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.
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.