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.

 

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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