Very conscious I haven’t updated in a while – we had ‘midterms’ in weeks 4, 5 and 6 (a stupid American invention) so I haven’t had a moment! Here’s a rundown of the last few weeks of my life at UCLA:
Last week I spent every single day being absolutely showered with gifts from my secret ‘Big’ – a girl already in Theta who is assigned to act as a big sister figure to me throughout my time in the sorority. We aren’t supposed to know who our Big is throughout the week as they surprise us with all sorts of presents, although they leave all sorts of misleading clues in the form of notes and t-shirts. I honestly have so many snacks now I’m not sure what to do with them all!
On Thursday night we had ‘Big/Little Reveal’. I unfortunately had class that evening so missed all the hype, but my Big came and found me before I went into the classroom. It was Rachelle, the girl who I had put down as my first choice, so I was very happy! She is also a Junior but has been in Theta since Freshman year. I also have a ‘twin’ called Jessie who I share Rachelle with, and she is also lovely. Closest thing I’ll ever get to a sister in real life I guess!
Last weekend was the annual Parents Weekend at UCLA. As it would be pretty hard for my parents to pop over for just a couple of days, I was naturally feeling a bit down about being surrounded by all of my friends’ family members while mine were thousands of miles away. Fortunately, however, my friends Alex and Saskia who are studying abroad at UC Santa Barbara (just north of LA) very kindly volunteered to be my parents for the weekend, so all was not lost!
It was Yaz’s birthday on the Saturday, so we spent the evening the night before hanging up banners and a disgusting picture of her on the wall (hehe). I got her a ukulele and a packet of Swedish Fish – every girl’s dream.
On the actual Saturday we went to (another) American football game, although this time it was during the day. Much, much, much hotter during the day – genuinely think I may have gotten heat stroke. There’s absolutely no shade in that stadium and water costs $7 a pop (crazy I know). I noticed that the team mascots didn’t come out to play, and I don’t blame them -dancing around in that heat would be a health hazard. It was Alex and Sask’s first ever game (and only my second) so we spent the whole day gaping wide mouthed at the spectacle. I tailgated for my first time ever before the game, and even had my first ever taco!
The game was against Oregon University (the Ducks) – I was very surprised by how many Oregon fans came down to support the team, considering how far away it is. That’s dedication I guess!! The sheer enormity of the tailgate area was obscene too – I hadn’t walked through the golf course part where tailgating takes place before, and I was completely taken aback. It took about half an hour to just get from the bus to the site, and we were only walking halfway across the overall area! There were so many older people tailgating in support of UCLA – they outnumbered students 10:1, I’d say. I guess they probably consisted of alumnae, parents and local residents – I’ll be sure to ask one next time!
After a long (and very hot) game, we headed home on the bus. It wasn’t the Theta bus – we couldn’t find it among the hundreds of yellow school buses in the car park – but Alpha Phi seemed happy to let us hitch a lift. Yaz’s dad then very kindly took us all out for an
enormous meal at Barney’s Beanery in Westwood, where I had a colossal Philly cheese steak sandwich. Yum. I also tried my first ever Buffalo wing – bit spicy, but nice enough. Not sure I quite understand where the ‘Buffalo’ bit comes from; as far as I’m aware Buffaloes are still very much land-based creatures and are yet to conquer the skies. We were all thoroughly shattered after such a long (and dehydrating) day, so decided to call it a night and went to bed almost immediately. I was pooped.
Sunday held the second reason I needed my ‘parents’ at UCLA with me: we had Theta ‘Presents’ (pronounced PREE-sents for some reason), which is a key part of sorority induction. All of us new members had to wear white dresses, and we were given yellow roses to hold (yellow and black are Theta’s colours). We met at 9am at Royce Hall to take a gazillion photographs of us all looking thoroughly bridal. Saskia and Alex acted like very proud parents, bless them, and took lots of photos of me and my friends on our sorority wedding day (lol). We then all migrated back to the Theta house, where we proceeded with the actual Presents ceremony. For this, we were all presented to the house by our Bigs as we walked down an aisle in the courtyard. We each had to write a Thank You Note to our parents beforehand, and these were read out by the chapter president as we were presented to the congregation. As my parents obviously weren’t there, I thanked them in the first half of my note and then told Saskia and Alex how much I appreciated them coming all the way down to LA to see me. It was all quite sweet, but a very long and sweaty experience as the sun was out in full force.
After grabbing a bagel (or three) at Theta, we called it a day and Alex and Saskia pootled back to Santa Monica to get their lift back to Santa Barbara, and I headed off to a production meeting for a student film I’m helping out on. The heat we experienced that weekend was only an inkling of what was to come – it hit 40 degrees on Wednesday!