23 & A Quarter

Who knew UCLA would kick my ass to the point where I would be off the grid for so long. However, the work was all so worth it. Did I have a handful of panic attacks? Of course, it’s a given at this school. Do I love it? ABSOLUTELY.

Although so many things have happened, I sometimes forget to acknowledge how mentally challenging its been. My first quarter at UCLA. Seeing kids mentally breakdown publicly with no shame. Losing my ID card and wallet multiple times, then bolting back  to find them. Thinking somehow being late to class would get me pushed out of my spot. Having no clue what a course reader was, and having to figure out where they were sold (there’s this sketchy shop in Westwood that sells them and I have no clue how it’s even part of the school). Figuring out what a Discussion was, and they’re essential to your already long lectures. Filling out a bunch of random forms so you don’t get frozen from enrollment on certain dates, on top of your schoolwork. Discovering that athletic events are hard to attend when you’re trying to get good grades. Discovering living life in general is hard when you’re trying to get good grades. I remember, there were so many points I actually felt trapped. Even thinking about UCLA made me sick to my stomach.

I know what you’re thinking, “You’re being over dramatic, Kat.” That’s the thing ain’t it? Nobody really knows until they experience it themselves. I attend one of the best schools in the world. I should be grateful, and obviously I am, but there’s a huge difference between admiring the school from afar, and being a student there. It’s tough. Then, add the pressure of the prestige and high expectations. It can be suffocating.

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So, what happened? Well, I made the best of my situation. UCLA is beautiful. Even when there were days where I wanted to punch the school’s face (if it had one), it was beautiful inside and out. I remember when I was walking out of class after a tense conversation with my professor (he wouldn’t let me retake a quiz and I was pissed) and I was thinking the most negative things about the university. Then, the sun started to set near the Powell library. Guys. It’s like cotton candy and fluffy Dole whip decided to magically float and dance together in the sky. And the fountain in front of the stairs, where that view of the sunset was the best, began to glisten with pinks and blues from lights installed. The buildings and halls looked more like beautiful castles than classrooms for students. No matter what mood I was in, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful and lucky I am to be here. Or the sculpture garden. Nothing beats listening to music through your headphones, strolling within this sanctuary of unique pieces, and finding a spot in the grass to lie on. Time moves so slowly, and your troubles melt away.

Until, you get up and grind again. Midterms, finals, and projects are hard but not impossible. If there’s any transfers reading this, it’s hard to be a freshman trapped in a junior’s body. Make your life easier your first quarter. Take easier classes because it’s gonna be hard still. It’s ok to only focus on school your first quarter. If you have to work though, less school work is essential (bruinwalk.com is your best friend, it’s the same thing as ratemyprofessor.com so find those nice professors). Having trouble making friends? Go to the Bruin Transfer Center or even Holly (on-campus housing for transfers). They’ll have events where you can mingle with your fellow transfers (trust me, my solid group of friends happened because I did this). You will get through it, and you will make friends soon.

Finish one quarter, and you’ll feel so much better as a student. Also, you’ll know what you can and can’t handle (adding more classes, starting an internship, volunteering, going to sporting events, etc.). You know how much you should read, you know how you should study, and everything starts to fall into place like it did in community college (or at least that’s what my case was, every transfer has their own background).

So guys, I am 23 as of last week and have finished my first quarter at UCLA. I’ll share more stories soon, until then, talk to you later.

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Dear UCLA Dormmate,

I know you are on the same boat as me, but let me explain how I got here first. I thought I could get away with requesting a single at UCLA Housing. Thus, what was the need to make a roommate request when I wasn’t going to have one anyways? Turns out, I was wrong and wasn’t considering the many other students who wanted a single. And here we are, not knowing each other still.

UCLA Housing informed me I would not know who my roommate is until the end of this month. I don’t know if you checked too, but if you did, it’s good to know you’re just as anxious as I am to figure out who you are. We’ve known for over two months we would be in a Double Deluxe at Sproul Landing/Cove. The real question is, with who?

Whoever you are, these are my hopes and dreams of who you could be. I hope you don’t snore, but if you do I hope you at least warn me about it (I can get ear muffs or something). I can promise you now, I am a very silent sleeper and I also like sleeping early. If you’re similar, then we will get along swimmingly. I do need to warn you, I am a morning person. I tend to be energetic as soon as rise from my slumber, even a sip of caffeine will assure me not sleeping that night. If you like to go to coffee shops, I do too! I will be getting tea instead of coffee though, sorry. I apparently stomp loudly, so I am sorry if I wake you up in the morning, I will try my best not too. As I hope you would do the same for me.

I do not mind if you bring people over to our room, you don’t even have to ask. I hope you’re the same way. I’m not much of a partier, I prefer small get-togethers or kickbacks. Frat parties I would like to avoid, I have had my fair share of Greek parties thanks to UCI. If you’re the same way, we might as well be best friends. I am not a super anal cleaning person, but I promise my things will remain in my general area and I always clean up after myself when it comes to food or using anything. Also, I tend to organize and clean once/twice a week so our room won’t be too messy.

Which brings me to share the most important part of this letter to you, I want to be close friends. I am always down for movies, I love any kind of music (except country, unless it’s Johnny Cash), I love talking/taking part in sustainable living, and I am more than happy to try new food places. I want to be able to go to school events with you or hit you up whenever I got time to kick it/ need a study buddy. I am also down for Netflix marathons, so if you ever wanna do a Girl’s Night In, you know where to find me 🙂 .

Warm Regards,

Kat Sotoodeh

P.S. If you love Disney movies and ramen as much as me, we are definitely going to be best friends.

 

“How It Ends” Review

Hey guys! Here’s my first film review! I am so excited to dive into this part of my blog, so lets get to it.

Disclaimer: There maybe spoilers so if you plan on watching this film (which I believe you would be saving lots of time if you avoided it at all costs), you have been warned.

How It Ends is about this couple who plan on getting married while a baby is already on the way. Will (the boyfriend, Theo James) flies to Chicago to ask his girlfriend’s dad, Tom (Forest Whitaker) to bless the marriage proposal. You realize Tom and Will have a strong dislike for each other. Conflict arises at dinner when Tom criticizes Will’s profession, financial stability, and lack of consideration towards Sara (the girlfriend and daughter, Kat Graham) moving out of state. Will loses his temper and gets escorted out by Tom’s wife. The following morning, Sara calls Will to confront him about what happened at dinner, when a strange noise booms from her end of the line. She expresses something is wrong as the phone glitches and ends the call. Will heads to the airport to discover all flights are cancelled, the power is out across the country, and the government is remaining silent about what is happening. Will returns to Tom’s home to be informed that whatever is happening is more catastrophic than the government is leading on. Tom is going to drive all the way to Seattle to save Sara and asks Will to come with him. The journey consists of natural and human survival dangers, and a few new characters introduced to keep the story interesting. I won’t reveal what happens in the end in case some of you want to watch it, but here are my thoughts on it.

It was shit. I understand this is supposed to be a fictionalized story of the end, but if you are going to involve global warming to be the cause, have some research and science fueling it. This is a constant issue in the storytelling, laziness. For example, there’s a scene where a city is left in ruins, yet a message that is written in pen on the door remained after a fucking volcano eruption. How did that note remain on the door when everything was destroyed from the natural disaster? HOW DID THE WRITING REMAIN ON THE DOOR AFTER A TSUNAMI OR WHATEVER OCCURRED? It was just an easy escape for the writer to move the story along. On top of that, they introduced such pointless characters that had no contribution to the plot. They annoyed the audience and they would disappear. It left you wondering why they were there in the first place. At that point, they should’ve kept the story simple by having Will and Tom facing the dangers by themselves. Their struggle to find the person they love could’ve been a better story, and probably would offer the movie opportunities to fix plot holes of how/why the world was ending. Unfortunately, Will and Tom seem to magically bond by the end of the film. Will gains a bad-ass attitude with skills in driving and fighting that he definitely didn’t have before. Tom breaks his ribs, yet his many years in the Marine Corps didn’t teach him how to take care of himself and his injuries. What confirmed that the movie was shit, was the ending. If I knew ‘how it ends’, I would’ve never watched it.

How dare you Netflix get rid of us seeing what the ratings are, and instead show how much of a match this film was for me to view. I KNOW YOU’RE GOING TO SAY IT’S A STRONG MATCH FOR ME, IT WAS A FILM YOU PRODUCED. Anyways, I will give this film a rating of how it “actually matched” me.

Actual Match Percentage: 10 %

Why 10%? Because the only good thing about this film was the cinematography. If you are interested in cool and clever shots, with some impressive visuals, this film is for you. However, if the whole film matters, do not see it. If the film’s story was as good as the cinematography, it would be decent.

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The Home Invasion?

Preface

I know this piece may seem darker than past material I have written. I am usually an optimistic individual who tries to see the best in situations. However, there is bad in the world that needs to have light shown on it because it should be fought against and stopped entirely. A little over a year ago, I attended a lecture that discussed the meaning of consent. I went with my friend, Krista Apardian who you may know from one of my blog interviews. All I  knew about this lecture was Planned Parenthood hosted it. I wanted to support the organization and I thought this would be useful. Unsurprisingly, it was! I found myself not being the best at asking for consent when I am interested in someone. For example, when it came to hand holding, touching, and kissing I was not very vocal about asking if I could proceed. Thanks to that lecture, I find myself way better at checking with my partner. Anyways, there was an analogy that stuck with me during the lesson. The woman who was leading the discussion explained how law enforcement tend to victim-blame sexual assault survivors. This shows when police ask women or men questions about the assault case. She related to how a sexual assault case should be handled similarly to a house break-in/robbery. It was as if a light bulb went off in the whole room. That analogy made so much sense, something was physically and morally taken away from you. The security and confidence of your property was stripped from you. You obviously WERE NOT ASKING to be robbed, or in this case assaulted. That idea made so much sense to me. Until, she asked a volunteer to come up so she can show the difference between interrogation for house robbery and sexual assault. Let’s just say the example didn’t quiet live up to the potential. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great lecture and I would encourage everyone to attend it. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Shit, they could’ve done so much more with this.’ Therefore, I wrote what I wish they said during their example of what a house robbery interrogation would sound like if it was handled like a sexual assault report. Trust me I could’ve kept going, but if any of you have any other add-ons or think I missed anything important, please feel free to comment below!

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Home Invasion?

“Miss, were you under the influence the night he robbed you of all your riches and peace of mind?”
“Miss, is your house decorated in any provocative exterior that could attract a robber to steal from the inside that is rightfully yours?”
“Miss, are you sure there wasn’t any prior interactions with the thief that could’ve led him to think you wanted your treasures to be wrongfully taken by him?”
“Miss, you said you sometimes keep your backdoor unlocked, are you sure that didn’t insinuate you wanted the home intruder to break in?”
“Miss, was the face of your house and roof made-up to encourage him to violently force his way inside?”
“Miss, were the blossoms of your flower beds showing? Trust me, this is important to know for this form of crime.”
“Miss, when you saw him and interacted with him, at any point, did you give him consent to enter your home?”
“You said you had a few glasses of wine before he broke into your home, are you sure your memory isn’t skewed from the alcoholic consumption? You know you didn’t confuse anything with your interaction from being a little intoxicated?”
“Do you think maybe the way your house is painted is a little showy, and maybe that’s why it happened?”
“”Miss, did you actually use words similar to ‘No, I do not want you to rob me.’?”
“Well, if you didn’t use those words, how did you tell the intruder you did not consent for him to come inside? Did you physically show you didn’t want him to rob you? What did you do physically to show you didn’t want him inside your house?”
“Miss, are you sure you made it obvious to him you didn’t want him inside your house?”
“Alright miss, well you’re free to go back to your home and we will hopefully get back to you soon about your police report.”
“Don’t forget to lock all your doors and be more thoughtful on how your home looks to others, especially at night when you’re alone.”

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Community College is Over, and Summer is Here!

I officially finished Orange Coast Community College. This place has taught me so much about my major, general education, and myself. I remember the first time I ever set foot on the campus, I was given a tour led by a former OCC Women’s Tennis player. My high school tennis partner and I were recruited to play for the team. I joined community college because it was the best option I had for an education at the time, and I wanted a second chance at my college education. I got accepted to a few good universities, but none that really peaked my interest. Furthermore, I gained so much more from going to a community college than I ever thought was possible. Without OCC, I would never have been able to get into UCLA. Especially in their Communication department.

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If you are in high school, in a university that you hate, a single parent who wants a different career path, a veteran who wants to return to school, or anybody who wants to just find what they want out of life, GO TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE. It will hopefully change your life for the better, like it did for me. The best part, you can be involved as little or as much as possible there. For those who are in community college and are having trouble making friends, join a program or club. While I was at OCC I was part of the Women’s Tennis Team, the Honors Program, DSPS, Sigma Chi Eta Communication Honors Society, Honors Student Council, Speech and Debate Team, and Green Coast Day Committee. I met so many people and made great connections that I know will have for the rest of my life. Those people have inspired and motivated me to become a better student and better individual. You want to plan a community wide event? You are totally capable of doing that with lots of help if you have a club or student government backing you! For example, I was able to host campus wide events such as Why We Love OCC and Green Coast Expo, which I will always proudly boast about due to their successes. Financially struggling? Community colleges are known for offering financial aid and even handing out their own scholarships that you can look into! Have kids? Community college will probably have resources where you can drop off your kids until you’re done with classes. It’s pretty amazing.

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Now that I have finished singing my praises for community college, specifically Orange Coast College, it is time to move on to bigger and better things. Summer. You are a true blessing in my life. I am finishing this blog post in England. I will get into more details of my trip once it is done, but I hope my readers are enjoying their summer as much as I am already. Just wanted to write this blog post to share my appreciation for my community college since those institutes don’t receive the love they deserve,  and wanted to keep you guys updated that more posts are coming once again 🙂 .

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In the meantime, here’s a photo of a flock of geese that all were eerily staring at something…. We still don’t know what they were looking at.

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All that stress… turned into a perfect day #UCLABound

I cannot express the happiness I have felt in the past week. Hard to believe how only that short amount time can be life-changing. If I actually dissect moments more within those days, a second can even define your future. And the sliver of time I am typing about, is the moment my decision letter from UCLA came into frame on my iPhone.

Here’s some background, I applied to plenty of universities. My top 3 were UC Santa Barbra, Berkeley, and Los Angeles (from low to high). Honestly, I worked my ass off for the grades and student leadership opportunities I achieved. I kept straight A’s as I created the first Communication Honor Society and led the Honors Student Council (HSC) to its former glory. I founded the Why We Love OCC event and successfully executed it, while I got almost perfect grades on my Finals that same week. Did I mention I had a job and an internship all at the same time? I am still amazed by how much I did and what I was able to handle as my schedule for such a long time, but I loved doing it. Like they say, just because you do all the right things doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get into your dream school. So if you’re going to go above and beyond, quick advice, make sure you’re doing the things you love or else all that work feels pointless no matter if you get into your university or not.

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Moving on, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It is a rare occasion that a transfer student gets into both Berkeley and UCLA. You usually get one or the other. If you get into both, give yourself a grand old pat on the back because you did the impossible according to community college counselors and alumni students. Thus, I was extremely terrified to see my decision letters. Especially since, I decided I wanted to attend UCLA over Berkeley at the end of my Fall semester. UCLA is very impacted, and Communication is a very impacted major. In 2017, UCLA only accepted 12% of students who applied for Communication. Over 950 Communication students applied. If you can’t do the math, let me help you out, a little over 100 students were accepted. The odds were not good at all.

March came, a month before UC’s decisions. I found out I got into Cal Poly Slo and holy shit it felt good. Then, the first week of April came. I got my first acceptance letter from a UC. I burst into tears because the first UC I got into was UCSB. I was accepted into one of my top 3 schools! I was relieved that if it wasn’t meant to be with LA and Berkeley, I was going to be at one of the best Communication departments and live near my older sister who is a UCSB Communication graduate.

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With each day in April passing, my anxiety and nerves heightened. Along with a decrease in my confidence of being accepted to my top 2 schools. The last week of April was here, and UCLA decisions usually came a day earlier than Berkeley’s which was set for Friday April 27th. My boyfriend and I made plans to go to the Carlsbad Flower Fields for Wednesday April 25th. The Monday of that week, I received a text from my HSC group chat of a screenshot. The picture showed UCLA Admissions just responded on Twitter they would be posting decisions the day I was going to the Flower Fields. I immediately thought, well either I’m going to have a pretty good day until I am devastated by that decision letter OR it’s going to be one of the best days of my life. One thing that struck me with absolute fear, I find out in two days.

In those two days, I graphically narrate what shall happen once I am rejected from UCLA to my boyfriend, my family, and my friends. First, I will accept why I was rejected but then start ugly crying. I will keep refreshing the page of my decision letter thinking I maybe read it wrong, and cry some more.  I will keep moaning how devastated I am and apologize for my existence. I will officially go missing from social media and be off the grid, until everyone stops talking about how they got accepted to UCLA while I didn’t. Until finally, I start to draft my appeal. Yes, I was going to do that because I am crazy.

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Wednesday was upon us, and I was shitting myself. I kept thinking to not think about UCLA. Focus on the pretty drive to Carlsbad, and I will soon be surrounded by flowers like the poppy scene from Wizard of Oz (if you don’t like that movie, you don’t have taste). I check the UCLA decision’s site again and again, but it is still down. It says it will be back up in the evening. WELL THAT IS NOT SPECIFIC AT ALL. I even checked the definition of “evening” to get a better answer, not specific as well.

We arrive at the Flower Fields and oh my god. My jaw dropped when I saw the color oriented fields of flowers. They went on for miles, and we were right near the ocean. It was beautiful. My boyfriend came to the rescue with his nice Nikon camera snapping pictures of me in a dress that I was supposed to help promote. It wasn’t all business, we walked around the fields holding hands, we ventured into the sweat pea maze, and had an amazing strawberry milkshake. He’s busy too, so it was nice that we had time to relax and enjoy a small day trip. For a second, I almost forgot about UCLA decisions. Well, almost. I start to say what if I don’t get into UCLA, but I get into Berkeley. He looks at me and speaks as if he’s carefully picking his words. He says, “We will figure it out, we will make it work.” We both smile with hope, but still have a ping of sadness.

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We were back in the car and heading home, when my phone vibrated. A text from HSC, I knew what the message was about before I even read it. UCLA decisions were up. As I type my information into the decisions page, Jamie and I are dead silent. I quickly hit “enter”, already fearing the worst. In an instant, I see in big bold blue letters “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE UCLA BOUND.” I am blown away with happiness, but I still ugly cried. I still refreshed the page to make sure I didn’t read it wrong, and continue to happily cry. I still moaned, but cried instead, “I cannot believe I got in, I am so happy, I have never been this happy before…. I shouldn’t have worn makeup today, I am so stupid, I cannot stop crying.” I didn’t go missing from social media and go off the grid, but I decided not to share my decision letter at the time in respect to my peers who may not have gotten in. A planned out scenario, for a completely different outcome. What made it better, my boyfriend holding me (as best as someone can in a car while driving) saying how proud he was of me and he’s so happy for me.

I called my parents, my sister, my wife, and all my other nearests. They were so excited for me and made the moment even more immensely special. My favorite phone call was with my grandpa. He kept saying how proud he was, how I absolutely deserved it for how hard I worked, how happy he was I called him to share this moment with him, and how he cannot wait to tell everyone his granddaughter is going to UCLA. My heart melted.

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The next day, I found out I was invited to Honors Night at OCC where scholarships are awarded to students. How could it get any better than this? Until finally, I found out I got accepted to Berkeley the next day. I was shocked and so thrilled I was able to be one of the rare students that has gotten into both Berkeley and UCLA. However, when I found out I got accepted to Berkeley, I was satisfied but not overwhelmed with happiness like I was for UCLA. At that moment, I knew I was making the right choice that UCLA was my school. I am going to Bruin Day, and if all goes well, I am not going to hesitate to submit my Statement of Intent to Register (SIR).

The point of this blog post is that there are going to be days where you feel like you’re contributing to an end goal that is not in view. If you can’t see it, what makes you think you will ever see it? My answer to that, I had one goal my whole life. I wanted to go to UCLA ever since I was in 1st grade. I was 8 years old. Now, here I am with an acceptance letter to my dream school at 22 years old. Do dreams take that long to achieve? Not necessarily, it took me three years to get my life together and work towards transferring to UCLA. If I was told in high school I was going to end up at UCLA, I would’ve laughed thinking there was no way in hell I was going to be lucky enough to go there. Once again, here I am. The point I am trying to make, if you’re going to work towards something and you remain on top of it even when it gets so hard, the energy you put in is bound to come back. Of course failure can be inevitable, but you’ll only cement the failure if you give up. I promise you, someday, it will all pay off.

Tune her thoughts

She sat across the couch from him as he tuned the guitar while sitting on the stool. She let herself sink into the couch as she hugged her legs draped by her maxi skirt. She used to wear this skirt a lot when she was a carefree spirit, only looking to get high in a secret garden with a chocolate shake in hand. However, she felt more on edge than what this skirt usually entails. She felt uncomfortable. Around the guy who usually puts her mind at ease. He started to strum the guitar, and one of the strings sounded off to her. He played with the guitar pick until he suddenly stuck it in his mouth to use his hands instead. She asked, “is it just me or does one of the strings sound off?” He finally looked up at her, holding her gaze with his green eyes. With his hand he strummed the guitar and it sounded superb. He smiled biting the guitar pick still, “it’s just you, babe.” She honestly smiled, and let go of her captive legs to lay them on top of his lap as he continued to fill the room with music.