the American college class enrolment system is that there are so many options, it’s fairly easy to structure a timetable the way you like it. I’ve managed to wrangle not having any classes on a Friday, which means I can take an extended weekend trip without missing any class (attendance is really important there apparently).
Also, how cool is this?! UCLA has this website called Bruin Walk which lets students rate their professors and the classes they teach. You can rate Easiness, Workload, Helpfulness – everything! – and it provides a graph of the average grades given each year. I didn’t realise this was even a thing!My professors all seem to have rave reviews – not sure what being a ‘good teacher’ constitutes at American universities, so we shall see. Must be better than the lecturers at Trinity who just talk at you until you fall asleep or leave!
Finally, I have signed up for Panhellenic (Sorority) Recruitment in my first week of term (gasp!). It wasn’t something I ever really intended to consider, and probably isn’t my scene, but my roommates are doing it and, what the hell, I’m only there for a year! If I absolutely hate it after going through the recruitment I’ll walk away, but who knows, I might find my calling as a Californian sorority girl.
Anyway, this is all rather mundane, I just wanted to fill the gap between finding out I’m going and actually heading off! See ya!